I truly believe storage units are a sign that we as a society are very sick with "affluenza," spawned by our materialistic craving for more, more, more!
I am in the middle of sorting donated items for our church yard sale, and I'm adding my own personal goods to the mix. You should see my garage. Do you know I thoroughly clean it every year, starting by gutting it (yes, totally emptying the entire space) and spreading everything out on my front lawn and driveway (with a mixture of pride and embarrassment of my neighbor's opinion---either, "Wow, look at that girl go" or "Wow, she's got the messiest garage on the block!"). Then I scrub the concrete floor with a bleach solution. I usually purchase yet another shelving unit (they're pretty expensive so I just keep adding one by one each year). And then I sort through all the "stuff," making the classic decisions of what to keep, what to toss and what to give away. I put the "Keep" stuff back in the garage, neatly organizing it on my shelves or in bins, and finally, I load the car and make a trip to Goodwill, the glass depot, the consignment shop and other people's houses to return any borrowed goods. And then, I confess, I spend the next couple weeks peeking in my garage at random moments throughout the day just to admire the clean, orderly rows of goods...and when Jeff mows the lawn, I let him leave the garage door up until he's finished, because I almost want the neighbors to see my gorgeous garage.
And then life happens. It starts with the recycle bins. Everyone opens the doors, tosses in a can, bottle or newspaper, misses the bin, and walks away. And no one empties them but me, so they start to pile up. Then the boys need sports gear, but they are in a hurry so they haul the bins out to the middle of the floor, rummage through the contents for what they need, and leave the rest behind to magically jump back into its place on the shelf. Then Jeff rolls the lawn mower into the garage with wet grass stuck to the wheels, which dries and falls off all over the floor. Then the girls need a Disney DVD for the kids they are babysitting, so they dump the bin to grab a couple before running out the door. Then another person needs school supplies from the supply bin, and another person needs a costume from the costume box, and another person needs a sleeping bag. A campout and a picnic bring down the tent, coolers, lawnchairs, and bocci, which we end up keeping out because we're going to do that a few more times in the next month. A special event calls for special dishes, holiday platters and the fondue, but there is no room to put them back because someone got tired of stepping over boxes on the floor so they stuffed them into the empty spots on the shelf. The kids go to college and their bedroom contents are stored in the garage. The kids come home from college and their dorm room contents are stored in the garage, and before you know it...my garage looks like this:
|Off the shelves and onto the floor!|
|Recycling and garage-sale stuff!|
|My second pantry...still pretty organized!|
Add to my garage the church, which I am responsible for, and I feel like I live a sort-sell-sort-clean-sort-toss-sort-organize sort of lifestyle!
I was quite excited two weeks ago when our Canadian college kids were going to take all their stuff out of my garage and move it home. What I didn't count on was my own two college kids bringing their stuff (and some other kids' stuff) home to replace what just left. I feel like I can't win or get ahead, no matter how hard I try! But I will not, I will not, I will not EVER rent a storage unit! (My personal vow.)
So, this week is step 1: Sort contents of garage and take many loads to the church to add to the yard sale.
And I'm supposed to do that while I sort the contents of the church as well as the hundreds of donated items for that same yard sale.
Sometimes I think I should just leave everything right where it is and simply put a sign on the door that says, "For Sale," and let everyone have at it!
My biggest fantasy (and this is for real, I'm not making this up!) is to live in a little cabin in the forest. Have you ever seen one of those micro houses? They fascinate me. I love how everything folds up, pulls out, rolls away, and tucks under to make room for comfortable living in a very small footprint. At night I sometimes imagine myself to sleep by designing one of these homes in my head. I want it to be rustic and modern all at the same time...clutter free, clean, organized and functional, surrounded by the forest on three sides but facing forward to a beautiful view of the valley below, and simple and inexpensive enough that I can afford little domestic luxuries like an amazing rain shower, a top-quality bed and linens, and a fully stocked kitchen with custom-made appliances that perform professionally but are scaled to my small cabin. Last, I would have a little nook with a desk in front of the window where I would be inspired by the view to happily write for hours. And that would be my life...small, simple and serene...and totally storage free!
But for now I live in a small town in my two-story suburban house with a 3-door garage that holds all the wordly goods of my family---me, my husband, four kids full-time, and another 3 to 5 kids part-time. And I will spend every day this week sorting my life into bins: Give Away, Throw Away, Keep and Return. I'll bet there's a pretty good spiritual lesson here. When I'm done cleaning my garage, maybe I'll work on it!