Stuff. A (shamefaced) love story.

Bedroom Chaise Sofa Numero Uno.

So, I was sitting on the porch of our cottage on the tidal marshes south of Savannah in the rain on Sunday, painting our raggedy-ass white porch swing a deep, beautiful shade of green and listening to NPR to pass the time. I painted through a program about physics and time travel (surprisingly compelling!), I listened to an interview with the screenwriters of The Ides of March (best movie I’ve seen in months!) … and then came a story about Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing The Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health — and A Vision for Change. She was pretty cool and concise, not at all a flaming guilt-inducer or super buzz-kill artist, and I found myself nodding my head in agreement with a lot of what she said. Until I realized that not only clearly and indisputably is there a problem, but that I am the problem.

On Stupendous Sale But Still....Brown Sofa #2.

Yes, folks — me, the budding philanthropist, maniacal recycler, super-judgmental, bad-tempered, bleeding heart liberal, consciousness-raising, obnoxiously self-righteous, trying-to-be-a-do-gooder  — I am the problem.

And it’s not the first time I’ve had this realization. My first epiphany, having moved to Atlanta and into this big house (that we get to/have to live in because it’s the university president’s domicile), was that in the course of filling this house with furniture (why? why??) I had somehow along the way accumulated FIVE full-length sofas.

Incriminating Green Leather Sofa #3.

At that uncomfortable point, my mind flung itself into the future – to the day after my funeral, when all my painstakingly collected stuff — my funky jewelry, crazy-quilt artwork, groovy clothes, Turkish rugs, and vast accumulations of crap — would all be out on the front lawn, being sold by my strangled-with-stuff heirs (Lulu) for a nickel. And rightfully so.

Not to mention the FIVE FUCKING SOFAS.

Indisputably Unnecessary Purple Sofa #4.

Seriously, who needs all this stuff? And why did we ever feel compelled to buy it?? It’s a pivotal question we need to ask ourselves, particularly as we start to look down the barrel of our own mortality and think of all the useless stuff we’re going to be embarrassing ourselves by leaving behind. I’m NOT trying to make us all feel guilty (Oh please, let’s not go there — particularly since I just bought the cutest new black handbag that is painfully close in resemblance to the chic black handbag I got last year that is still perfectly useful!)

Last year's bag...

Brand new bag!

No… I’m writing this not to wallow in guilt but to get some perspective. As my beautiful Colorado friend Michelle wrote, while directing me to a previously irresistible shopping website: “You no doubt have plenty of stuff and don’t need another thing. Does anyone??”

Now that’s an interesting question. Consider the latest statistics: the income of the middle class has declined 10% in the past 4 years. There are now 42.9 million people in this country living in poverty — and when you think about a family of four living on $22,350 a year, that’s almost inconceivable. How do they afford food? Why do I have five sofas and four people have less than $2,000 a month to live on? And does the ultimate health of our economy really depend on us all staying in an endless paroxysm of mindless acquisition of stuff?? (Now that’s one question that probably won’t come up in tonight’s GOP presidential debate.)

The "What Was I Thinking?" Basement Sofa #5.

BUT .. I am going to Uganda in ten days, so I better get attenuated to this heart-wrenching disparity between the haves and the have-nots. I can’t do much to alter the perilous inequality of income in this country and the world, besides advocate for serious political change, but I can do a few things to make myself feel like I’m doing something.

For Sale By Overbuyer.

Stop buying sofas, for instance. Sell the stupid cottage in Savannah that we bought furnished with a whole boatload of more stuff we don’t need. And as much as I love Steve Jobs, I think I can live without a new computer (even though my 2004 MacBook makes the “geniuses” at the Apple Store look at me as if I’m bringing in smallpox when I lug it into the store for repair). I can keep recycling because Leonard says that 40% of our landfill is still paper — and that is 100% preventable and ridiculous! And when everything — houses, bathtubs, sodas, burritos and our asses– are getting bigger, bigger, bigger, I can be a voice for simplifying my own life and for making my personal mountain of stuff a little smaller.

My simply favorite place in the house.

And of course, I can keep giving to people in need, and encourage others to join me.

Sofa, anyone??

60 thoughts on “Stuff. A (shamefaced) love story.

  1. Betty, I can spend my whole day reading your blogs. You are wonderful. I am so glad your favorite place in the house has my favorite book “The Price of Stones” Thank you for being you and for sharing you with us!

  2. Still on topic but only just … it is great to know that there are other men out there who suffer as I do. Nuke those purses … but remove any money first of course. ( I think I may be making enemies here now but hey … I can always hide behind the sofa.)
    Incidentally … I have tried giving things to my children … my utility bills for starters but they were not amused. They gave them back and threatened to leave … if only !!!

  3. Great blog, Betty! My husband and I downsized to a 2-br townhouse seven years ago. Timing was good to give furniture, lawn tools, etc. to our son who was moving into his first house. What he didn’t want went to Goodwill. As we are now on the back nine of our lives, less is liberating…especially when it will be someone else’s problem later on. My mother left behind a small closet of clothes, some jewelry, a couple of beloved paintings and a used car. (Her husband owned their home and furniture.) Thanks, Mom, it was hard enough losing you.

    • Oh, what a poignant sentiment: “It was hard enough losing you…” — and I know exactly what you mean. Why bury your kids in stuff when it’s kind of your responsibility to get unencumbered before you go?? Not that I’m planning on going anywhere soon, but I’m just saying…

      • So true! I love reading your blogs and all the comments! We are all so fortunate to have such “problems!” You get us all thinking in the right direction!!! Love ya, Nancy

  4. Very hilarious. I relate. One day I woke up and noticed my house had exploded and it (all of a sudden) was full of stuff. I have no idea where it came from. I told my husband we needed to downsize, and he said “Great idea, let’s start with your purse collection…” That wasn’t what I had in mind. We are trying to implement a tactic of “one bag in, two bags out”, but it’s not working. Love the sofa pics.

    • Thanks for the comment, Rufina! I love the male point of view “let’s start with the purse collection” — my husband has the same POV with my ridiculous number of shoes! I do try to winnow
      through the stuff on a semi-regular basis, but I know that the only thing that is going to stimulate a true paring down to the bone excavation is moving to a smaller place. You somehow just have to fill up the space that surrounds you, I guess. Cannot wait to explore your blog 300dayjourney.wordpress.com!!!

  5. I have to say I am partial to the purple sofa but I’ve downsized by 2/3 and have not an inch to spare. It’s a challenge to let go of all the stuff, but so worth it. Thanks for reminding me of that.

    • Oh honey, trust me, you don’t want the purple sofa. It’s ungodly heavy and absolutely huge. We had to have the legs taken off and almost gave two guys hernias getting it up the stairs
      of our last house. Beauty is painful! But thanks for writing!!!

  6. Lovely Betty! It is always so wonderful to read your posts! Just in case you didn’t know, there’s a Creative Reuse center in your town! Their Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Creative-Reuse-Georgia/111262073657?sk=wall and please check out the listing of their “Likes” because they also have some wonderful places listed in Georgia that may love to receive your treasures! Wishing for you always, much love, joy and prosperity…Thank You So Much for being so awesome beyond words! Hugs to you from SoCal! 🙂

    • Wow, Lisa — I can always count on you for a good, creative resource — and you are SUCH a queen of Creative Reuse out there in Long Beach, you almost make me want to go buy a whole bunch of stuff!! But … I’ll be good and just use them as a resource for giving stuff away! Hope you’re doing great … lots of love to you!!!

  7. Hi Betty. I’ve been thinking a lot on this post since yesterday. I talked with my husband about it (“it” being our love for things), and then while walking with my neighbor this morning. She actually brought it up, which made me think of you right away, and that the timing of this topic is no coincidence.

    She was talking about how the other day, she looked at her old car and said to herself, “I want a nicer car,” and then immediately felt convicted because.. she has a car! She said today she thought, “I don’t want to buy groceries, I hate this chore,” and then thought, “I can buy groceries!” Oh how I can relate to that thinking.

    When I told her a blogging buddy was juggling this situation regarding five couches and whether it was too much, she said, “well maybe your friend could afford 20 couches, and five for her is holding back.” Of course, that’s between you and God, but the fact that you’re thinking about it says a lot of your great character.

    Most importantly, my neighbor does not want her children to have the consumer “things=happiness” mindset, but says she knows locking them in the basement is not an appropriate reaction to it 🙂 .

    PS. How much for the green leather sofa? That would look great with these old woods floors! 🙂 Arg, there I go again! (haha) Great post, still has me thinking.

    • Hey South Dakota Sweetheart! — I have been mulling over this topic myself since my friend Bonnie and I started talking about it over coffee on Monday morning — she’s got a whole house full of art and wonderful things but she can’t wait to get out from under it (the stuff) and downsize her possessions. I think in some ways it’s an age thing, too — you start out young & poor (if you’re lucky) and then you start making a little money and accumulating things, and then you have kids and accumulate a LOT more things (although that’s a big trap that we fall into — babies actually need VERY little except you, and children not nearly so much as they get nowadays)… but then when your kids fly away, it becomes almost irresistible to want to slice through all the crap that is weighing you down & hemming you in and be free again. Except that by then, you’ve got a lot higher expectations — of high thread count sheets (so lovely!) and sexy shoes (I know you understand) and decent knives & cooking utensils … and it’s not so easy to go without those things. I think the trick is just to get SMALL … and then you can still have nice things, but a lot, lot less of them. And you’ll treasure them more. Like my green sofa! (it is a beauty, even though the sun blasting in the windows in my last house just faded the leather to a old green-gray that I love). But … I’ll put your name on it! (that’s a family joke — but a serious one!)

  8. Betty I love all you articles. They definitely hit close to home. Annie Leonard is great. One of my daughters introduced me to her, after coming home from Guatemala. It is truly an under expression to talk about our creation of Junk. I also want to know why our washers, refrigerators, etc, etc only last about 5 yrs, when my mom had hers for 25yrs!!! What a way to fill the dumps along with the sofas!!!! I am an artist though, and we love to change our environments!!!

    • That must be your passionate, activist daughter whom I can’t wait to meet someday! Wow, how coincidental that you met her, and I’m sure that was a powerful meeting, indeed. You’re right about our appliances (and computers, cell phones, and everything planned to be obsolescent). It always makes me remember what Paul Newman said when some dumb reporter asked him why and how he and Joanne Woodward had managed to stay married for so long in Hollywood. And he said — well, in this world we live in, when something is broke, you just throw it away and get a new one. But Joanne and I decided that we weren’t going to do that with our stuff, and we weren’t going to do that with our marriage. So when it gets broke, we fix it. And you know, we haven’t had to throw away much at all.
      How deep is that?! And I really think about that when I’m tempted to just throw away something because it’s broken — and try to fix it. And not give up on it. Even if you do that with inanimate things, it’s amazing how it kind of transfigures the way you look at the bigger relationships in your life, too.
      And btw, I believe artists are the ultimate recyclers … making you see beauty in all kinds of things and situations, and using everything in new ways! Happy weekend, Debbie!

    • Well 99%– I obviously thought it was completely irresistible, too, when I saw it in this amazing local artisans’ furniture store in Manayunk, Philadelphia. I had to have it. I dragged Larry down to
      see it and — god bless his soccer-playing, totally male, straight-arrow heart, he thought it was great, too — and we splurged our heart out (yeah, it was on big sale because it was a floor model
      but still…) It’s our romantic bedroom sofa — very suitable for swooning on!! And that’s my love story of stuff….

  9. And something else which is on topic … my wife has a mission in life. She wants to acquire eBay and has obviously decided (judging by the numerous piles of assorted everything lying almost everywhere) that the best way to do this is to BUY EVERYTHING eBay has. I didn’t want a job lot of 56 used car tyres from China marked ‘deadly do not use’. I didn’t want a picture of Albert Einstein’s second cousin twice removed in an attractive blue and gold frame. I certainly didn’t need a box of back-scratchers from Taiwan one for every day of the year. So I think (despite my own thoughts here) you should go on eBay and buy another sofa. You could call it Eric and disguise it as a
    penguin. But you should most certainly BUY ANOTHER ONE especially if it is sourced from wood from the Rain Forests … a little less wood = a little less rain. It is always bloody raining in Scotland so if you got a sofa then you would be doing Scotland a favour. I believe this is what they refer to as the butterfly effect …. a woman buys a sofa in America and it stops raining in Scotland. That’s it for now. My back is itching and I can’t find those back scratchers.

    • Kris, darling — I think the rain has made you quite mad … but hell if I’m going to buy a sofa to stop it, because you are hilarious! BTW, please don’t let my darling friend Laurie know your wife is conspiring to buy eBay because Laurie has her own secret plot going on .. and they’ll just get into a nasty bidding war and drive each other into the poorhouse! I am so happy you are commenting — what a unique perspective!!! lovely!!

  10. When we moved to the States we couldn’t sell all our furniture and Mr F and I stood together on the sidewalk on moving day – which happened to be garbage day – and watched the garbage truck munching it’s way through our old basement couch, our beds, our mattresses…

      • There were stores like Goodwill but no one wants old mattresses (bed bugs anyone?) and we didn’t have a truck to deliver the couch. Leave something out on the sidewalk in the rain for one day and it’s garbage… It was the biggest waste and the most gut wrenching experience of our lives. We lived in a large two story house, with a full basement, double car garage, garden shed and were moving to a 2 bedroom apartment. I got rid of things like the silver soup tureen that I’d inherited from my mom in law and used maybe once, took load of kids stuff including boxes and boxes and boxes of books to a women’s shelter nearby, but watched the garbage truck eat up things no one wanted. We live a much simpler life now although I’m shocked how easy it is to collect stuff again – I’ve got way too many books.

      • Oh Rosie — what agony! Specially if you TRIED to give stuff away and make sure it got a good home! Unfortunately, I’ve always had the questionable luxury of having all my stuff moved to the new place, so I’ve avoided the necessary and painful paring down of all non-essentials. For instance, I moved every one of my PLANTS from Colorado to Pennsylvania. Ye gads. As for books, we’ll all have to remember Better World Books when we get ready to part from our tomes. I gave away boxes and boxes in the move to Atlanta (all my books from college, for instance) and we’ve just started getting to fill all our bookshelves again. But now that I know there’s a good home for them — I don’t mind. I’ll just pass ’em right along! Happy Friday, Rosie!!!

  11. Once again, touche’…. I was just reading about how our penchant for acquiring ‘things’ is linked to our dissatisfaction with self thereby creating an ennui that seemingly can be ‘stifled’ by buying more and more. The solution is to nurture a healthy, creative love of life, to find that the purpose of life is to live a life of purpose. Thank you for your exclamation point 🙂
    Travel safely and I’m looking forward to your sharing your Uganda experiences.

    • Thanks for writing, Meredith! I think there's just a huge shifting of consciousness in the western world about how all the stuff we buy and all the "bigness" we're looking for in things is causing not only the planet to suffer, but also to smothering our hearts and spirits. I know for myself when I buy too much, I feel literally ill — the older I get, the less stuff I want. It's like extra weight … I'll just feel more nimble, strong and free without it. (But like pizza, it's kinda irresistible at the same time) — And YES, I will be blogging from Uganda, if I can find an internet connection!!! Betty Londergan 2702 Mabry Rd. NE Atlanta, GA 30319 (610-348-9279) https://whatgives365.wordpress.com

  12. Your every blog post is enlightening, challenging and funny, Betty! And the comments are always terrific too. Thank you for making me think. A friend once told me not to have things that I didn’t use at least once a month. Trying to follow that advice has kept my “stuff” to a manageable minimum.

    • Hey Jo — a super cute friend of mine once married a guy who had a 100-thing limit in his life .. if he bought one thing that put him over 100, he had to give something else away. Unfortunately for him, he married the daughter of the owner of the Mercedes Benz dealership in town — who obviously had a somewhat higher number of things in mind. I still don’t know what happened to that marriage — but I’m thinking — definitely five sofas. At the very least.

  13. Love you Betty Londergan! Of course we have too much stuff. That is why the rest of the world thinks we are so materialistic. We are. Our economy grew like gangbusters because we bought lots of stuff and then threw it away and bought more stuff. If you get serious about giving away some of your cool-looking stuff, then contact Judy Clements or Cathy Bradshaw in Atlanta. They work with an organization that helps settle refugees who really need some stuff. I’m leaving for Swaziland 10/27 for our third African Partners Summit. Wannacome? Otherwise, I’ll just wave to you in Uganda:)

    • Chris Bradshaw, I love YOU! Can't believe you will be in Africa the same time as me … and we won't get to see each other (but we're probably closer in SF and ATL)! When we move out/get kicked out of this house, I'll totally donate to the RRISA refugees! What a great idea — although after considering my grape couch, they might want to move back to Burma. I'm sending off my check to the Books for Africa fundraiser here in ATL on October 21 because I'll be headed for Uganda! Yay!!! Betty Londergan 2702 Mabry Rd. NE Atlanta, GA 30319 (610-348-9279) https://whatgives365.wordpress.com

  14. OK … 5 sofas is not a bad thing really especially if you call them by different names. Men talk about cars. Women talk about sofas. Dogs talk about bones mostly. Elephants talk about fear of mice. Politicians talk … crap most of the time. All the nicest people have sofas … with cushions.
    So do not feel guilty.You could give your sofas away of course but I don’t think that a redistribution of all things sofa would do much good.
    My wife also has a thing about sofa. The last sofa she got was last Xmas Eve and we had to almost knock the bloody house down to get it through into the sitting room. I call it a sitting room because there is so much clutter that you can’t stand in it. I have now decided that I hate sofas.All sofas should be thrown over a cliff. Trouble is … this will raise the sea level by about a 1000 feet or so but it will probably be OK because we will be living in a sofa-free environment … albeit a bloody wet one.

    • Kris, you are completely hilarious — and I totally love your point about calling sofas by different names (you discovered my strategy!) For instance, in addition to my five sofas,I also have a daybed (not technically a sofa) —
      this makes me feel so much better! And yes, I am certainly aware a redistribution of sofas is not going to make the world a better place — one woman’s trash is another woman’s sofa, and all that — but eventually, I’m determined to give most of the stuff I have away to someone who can use it. Like, when we have to move out of this big house… I’m so looking forward to getting a cute small place with a SITTING ROOM
      that will only hold one sofa. Then I’ll call your wife to see if she wants any of the remaining four!

  15. I think the new black purse is more fun than the old one. Have you considered, instead of a casket, being laid out on that terrific purple couch? Have you asked your husband which couch he’d like to be buried on? It’s the books that kill me and I can’t imagine them being sold for a quarter apiece…..You are one courageous lady to publish that piece…..thanks.

    • Oh, worry not — your books will be given away, if not thrown away outright — given the results of my last yard sale, a quarter is wishful thinking! Thanks for loving my new cute purse, Amy — that makes me feel a lot better! And I love the sofa/casket approach! Way to recycle!!!

    • Yes, I also have a crazy love of pillows — but at least I get them at Marshalls where they are uber-cheap! My husband is a famous pillow-abuser — he mashes them in half and completely destroys them — and my kids love to sit on/lie on/crush them — so I’ve learned not to get attached to any of them. I guess that’s some kind of progress??

  16. Perhaps it has something to do with our big hearts… but I too have a collection of sofa’s rather … chaise lounges. I guess I need a place to faint dramatically after I hear about the troubles of the world. I also have an extravagant bathtub with a gynormous collection of bath accessories and soaps and “stuff” . I have carried the weight of the world on my shoulders… and I have finally come to the place where I can let it be OK. Even though whenever I am in said extravagant bathtub, I usually end up cleaning around me or plotting my next ” helpout”.

    • Hey Indigo – lovely to hear from you! I love to think it’s my big heart that leads me to Big Sofa Love … but I’m not sure. I do like a comfortable place to sit, though — and I love when we have parties or all the kids come home and everybody is all smushed together on the sofa. That’s lovely! Your bathtub sounds amazing — but I had to burst out laughing when I was reading that you clean while you “lounge” in the tub — I do the same thing!!!
      Oh well – i guess the trick is to love the stuff you got, and when you let go, let it be with both hands and a happy heart!

  17. Hey, I LOVE MY STUFF and have no intention to divest myself of any couches. Most treasured items come from the cast off of others and i know I am doing a huge part in saving beautiful things from being relegated to landfills. I say there are enough products out there to be rotated, as in craigslist, auctions and curbing. Yes! people are nuts and throw away amazing finds!
    Like adopting from the SPCA, as opposed to breeding new animals, there is a plethora of luxury to be found. Be creative and there is no need to spend or feel guilty about loving everything surrounding you. And if heaven is all white and minimal, you know where I’m headed!
    Laurie

    • Laurie — YOU are the queen of the fabulous castoffs … and the beautiful respite between overbuyers and the dreaded landfill… a one-woman recycling luxury project!! I think everything cool should wash up on your domestic shores, because you restore it to its former glory, make it look groovy and put it to use. (Readers: Laurie once bought a bottle of Veuve Cliquot for a DOLLAR at a garage sale — yeah, she’s just that kind of girl!)
      Your heaven comment made me laugh out loud — hey have you found a new puppy at SPCA yet???

  18. Great post! I love Annie Leonard. I used to use her work with my eighth graders in an environmental science class. It is a daily challenge – we are bombarded with messages from our culture to buy stuff, replace last season’s stuff, get more stuff, judge ourselves and others on the quality and quantity of our stuff – it’s so prevalent it just feels normal.
    Thanks for sharing this!

    • Wow — I love that you are turning eighth graders on to the underlying consumption messages that inflect every aspect of our world! Annie Leonard said her aha! moment came when as a sophomore in college, she went to the Staten Island Landfill — and looking out over the miles and miles of trash, abandoned and discarded stuff as far as the eye could see in every direction, she was just transformed. I really am impressed that you are bringing that consciousness to your classroom!!!

  19. Thanks for the great laugh, Betty! BTW, I know a guy over at Agnes Scott who would LOVE to take that purple sofa off your hands. BTW, I struggle with the same issues. I call it “collecting” and I think it’s genetic 😉

    • Dear JT — I think I’m almost ready to part with it! Keep on writing me and I’ll totally hook you up! (but I can’t blame this on my genes, I’m afraid, as my mother was the queen of parsimony and never bought anything she didn’t absolutely need. I still have the old sheets I took to CAMP with her sweet little nametags sewed in them…)

  20. Thanks for challenging us to think Betty.

    It is easy for me to lose sight of what is really important and necessary, and posts like this help to keep me grounded.

    Thanks.

  21. Loved this post. I recently moved from the states to Canada. I sold my house, my truck and most of my other belongings. Very liberating. What I didn’t get rid of, however – and you’ll totally get this – was a sofa. Although boringly beige and heavier than the average elephant it’s perfect for slumping into, putting up my feet and watching TV. It’s so heavy, though, that I’ll never get it out of my finished basement if and when I move. If that happens, I’ll leave it. Might feel good to do that.

    • Wow! I can’t believe how many folks have given away all their stuff on purpose! That is amazing — and I’m really looking forward to someday doing that. I reckon it will be sooner than later,
      and hopefully when we do move to a much smaller house, we can give our kids the sofas and tables and artwork that will never fit in our next place — and give the rest to Goodwill or Salvation
      Army. BUT ..I also know the attachment people have with their sofas so I am glad you got to keep your big beige behemoth — continuity and comfort is always reassuring, specially in a move! Welcome to the US!!!

  22. Don’t throw the baby out w/ the sofa…I mean bath water! You are doing a great job but living w/in this paradoxical world is incredibly stressful. I mean, we have all these messages about buying being good for the economy…and then we have the reality of the “one child in 4 in this country is living in poverty.” Living out of our center, and being globally committed to social justice, means simplify where you can. Another great resource is the book: How to Simplify Your Life by Tiki Krstenmacher. Keep writing and let’s hear how Uganda is. Blessings!

    • Great point, Denise — we are constantly bombarded with messages to buy more and more, and I do think that simplifying your life is always a move in the right direction! I’m totally going to check out Tiki’s book .. and of course, I will be writing from Uganda! Stay tuned!!!

  23. Betty, I really appreciate your candor and your willingness to both poke fun at yourself (sofa pics) and take seriously the issue you raise.
    There are actually some of us Baby Boomers who have really tried to live by principles, such as Less is More. For the four decades of my adult life (and even as a kid), I have always debated every purchase I make, and my small home is filled with furniture that came from the side of the road or the thrift store. And I’m happy. Go figure, eh?
    So, I look forward to seeing how your revelations play out. Because of your position in the community, I wonder how a change in your presidential home might affect those who visit you and your husband there. Could you be the start of a revolution among the upper class?
    That would be so cool.

    • Hey Cindy — Well, I hardly think I’m going to be the catalyst for a revolution (I don’t have the energy or the pantsuits), and I’m not sure how the board of directors would feel about me stripping the presidential house down to the bare essentials but I vividly remember how adorable all our apartments were when we were young and living in poverty — and I’m good to go with that look when this gig is over! I think a lot of us Boomers will
      be living a lot more simply when we get off the big house bonanza — and it’ll be such a relief to have smaller places that are beautifully plain. Love that you’ve been so thoughtful through your life about consumption — and it’s no wonder you sound so happy with your choices!!

  24. Thank you for this, Betty. I believe more and more people are realizing simple is so much better. I once had a friend who said “Never own more than you can walk away from.” I’ve thought about that when I sold all I owned http://bit.ly/e28REi and now again as I need to whittle down to two duffles. Letting go is liberating. xoxo Juanita

    • Loved your post, Juanita — but oh my! I wish I could have that beautiful table of yours! See? Lust for things is a hard habit to break! (but it’s getting to feel a lot like baggage — and I know that’s enlightenment come knocking at my door)… Have a beautiful day!

  25. I used to haunt estate sales, have precious collections of whatever, and pride myself with my superior good taste. Then, when my ex and I split, I found a “precious” photo of myself that he had torn up and thrown in the trash. The moment was an epiphany for me. If that photo could go, what else could? The answer was: Everything. In that moment, I released all attachment to “stuff” in my life. The result was liberating beyond belief. I wrote a post about this: http://lifeintheboomerlane.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/finding-my-future-in-a-trashcan/

    • Your post was so thoughtful, Rene — and I really loved how you took the hurt and rejection of seeing your picture thrown away by your ex – and turned it into a learning moment. That’s pretty incredible ..
      and probably why you can be so funny AND so relevant in your blog! I do believe that the Buddhists are onto something when they say attachment is suffering — and there is truly nothing more freeing to your spirit than to realize that the things you think you can’t possibly live without are the things that are keeping you stuck. Things are just things. Your heart and soul are what matter. Thanks so much for writing!

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