I don’t consider myself to be a neat freak–I’m not all that particular–but I like a tidy house. Uncluttered. I’ve never been able to abide a cluttered house. You know, the kind where there’s a path you walk through stacks and piles of life (and excess shopping) detritus. I loved the show “Clean Sweep” (which I don’t think is on anymore) and the principle demand of the show’s host to the homeowners: If you love it, honor it by getting rid of the crap around it. I do very little shopping and don’t stock up on ten of everything. Over-shopping and hoarding is a big issue in many cluttered homes that I see. Unless it has to do with self-sustainability, survival, or work, I don’t stock excess products.
Self-sustainability in and of itself is a slippery slope for many people because it leads to stocking up and/or hanging on to every scrap of wood, metal, or other material for fear one might need it someday. This is part of why many farms are loaded with piles of crap. I also like a tidy farm, and I do have a couple of piles of leftover materials–but even those are minimal, kept to what could be genuinely useful, and stored in a few non-obnoxious (meaning I can’t see them but they’re accessible) locations around the farm. Stocking up on food and other supplies is another self-sustainability danger which can become addictive and extreme. “Prepping” and minimal living have to meet somewhere in the middle with balance and reason.
I started minimizing even more seriously than usual a few years ago, which was good because it turned out that I unexpectedly moved into a much smaller house than I’ve ever lived in before in my life. In the process of moving and settling in here, I tightened the belt even further. A small house demands minimal living if you don’t want to be surrounded by crap. This house keeps me on track with simple living–and I like that.
My little house isn’t perfectly tidy all the time, but I find that I have a limit to how bad it can get before it interferes with my serenity. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been pretty busy in several different directions. I let mail stack up and spread out. I had a few different projects going on, and notes and papers for work-related things. Things got messy. Then came the power outage. Suddenly the house was strewn with cords and I was pulling out candles, flash lights, lamp oil, and so on–all of this in the midst of what I had already allowed to creep into a messy situation in the house. The first day of the power outage, when I struggled with the generator, was quite stressful. By that evening, when my neighbor Jim arrived to show me the choke and get my generator going, no sooner did I have the lights on than I was just ready to turn them back off, go to bed, and maybe cry a little bit.
I got up the next morning, in the early hours of darkness, turned the lights on and cleaned up the house. Yes, there are still power cords strewn across the floors, and there are still candles, flash lights, lamp oil bottles, and more at the ready. But the house is tidy. The clutter is gone. The power is still out, but the weight of stress is gone with the clutter, and I know that I would have been less stressed the first day if the house hadn’t been a mess at the time.
No matter what any day brings, home can be a calming force around you–a place you can walk through with ease, find what you need, and be inspired and comforted by the photographs, mementos, and cherished things you choose to keep. I work better, love better, and surmount challenge better in a tidy house because it allows me to achieve, focus, and overcome. Simplicity is so very powerful.
Is your house tidy? Do you have clutter? Are you stressed? Clean up! I promise it will make a difference.