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Mind of Material(ism)


At some point during my second pregnancy, I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This is a dangerous thing to do when you are pregnant. Maybe it’s a dangerous thing to do if you’re a perfectionist in general, pregnant or not.

After reading a chapter and a half of this manifesto on simplifying stuff, I was sold on the idea that I had to simplify all the things. Immediately.

So on my next free Saturday, I popped out of bed, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to haul some boxes away for donation and sift through stuff that we didn’t really use in order to spark joy in all of the places of my home.

I marched out to the living room and emptied our three massive bookshelves. Then I emptied my closet. And the kids’ closet. And the hall closet.

In the matter of a few short hours, my apartment looked like a very selective thief had been through it and not bothered to clean up the mess he left behind. When my husband came in, he freaked.

I mean FREAKED.

He turned around, grabbed our toddler, and threatened to leave for the day, which would have been great except I very much needed some strong hands to carry all of my donatable items and/or trash from the house.

Grudgingly he stayed and watched me manically rip through all of our possessions, in what is now referred to as “The Purge”. Until this point, neither of us realized just how much STUFF we had wedged into the nooks and crannies of the 800 square feet we share with (now) two children.

As newlyweds, and then again as new parents, we’d kind of inherited random odds and ends from people’s grandmother’s basements or their very own donation piles and stuck the items in dark closet corners never again to be seen. To be fair, neither my husband nor I had kept house prior to getting married and moving in together so we didn’t really know whether we’d need that polar bear cookie jar or pretty much any of the other items we’d received.

Turns out, we don’t really need most of the things that we’d managed to collect and hoard away. During the Purge, I managed to eliminate almost half of our possessions from the aforementioned closets. And it felt good.

Really, really good.

Materialism is an issue close to my heart. As a committed citizen of the earth, I don’t want to be personally responsible for the manufacture of poor quality products. I don’t want to contribute to the mass production of plastic trinkets that have limited use or a greater negative impact humanely, environmentally, or economically than the good that they bring to my family. Using my money to support cheap widgets produced en masse by questionable factories overseas and stuffing my house with them leaves a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

I don’t want to raise my children to believe that amassing stuff is more important than being mindful about where that stuff comes from, and I’m thankful that my crazy borderline psychotic cleaning rage woke me up to this reality. There are a lot of issues that my children should focus on that aren’t related to collecting toys or stocking up on the latest electronics. These are things my husband and I should focus on, as well.

Our lifestyle continues to adapt to our emerging awareness of the value of the things with which we surround ourselves. Our clothing, our possessions, even the foods that we eat, contribute to who we are as individuals and who we are as a family. Issues like the slow fashion movement, upcycling, and sustainable agriculture are becoming increasingly important to me as I consider the best ways to provide for my family.

I’m excited for this journey and the mindfulness that accompanies it, and I can’t wait to share more of it with you!

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