Recently I found myself doing one of my least favorite activities: packing a suitcase. I was preparing for a trip to London with my daughter-in-law, Lisa, and her three daughters—a girls trip! Alexa, Kira and Eliza (14, 10, and 8 respectively) are fun to be with and good travelers so I knew the trip would be fun. We had tickets for a One Direction concert at Wembley Stadium, tickets for the theater (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Phantom, and Wicked) and reservations for tea at the Claridges. I wanted the girls to get to know London, one of the world’s greatest cities.
Quickly I determined a carry on bag was out of the question. Unfortunately once I mentally expanded from a small carry-on to a large suitcase, I found myself packing far more than I would have needed for a month-long trip! I was adding extra stuff just to “fill the space.” I sat on the floor alongside the over-stuffed suitcase and remembered three years ago when I realized I had too much stuff and too many obligations. I had to simplify my life.
My life was hectic and busy and too cluttered.I decided to “dump the junk” and rid myself of clutter. At first, clutter meant whatever I owned that I truly did not wear, read, enjoy looking at, or use in any way. I gave all the things away and found many happy recipients lending credence to the old adage, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. I moved to a condo half the size of my previous one, and delight in the spaciousness of my new smaller home without a lot of stuff taking up space. I stopped accumulating things and learned to appreciate the things I have. My life is now uncluttered.
Dump the junk also meant I had to reorganize my activity-filled life to find something more meaningful. My passion is teaching at USF and I decided to put my time and energy into being the best adjunct professor offering the most student-valued classes. I no longer desire a full calendar each week so I opted out of the tennis team and its obligatory clinics and practices and passed on invitations to luncheons and parties that I did not wish to attend. I don’t mindlessly subscribe to all the events of the season, rather I carefully select those that I truly wish to attend. I like to glance at my weekly calendar and see that I have plenty of free time to choose to do something or do nothing and just be.
I have experienced that “less is more” and I hope I have encouraged some of you to dump the junk, rid yourself of unnecessary clutter, allowing yourself to really wear those things you enjoy most, read the books that have the most interest for you, and enjoy a few simple treasures you may have inherited, received as gifts, or purchased. I hope also that you spend your time with those with whom you are at your best, even if that doesn’t mean me! Go ahead, do it. Dump the junk and be free.