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There are two things I used to do that I try not to do so much of anymore: buy stuff and do stuff.
I spent years of my younger adult life accumulating things or thinking about how I could accumulate them or why I deserved to accumulate them even if we couldn't afford them. Clothes, furniture, gadgets, gee gaws, doo dads, you name it. I would walk into a mall with all of the glittery stuff that shouted, “You need me!”, and I'd be almost delirious with want, want, want. I didn't have a shopping addiction or go on spending sprees. Well, maybe sometimes. But it wasn't what the world or Oprah would label a problem. (Maybe because much of my world suffers from the same affliction.)
The problem was inside of me. I thought all of that stuff could define who I was to everyone else. Hmm. Nice house, great decor, cool clothes, shiny car. She must have her act together. She's really someone. But the problem is, to keep feeling like you are really someone, you have to keep buying the stuff. More and more and more stuff. Until you don't have any more room for stuff, but you still need to feel like somebody special.
The other side of this coin was all the time I spent doing stuff. The more stuff I could fit into a day, the more accomplished I appeared and felt. Like most of us multi-tasking moms, I took great pride in the fact that I could prepare six meals before sunrise, clean the house, drive carpool, work part-time, all while spinning plates on my head and playing the piano with my toes. But it was exhausting.
I was an exhausted woman with lots of stuff. I didn't feel like having people over to look at my stuff. I didn't have time anyway. And they had their own stuff to look at with no time to look at mine. How can you be somebody if nobody is looking at your stuff or seeing how much you can cram into a day? So if all of the stuff and doing doesn't define me, who the heck am I?
One day I woke up. I'm not sure exactly how. Maybe just getting older makes you realize some valuable things. Now I walk around my house looking at stuff and thinking about how I can get rid of it. Rooms we never use full of furniture. Closests full of clothes that don't see the light of day. The idea of one of those cool, clean loft apartments with lots of light and minimal furniture seems very appealing right now!
And then somewhere I read these amazing words: “Stop intending to do so much, and start doing less with more intention.” Wow. Those words stopped me in my tracks. What if I actually enjoyed the things I was doing, because I chose them carefully, did them slowly and with intention. So some of the things on my “to do” list didn't get done that day. Would that be horrible? Then I could really appreciate, savor, and truly experience the doing of whatever I'm doing. It's kind of a zen thought — be in the moment of what you are doing without thinking about getting to the next thing.
Consider this monumental shift for a moment: Simplify your life. Get rid of clutter. Give things away. Stop buying so much. Take things off your plate. Slow down.
It's not a race or a competition. Enjoy life and savor it. I think that's why we're here.