One thing I don’t like about myself when it comes to my choice to live a simpler life and, as an intended result, achieving a lower carbon footprint, is that I have a tendency to get all righteous about it. And that righteousness is not only an unattractive trait but also causes me irritation with myself.
I constantly find myself astonished and irritated by other people’s extravagances and waste. I think it irrationalÂ when people say they wish they could reduceÂ their possessionÂ and live a simpler lifestyle when nothing is stopping them. Then there are the friends and acquaintances who seek my advice but never follow it and continue to complain about how messy their homes are and how embarrassed they still are to have friends over.
I’d like to think that some of the righteousness is a negative defensive responseÂ to the sorrow and frustration I feel for those who are torn between their current lifestyle and one they think couldÂ be better but can’t bring themselves to try. But I have to admit that their is also an element of Â “Why aren’t more people concerned about the effect they are having on the planet.” or “Why do people fall for all the,Â what seems toÂ me, sleazy, manipulativeÂ advertising hype.” or “Why do people neglect more important elements of their lives in order to work so hard to fund all those excesses they don’t even need.”
The question is, why am I admitting this here? Why would I want anyone to know that I sometimes feel this way? After all this doesn’t exactly place me in a shining light of virtue. ButÂ I guess thatÂ maybeÂ the first step to getting over this issue is to admit to having itÂ in the first place. Â Perhaps if I expect people to decide to be either happy with their current situation or chose to change it, then I should expect the same from myself. I can only hope to help others and not change them and I also can’t change the world overnight. And who is to say mine is the right way anyway. I should just be content with my own choices, which I am, and allow others to make their own.
What do you think and do you ever find yourself feeling similar feeling to those above? I am open to any words of wisdom anyone would like to impart.Â And if you are that person who is reluctant to make the change you feel you need, what element of this change is scaring you into inaction. Because regardless of my moments of righteousness indignation I really would like to help you find the strength to take that first step. Perhaps we can find the solution together.
Today’s Mini Mission
Assess what quantities of toiletries you need on hand. Even if buying these items on sale is a passion of yours, realise that they go on sale on a regular basis so you donâ€™t need multiples on hand. Personally I keep no extras unless I am about to run out, but I am comfortable with that. Think about what your comfort zone is and whether that is a little excessive and try to change your ways. In the meantime begin a use it up challenge on one or two of these items and vow not to carry so many spares in future.
â€œIf we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think weâ€™d beÂ happy withÂ more?â€ â€” Unknown
I TOTALLY agree with this post! All I can suggest is something that I’ve learned when wanting to “fix” people into doing things my (right?)way….. Let’s all sweep in front of our own doors, pray for people who want help but don’t know where to start, and ask God to help them, and if He wants us to, for us to be available to help them when they’re ready! <3
Colleen Madsen says
Here here Char. I agree entirely.
I feel the same! I hate being
righteous but you can’t help it when you know people would be happier if they would just listen to you! But I’m working on it. Also ‘I constantly find myself astonished and irritated by other peopleâ€™s extravagances and waste’ is how I feel every day, all the time. In a way it makes me happy because I think about the minimal life I lead but then it just makes me sad to think about it again and how people are wasting their time and money.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Victoria, so it isn’t just me then? I do hope though that there is a way to help not feeling this way. I remember when I was a child going to a Catholic school and how bitter and twisted some of the nuns were. I am sure now that it was also righteousness that was their problem. They sustained from so many things for their faith but possibly resented others for being so extravagant and, I suppose in theirs eyes, even sinful. While at the same in the religion the righteousness and judging is also a sin. Any wonder they seemed tormented at times if that was in fact the situation.
Deb J says
Oh my, Colleen, do I ever have to work at this. Like you I have a hard time understanding why others can’t do the decluttering they say they want to do or why they can’t see their need to. I think what has helped me to be less this way than I am inclined to be is living through this entire experience with my mother. She has opened my eyes to many of the things that hold people back. That doesn’t mean that I am necessarily always able to overcome these feelings of frustration but I am getting better at it and that’s a step forward.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Deb J, knowing your situation I am not surprised the find you feel this way yourself at times. I suppose it does make it all the sweeter when witnessing someone have a breakthrough by finding what their stumbling block is. They then can sometimes move forward in leaps and bounds. I find it the hardest witnessing the struggles excess causes some people while they can’t recognise it as a problem. I suppose that is because they enjoy that shopping high when they feel down or the feeling of security when surrounded by their stuff so don’t associate the stuff with it’s negative aspects. The latter no double with the case with your mom. You have done a great job of helping find her way.
Teddy Buell says
Tale solace in the thought that although the person says they wish this, or they wish that, their old way of operating is serving them in some way. Until they are ready, they are not ready.
Colleen Madsen says
Well said Teddy. Thank you!
Oh heck, yeah, I’m right there with you sometimes. Some guy I’ve heard of uses the term “complainypants” referring to people who complain about their circumstances, and yet do nothing to change them. I agree that it is frustrating to listen to people complain, we offer help/advice, such help/advice is discarded, and the complaining starts all over again. Argh. One thing that has been difficult for me to do is to stop being Ms. Jump In & Fix It for them. Unless someone specifically asks for my assistance, I back off. I want to be sympathetic and helpful, but my irritation level calms down if I don’t take on the burden for someone else’s problems. 🙂
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Michelle, here is a question for you. Do you think that in some cases that others wouldn’t even see it as a problem they had if we weren’t setting an opposite example. The old, keeping up with the Joneses but the opposite way around. That they don’t care about it for themselves but feel they need to make excuses in the presence of someone who behaves differently to them. In that scenario we become the problem and not the solution. It’s like when the question is asked “What do you do?” and a women answers “I am just a mother.” like it is some form of failure when in fact it is a most nobel, important and sometimes thankless role. It makes them feel like a failure in society because they don’t have some sort of “successful career”.
I think I’m going to smash my computer – I have TWICE typed a response and then lost it. Nutshell Answer: Yes, I agree. Now can I hit my computer???
Grace from Brazil says
Colleen we are all so glad that you feel the way you do! You are having an effect on so many. If you would take how many people follow your blog and then multiply it a few times you would have a bigger idea how many people you are persuading to take a hard look at their stuff. Just now I mentioned to my husband that I had recycled two jars (I re-use these so much for many things but these two jars were not easy to clean). His response, “Yay, you decluttered some more!” Our whole family is on the decluttering bandwagon! But just like your motto for this blog, decluttering one day at a time you are also touching people bit by bit, one day at a time. You just keep being that voice that serves as the beacon of truth. Not everyone will hear it but many many will!
Colleen Madsen says
Thank you Grace. And you are right and I should be very satisfied at that. I am glad I wrote this post because it is giving me a few mini breakthroughs on overcoming this issue. Your comment is very helpful. And well done you and your family for making the advances on living the simple life that you have.
Colleen, I appreciate your honesty here on this very important point. I can validate that is extraordinarily difficult to not feel this way when you see so much waste by those around you. I feel the same way.
I see how manipulated people are to buy things and yet can not effect any change in those people who are so mesmerized by marketers to buy more stuff. And I want to. I want to help educate and effect change. It is like having my foot on the accelerator and brake at the same time. Righteousness accelerates me make statements to people who do not want to change and then mostly I have to put on the brake, be silent in order to not offend people. It’s so frustrating.
Education often falls on deaf ears and worse sometimes they say things that put me down which makes me feel bad if I let it. I think marketers are influencing that too, making people deaf to anything that isn’t “buy more stuff.” You are educating people and providing a non overwhelming approach to living more simply here on your blog. And doing a brilliant job of it too!
Another astonishing thing is how some folks believe they are living a de-cluttered simple lifestyle and saving the planet while they just keep buying more stuff and more stuff and more stuff. It seems the marketers have figured out a way to make people think they are living simple, saving the planet while getting them to buy, buy, buy more stuff.
The only peace and support I’ve found is with the online community of minimalist, simple living folks, and related. There is one local whole foods grocery store where I can have conversations with like-minded people too. I need community consisting of simple living folks. Without the online community, I’d probably go crazy. Very appreciative of your outstanding blog, a generous gift to the world! Newcastle is an extraordinary place, I loved my visit there.
Colleen Madsen says
Thank you so much Terry for your kind words and for being part of the team. Although as I must admit there are times when I feel like one of those people you mention in your forth paragraph. Whenever I buy something frivolous, like perhaps a craft tool, I feel like a real hypocrite. Although I do think that is an overreaction to my own righteousness. Another good reason to try to overcome it.
I do feel I am offering that “non overwhelming approach to living more simply” that you mentioned, which is, I suppose, another reason why I don’t understand why people can’t see how simple it can be. But it can be hard for them not to look at the task as monumental in both overall size and putting the brakes on getting that next shopping high.
Thanks for your input, it has given me plenty to think about.
Time. Time is what holds me back. And I can somewhat prove it–when I take a week off work and commit half of it to working on clearing out the house (and the other half to doing NOTHING..aaah….nothing) I make huge amounts of progress.
But we have two full time jobs and a child…my priorities when I’m not at work are to spending time with my kid. We try really hard to not backslide, but we really can’t make forward progress without the time commitment.
I’m working on the one thing a day, but usually I just manage the not-bring-in-one-thing or throw-out-what-came-in rather than actually tackling stuff-already-there. Which, hey, is a minimal first step. Also means when I do make progress it usually sticks–I have less to catch up on before I can get into new stuff when I do find a few days to set aside.
I know I’ll have more time if I can get it done. But spending a dollar today to make ten next week only works if you have the dollar.
Both my spouse & I would love to cut our work hours back. Unfortunately, that’s just not feasible in our culture (health insurance is useful), or in our fields (full time or none!). At least we both have found jobs that don’t demand overtime!
One of the best gifts my parents gave me as I was starting out my new life was no student debt. I am committed to doing the same for my child. Also, I happen to like working, and I like my job. But it means I have to find the balance in the rest of my life–and de-cluttering never takes priority over taking him to the park. So my day-to-day goal is to bring less in the house, and deal with what gets in to keep from backsliding.
Hi Kayote, no offense, I might be saying things you already tried, and I am a single with a part-time job, so I know I should shut up here.
BUT – whenever you come across a thing that makes you think “I should definetly take time to declutter this” – declutter it. If for example you are at the linen closet and you get frustrated at the amount of sheets – take the one at the bottom and take it IMMEDIATELY out. Close the door and go on with your life. If you are there the next time – again. one item at a time. after 10 weeks you might have already gottin rid of 3 sheets.
I installed a box which contains items that I dont want to have anymore. once in a while I look at it, decide if I want to sell, donate or give to people I know and then out it goes. I know Colleen had a whole garage for that purpose ;-)…
what I want is to say that you dont need time for actual decluttering, if you do it as you go. Install some sort of “decluttering infrastructure” and make it a habit. dont procrastine on it.
Colleen Madsen says
I understand Kayote how time can seem like a big factor in your attempt to declutter when working so hard and raising a child. But as Lena pointed out it takes but seconds to spot an item during the course of the day and set it aside to declutter in your transition area. When I first began my mission to declutter I only make a trip to the thrift shop ever month or so, therefore that didn’t take much time out of my life either. It really can be done in just a few minutes a day with a small block of time to offload the stuff (and even less if you live in the US where charities will come to your door to pick up and haul away your stuff. This is why I attacked my situation in this method in the first place. I simply decided that this task needs its place among the other priorities in my life and this was the easiest way to approach it. Perhaps your stumbling block is the need to see big difference instead of being content to chip away at it. Fundamentally I am usually an all or nothing kinda gal but my desire to achieve this task without it causing much effort or upheaval in my home was the perfect answer for my and my brain was happy to adjust to the change in my usual pace. I never looked back and enjoyed the journey.
As for backsliding, acquiring stuff also takes time out of your day (and usually more) so if you can find that time you should be able to find the other time as well. What you need to do is convince yourself the decluttering ~one thing at a time~ is just as, if not more satisfying as acquiring.
I think I have a simple solution for you on how to make progress and not just mark time. Up the anti to one in two out or better still three out rule. This will not only guarantee progress but it may also make you think twice about acquiring because you them have to take the time to declutter for every item you bring it. And as Lena put it, and I have so many times in the past, the decluttering can take place while you perform the other tasks in your day. I’ll right a blog post about this for you next week to help you see outside the box on how effortless decluttering can occur. I’ll go now and get started on that.
Righteousness. I catch myself looking down my nose at people that have made a mess of their finances (cringe). I know in my head that circumstances are sometimes beyond control (illness/unemployment/divorce). But I just get so frustrated (and righteous) when a friend will go out and spend FULL RETAIL on new dress boots then take me out for lunch during which they tell me that they can’t make rent that month and then get snobby about job opportunities that I mention. I just can’t fathom where their priorities are?! To be in their 40’s and only minimally employed with zero assets and 2 teens to care for… I see her eyes glaze over and the excuses fly every time I suggest money saving techniques that I have perfected over the years. It makes me crazy! But like any issue, the change has to come from within (like me and my clutter) so I have to back off and let live.
Oh me too, you’ve struck a chord there! It is very frustrating when people have all these justifying excuses why they can’t lead a simpler life. I’ve learned to be very sensitive as to how far I can go, then I zip the lip! ?The worst thing people can say is “Oh you’re so lucky”! Where’s the luck I ask you!!!
On a happier note, yesterday for the first time, I met a person in real life who is like me. She casually said something about if she doesn’t use something for six months it’s out. Well I whipped round to talk to her and we had a wonderful conversation!
Jo H. says
I just try to remember that I did many of the same things at one time. Everyone has to come to decluttering in their own way and at their own pace. You can encourage but you can’t make others change. And if you try, it can lead to hard feelings and they still aren’t going to change until it’s the right time for them.
To the extent that I still have decluttering to do, for me it’s a deficit of energy that is the problem. I was never a high-energy person, and having many responsibilities leaves me drained at the end of each day. But the thing I most like about thing-a-day decluttering is that it really CAN be done without expending much energy. Thinking about possible items to get rid of is a mental exercise that I can do at any time. Then on a day when I have a bit more energy it’s quite easy to dig out or pick up the item to be decluttered and place it in the “out” box. So much of decluttering is mental, it’s the decision-making.
I really enjoyed this post and the ‘comments’ string. As someone who listens to a lot of people about the struggles in their lives and a sweetheart who ‘knows all the answers,’ I have to say that each of us is on our own path. From what I have seen, we are each trying to do the very best with the resources, time and energy we have. Some of us have learned techniques that assist us in the quest (for whatever: finances, decluttering, happy marriage, strong family, just name it). We naturally want to share. When we do so without being asked, then the receiver is not open to our suggestion (usually). A good rule of thumb is just don’t offer up advice unless asked, for any topic. Learning to share only when your receiver is open to counsel will save countless hours of frustration and irritation.
And we have to learn to be alright with where everyone is on their learning curve. We are not all in the same place, regardless of age, or experience. When I have a particularly frustrating interaction where we share ideas and ideas and people are asking for counsel and advice, but then tell me all the reasons why they cannot implement those things, then I just have to remind myself that even though they are asking for help, they are really not open to it, because they have an excuse why each idea won’t work for them. When they have exhausted their excuses and they are still frustrated, life will have a way of helping them choose to implement some suggestions they were not previously open to.
As for my personal decluttering stumbles, first and foremost, I have to quit bringing it in. I don’t buy, buy, buy because our finances will not allow that, but because people love me and our family is large, they think they are doing us a favor by handing us their discarded items. Sometimes they are. But I still then have to make time to go through their stuff and then discard stuff we won’t use, or don’t need. Also, the home I grew up in didn’t discard anything (we might need that some day). So it has been hard for me to learn to let stuff go and recognize that the Lord will bless us with the things we really need, and I don’t need to ‘save it until later because I might need it’. Having beautiful space and healthy space is not only easier to keep clean, but provides happiness and peace. Plus, we have so many children, we have to convince them not to bring it in. (Still working on that). I am really good at getting it out, usually, but so much still accumulates that I really have to just turn off the water faucet if I don’t want the bathtub to overflow (or in this case, the house).
I am working on it. A lot. Everyday, here a little and there a little, in my attitude, and my desires, and my energy. But I am sure that my carbon footprint is still HUGE, though I am trying to make it smaller and teach that simple lifestyle to my children. But we aren’t perfect yet, so on we go.
I also struggle with righteousness. My next-door neighbor passed away in August. Since she moved in around 4 years ago she had cluttered up her yard with garden statues, signs, flags, etc. sometimes leaving up seasonal decorations way past the season. Packages from home shopping network were constantly delivered and she did not recycle anything. It was hard not to notice her heaping garbage cans out on the curb and compare them to our one can per week not full because we recycle so much stuff. When she passed away her family had to deal with the house full of stuff and her three dogs and five cats! They had an auction on a Sunday starting at 11:00 and lasting until 5:00. My mind was boggled by the people who stayed all day and carted off furniture, knick knacks, etc. Most of the stuff was not worth much, besides some of the furniture. Her daughter mentioned to me that she was sad that her mom valued all this stuff over relationships in her life. Something like this really makes you think about what you will leave behind when you go.
Colleen Madsen says
Oh Alice you pretty much cover the whole gambit of why a person can find themselves being righteous here. Oh the waste! And as you say, sad that stuff appears to trump relationships in these sorts of situations. There is usually some trauma behind such stories though and it is always a shame when people don’t spend the money on some therapy to help with their issues rather on acquiring stuff to down there feelings in.
I think we all succumb to righteousness now and then. When I start to feel myself going there, I have to stop and remember that all people are different and we all have different sets of realities to deal with – so a change that is easy for one person to make could seem insurmountable to another. We have different work situations, different family situations, live in different climates, have different economic circumstances, different levels of physical mobility and, most importantly, different sets of emotional baggage.
I often find myself thinking things like “Well, if you weren’t such a racist snob refusing to live anywhere but a white upper-middle class neighborhood, you could cut your housing costs in half” or “If you weren’t such a lazy bum maybe you could get out of your car now and then and walk or ride your bike instead” yadda, yadda, yadda…
On the flipside, when I read blog posts extolling the virtues of things like having a wardrobe of 33 pieces I think: “What do you wear to shovel manure? or paint the house? or go on a 50 mile bike ride? or do yoga? and don’t tell me I can wear the same set of clothing in 100 degree heat as when it’s 20 below zero!” Or when people suggest that everyone should get up at 4am every morning I think: “Right… you try that when you don’t get to go to bed until 1am.” I tend to get defensive about those sorts of things because they assume a reality that does not exist for me.
In the end I think the best we can do is to live our own lives with joy, and let that joy be an example for other people – all the while acknowledging that what feels freeing to one person might feel like prison to another.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi EcoCatLady, your first paragraph says a lot, everyone’s circumstances are very different. And yet I can still hear my inner voice wanting to add “but, but, but…” similar to what you state in your second paragraph. And your final paragraph makes a good point too. My only concern is the impact on the environment due to overindulgence which has the potential to impact more than just ones own quality of living. But of course that is a contentious issue in itself.
Well, I’m right there with you in terms of the environment, but I do have to remind myself that there are different approaches to “greenness” as well. Some people are vegans who grow all of their own food, but couldn’t imagine living without a car. Some people are “no-waste” garbage-free types, but see no problem with flying across the world several times per year. And some people have trouble with minimalism not because they buy lots of stuff, but because they can’t bear to see things tossed out when they could be re-purposed for some other use (garage full of dumpster dive treasures, I’m looking at you!)
Anyhow, I try to remember that those of us who are working toward creating a greener world will get much further by supporting each other’s efforts than we will by playing “greener than thou.” It’s best to save our righteous indignation for the corporations and politicians who are actively working to undermine our efforts.
Oh, I so get what you are saying in your third paragraph. I am usually getting up at 1 a.m. and that is not in order to drink tea in quiet and to meditate into my day, but to rush out to be on time for work at 2 a.m. 😉
My schedule is a little off, but it has its upsides as well, so I am quite happy with it. Just cutting out sleep isn’t really making any sense for me.
Everyone experiences righteousness. Everyone is fighting some moral battle but not the same moral battle. The thing is that righteousness is a two-edge sword, it can fight the fine fight to see something thru to the end and it can ‘scrape’ those around them.
I have this theory that everybody has X number of causes, responsibilities, passions in their life at a given time. My guess is 5 because that seems like an ideal number. After number 5, there just isn’t enough energy or priority to go around, so it becomes outer circle. For example, I don’t identify myself as a Greenie. But I do recycle, re-use, re-purpose and I avoid plastic bags and use as much caution as I can when getting rid of stuff. Sounds like a Greenie, right? Probably meets the basic criteria but what I have just listed is all I have room for at this stage of my life but I don’t advocate for the cause and I don’t list it as my highest priority. And I think that’s where it gets frustrating for someone else who IS an advocate to a cause, I’m interested enough to listen, ask questions etc but I might not do anything further. But on the other hand I feel quite strongly about my own top five. Once I got my head around this, it was ok that other people had other priorities and it made it ok that I wasn’t invested in every good cause.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Moni, that is an interesting slant on the subject. I imagine you could be quite right about the ratio of causes and how much dedication we can afford to place on each one. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a fanatic at any of the ones important to me even though some might think I come close. I wouldn’t even consider myself a greenie, I feel I just do what, as a average person, I am obliged to do to take care of my planet. And the decluttering side of me is hardly a selfless task.
I dare say others look and me and think I fail in many areas of humanity so I suppose I should not be so judgemental of others.
This was a very thought-provoking post and I have also enjoyed reading all the comments. I agree that we all have to start our journeys of change, whether it is decluttering, or losing weight/getting fit, or breaking some difficult habit, when we are ready and not when someone else tells us to do it. On the other hand, it is hard to see somebody struggling with a situation when the solution is so obvious to us, but I have learnt from your blog that the best way to persuade people to change is by being patient with them and by modeling the behavior yourself. I remember you and others on here encouraging me when I was in despair over my son’s inability to sort through his stuff and let some of it go. Now when I visit both my boys at college I am astonished to see how clean and neat their rooms are and how well-organized and uncluttered everything is, and I guess it is because they themselves want to live this way. Perhaps even when people seem to resist our advice they are taking in some of the ideas on some level and in their own time will make the changes that they need to make.
Colleen Madsen says
Thank you Christine and I know you are right. That same gentle hand has allowed me the privilege to experience the transformation of many of the readers who have arrived here at 365 Less Things seeking help and inspiration. I can find infinite patients for them so I suppose I just need to apply the same to all. Lets face it I am a long way from perfect myself.
As simple as it sounds, I believe that each individual is just at a different point on his or her journey. When they are ready, they are ready (sounds like something said from the 1960’s hippie days, haha). Some are over all of the stuff, some are slowly sorting through all of the stuff, some will always keep all of the stuff and constantly add to all of the stuff. Addition vs. Subtraction. It is just one big mystery so sit back and watch the show.
Colleen Madsen says
Ha ha Kimberley I like your lighthearted approach to the situation. “Sit back and watch the show.” is good advice.
I agree with your feelings Colleen, I have a co-worker who spends, spends,spends, and just throws stuff out when it is no longer wanted. So frustrating. No concept of environmental awareness, recycling etc. I have to bite my tongue and think to myself that I am slowly but surely decluttering but most importantly I have virtually stopped buying anything but essentials and try to recycle and donate as much as I can. I am happy with my progress and no matter what I said this person would continue to spend her hours working to earn and shopping to spend. I am glad I have moved beyond that.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Jenni, I have to say this is the exact situation that I find the most frustrating. I dare say though that this woman may feel she is doing her part to boost the economy while she might think I am robing people of jobs buy not supporting industry. I’ll stick to my version of reality though.
I think everyone thinks a lot of the people they know could do better with their life style, especially our grown children, lol, so you should see the scars I have from biting my tongue. I learned a long time ago, probably when they were teenagers, that if they want my input, they will ask for it. Now that Christmas is on its way, I saw an ad the other day with about 10 expensive toys–all battery driven ride on with very small children aboard. I thought where are the tricycles, the pedal cars, etc. our small children spent hours and hours riding (and building sturdy little bodies and muscles). And here in America they wonder why kids are fat. I guess that is being righteous. As for decluttering, when my MIL went into a nursing home and later the hospital I did not think she would return to my sister-in-law’s home. I told her I would declutter if she wanted me to, and she could blame it on me if her mother got mad. That is the only time I have done that, but my SIL was not in real good shape herself, and I wanted to take some load off her since we did not live there, and I had nothing else to do when we visited. This was mainly getting rid of the obvious trash–church bulletins, junk mail, broken and worn out stuff–and then putting all the jewelry, photos, underwear and clothing of like items together in one place. There was even an assortment of coins scattered through things. In fact everything was pretty scattered and mixed together But I did not offer to declutter my SIL’s stuff, which did need culling. She later moved to a different town so I hope some of it got culled but I know a lot of it went into storage at her son-in-law’s, all of which her two daughters had to deal with when she died.
I don/t think we can help seeing the obvious though, like people not seeing their waste of money is the reason they are either broke or in debt. But we will be wasting our breath if we were to point this out. So maybe we are just being realistic, not really judgmental.
Anyway, Colleen, your blog has certainly helped me stay with it. Though going through paperwork, my present most consuming declutter, is about as boring as it gets, lol.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Nana, I should think myself fortunate that as yet I haven’t found myself in the position of having to declutter someone else’s clutter without them there to work along side me and give me their input. I may tend to get quite carried away otherwise, ha ha. And you are right, people can only be helped if they are really ready for it and open to the process.
I do cat resuce and my co-volunteers are appalled that I am a vegetarian, not a vegan like them. My cousin is a tri-athelete who doesn’t undertand my exercise regimen is gardening and walking. IOW, everyone one has something they are passionate about and righteously pursue . I am happy for them. Sometimes they get all “righteous” with those of us who aren’t 100% on board with them.
I live my life .
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Gail, I hear you. I would say I’m not 100% on board on any of my causes either but I feel quite good about the efforts I make.
Wonderful post Colleen, very raw, honest and open. I am too scrambled right now to add anything valuable to the conversation like the other commenters have. I will say however that I can pretty much go into anyone’s home and feel completely comfortable myself, but for years now when others come to my home they seem to be uncomfortable. We don’t live in completely immaculate place but it is just the basic furniture here and no knick-knacks or pictures on all of the walls. They only stray items are toys. In our last house we were completely minimalist and our small living room welcomed people with just a rug that matched the beige walls, a couple of wall sconce lamps, the tv, baby gates and toys/books for the babies. Very clean and safe, but very spare. No dining room furniture. I just think people didn’t know what to do with themselves, even though people were only stopping in for a minute. This home has a leather couch and sofa and my FIL’s player piano but is still pretty spare. I think others are the ones judging me! I also live in area where minimalist families are unexpected and it just doesn’t make sense to people.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Jean, I can relate to this because I wonder if people feel uncomfortable in my home too sometimes because they have it in their heads that I am annal about tidiness or cleanliness. I think they soon realise that I am not so fussy because I never fuss around cleaning up around people when they are there. I would prefer to enjoy each other’s company and clean up once everyone has gone.
Can I just say that I really enjoy reading everyone’s responses. Great ideas, compassionate thoughts, some appalling personal experiences. You all are really great. 🙂
Colleen Madsen says
I agree Michelle, that is why I put myself out there at times to learn what others think.
I think it’s pretty normal to assume that oneself lives in a “right” way and therefore get righteous about it. It would be worse if you thought your own lifestyle fundamentally wrong. However, I am very sure that there are many ways to happiness (just think of different countries with different cultures, climates, food and wealth levels and that genuinely happy people live everywhere)
I am getting passionate if I think another person is hurting others (and that may also be by buying too much cheap stuff made by children out of toxic materials), so I will inform others about my opinion. 😉 However, I don’t really judge their “inner” world like how they decorate or wether they keep their home orderly. I might ask (and I think that is important by the way, because mess, but also cleaning obsessions or excessive shopping can also be signs of depression), but I don’t judge if they just like it the way it is.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Sanna I have been meaning to email you. Could you email me a copy of that post you sent me while I was on vacation. My lack of access to good technology meant I lost it and can’t find it again. It was good and I would like to post it if you still have a copy.
Now for your comment today. Oh how right I think you are about other cultures living happily regardless of wealth, climate etc. I tried to make this point once before and it didn’t go over all that well. And as you say if people like their lives they way they are then good for them, if it isn’t hurting anyone else. And all the better if they embrace their choice and don’t feel the need to make excuses for it. And like you it bothers me when peoples choices affect others and many of the choices we make these days have a detrimental effect on the environment which is where I tend to get worked up.
Colleen, I am in a hurry, but I found a copy of the mail and sent it to you.
Paul Trotter says
Firstly I love the blog, so thank you!
I would say that “I expect people to decide to be either happy with their current situation or chose to change it” asking for disappointment and frustration. To change ones life for the better is hard often seems to require the right mindset and circumstances for the attempt to change to be successful. I’ve had experiences of people being unhappy with an abusive relationship and unhappy with an addiction. In each instance they were miserable, but the genuine unhappiness on its own doesn’t always cause the people to make the change. In each instance it was important to recognize that the change would happen when the person was ready. It tried to help boost moral and determination before the change to make the process more likely to start, and provide support and encouragement through the hard times to make the change more likely to be a lasting one. Based on my experience I’d try to offer people the support, but recognize that only they can make the change, and it can only happen when they are ready.
Colleen Madsen says
I agree with all you say here Paul. Thank you for your comment. Sorry it took so long for me to approve it. I have no excuse except to say that I am still getting back into the swing of things after being on vacation for six weeks. The statement that people can only act when they are ready and until then all we can do is encourage them is particularly on point. This is why I detest the righteousness when it comes out in me.
Colleen Madsen says
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We always had chickens or pigs…who got all the left overs…peeling, scraps, etc.,…but I also kept leftovers for eating if they were cooled in frig immediately after the meal.
It was wonderful to make a super soup from so many scraps, just by freezing some left overs then dumping them together with some potato water or water from vegetables.
When visiting our in-laws, it broke my heart to see all the left-over go into the garberator….1/2 cup creamed corn, a few spuds, etc. So sad!! … .Marian
Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore says
I’m certainly not perfect when it comes to achieving these things, and I’m no where close to where I want to be (yet), but I am making progress. I find myself frustrated sometimes too by how people waste time when they could be productive and when they want to hold on to ridiculous things (mostly my mom). I know what you are talking about in this post.
I Hope this isn’t too cryptic but for me it often boils down to reminding myself that being good doesn’t always feel good and that living a life I’d choose again in a Second Doesn’t guarantee happiness every Single day. Rightenousness probably just belongs to us as does being dissatisfied or grumpy At times though the Overall Situation doesn’t called for it (ever). How we Deal with it Makes all the difference though.