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Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. February 8, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Less IS More, Magick & Mystery, Mindfulness.

Many people, my parents included, hang on to remnants and relics of the past out of fear that they will forget the memories represented by the objects.

I’m just the opposite . . .

I fear getting lost in the past and missing this moment more than I fear a few misplaced memories down the road.

After all, none of us know how long or how far the road will take us.

Over the years, I’ve whittled my memorabilia down from an enormous moving box (filled to the brim with letters,  cards, correspondence, clipped articles, knickknacks, and paddywhacks) to two clear shoeboxes filled with the crème de la crème (notes, letters, and children’s artwork of “import”).

Before our last move, I pulled apart 60 photo albums and jettisoned photos of people whose names I no longer recalled as well as many unflattering photos of both friends and family.  I used the best photos to create 20 photo albums of truly meaningful and memorable Kodak moments.

When we moved, we left the bookcases that had stored 60 photo albums behind, and had to find a new home for the whittled collection of photos.  Through the magic of synchronicity, the 20 remaining albums fit perfectly on a repurposed antique ladder shelf . . . with not an inch to spare.

When weeding out our possessions, we kept only what we used, loved, or could not bear to be without and jettisoned the rest:

* We donated unwanted clothes, books, art, music, movies, and housewares to Goodwill, Libraries, Salvation Army, and other non-profits in the business of recycling stuff.

* I bequeathed trinkets, jewelry, and cherished Crackerjack Toys to nieces and nephews for them to use or lose, to trash or treasure.

* I even composted the remnants of my wedding bouquet.

For years, faded petals from the once beautiful bouquet filled a jar on my dresser.  Every time I looked at the jar, I saw dust and decay from the now dead blooms.

In wedding photos, the flowers I carried remain fresh and vibrant ~ exactly the way I want to remember them.

At first, we parted with items reluctantly ~ afraid that we might one day regret not having them.  Now, we gleefully rush to Goodwill whenever our attention lands on something that we no longer need.

The more we shed, the lighter and happier we feel:

(1)  The fewer the distractions we have in life, the sharper our focus on the possibilities inherent in this moment.

(2) Hanging too tightly to the past holds us back, keeping us moored to the shore, rather than floating freely.

(3) We travel best when we travel light.

Over time, fragments from the past consume our hearts and minds, claiming  time, energy and attention.  When we let go of all but the essentials, we are no longer encumbered by the past, and realize that we have more than enough to make us happy.

Quote:  Simplify.  Simplify.  Simplify. ~ Thoreau

No rules.  Just write!

Recent posts by Suzicate (Cleaning Out the Closets of Life), Janna (Toy Story 3 Linked to Self-Diagnosis of  Disposaphobia), and Sandra ( Minimalism v. Moderation), and the comments to each, address the benefits we gain when we “weed our gardens”  to enjoy the flowers blooming right here, right now.

What about you?  Do you let go easily or hold on tightly?

Related posts:  Clearing Clutter * Simplify Your Life * Between The Wish & The Thing * Forward, Ho! 



1. jelillie - February 8, 2011

Simplify has been my watchword of late. I am learning.

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

The more I simplify, the more clarity I gain.

I’ve decided that, like stepping on the bathroom scales . . . we gain when we lose! 🙂

2. barb19 - February 8, 2011

De-cluttering is great for mind and body; I did do that a while ago but held back somewhat, so could still improve. I must have another go and harden up my emotions!

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

When we de-clutter one area of our life, it frees up energy for other areas as well.

Clutter Busters Unite! 8)

3. Pseu - February 8, 2011

So you offer a de-cluttering service, Nuthatch? I’m sure you’d find plenty of willing volunteers!

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

Maybe THAT is the business that I should start! I help my mom and my sister with clutter busting, but never considered it as a business model.

Hmm . . . food for thought.

4. run4joy59 - February 8, 2011

I’m with you…the more stuff I get rid of, the lighter I feel. Too much clutter just weighs me down!

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

When I load up the trunk of the Honda with stuff that others can use, than I no longer need, and drop it off . . . I feel like I’ve actually grown lighter.

Our possessions do, indeed, weigh us down ~ until we hand off responsibility for them to someone else.

It’s a win for us, a win for the non-profit, and a win for the new owner. 8) 8) 8)

5. lesleehare - February 8, 2011

What a wonderful blogsite, new friend Nancy! Ten years ago, it took two large moving vans to move all my stuff… Six months ago, everything I owned fit into my CRV… I’ve picked up a few items since then, but the “memory” of that portability is one that I cherish greatly! I’m so glad to have met you through Eliz – cheers! [:-)]

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

Thanks, Leslee! This blog hop has been hopping good fun! I’m looking forward to reading more of the contributions tomorrow.

I’m very impressed with your clutter busting. Not too many people can fit everything they own into a CRV.

We managed to move ourselves this past move. It’s very liberating to have less stuff.

lesleehare - February 8, 2011

yeah, I’m not sure I’d recommend my methodology, but it got me to a place I really needed to go… cheers!

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

We would never have been able to make this last move when we did if we were still hanging on to all of our stuff.

And where we are now is EXACTLY where we want to be. 8)

6. Richard W Scott - February 8, 2011

I’m in the process of lightening the load around here, too. In fact, I spent the entire morning combing through a wall of junk in the garage. Somebody is going to get a LOT of books on tape. )

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

Awesome! Your local library might enjoy adding them to their offerings. Digging out from under the junk lightens our load in more ways that one.

Thanks, Rik

7. souldipper - February 8, 2011

Husband: “That’s it! We’re throwing out anything that we have not used or worn for six months.

Wife: Okay.

Husband: Where are you going? (Expecting her to go to the bedroom.)

Wife: To the basement. There’s some wine that’s been down there for years.

True story! 😀

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

NOOOOOO . . . not the wine!

Actually, drinking wine is a wonderful way to clear clutter. 😉

Thanks, Amy

lesleehare - February 8, 2011


8. Brown Eyed Mystic - February 8, 2011

Nancy, must say this is one of your BEST posts ever. It blends in so well with where I am in life. I am looking forward to giving away things this easily myself. And I love the synch!

Thank you for showing us this uplifting side of giving our long-held possessions away.


nrhatch - February 8, 2011

Yay! Timely posts are the best. I love it when I stumble across something I need to hear, exactly when I need to hear it.

With all the 1000’s of items we’ve jettisoned, there have only been one or two that I might (not really sure) call back if I could.

All the rest we are happy to be without.

Enjoy the journey . . . wherever it leads. 8)

9. jannatwrites - February 8, 2011

With TS3 fading from my memory (I have a short memory ;)) and yours and Suzicate’s posts on my mind, I’m getting fired up to clear out more stuff.

I can’t embark on this during the work week, but look out Friday night!

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

Here’s a bonus tip, Janna ~

When we clear out physical clutter, we clear out mental clutter and . . . we also tend to shed pounds! Or so says some research I’ve read. I’ll go see if I can find the link.

nrhatch - February 8, 2011
10. Carol Ann Hoel - February 8, 2011

Our last move required us to leave behind anything we couldn’t carry in our mini-van over the 1000 mile trip from Florida to Texas. We brought the cat and a few other things. 🙂 I wouldn’t want to do it again. It was harder on my husband than on me. I tend to toss things more easily than he. If it gathers dust, I must not be using it; therefore, I’ll let it go. Blessings to you, Nancy…

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

It’s hard to let go of everything at once.
I’m glad that we’ve been able to do it a bit at a time over the past 13 years.

We had a small flood in our basement. Emptying out the room to replace the carpet got us started.

We donated 20 bags of books to start. Then moved into all the other rooms of the home.

11. Cindy - February 8, 2011

What are Crackerjack Toys??

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

Cracker Jacks = candy coated popcorn, peanuts, and a prize . . . that’s what you get in Cracker Jacks.

There is a picture of Cracker Jacks on this post:


Each box contained a prize. Little plastic rings and tops and miniature yo-yos.

12. Tilly Bud - February 9, 2011

I like your ruthlessness. I do my best but I’m hampered by a husband and sentiment.

I really enjoyed this post.

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

Thanks, Tilly.

Happiness is never in things, it is in us. Our sentimental nature lies not in these objects, but in our hearts.

13. Debra - February 9, 2011

Yes another great post!

I have been going through my stuff. I came up with an idea…all those photos that I always ‘meant’ to write on the back of and put in photo albums…well, my daughter is in-between positions…she is artsy…and she loves photos…I just shipped the ones I could find to her Monday:) yay me! (and she wanted them…all the better:)

I had fabric dating to the 80’s …still folded nicely….off to Goodwill…on Monday. again Yay me!

So yes I think lightening my material load allows me to be more free.

thanks Nancy:)

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

That’s awesome, Debra.

We have fragments of who we were folded away in closets and tucked away in drawers ~ in case, someday, we retrace our steps. It’s hard to let go of the dreams we once held.

14. clarbojahn - February 9, 2011

I like this post. It reminds me that all that clutter in my life reminds me of something. And if it’s negative I need to throw it out. Time to clear up the mental clutter, too.

I don’t know if I can let go of old dreams though.

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

If old dreams keep tugging on our sleeves, it may be time to take them out, dust them off, and take dedicated action to accomplish them.

In many cases, however, letting old dreams drift away is the better course of action ~ allowing us to focus on today’s priorities.

15. Rosa - February 9, 2011

I have been thinking a lot about this topic recently. I am a total clutterbug and Love to aquire new (usually used, antique, vintage) things. In fact, I just started a new habit of collecting daily paintings! But I love the idea of living simply. Do you think it would be possible to do both? I’m sure gonna try!!

16. SuziCate - February 9, 2011

I am not a hoarder but there are certain sentimental attachments that I can not bear to part with…things that belonged to ancestors, and a couple of speacial things of my kids…and myabe a few other things…

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

That’s the key: “When weeding out our possessions, we kept only what we used, loved, or could not bear to be without . . . ”

During the clutter busting, we honor our hearts as well as our minds, by jettisoning the detritus and keeping what matters.

When we moved, I kept ALL the furniture made by my father, grandfather and BFF, the quilt stitched by my great aunt and finished by my mom, the Bible given to me by my great aunt, and the cane carved for my great-grandmother.

These objects are used, loved, admired and cherished.

17. linda - February 9, 2011

I am a terrible hanger oner! When my husband got rid of his last car I acutally felt bad for it when it was leaving. It was as if we were sending away part of our family. He is a minimalist and I am not. When I watch the Hoarders TV show I get very upset and start throwing things out. I don’t want to end up like that.

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

When I traded in my first Honda, I cried as we left the parking lot. It had been a faithful companion for 13 years.

Now, of course, I feel the same way about my second Honda.

Attachment is normal . . . as long as it doesn’t supercede good judgment (or spawn hoarding behavior). 🙂

18. Piglet in Portugal - February 9, 2011

In a nutshell we hoard everything – just in case.
From bent drawing pins, to elastic bands to wine stoppers. I try and recycle everything in the home and many disgarded items are reborn again. Oh to travel light but my hoard is my anchor 🙂

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

Well, you managed to fly all the way to Portugal.

You must be doing something right. Right?

19. donnahuebsch - February 10, 2011

Really enjoyed this post – de-cluttering is something I need to do SO badly!

20. Donna Huebsch - February 10, 2011

P.S. This reminds of the Frank Lloyd Wright quote: “Many wealthy people are little more than janitors of their possessions.” I don’t want to have a life where I spend all my time taking care of my things!

21. Tokeloshe - February 10, 2011

Well done!

Computers are a great help. You can take photos of mementos and scan photos and upload them your computer which take up very little space.

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

Good point, Tokeloshe. Once on the computer, all the “memories” can be loaded onto one DVD to transport and store in a safe place (i.e., a Safe Deposit Box) for permanent archive.

22. How to Clear Our Souls | Clarbojahn's Blog - February 18, 2011

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