Oct 31 2011

Travel snapshot: Deserted early morning street

Peggy McPartland

Deserted early morning Guatemala street


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Oct 27 2011

Four Easy Steps to a Less Cluttered Life

Peggy McPartland

I like to think I live very simply; that I don’t own an excessive amount of things. It was easy to believe this until I really took a close look at how I was living.

Yes, I’m one of those people with an unfinished basement that’s easy to throw all kinds of things into, as well as a spare bedroom/office. I’m sure you have something similar – a garage, a spare bedroom, or closet where you toss everything you have no idea what to do with.

It’s that out of sight, out of mind concept. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist – although that can only work for so long.

The idea of going through everything in those rooms that are now bursting at the seams is so overwhelming that we just don’t do it. We continue to procrastinate and hope that it will magically take care of itself!

In the meantime, it affects us. We feel overwhelmed, crowded and out of balance. We long for the sense of freedom and clarity that comes with living more simply.

Living a simpler, less cluttered life can become a bit more manageable and less intimidating if we break it down into smaller pieces.

Start Small

Choose one small area to focus on. That’s all. This is the easy part. Choose a room, a closet or a drawer – whatever seems most doable to you. It’s not how much you start with, but that you start.

Think about the importance of sentimental items

We all have things in our lives that hold sentimental value. Maybe they belonged to your grandparents or hold a memory of a special time in your childhood. It’s important to really think about whether the items themselves are important or the memories they hold are what’s important to you. The memories will continue to exist regardless of whether you have that special keepsake. Ask yourself if it’s important to you that you keep the item itself or if the memory is all you need. The answer will be different for each of us but it’s an important question to ask.

Determine where there’s money to be made

We’re often holding onto things that we no longer use that could be easily sold. The money you make could then be used to travel, donate to your favorite charity or be put away toward whatever dreams you have.

Books, CDs, DVDs, and sports gear can easily be sold. Books are very special and they’re one of those things that many of us want to hold on to. And that’s okay. Just make sure to think about their importance and where they fit into your life. While it’s something I struggled with, I finally decided the books I love are available through the library or electronically and I can still read them whenever I want without owning them.

Many bookstores will buy used books. Half Price Books has book buyers on site and make the process very easy.They’ll also buy CDs and DVDs. Independent music stores like Silver Platters will also buy used CDs. After transferring all of my CDs to a hard drive I sold them – hundreds of them. Be sure to back up your hard drive before you sell the CDs – this is very important! It would be tragic to lose all of your music.

Craigslist is a great resource for selling sports gear and whatever other things you no longer use. Plus you meet really cool people who respond to the ads. I recently sold cross-country skis, boots, snowshoes, and bikes on Craigslist and netted a cool $700!

Provide Benefit to Someone Else

We all have more clothing and household belongings than we could ever use. Wouldn’t it be better if someone else was using them rather than them just taking up space in your home? There are many worthwhile organizations that would be thrilled to take your things.

It’s difficult to declutter. It feels wasteful. We realize just how much we’ve invested, materially and otherwise, in things.

The pain of feeling wasteful has its place; to remind us that it’s important to really evaluate our needs and desires in the future. Because in this consumer based society, odds are we’ll be tempted by the next shiny thing.

So before you succumb to that temptation, ask yourself how you’ll feel about it a year from now. And more importantly, how will you feel when you’re looking to get rid of it because you really didn’t need it to start with?

I enjoyed having these things while I did. But I’m happy knowing I’ve passed them on to someone else to enjoy now. I love the idea of owning less and the feeling of openness and simplicity that comes with it.

How would you feel if your life was less cluttered?


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Oct 24 2011

Travel snapshot: Beautiful cobblestone courtyard

Peggy McPartland

Beautiful cobblestone courtyard in Macau, Special Administrative Region of The People’s Republic of China


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