Saturday, August 16, 2008


The past few weeks I was inspired after reading about the Lone Gunman from Qaptain Qwerty and decided to give simple living another try and at the same time trying (again) to clean up the clutter in my house, especially in my home office. This is not the first time I attempted to be clutter-free. It did not last more than 3 months before newspaper articles, purchases from book fairs, folders for community projects, personal correspondence began to pile up on my desk, on the floor and then move into banker boxes that would easily be forgotten for years. I found about a dozen copies of Metro News (photo above) from 1985, back when I was a volunteer with the organization. Why a dozen copies, because I was in the photo ( and it was on the front page) and that was the first year I participated in the New York City Marathon as a volunteer. I kept one copy and the rest went into recycled bin. I also donated six shopping bags of books that I never read. This week nine brown paper bags of "correspondence" I kept since 1985 went into our church's recycled bins!
Among almost 20 boxes of sentimental, maybe meaningful but useless correspondence, I found a certificate of appreciation from the Statue of Liberty Foundation for my contribution of $20. That was in 1986 and it was a centennial celebration. For now I am putting the certificate in a box with other heart-warming items. Once I am gone, no one would care about this certificate or all the anniversary and birthday cards my husband and I gave to each other the last 19 years. A few years ago when I was having martial problems and ready to either move to an apartment or purchase a condo, I found the situation was helpful in cleaning up the clutter as I no longer had any sentimental feelings towards stuff that I had accumulated thru the marriage. I also found feeling depressed would help getting rid of stuff as I no longer care about what I would do next.
Last week I picked up the book "How to Live in Small Spaces" by Terence Conran from the library. I thought a tree tent (photo above) would be a good birthday present for my brother - just kidding Qaptain! According to Conran, these tree tents were designed by Dutch artist Dre Wapenaar for a group of activists called Road Alert Group in England. The activists set up the tents on the trees to prevent construction companies from cutting down the trees to make way for development. Two adults and two children (they got to be small people) could fit in this 9 feet in diameter tree tent. Conran mentioned that a campsite rent these tents but did not mention the location of the campsite.
This bedroom (photo above) is part of small living space of 65 square feet with a rotate kitchen and bathroom using a remote controlled cylinder. Conran wrote about people who enjoyed small space, living to its fullest and found positive aspects to living in tight quarters. I thought of how my family, all six of us, cramped into the tiny hut with one bed while living in the refugee camp (that was in 1979). We had to stuff the only few pieces of clothes into small canvas bags because there were no pillows. From my tiny room in Queens, New York in 1987, after I got married in 1989, moving to the small 100-year home (3-room, small basement) in Grand Haven, Michigan, somehow my husband and I, just two of us, managed to fill every inch of stuff in the current 6-rooms, full basement, 2 car garage home. My brother owns a 3-level home, my sister has a condo and we all filled the space with stuff.
My husband gave me this large stuffed puppy (photo above) as Valentine's present a few years ago. I named him Valentino. This week along with other earthly possessions, Valentino was given to charity, a Goodwill store nearby. I tried not to let all the stuff overwhelmed me as I decided what to let go and what is worthy to keep. I am not suggestion it would work for anyone else but I found the following questions helpful as I decide to trash, recycle, donate or keep.

Would these items matter a year from now, five years, ten years or after I am gone?

I also imagine moving into the tree tent and allow myself only one container of stuff - what would be the most meaningful items I want to keep? So check back later as I will provide update of my quest, slow but steady, I promise, on my progress to a clutter-free living space and clutter-free mind.

1 comment:

starfish20 said...

Hello Top-of-the-Arch! I congratulate you on your quest to be free of material trappings! The moment It really hit me was during our last move from South Carolina to Tampa. I was in the attic bringing down things that we had taken around the country with us that we didn't even know we had.

It seemed like each item cost about 20 bucks and I started adding up each thing and thinking about all of the hours I worked to buy these things that we didnt miss and lived most of there lives in the attic. Such a waste.. I was actually sad.

Well when we moved down to Tampa our stuff was in a pod in S.C. waiting to be transported down a few weeks after we arrived. We were able to live with minimal stuff, pillows,blankets a few toys ect. and we realized once again how little we needed to be happy.

What makes us happy is good food and time with the kids. So after reading a few articles in the New York Times and stumbling upon a few "simplicity" blogs we decided to start getting rid of anything that we didn't use or really love. I need to send a few pics and updates to the Qaptain since he has been so kind to post updates on my progress. I also will be writing several long posts on the subject in the next week or so.

Good luck to you!


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