Friday, February 21, 2014

My year of less is more: the impact of a 'possession-lite' childhood

My teddy bear:  the lone survivor
One of the fun aspects of my year of less is more are the emails, texts, Facebook messages I've received from people sharing with me their de-cluttering efforts.  It's also been stimulating discussing with people their reactions to my posts.  Some of you are excited and motivated by them.  Others are feeling uncomfortable but in a positive way.  Some just haven't liked them.  That's OK.  It's all part of the joy of sharing life online.

It is fascinating to me as I talk to people how different we all are.  I spent a lot of my childhood in a third world country where the life I lived was an abundance of richness in comparison with my local friends.  But as I've raised my own kids in Australia I've realised how simple it really was.  I remember having the same style of brown sandals for four years in a row because there weren't any other options.

Sometimes how hard (or easy) it is for us to let go of possessions can tie in with our experiences of growing up (and it can be totally different for each sibling, depending on your personality).  If you had parents that kept everything, you might chuck regularly like a mad person.  Or a childhood with not much, you might tend to feel more comfortable with less.  Or if you didn't have much, but hated the sparseness or the lack of security it created, you'll tend to hold onto things.  Or if you had parents who kept nothing, you might tend to be more sentimental to compensate.

Moving back and forth between countries meant that we were always giving our possessions away.
When I left India as a 14 year old, I returned with very little of my childhood.  There are no parental garages stuffed with 'treasures' from my childhood.   I have a few school reports, a couple of Narnia books, an old Bible and my trusty teddy bear.  My parents have continued to spend a lot of their lives overseas, constantly culling and packing and reestablishing themselves.

And I myself have continued on a path as an adult of not settling in one place. We've moved a lot during our almost 20 years of marriage.  We've been in our current place for six years which is a record for us.  With moving around so much, the 'things' I value most in life are the relationships and memories I've accumulated along the way.  

So if you ever feel that my writing on de cluttering is a bit cold and heartless, read it through this grid!  And maybe consider your own grid, as you ponder your attitude to your possessions. It's been a helpful process for me, especially living with other people who often think differently about their stuff.

3 comments:

Graham and Heather said...

Hope that teddy continues to survive!

allysonadeney said...

Interestingly Jenny,
That exact same yellow bear.... minus his features .... remains one of my few childhood possessions too.
Glad to find that in all the culling he has made it.
Ally

Jenny said...

Does it squeak Ally? Mine does if I jump on his tummy. Loved doing that as a kid!