Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Just Stuff, part two

Minimalism is about so much more than getting rid of clutter.  It's about a mindset, a life philosophy.  But it usually starts with clutter.

So I've been following a bunch of minimalist blogs lately.  I love their thoughts and hearing about their progress.  I love feeling like I've found people who understand how I feel.  And they inspire me.

One of the ideas I am trying to implement is to not have anything in my life that I don't use or love.  No more hanging on to things just in case.  No more keeping the old one as a backup after we've got a new one.  No more keeping things I don't like just because someone gave them to me.  No more storing things in the cupboard for a special occasion when that special occasion never seems to come.

Shortly after high school I was somehow convinced that I needed to get china, stoneware, and crystal.  It was expensive.  I begged my mom into helping me purchase four settings of each.  They are beautiful!

Now ask me how many times I've used them.  Um.  Hm.  I'd bet it's fewer than five times.  And I've been married twenty-one years.  For twenty-one years they've been sitting in my cupboard.  I've packed and unpacked them every time we've moved.  I've dusted them.  I've displayed them.  And I do love them.  But we just don't use them.

So as I was planning to gut my kitchen cupboards (just planning, the true gutting hasn't occurred yet), I saw those dishes.  And my heart seized up.  I never use them.  I should get rid of them.  But they cost so much money.  We never use them.  But I love them.  Okay, then use them.

My kids are older.  Theoretically we should be able to use fragile dishes and not break anything.

This was just before the Oscars.  We like to do a family evening for the Oscars.  Special treats.  Everyone completing a ballot before hand.  Prizes for the winners.  So I decided to make the night extra special by bringing out some of these precious dishes.

Actually, I used some glass tea trays (which we also never use) and the crystal.  They were placed on the table with the snacks.  My kids' faces lit up when they realized they were going to get to use them.  It was fun pouring Sprite and Diet Coke into wine glasses.  Even more fun drinking out of them.  I was glad I'd done it.

The night was going well.  I was winning (I always do).  Everyone was having a good time.

Then I heard a crash.  A very distinctive crash.  I knew instantly that it was one of my precious wine glasses.  The light blue ones that we displayed at our wedding.  The ones we drank fake champagne out of to celebrate our first anniversary.  The ones I loved.

My heart seized again.  But only for a moment.  I saw my kids' faces tighten as well.  They were waiting to see if it was going to ruin our night.  And I wasn't going to let it.

As it turns out, the cat had gotten up on the table and knocked off one of the glasses.  It was my fault for placing them there.  And as I cleaned up the crystal my focus was different than it would have been in the past.  There was the momentary "if only," but that passed quickly.  I wanted to get it cleaned up so I could get back to my family.  It was only a thing.  I wanted to be with my family having a good time instead of worrying about a piece of glass that I only see when we move.

I got it cleaned up and got back to the party.  It was never mentioned again.  The evening ended on a good note.

I call it a rousing success; three cheers for me:  Huzzah!  Huzzah!  Huzzah!

But then I was tested again when my daughter hit a pole with the new car.  That is a story for another time.


Bonnie said...

I was shocked lately at how much I have, again, even after getting rid of stuff. Somehow, helping dress my nephew for burial has settled deeply into my soul, and there just isn't any room for stuff. I'm cleaning out again too - ideas, yearnings, and things getting in the way of being able to relax. Life is simple, and it's about the people we love and being with them, just as you said. What a triumph to have your wonderful evening unmarred by something trivial.

Lindsay said...

Visiting from SITS, again. It is awesome that you didn't let the breaking of the precious glass ruin your family night. My mom would have freaked, as I would have too, given I was in the same situation. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Family time however, is far more important than expensive stemware, so props to you!

MaggieJo said...

Don't you love moments when you do the right thing? When you can see past the moment? Reading this post makes me smile, I feel like I did the good thing. But I didn't, you did. So 3 cheers for you!!! Maybe you don't need to celebrate every time, but I do, because it doesn't happen often.

Not Blessed Mama said...

you are a strong woman! good job!

Jessica Grosland said...

Well, you made it through two teenage drivers before it happened, so that's successful, right?

Pastor Sharon said...

Great job! Way to let go!

Gumshoe said...

I always said I couldn't have anything nice as long as I have cats (or kids) :P

The Dutch Girl said...

China, crystal, silverware is meant to be used. Good for you for doing so and not being deterred by the breakage. I get that the car is another story though.

Thanks for visiting the Northwoods on my SITS Day!


Running Circles said...

Right on Robin! It took me a long time to realize simple is better especially when I have a tendency to be overwhelmed.

It's great that you are taking action to reflect how you really feel about 'stuff' instead of just thinking about it. I bet your cat is happy about your personal growth as well!

Lisa said...

I'm excited for minimalism. Would you mind sharing some of the blogs you follow on that topic? And yay for your reaction to broken things! I still have yet to learn that trick.