Sunday, February 21, 2010

Let It Be…Naked

For months I’ve been saying I’m going to clean out the CD closet. We only call it the CD closet because it’s shorter than saying CD/DVD/VHS/vinyl(as in ALBUMS)/g-baby’s toys/computer bags/aerobic steps/hiking polls closet. Although it measures no more than 3 feet by 3 feet, it holds a lot of stuff. Too much stuff. Thankfully some bug crawled up my bum yesterday and made me attack and conquer the chaos.

Maybe I was channeling Henry David Thoreau (“Simplify, simplify!”). Maybe I was just tired of wanting to hear that one song by that one group and being too lazy to look for it, opting instead to give iTunes $.99 to download a song I already owned. I’m on a no-credit-card budget now and my financial life is transformed. Ergo, money is very motivating.

So yesterday I thinned the herd, downsizing our collection by a hundred or so. No more “Borat,” “Harry Potter,” the colorized version of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Todd Rundgren or my various movie soundtracks and greatest hits of the ‘70s collections. I asked Larry to go through the closet to cull his own CDs. He gave up a few and agreed with all but two of my choices to ditch. Alas, he kept his Doors collection, Billy Joel’s “Storm Front” (seriously?), every Mahler symphony known to humankind, and his one lone Grateful Dead CD. I guess it’s only fair. I kept my Barry Manilow CDs and Abba “Gold.”

What I like the most about this process is that I have a better handle on what I own. As much as I try to not have it, I still hang on to a lot of clutter. How many boxes of old dishes live in my basement just in case one of our kids or friends’ kids need them or we buy a second home…like that’s really going to happen before the dishes we use now are replaced? Is it necessary to hang on to every towel that has lived beyond its usefulness because it might make a handy rag? How long do I hang on to that box of tofu in the back of the cupboard just in case I get a craving? Craving tofu hasn’t and will not ever happen.

Simplifying the closet clutter was also a journey of discovery. I completely forgot we had the Beatles’ “Let It Be…Naked” CD. And I got a huge kick out of finding my two Sass Jordon CDs and remembering how back in the early 1990s I wanted her feet. I still do! Check out the bling! I want toes and ankles like that. (Her voice is awesome, too. Check out “Racine” and “Rats” if you like throaty, bluesy female voices.)

I remembered, too, that in reducing physical clutter, I always reduce emotional clutter. And when I reduce emotional clutter, the things that really need my attention more readily come to the surface. I sometimes fear a clear head, though, and find comfort in hiding in the clutter. I also get caught up in the whole idea that more is better.

Take blue cheese dressing, for instance. I love blue cheese dressing. I haven’t had it in ages because its calories were always a waste of my food time. But I really, really wanted blue cheese dressing last week. I went on an Internet search and found two low-fat recipes – one very simple, one more complicated. Which one did I try first? Of course: the most complicated one. The one with the most ingredients. Why? Because more is better! I mean, it called for Dijon mustard, tarragon vinegar, this spice, that spice…yadda, yadda, yadda. It HAD to be good because it was the most complex. So I made it, tried it, and dumped it in the garbage. It had none of the flavors I cherished in blue cheese dressing. None of the original, authentic zing. None of the “This reminds me of ______” meal.

As I studied the next recipe – the one that got rave reviews, by the way – I thought, How could four ingredients – sour cream, buttermilk, blue cheese and garlic – satisfy my taste buds? Where’s the flair? Where’s the “secret” ingredient that would make this dressing a cut above the ordinary? Turns out the flair and secret were in its simplicity. I made it, tried it, loved it, ate it again today, shared (reluctantly) with Larry, and will eat it again tomorrow. Simple was fabulous.

Simple IS fabulous. Less is more.

And less means Mama might earn some new workout shoes because I threw a few of our more notable CDs on eBay. Hopefully I’ll have a little mad money at the end of next weekend. Not to mention, a clean, neat, uncomplicated closet. One I won’t lose Claire in as she searches for her crayons. One that I can go to when I want to hear THAT Beethoven concerto or watch THAT Fleetwood Mac concert or upload THAT ZZ Top song and not pay iTunes for the privilege.

Not to mention what simplifying and getting “naked” do for my head. That I can’t sell or purchase on eBay.

11 comments:

  1. I've been feeling that need to simplify and de-clutter for a while now....I have way too may DVDs and Books to keep them all! Now, I just need to actually do it!

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  2. You have totally given me closet envy now. Damn the inspiration! Guess I'll have to tackle the boy's closet tomorrow. Talk about clutter.

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  3. Ooh, your closet looks beautiful!!! And how funny that you did this - I commented to Dana yesterday about how much better I feel when I clear out my closet...is Spring Fever happening? Any case, I hope your stuff sells on ebay so you can get your new shoes!

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  4. Simple is way better in my opinion. We simplified so much we sold almost everything, including the house, and moved into our motorhome fulltime. We don't have room now to accumulate "stuff". Wow, it is a very freeing lifestyle. I still have a kitchen so I cook our healthy meals in the RV just like I did in our "normal home." I'm always working at keeping off my 50+ lb. weight loss. Freedom from the excess weight is fabulous!

    That Beatles album was great! :)

    Margie M. writes at:
    www.myhealthylivingthruweightcontrol.blogspot.com

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  5. Your closet looks awesome! That alone should earn you a new pair of shoes! :)

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  6. GReat post - and such an neatly organized closet now! I know how refreshing that feels (or did know, because my closet sure doesn't look like that now!)

    Ah the Mahler symphonies. I cry listening to #5. I was just talking to John yesterday about how Mahler wrote music with such raw emotion.

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  7. Lori, Mahler's #5 is Larry's favorite, too. I'm a Brahms girl, personally, but I understand the emotional depths a symphony can take a person.

    Shelley...the sun was out, it was above freezing. Definitely spring fever.

    Margie, you are the ultimate simplifier! Wow.

    Sometimes I just go in my office and open the closet and peek inside. Cleaning out is as much internal as external.

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  8. I am doing the same thing with pictures! Talk about emotional clutter. I enjoy scrapbooking but haven't been able to for awhile so things have gotten out of control. I have moved every picture and scrapbooking supply onto my large dining room table. Now to sort is my big challenge, but I am anticipating a lot of freedom and creative energy to come when the project is complete!

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  9. Oh wow. I am definitely wanting to de-clutter. I am doing just the bare necessities today, but the next time I have a good chunk of time off, that is on the schedule! I did take a load of stuff to the dumps today (have to take my own garbage and I HATE it) and it felt so good to get that done.

    Can you share a link to the blue cheese dressing recipe?

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  10. For the last four weeks, with one week off for a family illness, I've been decluttering 15 years of stuff. We've also sold our large house and on Monday will be in a teeny 1-bedroom apartment (much of our stuff went to storage) while we build a new smaller home. Wow... it feels SO good to be downsizing! Now that our kids are raised and gone, it's time to simplify.
    I work for hospice and see over and over again the huge amount of work families are faced with when their loved ones leave behind years of clutter and junk. Just as I've lost 40 lbs in this last year, it's freeing to lose the excess "stuff!"
    Throw those dishes Lynn. ;)

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