/BE/: More Maker, Less Taker
There’s value in letting go.
If your home clutter is leading to life and mind clutter like mine was, (Who am I kidding? It still is, *work in “imperfect” progress afterall.), this helpful advice I received from a friend a few years ago, may creep up on you like it did me. Simple advice that seems innocent and sweet at first, but stalks you and won’t let you go.
You see, I had been complaining to my friend about my daughters’ toy/clothes/messy room problem. I praised his childrens’ rooms, saying how neat and clean they were. That’s when he said,
“We use the one-in, one-out rule.”
What!? How had I never heard of this rule? For every one item in, one must go out. I could teach my girls a lesson in giving and present it as a hard and fast rule, as though there’s really no choice in the matter? Because it was nearing Christmas when this awakening occurred, it seemed like the hands of fate were giving me this moment to try it out. When I presented it to my husband, it quickly became the one-in, two-out rule, and here we are today. Sort of.
It was only just a few months ago, while looking through my closet, that it finally occurred to me that I hadn’t been practicing this rule myself. My love of a good clearance rack while allowing myself to get caught up in the feeling of being rushed, had me saying over and over again, “I’ll clean out my closet soon, but I don’t have time for it now.” So I continued to bring in more and more, without sending anything out. This left me with two full closets and one full dresser, all to myself. Yet I only wore the same few items in repeat rotation. Many of the items in my closets and drawers had only been worn a few times, and some of them still had the tags hanging from them.
Then this video about disposable clothes started circling social media.
A hard truth finally sunk in. I was buying a lot of disposable clothes. Imagine that…
Somewhere (probably halfway around the globe), someone worked in a facility, using materials grown under the sun or manufactured in another facility (probably halfway around the globe), weaving the fibers together to make a cheap cloth. That cloth was sent away to be sewn together into pants or shirts or dresses. Those were packed into plastic bags and cardboard boxes and loaded onto containers to be shipped halfway around the globe…you get the idea, where they could be unpacked and repacked a few times until they found their way to the racks of my favorite big, red and white store. Then one day, in a primal moment of hunting down the best deal, I would find them sitting on a clearance rack. I could feel good about buying them, because I found them for 50% off. Finally, I would take these goods, that had touched so many hands and traveled so far, and hope to find a place for them in my closet. Sometimes I would take the tags off and wear them. Someone would inevitably compliment my choice of attire, so that I could get the chance to say, “Thank you! I got them on clearance!” The shock on their face would bring joy to my face. I would wear them home, wash them, and if the clothing made so cheaply so that I could buy it so cheaply didn’t end up with a stain or a hole in it, I would shove it back in my closet or drawer. If I happened to actually like it enough to wear again, the process would repeat another two or three time until I eventually tired of it and went out on the hunt for the next great deal. I wonder how much time, energy, and input went into that shirt I wore one time, that ended up with a hole in it after the first wash?
Apparently what I’d been participating in is called, “fast fashion.” I didn’t know it had its own name until I recently watched the documentary, Minimalism on Netflix. You see this Ah Ha! moment, as they call them, was the catalyst for cleaning out about four giant, black trash bags full of clothes from my closets. They were handed down and divied up accordingly. Not long after the purge, something happened. Any marketing expert or fast fashion supplier would have predicted it, but I was caught completely off guard when this thought went through my consciousness, “Now that I made all that space in my closet, I should go get some MORE clothes.” It didn’t go away quickly either. I caught it in mid scroll, after looking on several web sites for winter shirts on clearance. I had to walk away from my screen to go spit out the sour taste, you know, from puking in my mouth a little bit.
I exaggerate, but I haven’t let myself buy any new shirts just yet. To be honest, I don’t really trust myself at this point; however I have challenged myself, beginning with my clothes closet (there are many other closets in need as well), to be less taker and more maker. It’s not just about wanting less, or even about needing less, though both are valid. I truly want to be more creator and less consumer. Not really because of a viral video, or a bestselling book, or a trending documentary. Those things have all been very inspiring. I love the way I always find what I’m looking for – the perfect nudges in the right direction to continue motivating my imperfect progress, at just the right time – but that’s not why I want to continue buying less and making more. I want to do it, because it’s the next step in making my life simpler, easier, less hurried and stressful. It feels good to have less – less to clean, organize, take care of, find space for. It gives me more time and space for the things that really matter.
If these words are ringing true for you, or they’re helping you find what you’re looking for at all, then I challenge you too. Be more maker, less taker. Find ways to create more in your day, and consume less. It should fulfill that same primal need we all have, to please the hunter and huntress inside. It will reward the dopamine and adrenaline seekers in us, while filling the world up the goodness we have within.
There is value in letting go, but If you’re like me, you’ll need some reminders to help you along the way. We’ll inevitably need and want to buy again in the future.
Here are some mental stop signs I try to present myself with before making a purchase:
- Do I need this or want it? – Of course it’s fine to want, but it’s good to slow down the process and find your true motivation.
- Do I have a place for this in my home?
- What am I willing to give up if I bring this into my home?
- Will I still like/use this a year from now?
- Will this stand the test of time or is it a fad/trend/cheap product that will break/or go out of style after only a few uses?
- How and where was this made?
- Am I shopping as an emotional response or out of a rational necessity?
- Is there something I could do/make/create that would give me the joy and happiness I’m seeking, rather than buy something to fill me up?
- Try making a list of all the things you already have, rather than a list of items you need.
- Try leaving the store. Do you still want it one or two days later?
And because many things that seem trivial often have a deeper origin, it always helps to remind myself:
- I am a recovering perfectionist, still in recovery, and I want to get better. I want to be comfortable presenting my authentic self to the world. Any perfecting I do on the outside, only hides what’s happening inside, but does not change it.
- No one, including myself, should expect me…or my home, hair, clothes, children, etc…to be perfect.
- I am worthy just as I am.
- I am enough.
Finally, the true challenge, to put something new into the world. Sometimes this can seem like a daunting task, but if you think about it and keep it simple, I’m sure there are many ways you’re being creative every day.
Here are a few ideas I have, if you need a little help getting started.
- Try creating an experience, rather than going shopping with friends or family, like visiting a local rock climbing wall, picnicking in the park, taking in a live event or class, etc.
- Create joy by singing and/or dancing along to music, or making up your own song.
- Create and document new ideas through journaling or writing.
- Create inspiration by finding and sharing your favorite quotes.
- Create space, in your mind and soul, by enjoying a good book in nature or doing something that makes you happy.
- Take something old and make it new again.
- Create love by doing what already makes you feel like a good wife/husband, mother/father, friend, family member, teacher, etc.
- Get outside. Get away from a TV, phone, and computer. Listen to what you hear coming from inside you. Follow that! It will lead you to what it is you’re meant to create.
So go make, create, do! Then please share your ideas and creations, what ever they may be, with us in the comments section below. We sincerely want to know how you’re progressing in this challenge. Let’s share our imperfect progress with each other!