Decluttering,  Organization

Change Starts at Home

I may not be able to change the world but at least I am able to change myself. I’ve done a lot of thinking on that subject lately because the questions I’ve been asking have revealed a source of discontent within my life that I’ve been trying to ignore.

Try as I may, I could not put my finger on what was bothering me so I started looking back in my life, examining the periods when I was truly happy. I figured if I could identify the differences then I might be able to find a clue to my current dissatisfaction.

Do you know what I discovered? I discovered that the happiest point in my life wasn’t when I had the most money. It wasn’t when I was my busiest or my laziest.

The happiest time of my life was when I first moved here with almost nothing.

My bed was on the floor. I used the coffeetable of my childhood as a desk, sitting upon the folded up futon to write.

Almost all of my books were digital because I’d had no room to bring my physical ones.

My food was stored in a cooler until I acquired a refrigerator. I had a small but decent wardrobe. I owned my laptops, and that was about it.

Everything else I had hauled down here belonged to the kid.

But I was happy. I was so happy in those days even as I scrabbled to pay the bills and get sorted.

Why was that? Was it because I had less to clean? Was it because I had less things to distract me?

I don’t know the answers. All I do know is that something is amiss in my life and I want to fix it.

Today I took that first step. I decided to tackle the largest hoard in my house–my book collection.

I dug out every single tome in the house. My collection had outgrown the shelf I’d designated for it so my mission was simple: distil the collection down to where they would fit in their designated area with room to spare.

I spent the entire day agonizing over titles but bit by bit I whittled them down. I set the discards aside, watching first one stack, then another and another form as I continued the task.

I actually did better than I expected with this round. I’m quite proud of myself. After I stopped to eat, I invited some friends over to pick through my collection. As they left for the evening, so did the last of the selections.

I feel so much lighter now that they’re gone! I thought I would feel sad but I don’t. In fact, part of me wishes that I had eliminated more.

Over the next few days I will decide how to organize the titles that I’ve kept. When that is complete I will share photos. I believe I have at least one photo that was taken around the time they started getting completely out of control. If I can find it I will share it with you as well.

This makes me wonder if one of the reasons we are so dissatisfied with our lives is because we’ve allowed them to become too cluttered. Maybe the reason we buy when we’re unhappy is because we think that buying will make us happier, only to make the problem worse because the real reason we’re unhappy is that we’ve got too much stuff already?

I’m not even sure if that last sentence made any sense. I’ve been at this since early this morning so I am terribly exhausted. I’ll have to think about it tomorrow.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

One last note before you go. Due to numerous requests I created a donation link for those who want to chip in without buying a book.


Thank you for your support!

One Comment

  • Essie

    Annie, It can definitely be a vicious cycle, can’t it? Downsize, accumulate, downsize again. I recall when I separated from my ex- I rented a house but it was just me, the kids, our sleeping bags and a our clothes. We had the best time. But, gradually, the house filled with furniture and stuff. I think we are under constant attack with clutter and noise. It can lead to much discontent and unhappiness. I am glad you were able to tackle the books. I am sure your friends walked out with some excellent reads.