But Will it Make You Happy?

The holiday catalogs are piling up at my house. While that is frustrating in itself, it means I need to contact the companies again and have my name taken off their mailing lists, they WILL get recycled. Back in the summer, the NY Times ran an article by a girl named Tammy Stroebel, who writes a blog called Rowdy Kittens.com, lives in Oregon and had made the decision to sign on to the 100 item challenge. The article was titled “But will it make you happy?” and she and her husband decided to get rid of almost everything they owned in favor of having more time and money to do the things that really made them happy. They have time to volunteer and help others and they have money to travel. My dad used to always tell us that “If you have a place to sleep, a roof over your head and food in the cabinet, everything else is extra”. I really like that philosophy and it has taken a while for me to develop that as my own. I have to admit that I was caught up in the consumerism and still at times can be, but I really feel that as a society that we need to slow down and take a serious look at what we are doing and what really makes us happy.

In addition to this, there is the 100 item challenge. The idea is that you make a list for yourself of the 100 items that you absolutely can not live without and you eliminate everything else. You can see Dave’s list in the link but the idea is that you make you own rules and certain things don’t go in the list like tools, collections, home furnishings and items that you can’t claim as 100% your own. In my case, I have lots of art supplies that are in bins and I have an addiction to magazines. I guess I’m in the right business, huh? So in the summer, I pulled all the magazines in my house into one room and went through all of them and consolidated them down to a series of folders that contain just the pages that I need as inspirational reference. This week, I was trying to pare down our kitchen some and noticed that we have a ton of cook books that have never been used. Those are just sitting on my counter taking up valuable real estate. I think there are even more in the basement. With so many recipes on the web these days, I begin to wonder why we need so many books. The Joy of Cooking is really our only true cookbook that gets used weekly and we have notebooks that we put our printouts from web recipes in for future reference.

So with the holidays just around the corner and lots of new items will be coming into my house, I have asked family to donate to a cause that I believe strongly in or to donate to Heifer International rather than add items to my already full house. Our house is small compared to many and yet I don’t know that I could go smaller. With each cabinet that I open these days, I see lots of items that have been put there because I didn’t know what else to do with it. I am gradually whittling down some of my things and have a lot more I could do so the 100 item challenge is not an easy thing to do. I probably should sit down and actually MAKE the list. I seem to be working on the premise that I can do the house a room or cabinet at a time. I recently read a post on the 100 Item Challenge blog where a person wrote in and suggesting taking photos of the items of sentimental value that she owned and then getting rid of the item and storing the photo on her computer in order to occasionally revisit the memories of the item. I look around my house and have items like this but have trouble letting go. Maybe today will be that day, we’ll see.