I find that the cleanliness of my house is directly related to the sanity of my mind. As a result, since going back to work my sanity quotient has taken a serious hit. Based on this revelation, I have embarked on a major decluttering initiative in our house. I found a great book called The Declutter Workbook: 101 Feng Shui Steps to Transform Your Life that is changing my home, and my perspective on life. Believe it or not, this little gem is only $.01 used on Amazon. You would think that the steps to decluttering your house would be obvious but this book does an amazing job of helping you identify all of the little things that you might otherwise miss. I found that I've looked at some of the clutter in my house for so long that I don't even notice it anymore. Chris & I have been using this book to tackle one room at a time and I am thrilled with the results! I'm also thrilled with the unintended consequence: decluttering the house has led to decluttering my life.
When I really look at all of the knick knacks around the house in a critical way, I'm amazed at all of the mindless spending we have done over the years. Did I really need all of these candles? And why do I have more picture frames than I do pictures or space to display them? April Dykman writes a great guest post on this subject on Get Rich Slowly, one of my favorite blogs. Her post is called Freedom From Mindless Spending. She discusses the reasons that lead us to purchase items for which we really have no need or attachment. She then talks about stripping your life down to the simple things that really bring you happiness. I enjoy being outside, hiking in the woods, camping under the stars, spending time on the water, curling up on the couch with a great book and a cup of coffee, catching up with a long time friend, driving in the mountains, taking my dog for a long walk, and spending a quiet night with my husband talking about our dreams for the future. None of these things involve much money or items that are mass produced and sold at Target. Now don't get me wrong, I love Target as much as the next twenty-six year old girl nesting in her first home. But when you think about it, the old cliché is true: the best things in life really are free. Freeing ourselves from mindless spending pads both our pockets and our mental well-being.
Chris & I are always looking for ways to make our money go farther so as part of our declutter project, we are selling a lot of old and unused things on Amazon and craigslist. We've decided to take the money from these sales and put it in a savings account that will be used next year to fund our cross-country road trip. It feels great to get back to basics, both in our house and in our lives. There is something very liberating about eliminating the noise in your life and getting back to enjoying the simple things. I love how much cleaner our house looks (even a clean house looks messy with random, unrelated figurines and objects everywhere). I love that this project is making us reevaluate our priorities while helping fund a great adventure in the trip. And I love how I can apply the concept of a cleaner house to the bigger picture of life. As April Dykman says in her post, "What made me happy? Seems like a simple question, but to find the real answer, you have to block out a barrage of ad campaigns, expectations from family members and peers, and the desire to keep up with the Joneses." So I vow from this day forward to stop and think twice before heading to the check out with a cart full of fake flowers and decorative wall hangings. And while I'm cruising down a two-lane highway in California next year, I won't remember what those flowers looked like one bit. But I'll never forget the color of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean or the quality campfire conversations and playlist debates with Chris. And you can't put a price tag on those.