‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Selling It All For Love

I've been thinking a lot lately about what constitutes wealth. I've been thinking about how incredibly rich I am in comparison to the rest of the world. Those months in Siberia really opened my eyes to my own excess, and I live pretty frugally. It's not just the guilt at having so much when others go without. It is also the fact that I was really, truly happy with less. I loved living in a smaller place, I loved living in just three different outfits for three whole months, and I loved that my focus became less and less about 'stuff' and the acquiring of 'stuff' and more and more about people and relationships.

To put my  'wealth'  in perspective: I know I am not rich by western standards, by any means -- I don't own a home (never have). I drive a used car that is 12 years old. Most of my furniture I've had since college or was handed down to me by others. I don't own anything 'designer' or expensive (except a pair of Ugg boots I splurged on 3 years ago!) I make well under $40,000 a year....Well, you get the picture. But I kept feeling like something wasn't right.  I had acquired far more than I truly need.  I had sold quite a bit of stuff before I left for Russia, but in coming back, I realize there is so much more I can do without. I don't want to go so far as to have Nastia feel uncomfortable --after a life of poverty, she is not ready to let go of her things--but I do want to go far enough that I rid myself of everything that is not essential.

In the ensuing months, I plan to slowly and carefully winnow out those things I do not need and post photos of them on facebook, in hopes of selling them. For now, I will use whatever money I make for Daniel's adoption. I may eventually post a few special items here on my blog, but not many. (I don't want to be mailing things all over creation!) It'll be easier to sell locally.

Already I feel lighter and volumes and volumes happier than I have the past month. Just reaching the decision to emancipate myself from things has made an impressive impact on my sense of self. Every item I can expel from my life will free me to do more and be more. I've thought long and hard about how much time I waste in simply maintaining 'things'. It's not worth it. Life is too short.

So, here's to a year of purging, dislodging, disencumbering and untwining! Let me know if you have ever done the same - I could use some encouragement!


  1. I couldn't agree more with your ideas. We certainly have way too much stuff and it makes me crazy. My goal this year is to try and convince my wife to see it as I do and start to living leaner.

  2. I cleaned out half of my house last year, and I hope to do the other half this year. Less IS more! I felt a huge burden lifted off in getting rid of the LOADS of excess. Happy cleaning!

  3. Sometimes I wonder what number I would get to if I counted EVERY. SINGLE. THING. in my house. My house also came with its own stuff, so my stuff isn't even all mine. And yet here it all is. I would LOVE to get rid of the extra extra extra stuff.

  4. Since we sold everything for the RVing nomadic life, we LOVE it! So freeing. Even to just dump off the excess STUFF will be amazing for you!

  5. I think it's a wonderful idea and also very therapeutic! I need to do the same. I agree with you about the clothes Nastia wore her first year home. I get so sentimental about clothes my son wore and even toys he played with.

  6. Power to the purge!

  7. There are so many decisions in purging that it can become overwhelming. Some things have intrinsic value and one feels obliged to get a good price - to do otherwise is wasteful, and the money can be used to fund an adoption or to reduce debt.
    For less valuable items, there are services- Vietnam Veterans is my favorite- who will come and take your items and sell them to benefit the needy.
    Coalition for the Homeless in Mass helps furnish homes for families coming out of homelessness, and they can find a place for household goods and furniture.
    I am trying to work on this project slowly and thoughtfully. Listing things on ebay and craigslist, books on half.com and other things boxed up for kids in Ukraine or Russia. Maybe my ebay sales will cover the outrageous cost of postage!
    I have taken the pledge on the "Great American Apparel Diet"- no new clothing for a year for me. I have enough to last a lifetime, aside from a few socks and underwear.
    I hope to bring boxes of paper to the shredder, too.
    Sometimes it is enough to photograph the sentimental things and pass them on to someone who can use them. Ideally, we can reduce our possessions to what we need and use, and do our best to insure that the rest does not merely add to the landfill. Then, it is go forth and buy no more!

  8. Good quote:

    Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.
    - John Wooden


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