Thursday, May 27, 2010

Is less really more?

For many reasons, I am in a "less is more" (LIM) phase right now. Maybe it is that this Type A has finally hit a wall and has said enough....what do I mean? Read on.

Perhaps it is inversely proportional to the size of London houses, but the lack of storage (and our home has more storage than most) seems to eat paper, clothing, stuff. The more you give it, the more it wants. I, for one, am declaring war on unnecessary paper, clothing, books, and useless bric-a-brac that never gets accessed, worn, read, or used. In my multiple roles, the "cleaning lady" in me has had enough of "no room in the inn" closets, bookshelves, and drawers. A new sheriff is in town: buy a book, donate a book. Make that charming Michael Kors clothing purchase, pull something that you've not worn out of the closet and donate it to charity. File a paper, shred a paper. To quote George Carlin: "A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff". Amen, brother.

Don't be deceived, it is not me being driven to "be green", although the upside is that I am becoming an expert in West London recycling. I love that you can recycle pretty much everything curbside and if not, the recycling center is a stone's throw from the house. It is also not my altrusitic nature that wants to save the planet from excess, although that is a by-product of the LIM approach. It is just that now that I am in the routine of recycling, it is simply another means for purging unneccesary stuff. Of course, there would be less to recycle or purge if I acquired less...that is a part of the plan I am still working on but am happy to report some success on that front as well.

Moving on, in my second unofficial role as the Home Office PA, the "Can you please file this for future reference" is getting a bit tiresome. Only critical, need-to-know stuff gets filed from now on. That kills two birds with one stone: cuts down on any unnecessary papers that needs purging at some future date, and saves the Home Office PA time. Gotta love it when a plan comes together.

Or, perhaps it is because I am officially working from home (WFH) now that my company has closed its London office, and I am here 24 x7. The rooms just seem a bit smaller, the piles of paper on the desk or dining room table seem a bit larger, the closets a bit more full. So, less is more because the visual appeal of a decluttered space is becoming more attractive, physically and metaphorically, with each day that passes.

This LIM plan long ago translated into the travel arena. Hachie Gal and Budman swore off kitschy tourist souvenirs years ago.... Now, our purchases revolve around experiences to be had, rather than mementos to store in your house while you go off and get more mementos. Today, it is more about embracing things like the food of the region (bring home some olive oil, cheese, wine, etc. instead), the personal products of a region intended for use (beautiful stationery from Japan, spa products from Iceland, wool blankets from Scotland) and the artistic experiences of a city or country (a painting or piece of artwork from that area). Of course, there is still some residual purging of previous purchases to be completed.

And then, there is clothing and shoes. I still have some therapy in this area to do, but the simple premise: "have not worn it in over a year, do not like it anymore, or it no longer looks good" has been kicked into high gear. Even as I write, the charity shop bag gets a daily item placed in it. The goal: one large bag of donations per week. Seems a tangible and worthwhile goal that can benefit everyone: the giver, the charity shop, and the recipient.

Sadly, the Budman is having trouble with the some of the aspects of the simple LIM plan. That's probably because the Maid and the Home Office PA (both me) are striking against the working conditions and the hours of tedious tasks related to stuff. It also requires a new way of dealing with stuff - he looks up and an item he has been working with has been purged, pitched, shredded, or donated. Don't worry, he'll come around. He really has no choice.

Given recent events with a family member who has taken suddenly ill and is unable to care for herself and her affairs, I have been reminded me that personally we all need our affairs to be in order and easily accessed and that our home environments should constantly be cleared of unused items as well as junk. Not to get heavy on you or anything!

And here is a scary thought. In the 10 years of living abroad, we have seen our small shipment that we sent to Seoul in 2001 grow exponentially with each year and subsequent move that passes. At some point, we will eventually move back to the US, and where we'll put this stuff in the US house is an utter mystery to me.... Scarlett will simply have to think about that one on another day.

Bottom line, purging stuff can be liberating. The simple answer to the question is, "Yes, less is more!" Join me, won't you?

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