Regrets, traditions and reality.

I personally feel that anticipating regrets, especially attached to objects, is a waste of time. It’s like clinging to old routines or traditions just because of their history, we put aside the fact that they are inconvenient or obsolete just because they are familiar.

To give you an example of that ~ Lets talk about Christmas. My mother loves for all of her children to come home and be together at Christmas and is disappointed nearly every year by the fact that this rarely happens. Two of us live no less than 900km away, one of which due to spouse’s work commitments only gets four weeks vacation time a year. While the other has the same situation as does their spouse and also have their children’s obligations to consider. Two others have their own businesses to run, which affords them even less flexibility with vacation time. Add the fact that the worse time to travel is during Christmas which carries the highest road toll (deaths by car accident) of any other time of the year and commercial travel is at its most expensive.  Meanwhile my parents have been retired for over 25 years and can pick up and travel whenever they please. Yet just because it is Christmas and a beautiful time to spend with family we should just ignore all the other issues and make the effort to get together.

What has this got to do with clutter you ask. Some people use the same kinds of self defeating reasoning when they look at their belongings. Regardless of how much they hate the clutter, no matter how impractical it is to store, clean, work around, move… they still find some kind of sentimental reasoning to keep it. So continuously they live with all these inconveniences in the unlikely event that some time in the future they may need to use this item or regard it fondly because of the memories it evokes.

I am not saying that everyone should get rid of everything impractical in their lives just for convenience sake. I am saying that if you are feeling suffocated by your clutter and that feeling is permanently invading you life then there is only two things to do…

  1. Put up with that feeling and all the inconvenience due to the clutter.
  2. Do something about it. Start eliminating the things that are not of real significance to you or are not being used.

I have not regretted a single thing I have gotten rid of yet. Every now and again a situation has arisen where I could have used an item I got rid of but those occasions are so rare and of no consequence. Having an uncluttered easy to care for home however is a treat that I get to enjoy every day and I am loving it.

Today’s Declutter Item

I took another look in my kitchen cupboard and came up with these two little pie plates. I can’t remember the last time I used them so I figured I didn’t really need them. They will accompany me to the thrift store next week.

Two Little Pie Plates

Something I Am Grateful For Today

My sleep was interrupted last night so I decided to sleep in this morning. Even with the extra hour lie in and a lazy start I still got all my housework done by 1pm. I love a small decluttered house. And now in the spirit of this weeks mini missions I am using up all of my leftover vegetables by making vegetable curry for dinner.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Thank you for the kick in the pants this morning. I did a big clean out this weekend, and successfully got rid of a decent amount, but that worm of doubt was creeping in this morning!

    • Hi Creative Me,
      I am glad you understood the meaning behind this post and that it has helped put your mind at ease about the things you let go. Take your time with your decluttering and work your way up to the things that are harder to let go. The idea is to be happy to let go not regretting the act before the dust has settled.

  2. If your parents have been retired for 25 years, how much longer will you have them? How many Christmases will you regret you weren’t able to spend with them? I’d sacrifice a few business and work opportunities, and shoulder a few travel inconveniences to be with my aging parents over the holidays. It’s a great way for your kids to create memories of grandparents they will always cherish. Your parents won’t be around forever, but work and business will always be there when you get home — no doubt about that. Traveling is harder on old people. Even air travel at the least busy time of year is harder for them, physically, than it is for their 30-something and 40-something kids. Cut the old people a break, and go & see them already! Scr*w work, business, etc etc. Stop complaining and give your parents a nice Christmas. They gave you *life*. What does your employer give you? A few days off here and there? An ever-more-expensive health insurance plan? Meh…. I think I know where *my* loyalties lie…

    • This is a very judgemental comment, especially considering that as far as you know, Colleen’s parents DO travel often.

      Christmas is nice to spend with family but it’s not the only holiday or time of year to get together. Presuming to know a family based on one blog post is pretty rude.

      • I agree wtih you Lynn….the holidays are difficult and stressful times for which to travel. I think sometimes trying to please everyone makes it very hard to enjoy the holiday….Im sure the family gets together as often as they can. I agree we should not be judgemental.

        • Thank you Donna,
          I appreciate your support. Christmas is different for everyone it all depends on your circumstances and your attitude. God bless those who love Christmas and are happy to travel thousands of miles to get home every year. Then there are those who live right around the corner from their families and still don’t spend Christmas with one another. There are those who spend a fortune every year on gifts and celebration whether they can afford it or not and wouldn’t have it any other way. There are those who suffer every year because they can’t afford to give or celebrate at all. There are those who have nothing and are happy just to get together. There are those who get home when they can simply to be together and give no gifts. There are an endless variety of situations and I am sure each and everyone of them love their families but do things just a little differently.

        • Vicki makes a strong point about aging parents and the difficulty of travel (for old and young alike).

          Colleen makes a strong point today in this blog about relating the stress and challenge of her family situation to decluttering. There are times were we just gotta let go, at our own pace.

          This is an awesome group here at 365LessThings. Amazing blog and comments and all points of view. Letting go of clutter in our lives can also be letting go of situations, obligations, past grievances (forgiveness) and our stuff (and those feelings that go along with our stuff).

      • Hi Lynn,
        thank you for your support. My parents do travel often and get out and enjoy life. It saddens me for my Mother’s sake that she places so much importance on getting together at Christmas. I much prefer to see her at a more relaxed time of year. In fact I love to see her here at my home where she can sit back and take it easy and let me look after her for a change. When she is in her own home she automatically assumes the lead role and no amount of coaxing is going to stop her doing that. Her and I are so alike and I love her to death.

    • Hi Vicki,
      I love my parents I take time to see them usually twice a year and they are still very well and travel often, going on cruises, road trips and flying. The point of this post wasn’t about being bah humbug about Christmas or neglecting my family, it was about clinging to stuff for all the wrong reasons when every fibre of your being really would prefer a simpler, less cluttered life. I am sorry if I offended you.

    • Unecessarily harsh post – oposing views could have been expressed in a more caring coinsiderate way… and as this is about the ‘Christmas spirit, perhaps one might suggest in the manner Jesus would have us speak to each other…

      Following Colleens blog as I have for quite a while now, it is quite clear the total loving affection Collen has for her family.

      Thanks as ever for your constant hard work Colleen in writing thought provoking posts. I know you are completely open to other points of view, but personally I would prefer it if posters could remain curteous and pleasant.

      • Hi Katharine,
        thank you for weighing in on the subject. I almost regret publishing this post as I had no intention of offending anyone. I did think it may have been thought provoking and maybe a little too honest but I didn’t expect it was cause such tensions.

        Don’t be too hard on Vicki, certain things can trigger strong feeling in people for all sorts of reasons and the need to vent can be overwhelming. I hope she will stick with us and let this one unintentional transgression on my behalf slide by.

        • Ok, I just felt I couldn’t cross the road and walk on by when you are so much help to us all on here. I’ll ignore any such in the future knowing you are ok about it. Feel free to delete my post.
          You only appear to have offended one person Colleen so don’t regret it: Christmas can be a time of tensions and exhaustion for many so the subject is worthy of mentioning. I am very grateful that it is not for us.

          • Thank you Katharine I appreciate your support.
            Clutter can also be a source of tensions and exhaustion and there is the connection between the two subjects. I hope if nothing else people get that connection. The futility of of worrying about possible regret of missing some piece of clutter is not worth it while 24/7 we put up with the inconvenience.

  3. Your so right Colleen, i’ve never regretted getting rid of anything, i don’t really remember half of the stuff i gave away!!

    I never spend time with my family at christmas, (i don’t mean my kids, obvioulsy!) We make an effort and get toghether regualry throughout the year, so we really don’t need to at christmas, to be honest all the hosting just adds extra pressure at a very stressful time of the year.
    Sharron x

    • Hi Sharron,
      I am glad for you, as it is really good not to feel those regrets. The key I think, which I mention often, is to work your way up to the things that you feel more attached to and then let them go when you have found more joy in the freedom from things than owning them. Not everyone is at this same level of awareness.

      I am glad also that you understand where I was coming from about the Christmas thing. I love my family dearly and always enjoy seeing them and spending time with them it just doesn’t have to be coupled with what has become a very stressful time of year for some.

  4. I’m not happy with the way my house is…I have a vague sense of disatisfaction…I can think of pockets of clutter I can tackle right now but will the sense of disastisfaction go away if I do it all? I’m not sure…

    • Hi Low Income Lady,
      you have a good point here. Will that feeling of dissatisfaction go away? I think it will but sometimes we just have to convince ourselves to settle for not so perfect. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and can dwell too much on the little insignificant things instead of revelling in the vast improvements we have made. This is a good lesson for me and I need to heed my own words here as I can be a bit of a perfectionist. Focus on the good stuff and don’t drive yourself crazy.

    • Try it on one or two pocket of clutter and see how you feel.
      I never ever imagine I would enjoy it that much. It is liberating. I still don’t fully understand why, but it is. 🙂

      • Hi NatalieinCA,
        this gets more interesting by the minute. I think you and I have read Low Income Lady’s comment in very different ways. I hope she comes back to clarify. I read it as ~ she has done so much already but still isn’t satisfied and wonders if she ever will be. There is always that fear that one might go overboard and regret it later. How did you read it?

        • Yes I have done a lot of decluttering already, there is still more to do but its getting harder to find stuff…I was kinda wondering if I will ever get there…will I finally reach a place where I am happy with things the way they are? Or will I always be somehow unhappy? I don’t regret anything I have gotten rid of. I also have my son’s stuff who is overseas for most of the year and I can’t get rid of that but that doesn’t worry me…I know I’m not there yet to where I want to be and I was just wanted to know if you ever reach a place of satisfaction with how things are…

          • Hi Low Income Lady,
            so I was right about how I read your comment and my answer is ~ I don’t know. That is simply because I haven’t got there yet. I suppose once you get to a point where you know there is nothing else to declutter and you are still unhappy you will need to find the real source of your unhappiness. Life is a continuous journey of discovery and we wonder up and down the path not ever really knowing where we are going or what direction to go in. Maybe at the moment you are wondering a path that isn’t going to lead to your real happiness or perhaps it is right where you are and you are just not seeing it. How does the saying go ~ Can’t see the wood for the trees. I am satisfied that everyday I make progress and I am happy with that most days. I set this pace and it has worked well for me so far so I just keep plodding along.

  5. I only remember regretting three things (books) that I got rid of. & when I replaced them, I gave them away again. They weren’t as wonderful as I “remembered” them being!

  6. I have found that when I start small actions on decluttering one step leads to another and it gets easier and more fun as I go. I am also finding that mental clutter is just as bad as our material possession clutter. I am trying to declutter my mind and activities as well as my home. Im learning I dont have to say yes to every single request….saying yes to everyone is just like shopping for more stuff I dont need. Im learning to value the times I say yes although of course there are some things you just dont have a choice on. but as you say hang on to all the things for which are significant to you…..rid yourself of things that dont….love it….glad I read this today…..

    • Hi Donna,
      I feel the same way you do about decluttering but perhaps we weren’t that attached to things in the first place. This isn’t always the case for others. Life’t little experiences has a big impact on how people behave towards there acquisitions.

      You are so right about the mental and activity clutter as well. Obligation can be a problem when it comes to all forms of clutter. Everything in moderation.

  7. We have three elderly parents who are alone or in a nursing home. I find Christmas Day very tiring because we try to make sure none of them are alone that day. They do not expect this but they truly appreciate it, and we live fairly close together so it seems reasonable to make the effort – and I am always glad we did. So I look at Christmas Day as a work day, and our real day of rest and relaxation comes the next day. This solution works for us. These decisions, like all of the ones we make about simplifying our lives, are unique to every family, because every family has unique circumstances.

  8. Colleen, I have to respond to two things I get out of your post. 1. We used to work our tails off in order to get things done so we could drive 500 miles to have Christmas with both sets of grandparents. It was good and we enjoyed it. Then they got older and so did we. It was harder on them to have all of that work to do to get ready for us and it was harder for some of us to get out of obligations like work, school, etc. So we changed things up a bit. We decided that instead of traveling in the winter weather we would find other times to travel and we would move around from place to place rather than always going to the grandparents. It was much nicer because we could plan to have more time together and at times when we could be out and doing things rather than just sitting in the house. Now that it is just Mom and I we usually spend Christmas just the two of us. The aunts & uncles now get together with their extended families. Things change.
    2. I have finally been able to get Mom to declutter not only the Christmas decorations so that we only have the ones we can actually use but she has also “decluttered” her expectations. Christmas has always been a time of baking and candy making and giving bunches of goodies away. Over the past few years it has become harder and harder for either of us to stand and do all of that and also has become more costly at a time when we have less money. Also, people really shouldn’t be eating all of those goodies and neither should we. She has decided that we are no longer going to do all of that. I’m proud of her.

    • Deb J, your comment about “decluttering our expectations” really struck a chord with me. I tend to get easily disappointed because of my attachment to people, special events/days, and circumstances and the expectations they elicit. What a great new focus for my decluttering efforts, and possibly a blog post. Thanks!

    • Hi Deb J,
      your Christmas plans sound perfect. We really know how to laze in out for our Christmas because they are in the Summer and usually involve BBQ’s, picnics and beaches. I really did enjoy the winter Christmases when we were in America though. The chance of snow always makes winter that little bit more exciting. When I was a child we were more likely to have a chance of flood or cyclone, not quites so much fun as snow.

      I am glad that your mom as come to the realisation that some things just become an unrealistic expectation as one becomes less agile. It is not always easy to admit we are growing older and the body really isn’t up for the kinds of activities that we used to perform easily. Even at 46 there are things I know I am never going to do again, like play softball. I have already wrecked my shoulder and my ankles from the 10 years of it when I was younger. Tidying a house fall of trinkets and all the furniture that goes with them is getting harder and harder for my mother-in-law but she is finding it hard let go I think. Letting go of tradition can be very difficult but the freedom from the expectation and effort must surely be fair compensation.

      • Colleen,
        Maybe a future blog post you write could be about decluttering expectations. Kind of abstract, but still very practical, don’t you think?

        • Hi Di,
          yes I agree and will give it some thought. This post was meant to kind of go down that path but all it did was open a can or worms that distracted from the intended message. Oh well can’t win them all I suppose.