Thursday, December 13, 2007
Is your home splitting its seams?
As I drive through our suburban neighborhood sometimes I get to peek into my neighbors home via the garage. Sometimes they are neatly organized and painted a pretty color or turned into a game room, but what I notice mostly is that there aren't a lot of cars parked there. Tidiness aside, because this isn't the norm, most garages are packed to the gills with boxes and stuff.
There is always a good reason/excuse for accumulating all these things and then taking the cars room away to store it. Based on the number of storage facilities I see popping up everywhere, I'm thinking that these people have even run out of garage space. I will never understand why a person chooses to pay a pretty large sum of cash to store, insure, and protect things that they don't need or use.
It's not only garages though. It's closets and drawers too. We all know it. We are a people who need our things. We want, we shop, we buy, then we store. Marketing is genius for making us want what we didn't know we wanted. Marketing makes us buy the last minute items at the store. Marketing creates a need that wasn't a need before. Marketing makes me feel like my house isn't decorated enough if I don't have Santa Claus soap and guest towels.
Oh sure, don't knock the Christmas spirit! I love it when someone goes all out decorating for every season. My first thought though is where do they store that stuff for 11 months out of the year. And, how much did it cost to buy those things? I really hope they aren't in debt if they are buying a couple of $60 Christmas trees, one for the front room too.
There are two things I feel passionate about right now during the Christmas season. One is about all the clutter we accumulate. The other is about the money we are spending. This all stems from a root belief that one holds, and maybe it is because of family rituals and maybe it comes from savvy marketing.
We can't keep buying everything and storing it. Our homes are busting at the seams. As a nation we live in bigger homes, but still don't have room for all the stuff. We need a FLOW in our lives. Things come in, things go out. I always have a to go bag. When it is full, it goes in my car and to charity. If you start small, you won't be overwhelmed by starting to create a flow again in your home. When you touch something that you think needs to go, put it in the bag immediately. Let it go to bless someone else.
We also can't keep buying all these things and paying for it. Most people have debt on credit cards or car loans. We have allowed debt to become an acceptable part of the American way. The truth is that it robs us of peace. It makes us work more so we have less time to enjoy the things we already have. Not long ago I was in Target and had a buggy with a few things in it. I think I was about to spend about $50 total on a wreath that was marked down to $12, a picture frame for a wedding photo, and a couple things that escape me now. As I walked toward the cash register I said "I don't need this stuff right now." and I left. Sometimes I do that online too. I fill up the cart and then exit the website. It's funny how just the act of shopping for it is therapeutic enough. Question yourself, especially now at Christmas. Imagine how much that item will sell for at the yard sale when you don't want it anymore. Is paying $25 now worth the 75 cents you'll get for it later?
Just by having less you will appreciate more and isn't that what the season is really about?
The photo is a dog we encountered in San Francisco. He is giving you the "hairy eyeball" saying "No excuses, clean out those garages and closets!"
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