Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Year of Uncluttering

Last winter, I spent a day and night at Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The Shaker movement has died out, but the village has been restored and turned into a hotel and retreat center. The Shakers placed high value on simplicity and peace, and the village retains that character. There is a stillness there that came from more than the cold winter air.

When I came back home, I thought a lot about what a peaceful home is, and whether I cultivate peace for and in my children. I don't think I do, really. I cultivate peace between people - harmony between the sisters is expected, and I take away toys if they fight over them - but inner stillness? No.

The Shakers believed that inner stillness was supported and encouraged by a simple and orderly environment. I have four children and a messy, cluttered home. There is very little order around here.

In the past year, we've had one or two homeowner emergencies that became bigger than they needed to because I could not attend to them. I was too weighed down with managing the usual chaos of our lives to move with any speed. After a few heartfelt discussions with my husband - whose pack rat tendencies are a disastrous match with my poor housewifery - he agreed that I could start tossing things without getting his permission for every item.

By the end of this year, I want to have a genuinely simple house. No collections of junk, no piles of unworn clothes or dusty exercise equipment. I want a home that allows me to be still. I want a home that allows me to respond to life with hospitality and peace, rather than just manage possessions.


  1. Quadelle4/20/2012

    We moved in November, and due to having to make my thesis my main priority, the house still isn't as organised as I'd like it to be. But every time I take the time to sort and figure out something that works for a clutter issue that's bothered me, I am thrilled with the result. Clean surfaces and belongings easily accessible when needed make me a very happy person.

    All the best with the decluttering and organising. Might be worth taking some before and after photos, too, for your self if not to share!

  2. I am trying to do the same thing. Get rid of things. But it's not always easy for me, always the "what if" lurking in the background...we might need that extra t-shirt! Maybe part of it comes from my husband being self-employed, hence an irregular paycheck. Still, I have determined to get this house cleaned out this year as well.
    I wish us both diligence and luck!

  3. Me, too! I read 7 by Jen Hatmaker this winter. When we went away for a week recently, I had two bulging bags. But during that week, I wore the same couple of outfits over and over. I think my problem is that I have too many "just in case" items ... in my closet, in my linen closet, in my mug cupboard. We could serve tea to an army, but I'm the only one in our house who drinks hot drinks. Let us know how it goes. I need inspiration to just DO it!

  4. I have been blaming my small apartment for the clutter, until I remembered suddenly that I used to say my other house was cluttered because it was too big. I have to acknowledge that the common denominator in all of my homes has been me.

  5. We moved in December 2010, and then again the next March, into a 2 bedroom apartment for five people. I got rid of SO much stuff. It's still cluttered, but I really don't think I can make it better without a LITTLE more room. The biggest eyeopener for me was that I don't need to see all my books. I'm good with one small set of shelves, plus a little room for library books. I still have boxes of books, but I am happy to leave them in boxes for now.

  6. It is so, so worth it, at least to me. I find that disorganized stuff keeps me from being peaceful and still, and owning too much stuff just requires me to carry that psychological burden around. I really do believe it will make your life less stressful and more open. At least, it does for me.