Only One, Please, Only One. In Almost Everything.

My husband gave me a bracelet of pearls for Christmas, knowing how much I love Japan. And beauty. And that he would never in a million years be able to choose a book for me.

But, that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about possessions. I looked at the jewelry boxes already stacked up on my dresser and knew I would need to find a superior way of storing them.

So we went to Target, bought one of those plastic bins which is supposed to fit under your bed (unless you have a sleigh bed like mine under which nothing fits but little dust bunnies). I filled it up with the empty boxes for my jewelry, my iPod classic from several years ago, my fountain pen from many years before that, and I went to bed burdened.

As we look at our reading goals for 2011, I have a few more: don’t anticipate trouble for tomorrow when you can enjoy today; don’t be obligated into doing things because you haven’t established boundaries; don’t buy anything more! (Read what you have, and in so doing participate in C.B. James’ TBR Dare.)

Seriously. I’d like only one, please. One pen (my Mont Blanc fountain pen bought in Germany in 1984). One perfume (Guerlain’s Mitsouko). One lipstick (Revlon’s Fire and Ice). One book.

Wait a minute. NOT one book.

But, one of everything else. Do you know what I mean? Do the things you own come out at night and crawl around your bed taunting you with their clutter? Am I the only one who feels overwhelmed, and guilty, in owning so much stuff?!

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25 thoughts on “Only One, Please, Only One. In Almost Everything.”

  1. No, you are absolutely not the only one. I say this in the midst of a house clean out where I am bundling things up to be donated to people in actual NEED of a few of my unused possessions. This topic weighs very heavily upon me at times especially since I work in a high poverty community and then come home to the over-abundance. I feel grateful but guilty and worry about life losing significance and meaning for my children. You've inspired me to do more today. To pare down even further. But not the books.

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  2. I, too, see many needs within our school and community. It makes me feel horribly guilty for the abundant blessings I have; the only way I can think of assuaging that guilt is to give to Good Will, as well as to anyone who crosses my path with a need. I don't feel too badly about my books, though. I think they're a treasure we can store almost guilt free. Especially on my Nook where they're not all that visible. 😉

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  3. Every year I feel the need to own less and less -and actually that applies to books, too. I do WANT them, but I can satisfy myself much of the time by borrowing them from the library, and being very, very selective about those I choose to buy.One of my young friends decided to donate one item for every gift she receives. I thought that was a really smart idea, and one I'm going to take up over the weekend as I do some closet cleaning.That said…your bracelet is beautiful, and you must wear and enjoy it because your husband bought it for you 🙂

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  4. I've always thought "quality over quantity" was the way to go – although I did make a brief pass through the land of entirely-too-much-antique-china. And two computers is good, for those times when one decides to pitch a fit.But you've caught me at the end of a year-long process, a determination last new year's day to have combed through, culled, consigned, given, donated, sold and thrown the extras in my life.I've learned two important lessons. That which is gone, I don't miss. And that which remains is visble, useful, part of life in the way things in boxes are not. Life will be so different this year, beginning as I am with papers filed, space on shelves, clutter gone. I just can't tell you the exaltation I felt when the television went out the door – and I've never missed that, either.Happy new year!

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  5. You're definitely not the only one. I live in a small two-bedroom flat with my fiance and our cat, and I've spent the whole morning wrestling with stuff trying to find places to store all of our Christmas presents. I have more stuff than I can ever use ….

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  6. I am with you. We just moved into a smaller apartment as we and our relatives were putting boxes into the new place, I just kept repeating "We have too much stuff!" I am making it a goal in the new year to get rid of the extra we have. There are boxes of "things" taking up space that we honestly don't need.

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  7. You are definitely NOT the only one who feels this way. I am making a goal to sort things in my house this year and give items to charity that I no longer need. I'm going to move into a smaller space and need to be selective about what I keep. I don't think I will be giving away too many books though!

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  8. I am comforted in knowing that I'm not alone. I'm sitting down with a Coke in a small bottle (like the woman in my header!) which my son bought me at a specialty store after cleaning my closet. I have three bags for Good Will, and I'm convincing myself it's progress. How does one get in this position, when one doesn't want to put faith in possessions in the first place?!Linda, I love how you threw out your tv! I never, no, rarely, watch television (only for the specials on PBS) and it's something I would neve miss. I have, however, thrown out things I did miss…have you ever gotten rid of something and spent days looking for it later? Have you ever re-purchased a book you once owned/ That's happened to me before.

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  9. I've never spent time looking for something, although I can think with longing about something that's gone. A good example was my African mask collection. I had 20 when I came back from Liberia. Now I have five – the rest have been given to individuals or museums/cultural centers.They were wonderful and I loved looking at them – but I didn't need all 20! Five are quite enough to give pleasure and bring back memories.I have repurchased books now and then – I've worn some out, lost a couple and realized others were worth having. And music – I confess to a need for redundancy where utter favorites are concerned. Doesn't everyone have three CDs of the Traveling Wilburys? 😉

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  10. I'm with you! I've felt especially overwhelmed with stuff lately, as my Grandma just moved and downsized, passing much of her stuff on to her children and grandchildren. It's hard to say no to something that's been in the family, or that's still perfectly good, but…really how many muffin tins does one need? Now books on the other hand….

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  11. I know how you feel. I moved house 12 months ago and we had a truck full of stuff… totally full. The people who helped us move kept commenting on how much stuff we had… it made me feel bad. Like I have wasted all my money… and I do feel burdened. I don't want to move again (although I will have to as we are renting, hopefully not soon though) and if we have to move far, I would considered getting rid of a lot. I am tied to where I am because of stuff. It's silly… I also said when we moved here that I was not going to buy anymore books! … that only lasted a month. I dread having to move them all but I do love them.hhmmm you know what, I have four big bags full of old clothes under my bed… why? cause I am hoping they will fit again one day… (oh my skinny days!)… I think I will take them to charity 🙂 you have inspired me!oh and the garage… I don't even know why we keep half the junk in there we never use. Maybe we are hoarders!? I think I shall clean that out soon too. Great post! It made me ponder.

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  12. You are NOT alone! I do not like clutter, but O own way more than I need (so does the hub). Clothes, jewelry, gadgets, books, office supplies etc. I am not a hoarder, because it is easy for me to part with lots of things, and deep down I know that I want to be a minimalist. It is just that shopping, since I was a little girl, was the one thing that always made me happy it seemed 🙂

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  13. No worries, B. You're not the only one who feels maybe even overwhelmed by stuff, by having stuff. But I'll tell you what: it's due in part to having a job. I'm sure of it. When home, keeping the home (housekeeping in it's true sense), stuff does not and cannot get the upper hand. But as consumers, since we are also "workers," things get by; things get stashed, stacked and often not so cleverly stored when one is working a full day and coming home to run a kitchen and pet kingdom and loving household.It's tough.That being said, it seems from so many blogs I've read lately AND from friends with whom I've chatted that many of us are turning a corner, getting off of Clutter Street and heading towards Green and Useful streets and Using-what-we-have Street. Funny about the sleigh bed having no "low" storage area! And I love the idea of the TBR challenge! Trying to take it myself (like, doing a personal one.) And I'm even contemplating having a book sale at my house, you know, maybe charging 25 cents or even a dime (to donate to Nurses for Newborns) for those books I know I won't read but deserve to be read … by someone! Yes, or will just outright donate them.Anyhow, yeah, there's treasure in them there storage bins in the basement and on the shelves in the laundry room and phew, I could use another few days off just to sort and sift through it all.Yes, oh, yes, I hear what you're saying!And, btw, Happy New Year!

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  14. We're surprisingly good at throwing things out in my family, and I don't have enough space for clutter. But I also feel that too much stuff ways you down and is unnecessary, except for books, there can't be too many! 🙂 Have a happy new year, Bellezza!

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  15. It was hilarious yesterday; my husband called me when he got home from work. "Where are you?" he asked. "You'll never believe it," I replied, "on the street trying to turn into the GoodWill center!" There were so many cars making drop-offs that I was in line for over half an hour! Apparently, many people feel like spreading their wealth (i.e. getting rid of excess) with others. More than I ever thought!

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  16. I feel you! (Btw, happy new year and I missed you too!) While I purge a lot and consciously avoid acquiring so much stuff, I still feel guilty a lot of times. The house we moved into is a very small townhouse and sometimes I crave more space and sometimes I feel a little bit of envy for my friends who have bigger houses, but then I check myself and realize how glad I am we have this small a place because if it were any bigger I'd feel even guiltier everyday for all the other people in the world who do not have homes, who live in nipa houses, mud houses, etc. I may not be able to stand it. We should feel blessed that we have enough. Then again, this does not apply to books, obviously. One can never have enough books. 🙂

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  17. The house we have is a small one, built in 1961, but it is exactly what I wanted. There's a river right across the street, (imagine, the quiet of a river in bustling Chicagoland!) with a path we walk almost everyday. When our friends speak of their enormous taxes from their enormous houses, I feel relief. I don't have the upkeep of that space, I don't have to pay for it or manage it. I'd much rather have small any day. A classic case of less is more.

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  18. You can go without your possessions, even books, but sounds like you have a most wonderful husband whom you should keep forever! Have a Happy New Year, Bellezza, you and yours, and all the best for a wonderful 2011 throughout!

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  19. What a gorgeous gift, and one that symbolises a gorgeous friendship. Cherish that. Currently in Australia we have a flood covering more territory than France and Germany. 1000's of families are homeless and will loose everything they treasured. We are constantly reminded in this land of ours that nothing is for ever, the stuff we have is only ours for a moment. Those items we can pass on to another life have meaning, those items we need to throw out have finished their life, and those items we are about to come into possession of (cos we always do) will only have a place in our life temporarily. It's a cycle. We can choose to participate in it or not. Well done with your good will bags – cos someone else will loose be treasuring that which you dont. May we all be blessed with the love of friends and families, so we dont need the love of things.

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  20. I soooo know what you mean. As I weave through my living room with Christmas crap piled up everywhere I have to wonder: how much did we really need???May take your idea and run with it on my blog. Not sure I can choose one lipstick. Oh wait, yes I can! Ha!

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  21. Can you believe I don't own ANY lipstick? Interesting as my mom is never without lipstick but neither I nor my two sisters wear very much makeup. I don't even know where to begin so I don't (I've actually thought about posting about lipstick just to get opinions!).Yes. Stuff. Some of it beautiful. But this time of year is always hard for me as people rush into the rat race of buying buying buying when we already have so much to be grateful for and so many don't. I also like this one: "don't be obligated into doing things because you haven't established boundaries" Something I'm working on–for me a lot of this has to do with compromise–find something that works for both parties involved rather than the one (me) always bending and conforming.Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Bellezza.

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  22. Trish, write a post on lipstick, please! That would be so fun, to see what people say, and I could leave you more information in comments than you'd ever want to know. Wait, is that a good thing? :)You're the first one to comment on my other goals; I'm glad that you saw them. It's quite a process to find appropriate compromises. Some people I work with never bend on anything, others (me) bend too often. I want to be loving, always, but not anything like a doormat. My husband asks, "Why can you say yes to everyone, but tell just what you think?" He doesn't know it's because I trust him to love me exactly as I am.

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  23. You wrote about what I've been thinking about lately! Yes, I do feel burdened by my stuff quite often. And I really dislike clutter (and have too much of it). Happy New Year Bellezza!

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