Thursday, May 15, 2008


“All I really need is a song in my heart, food in my belly and love in my family.” - Raffi

I’ve listened to the Raffi CD 9,000 times in the car at this point but the message is finally sinking in. It’s come to my attention recently that we have a lot of stuff. 13,500 lbs of it according to the moving guy, and that's after selling $380 of it for about $5 a piece at our yard sale. The yard sale helped - I can see the top of the piano, there actually is a floor of my closet and you can pull a book off of the shelf without worrying that you might die in a pile of books. But still, it is too much and I've been wondering about this.

Why do we have stuff? It should be simple - either it's because we need it or it makes us happy or both. But I’m questioning that. I don’t think of myself as someone who needs that much stuff. I have dresses and shoes in my closet that haven’t been worn since college. In fact, the other moms at Lucy’s school would probably be shocked to know that I do actually own more than just my Live in Love t-shirt, jeans and flip-flops. In fact, they probably are quite certain that I don’t own a brush given the way my hair looks in the morning when I bring Lu to school. And as for happier, I’m happier now that we've gotten rid of a lot of it. Lighter. Less burdened. With all that stuff comes the guilt of owning too much stuff (and if you don’t feel that way, watch The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard - - and you soon will). Plus there’s just the time that comes with maintaining a house full of things.

I think part of the reason we have so much stuff is that I’m always asking myself, “what if?” When we started pulling items for the yard sale, Toby attacked each room with a complete lack of sentiment and I deliberated each item. What if I suddenly need to use this thing that I haven’t used since I can remember, if ever? The 1,000 page Don Delillo book that I’ve had for five years and never read? I might just be in the mood this year. The piles and piles of grad school papers? Sure I’ll never use them, but those papers induced migraines, sleep deprivation and required incredible time management skills as I wrote them with 1 year old Evie looking over my shoulder. My Nike golf shoes? I still might take it up sometime soon. But it’s amazing what a few hours in a dank basement will do to your frame of mind. Pretty soon, I was cavalierly tossing family heirlooms into the yard sale pile.

As much as moving has measured up to be an incredible pain in the ass, it has started to become beneficial in a way I hadn’t imagined. Suddenly we have clean closets, more organized toys, fewer clothes… and I’d like to keep it this way. It’s a challenge for me. I am naturally a disorganized person and when you toss in two girls coming home from school with arm loads of papers and art projects daily, plus all the birthday and Christmas and Easter gifts, and then add a baby in the mix and subtract any possibility of a free moment to go through it all, well, it just starts to pile up. But I‘m with you Raffi, even if you are being replaced by the High School Musical soundtrack these days.