Less Is More

January 11, 2013

Between sickness (nearly recovered from) and jury duty (completed), I’ve been a bit delayed in my customary reflection on the past year and planning for a new year. Even so, in the past couple of weeks, an odd little theme has appeared in my thinking: “It’s all too much.”

A few years ago, I read a book by organizer Peter Walsh called It’s All Too Much and ever since then, that phrase pops into my head whenever I’m overwhelmed. As you know, that’s just what I’ve been feeling lately.  Instead of choosing a word of the year or setting out to remake my life, I’m just…not. At least, not right now. I’m not setting new goals or embarking on bold new adventures. I’m simplifying and downsizing.

I just have too much—books, food, possessions of all kinds, hobbies, interests and the wonderful blessing of friends and family relationships. I really am grateful for all that I have—I’m not complaining! I have, however, allowed my life to get out of hand. I have too much, and I try to do too much. Nearly every day I find myself putting aside activities that would feed my soul or work that really means something because I’m drowning in the sheer mass of life, much of it menial and unimportant.

So 2013 begins with a purge—of the physical (How many empty boxes does one need? Does this old radio even work?) as well as the non-physical. Activities I take for granted will be scrutinized—do they really need doing? By me? At this particular time or to that standard?

I don’t consider having too much a “real” problem. I’m not suffering heartbreak over it. I realize I’m lucky to be in this position when so many people around the world face true need. But getting rid of excess will help me appreciate what remains while cutting down on waste, guilt and chaos. Spending less time and money on what doesn’t matter will free up more for what does. I look forward to seeing what fills my life when the excess is gone.

What do you have too much of?

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  1. Ditto, ditto, ditto!
    To much paper, books, fabric, shoes, clothes, cooking items, and even art supplies. I'm in the midst of a long task of paring back.... stuck in it. I keep thinking to myself "use what I have!". But... I don't always stick to that. Anyway.... I just hope that by the end of the year that my life and space will be significantly simplified. It certainly won't happen overnight.

  2. I'm with you, Claire! I'm trying to use up what I have, and ruthlessly get rid of things I don't think I'll ever use. Maybe we can keep each other going this year and make some real progress!

  3. Too much fabric, too many patterns, too many books, too many clothes, too much of lots of things. And I just got home from a quilt show today after spending yet more money on more fabric and patterns. But as I know you know, it's better to have too much than not enough. In fact, the only thing I probably don't have enough of is space to store all my stuff. I'm also not complaining - I just wish I wanted to spend some time organizing all that stuff!

  4. I know what you are saying. Personally, I don't think that I can ever have too many books, but I have stopped buying fabric, trinkets, dishes and stuff like that.

    I have way slowed down over the past few years. I work hard in the morning and then hit the couch with my book in the afternoons. (I really need to add exercise!)

    What amazes me is 1) How much I used to get done and 2) How since I've slowed down people are amazed at how much I still do! (But, I am more and more surrounded by old people these days, lol.)

    My kids are grown, my grandkids live out of town, and in many ways my life is very simple. I am not unhappy about that at all.

    We have way too much stuff in the garage and the storage area; it seems like too much work to go through it all ... maybe this summer we can.

    I just squeeze in my goals of blogging, working on my family history, etc. as I feel like it. One thing that I miss is crafting and sewing ... but I'm not doing it because I am too busy, I just want to rest.

    I am getting old, it seems, and I am only 54. That is the part that bothers me.

    Well, thanks for listening, Kathy. I think that you will find a lot of peace with slowing down on making yourself do more.

    Also, don't get rid of the things that you enjoy but haven't gotten around to in awhile. For example, if you used to sew and have tons of supplies but haven't used them for a long time, just put that kind of stuff into containers in the basement, because someday that part of you will come back around.

    I don't go by that "If you haven't used it in a year, let it go!" rule. There are plenty of other things that you can divest yourself of and not regret.


    Kathy M.

  5. Oh, I can identify! Too much stuff, too many things to pursue, oh, to have a simplified life! Good luck in your endeavors. Hope you are feeling better, and how was jury duty?

  6. Hello, I've seen your comments on Scrappy Cat's blog. I so realated to this post. To simplify is such a wonderful thing, to be able to have more pure energy for fewer "things"! Thank you for sharing your thoughts so clearly on this subject. ~Rita at Sketchbook Wandering

  7. Kathy--I love your common sense approach to things and to time. I think there are times to slow down and times to hit it hard, as well. I feel like I'm in a time where I need to slow down, and it sounds like you are, too.

    I have a stash of cross stitch patterns and supplies that I'm not planning to get rid of. I would like to do cross stitch again, but now is not the right time. Other hobbies interest me more right now, and I don't have so much stuff that it gets in the way.

    Thanks for stopping by with your wise words!

  8. Krista--Doesn't a simplified life sound wonderful? The problem is when you have to start pruning things that you like!

    I'm feeling much, much better, and the jury service was not bad at all. Two half-days spent at the court house downtown. The case was a simple one with a clear verdict (sadly for the defendant). Thanks for asking!

  9. Welcome, Rita--so glad you "migrated" over from Cheryl's blog! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and hope you return often. I'm sure I'll be posting more on this topic as I figure out how to downsize and simplify to have more time for what I think is important.

  10. "But getting rid of excess will help me appreciate what remains while cutting down on waste, guilt and chaos." I just love this, Kathy. I've been thinking about your post recently. There's so much we can learn from the simple act of letting go. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  11. One thing I've learned from letting go is to have faith that if I really need something I've gotten rid of, I'll be able to replace it. Not easy for a control freak like me! Thanks so much for stopping by, Christi!

  12. I think that's a great way to start the year, by getting back to basics. I have been thinking about this issue too, and it is true, I do find that having too much (even if it's a good thing, like books) can actually be really doing myself a disservice.
    I realise that by my continuous acquiring of books, I am actually making it harder for myself to be able to settle down to enjoy what I already have in the first place. So many good books have been cast aside/ neglected simply because I have allowed myself to be distracted so easily by 'new' ones. It has been my recent prayer that I will learn to be contented with what I have already been blessed with, and not deny myself of those blessings simply by blanketing them all with overwhelming clutters of my own doing.

  13. Michelle--I know what you mean about the continuous acquiring of books. When I have too many books on hand, I begin to feel stressed about finishing them, and that takes away some of the pleasure of reading. There seems to be a fine line between enough and too many for me when it comes to books--and other things, come to think of it. Here's hoping we both can appreciate what we have and let go of the excess.