Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Living With Less

Random Things

    With a nearly constant barrage of advertisements inducing us to purchase more, to trade up, and to own the newest, fastest, and best, as well as the availability of credit, it takes a real effort to live with less. I wish I could say that I've resisted the marketing, but I haven't. I've slipped into rampant consumerism with the best of them, believing that happiness could be found if only I acquired just the right stuff. Of course I know this isn't true, but I've sure amassed a lot of unnecessary things acting like it is.

    I've often looked around my home and felt completely overwhelmed by our things and the energy they require of me. Do I own them, or do they own me? Do they bring me enjoyment or enslave me? So much time is spent trying to keep it all picked up, put away, organized, and clean. Is that really how I want to spend my time? I know that life is simplified and and enhanced by having certain things, but without really thinking about it, we've amassed a lot more that what we really need.

    I'm in the process of trading more stuff for less, and of exchanging stability for adventure. I'd take a smaller house for my bigger one, or, for a while, no house at all. We're setting out on the pilgrim way, leaving behind the familiar for the unknown. What do I think I'm going to gain from stepping out of this comfortable life and from letting go of material posessions? The example of saints through the ages, people who have given up everything to acquire the Spirit of peace, show me that I have everything to gain. And really, nothing to lose. Less time taking care of things will mean more time caring for and being with the people I love. Less attachment to what cannot last will help me to be more aware of what is eternal. Less to call my own will make it easier to live in community with those around me. And less to worry about will enable me to fully breathe in the gift of grace that is each moment.

   It all sounds great, but I can tell you this with certainty: it's a lot harder to get rid of than it was to collect. I've been consistently going through our home and paring down for the last couple years.  Every item I come across requires me to make a decision and then act on it; that gets tiring! As we prepare to leave for an open ended adventure, we're slowly parting with a lot, but it still feels overwhelming at times. With every box that leaves the house I feel a little lighter. I made a goal a few months ago to reduce by half, and while I don't really have a way to tell if we're there, we're making progress. Bookcases have been emptied, drawers and closets are looking a little less stuffed, totes full of fabric and craft supplies have been given away. It feels good!

    A line from a favorite song keeps running through my head: "Sometimes the only way to return, is to go where the winds will take you, and to let go, of all you can not hold on to."  (Beyond the Blue by Josh Garrels.) I'm ready to go where the wind takes me. I'm throwing off the weight of too many possessions and lightening my material load. I'm letting go of things I can't hold on to anyway.  By seeking to live with less, I'm embracing more of what is truly important to me: my family, faith, relationships, growing in grace, creativity, travel, and discovery.

    This post is part of a group writing project of Families on the Move. Read what others have to say about living with less: 


  1. Good luck with your culling process. It is a really hard thing to do but I think the more you cull the more you appreciate what you have left.

    I never really realised the huge impact advertising had on our behaviour and desire for purchases until we travelled and then returned to Australia. While we were overseas we paid no attention to advertising. It was in another language or we only had backpacks so we really couldn't fit anything else in anyway. Then we went home to Australia for four months and suddenly we were filled with a desire to buy buy buy. My husband was overwhelmed with a desire to buy a new car. We didn't need one. We were trying to sell our car to move overseas. But he wanted a new one because there were really catchy car ads on television. It was at that point that we really realised how hard marketing is to resist!

  2. What's funny, Tracy, is that we've chosen not to have a TV, so don't even see a lot of advertising. After having lived without it for a while, when I do see it I'm amazed at how blatant it is, and also the effect it has on my kids!

  3. Its tragic when we realize the more we consume, the more we are consumed. All the energy we waste in buying, throwing, maintaining, cleaning, organizing. And its all for stuff we don't really need. Its just filling up space in our home and in our minds!

  4. You will think you've gotten rid of everything you possible can, then you will leave for your trip. When you come back and open your stored boxes, you will look at things and wonder "what ever made me think I couldn't get rid of this?" You will need little on the road and when you come back, you will need less than you ever thought you needed before.

  5. It definately is harder to get rid of! I'm naturally a hoarder, so to try and get rid of stuff hurts. I send it back to my mum's instead!

  6. Good on you for letting go of stuff that are not important to your life! It is amazing how much a family can collect over the years :) How much we can collect that we dont really need! Love that you are living with less.

  7. When we were purging, I always seemed to notice everything that was left behind, rather than what had been sold or donated. It got super hard when we hit the Christmas stuff, but I stashed away our favorite ornaments and kept moving. Sometimes feeling like I was forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other, but when the deadline came, everything that needed to be gone, was, and the rest went to Grandma's house! LOL! You'll be SO glad when you're done. :o)


I love hearing from you and try to respond to your comments here on the page.