I think the universe is trying to tell me something. I should probably listen.
The first sign came in the mail at the office. I received a review copy of a book a couple of weeks ago and have been reading a few stories every day or so.
The book, “The Joy of Less,” is the most recent in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. (As a quick aside here, I must share that one of our Sun City Sun writers, Mary Dempsey, has two essays in this book. This is her sixth appearance in the Chicken Soup books!)
The titles of the chapters have intrigued me: Saying No with Passion, The Liberation of Liquidation, Cutting the Cord, I Have Enough, Release the Stuff, Unleash the Magic.
You might have guessed that this book is about simplifying one’s life by reducing the amount of material things, extracurricular activities and burdens of all kinds. It makes me feel lighter just reading about how others have conquered their collections, organized their space and figured out to do well with less.
But feeling lighter isn’t enough. I know I’ve got some work to do.
At nearly the same time as the book arrived, I became aware of two television shows on Netflix about living in tiny houses. The tiny house “movement” apparently is sweeping the nation.
Some people find great joy in reducing their carbon footprint, home size, space requirements and so forth to the point of living in homes of 100 to 600 square feet. That’s tiny!
My husband and I watched one of the episodes with rapt attention, trying to imagine what it must be like to live with a 32-square-foot kitchen. And then we realized that our kitchen isn’t much larger than that!
We have lived in the same small (by our community standards) house for 22 years. At one point, there were four people and a dog living in this 1,100 square feet. (Now, with one child out on his own and the dog deceased, it’s still a stretch to say the house seems huge for just three of us!)
The problem is that our house seems even smaller because we have too much stuff in it.
We have collected furniture, gadgets, clothing, books, small appliances, and trinkets for years. The garage has never housed a car. The screened back patio once served as a second dining area, but soon turned into an art studio. Now it’s a catch-all for tools, projects and leftover kitchen gadgets.
Now, I think the universe is telling us we need to make some changes. It really is time to purge, donate, toss out, give away and otherwise get rid of lots of extra stuff we don’t use and don’t need. We need to figure out how to do well with less.
A friend says a good rule is to ask “Does it bring me joy?” If not, get rid of it. I plan to employ that tactic as we move from room to room, purging, donating, purging some more.
And I think that same rule for stuff can be applied to one’s activities, such as volunteering and attending local events. One of the essays in “The Joy of Less” pointed out that there comes a day when it’s time to step aside and let someone else step up.
So, I’m listening to the universe, and I am paying