Monday, September 14, 2015

Guest Moodler: The burden of stuff

It's been a long time since I've posted a moodling by my best friend, Catherine Coulter, who is too far away for my liking. But she wrote a great little piece this weekend, and I have her permission to share it with you.

The Burden of Stuff
Catherine G. Coulter

This summer I had the task of clearing out my late mother-in-law’s condo. I saw it as a holy undertaking, in some ways. Sifting through the contents of someone’s life is a way of honouring them and processing our own loss. There were some peculiar finds (bank statements from the 70’s), poignant messages from the past (letters and a journal), and treasures (evidence of a forgotten safety deposit box with some precious jewelry).  Seven boxes of china were shipped to a grandson in Australia, many of our household items were swapped out for hers, and most of the stuff came to the church stage for the Harvest Fair garage sale.

Later in the summer, a few volunteers and I helped a friend pack up the remnants of his belongings after he downsized into smaller accommodations. Several carloads of this life lived also made it to Heritage Hall at the same time as another truck pulled up to unload. The stage was already full so the new arrivals flowed over onto the floor. Ten days out from the garage sale there was a river of stuff. I joined an impromptu team of good church people to reorganize the stuff on the stage, price the incoming, and restack it in mountains at the back of the stage. We were there for hours and toting yet another box into the overflowing abundance, I said passionately, “I’m never going to buy anything again, ever!” My summer of sorting and boxing, loading and unloading, and shifting and schlepping stuff had gone on too long and all I could see was too much stuff, mine and everyone else’s.

I know I’m not the only one who feels I have too much stuff. But it’s not just the material possessions filling my shelves. There’s also the papers to be filed and dealt with, craft projects to be finished (or yet to be started), instruments to learn to play, books waiting to be read, chores to be tackled inside the house and out, calls and emails to be returned and a calendar of activities and meetings to remember to attend. It’s not just stuff that I have but stuff that I have to do. My life gets as cluttered as the church hall stage!

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I think we can all relate in one way or another to Cathy's feeling of "stuffocation." She wrote this piece as part of an invitation to her church's "Grass Roots" group this fall -- she'll be facilitating for a group of friends who will gather to look at simplifying their lives while creating a good life that is more environmentally friendly, less cluttered and more satisfying overall. Makes me want to get a Simplicity Study group going again where I live. As she says to those considering joining the group, "You might just find exactly what you're looking for, and it won't take up any space!"

If you're new to Simple Moodlings and the idea of Voluntary Simplicity, I'd invite you to check out the 200+ Simple Suggestions tab at the top of this page, and you'll get an idea of some of the things that might come up in discussions at Cathy's Grass Roots group. (I wrote a lot of them because of past Simplicity Study Circle conversations!)

I wish Cathy and the Grass Roots group lots of wonderful, meaningful, life-changing conversations!


  1. just a coincidence??? but i was thinking of simplicity group again too!
    is there a part 2?
    i would happily host it
    su :)

    1. As a matter of fact, there is a part 2. When shall we start?


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