Thursday, January 28, 2016

Less is More and Other Lessons Learned

I have been thinking a lot lately about stuff and the more I think about it the more I realize that less really is more. More stuff does not really make your life richer, or more fulfilled and in fact it weighs you down and begins to be a burden especially as you age.

I have been pondering this for two reasons, the first because my husband and I have been talking about decluttering and getting rid of a lot of our "treasures" perhaps even downsizing. The thought of moving all of this stuff I currently own makes me ill. Where did all of this come from?

The second reason this is weighing on my mind is my in-laws. My in-laws are wonderful people who both grew up during the depression; they have worked hard for everything they have and what they have is ALOT more stuff than I do. 

They are nearing 89 in a few months and as their health declines the discussion often turns to what to do with all of their stuff? They are never going to leave their house, or as my father in law says he is not leaving unless he is carried out, so dispersing with their possessions at this point seems a little strange.  After all you cannot very well take their desk or table out from under them and yet they bring it up.

What will happen to their things they ask? Where will their collections go? Will anyone know their worth? Will people recognize the value of their antiques? They waffle between giving their treasured possessions to the kids and grandkids and selling them because they fear no one will want them when they are gone. The fact is, all of their kids are in their late 50's-60's, they have stuff of their own and really no where to go with more. Don't get me wrong, everyone has room for a treasured momento, but not an entire house of treasures. My mother in law frequently tells us that upon our next visit we need to bring a moving van.

The thought of more stuff actually keeps me up at night. As a result I have been cleaning closets and purging my house because I cannot even imagine what our family would do with our stuff. What I think are treasures someone else might not. Why should I burden someone else with my things when I am gone? Wouldn't I like to be remembered for more than a house full of stuff?

As I have pondered these things the last few months I realize now more than ever that things do not make you happy, things will not help you live longer or fell better or have a better life, things are just that things.

What really matters in life is love, time and experiences; a memory is priceless after all.

I have been making a point to spend more time with the people I love, to learn new things, to read more, to be more present when I am with friends and family, to be grateful for what I have, to have more experiences traveling, going to concerts, or just being with myself. 

I do not often talk about "life" but sometimes it is just nice to have people to "talk" to and share these sorts of things with. Perhaps you have been thinking along the same lines this year?

On that note, I leave you with this thought:

"The price of anything is the amount of life that you exchange for it." 
Henry David Thoreau

Have a great day!


  1. Elizabeth thank you for writing such a wise and thoughtful post. You've described a dilemma that a lot of us with aging parents will have to deal with at some point. Although it's interesting how different people respond to aging. I remember feeling sad seeing my grandma begin to shun shopping and buying things--when I knew how much she always loved to shop. eventually she also began to offer her things to others, giving things away to whomever would want them. In the end she stopped caring that much about what happened her belongings. Now years later i realize that dealing with our mortality and death in a healthy way means letting go of our attachments to things. And just like you mentioned, seeing the real value of the things money can't buy. Maybe your in-laws will begin to go through this process as time goes by, which would make it easier on their
    kids. I sure wish them peace as they deal with the "letting go" experience.

    1. Leslie, it has been a real challenge that I can tell you. I feel badly for them because I am sure that part of letting go is admitting their mortality.

  2. I hear ya my friend.

    About two years ago, I started to declutter. The house is brighter, more beautiful, more "authentic" this way. The treasures we do have are in oil paintings, a few small vintage/antique items, then the rest of the beauty that we add is always from NATURE. A fresh bouquet of flowers, an old bucket with a lavender plant in the kitchen, simple and fleeting pleasures that give off JOY but don't have to last forever and take up space.

    I want to breathe fresh air both inside and outside. Decluttering is symbolic of a freedom of spirit for me, one that allows me to think. I wish you well on your decluttering; it is GOOD to do and you can make some extra money selling stuff! Enjoy the process, enjoy the open air.

  3. What a profound post and words of wisdom you have written. Having to disposed of my mother's possessions was very difficult. My husband is wanting to downsize to a smaller home after retirement which will be in 5 years; that means having to eliminate all those extras that we have collected and rarely use. Starting the process will be difficult, but I do not want to burden our children with the task. I agree, having and living a good life is much more than things.

  4. Elizabeth.. we are going through the same thing. I don't de-clutter because the Mister throws all of my stuff out. He tells me it disappears on its own. Great post!

  5. Thank you for writing this post. Yes, I agree 100%. I have experienced just what you are talking about. Having to much having to decide to downsize, whether the kids will want it and them saying what are we going to do with all that. If they would know the worth.. all of it. We were moving back to Florida to be closer to the kids and faced all these things of what to do. Lets just say after the yard sale. Habitat for Humanity got tons of items that I parted with a 10 x 14 room full times two trips. I loaded up the truck and it hardly would close. Now in a smaller house still bins of items I didn't think I could part with I gave to another family who was less fortunate. Yes, my items are way down but still to much. After my only sibling (brother) passed away the thought of what is important really hit home. I prefer spending my time with family but family is always busy and sometimes it is hard to fit in. Thanks again for writing this post. So true every word... Hugs, Cindy

  6. Such a thoughtful and beautiful post. A lovely reminder of all that is truly important.

  7. Beautifully said Elizabeth. We are in the same situation. We have lived in this house for 20 years and have a accumulated a lot. I walk in a room and wonder where to begin. I don't want to burden others with my things. I love reading posts about life. Hope your week is going well. Hugs!

  8. I worry about it too. I only have my mother and she has many things. I have many things too. As much as possible I donate them or those with value like luxury designer bags, I sell on e-bay. It's true that things are not that important. Time spent with family and friends are more important.

  9. I am on the same page! I have elderly family members fierce about not getting rid of their stuff and I have kids who I see do not cherish the old things my family members save. I tell my adult children to tell me NOW if they want certain furniture pieces or other items from our home. I would rather they build their home with the items now than waiting until I pass and their homes are full!
    While I think I am good about giving away or selling things, I do seem to still purchase craft supplies a bit excessively. Playing with my craft supplies gives me great joy so I tell myself it is ok!

  10. Hello Elizabeth,
    The blue willow pattern is beautiful. You are wise to be considering this subject. We began down-sizing ten years ago and now seven houses later we feel we have got to a minimum and only have items we love and ones that are functional. It is an ongoing chore. My wardrobe always needs editing.
    Elizabeth do not let it make you ill. I love your attitude when you state what you value in life.
    Have a great week
    Helen xx

  11. I can relate to so much about this - having downsized and decluttered a few years ago. In fact, it's when I started Billy's Bungalow! In the infamous Marie Kondo book she suggests keeping only the things that give you JOY! I agree with that - but agree even more with your truths about simply living. XO

  12. Hi Elizabeth...once again, one of your posts has really spoken to me. I am such a collector, but often wonder if my children will love my cherished objects as much as I do. It saddens me to think about someone's treasured possessions ending up at the consignment shop, but all too often that is the case. Your photos that accompany this post are so lovely! Enjoy the rest of the week, my dear! xoxo

  13. I try to purge and send things to consignment shops that help a charity, this way your things are actually doing goof for someone else. I do remember a dear friend who collected 15 th century religious relics tell me that he Surrounded himself with beautiful things to forget how ugly life can be sometimes. So I guess we all have our reasons for surrounding ourselves with "stuff"!

  14. Very true - I try to declutter but live with a more is more person - a constant challenge! Happy New Year from Carole's Chatter

  15. I love my "things" and, love to look at them quite often....I'm not going to get rid of anything that I love or that makes me happy.....if somebody wants it when I'm gone...fine...if not...they will do with it what they want. I'm not even going to waste a moment of valuable time stressing about any of it..... I'm just going to keep right on making more "stuff" that I love and enjoying it immensely.....

  16. Oh my friend, we are so
    much on the same wave-
    length. My FIL died last
    February (88) and he said
    the same thing about never
    leaving. My MIL is still in
    their home because she
    can't part with her STUFF.
    She's lonely but right now
    we can't convince her to
    part with anything. Like
    you, my heart literally pounds
    when I think of all of our
    things. Once my youngest
    graduates from HS, we will
    be downsizing! In the mean-
    time, I do a drawer or cupboard
    here or there. The KEY is not
    just shuffling things around, but
    moving them out. As Marie Kondo
    says, "It must spark joy."

    Good luck -- I'm on your team!

    xo Suzanne

  17. You have beautiful things in the pictures, and I understand your sentiments exactly about decluttering and cherishing experiences instead of things. I found your blog through a link on Preppy Empty Nester and am so glad I did!


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