Keeping Track of Stuff

I am on a mission to declutter our house of stuff. M, not so much. But even me donating or dumping items I no long use, need, or want does make a difference. Or so I tell myself. Fortunately I am not especially sentimental and have no emotional ties anything I am choosing to part company with. Frankly, I rarely feel anything other than pleasure at the freed-up space or ease of organization after things are gone.

Part of this quest is eating food we have in the fridge and the pantry. Eating it or throwing it away is the task at hand. Some items tossed out in the last few weeks were huddled safely in the deep, dark corners of the cupboards during previous purges, but this time I took absolutely every item off of every shelf in every cupboard and examined it for practicality (will we even eat this?) and edibility (OMG – this expired in 2015!) and made my cuts from there. I was ruthless. Anything that made the practicality cut immediately got pushed to the front of the cupboard and recipe hunts ensued. Some were easy (pasta, canned vegetables) and others I wondered what had possessed me to buy it in the first place (capers, rice vinegar). 

The purge continues into other areas of possessions. Clothes, shoes, handbags, accessories – I do this at least once a year anyway, but now I am giving a critical eye toward favorites I have kept for years and years. Going forward, I’m hoping to not have to do this for a long while. But it’s hard. There are some things I have an abundance of – gym clothes – and actually kinda of need it. I go to the gym almost daily and do not want to have to do a laundry daily, so I have plenty of tops and bottoms and such to work out regularly and only run the wash once a week. 

But other items, I am determined to pare down my possessions and simplify. 

Pony holders (for hair) come to mind. I recently cut about 4 inches of length off my hair, taking it to a shoulder-skimming bob. Because it seems so short to me, I tossed most all of my pony holders. I figured at this length, I don’t need them.

Except I do. I find my hair flopping around in my face while trying to lift weights is an enormous distraction. Dealing with that and my lack of pony holders resulted in purger’s remorse, a condition I had always thought was limited to M and his “what if” personality trait. 

Then I found a single pony holder squirreled away in my gym bag for hair emergencies, a refugee from my bathroom vanity drawer purge.

So. Much. Better. 

My dilemma now is I have only one pony holder. One. And it’s small, black, and easily misplaced or lost in all sorts of places where I mess with my hair. I could buy another package and have multiples, but that sort of cancels out my mission to reduce stuff. Yes, I get they are small, but still: it is the principle of the thing. I also know that this sole survivor of the prior purge will not last forever. In my experience these bad boys have a two to three month life cycle of daily use before breaking or getting lost. 

It has me thinking about having one of items we use a lot. Scarcity and having enough, versus abundance (which is a whole other blog post, I realize now). Like many people, I have multiples of all sorts of things. Since I am presently discussing hair, I have eight hair brushes and four combs. Of those items, I use exactly three on any regular basis (comb, two brushes). Why do I have so many? Surely there is not a hair brush replication process going on in the night while I sleep? No, sadly it is mostly the result of my failing to plan appropriately on various trips through the years. Forgot my brush and/or comb, go to the nearest Target or Target-like store and buy another. Same thing happened with the pony holders. Same story with a lot of items around the house presently or in the recent past. 

Where my mindset has been mostly one of relatively reckless abundance, I am now turning toward embracing scarcity and liking the idea more and more. After all, if I only have two hairbrushes (and I need both!) and one comb, I will know to pack them and bring them back when traveling. It happens with my flat iron, why not with combs and brushes?

It’s not just hair appliances either. I think of other things in my bathroom, items in my closet, all sorts of stuff in my kitchen and laundry room. It’s not the consumables – I am a-okay having extra cleaning and paper products as long as I have the storage space available – but how many [insert lots of things] do we need? Some items we use every single day and having a decent supply is a reasonable proposition. Other stuff, not so much. 

Sadly, M does not share my zeal for relative minimalism. But I will continue doing what I can and nag him subtly along the way. 

As for the pony holders: I think I will hold off awhile longer. My favorite type is harder to find, and the store I got them last is not a place I visit routinely. Next time I am there – it will be before Christmas – I will look and get another package.

I know, I know: me and my first world problems. The journey of learning and evolving never ends, though. As the years pass and pile up, I realize again and again how much more there is to learn.

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