Monday, July 19, 2010

Still on Course

During the previous year, I posted a lot about simplifying. I haven't abandoned my quest for simplicity, even if I haven't been writing much about it. I have been moving forward, but only in stages.

I tried several strategies at first, and they really helped. But then work or life would interfere, and although I'd keep trying to do those things (with varying levels of success), I'd sort of hang there for a while. Then, I guess the muse would visit or the spirit would move, and I'd clean out another closet or implement some new practice on the path to simplicity. Two steps forward, one step back.

One of the main things I've been trying to do is to get rid of stuff. It's amazing how many possessions one person can accumulate, and sometimes it's hard to let go of even things I don't really like or hardly ever use. (But it was a gift! But I might use it one day! yada yada yada) But those extra things just weigh me down and stress me out. A lot.

But I've been on a roll again lately, and some advice in an article by Martha Beck titled "The Joy Dividend" has been very helpful to me. She offers this advice as a way to help you decide whether or not to purchase things. But it's also really great for helping decide which things to keep as you purge your possessions. Here's her plan, with my addition in parentheses:

1. Top Dollar Items: "I really NEED it, and I really LOVE it." (Definitely keep it)
2. Bottom Dollar Items: "I really NEED it, but I don't really LOVE it." (Keep it, but no multiples)
3. Remaining Dollar Items: "I don't really NEED it, but I really LOVE it." (Keep it)
4. No Dollar Items: "I don't really NEED it, and I don't really LOVE it." (Toss it)

Beck explains that she uses capital letters for need and love to push the definitions further than we usually take them. If I stay true to her heightened definition of the word, more and more items will end up in category 4, and I buy or keep only things that have true value for me.

I like this system. It certainly makes shopping easier, and I've found it especially helpful in streamlining my closet. It helps me get rid of everything I don't really love wearing--those gifts that don't fit well, those things that I don't really feel comfortable in but hang onto because I remember exactly how much I paid for them, those articles that hang there season after season but I never seem to get around to wearing.

I'm moving ahead. Progress, not perfection.

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