Get rid of the junk

Chris and I are minimalists. We only want to have the bare necessities around. Now that does not mean the items in our home are not nice. Everything is very specifically chosen, but as minimalists we only have what we need, cherish, and truly want around. We are the opposite of packrats and hoarders. I just finished reading: “After a While You Just Get Used to It: A Tale of Family Clutter” by Gwendolyn Knapp — which made me think of my own childhood.

Knapp is very descriptive about her mom’s home, but in a nice way. You get the point that her mom is a hoarder. It is funny how you do not really know the world you live in until sometimes you are far away from it. Growing up I do not remember our house having a lot of crap in it. We did not have nice things, but there was not crap every where. The couch we had was gross, had many holes (thanks to the dogs), and was not what you would think of if you were looking at a couch. My mom would cover it with sheets, mostly because she did not want anyone to see what it really looked like.

We were not hoarders, but I think looking back that my dad was a packrat. If you came into our house you would not see it. He kept it in his “office.” He had an office in the upstairs of our house. It was his area, and there were lots of papers. He kept everything. He also had an office/garage of sorts for his flailing business. There his packrat tendencies were with “tools.” My dad was a contractor. He had 100’s of every type of tool, and always found a reason he needed another. His garage was filled with money in the form of tools — money that should have been used to buy food to feed his family. Alas.

I remember when he passed on and we had to go through his possessions. We filled storage units that equaled the size of a two-car garage. This was not for furniture or clothes or belongings. It was for his tools and files. We took inventory of everything and had to go through it all. Sadly, most of it went into a dumpster (the files) and the tools given away or sold. There wasn’t anything that amounted to much. Sharing all of this brings me back to the point of: What do we keep and why do we keep it?

Chris and I have carefully selected the items in our home, we discuss together the merits of keeping or getting rid of things. We think through “why” we are keeping something. Does it have meaning? In a time where people want to feel like they belong, do you think that people use stuff to find meaning in their lives? That maybe surrounding themselves with things (whether trivial or meaningful) helps them feel less lonely and that they have more in their life? I often wonder that about my dad. What did all that stuff mean to him? I would rather hold the memories inside, and get the clutter out of my life.

What do you think?

“Do it right the first time.”

“Do it right the first time.” My dad ingrained that into me. Whenever we were asked to do something around the house, my dad would inspect our work. If it was done half ass, we would get the: “Do it again” rant, followed by: “Next time, do it right the first time.” Now I think about that all the time at work and in my personal life.

On Friday someone mentioned Father’s Day, and I thought: “Oh right, Father’s Day is Sunday. I guess I should think about that.” On Sunday we did what my dad probably did many, many Sundays: yard work. My dad was a contractor, he fixed, remodeled, and built homes. What that often meant for his family? We were like the cobbler’s kids without shoes, our house was often run down, at least the interior. I remember rips in carpets, a floor infested with termites, a leak in a ceiling in the dining room, walls that needed to be painted, the list goes on. I think my dad was exhausted from fixing other people’s homes. Or, maybe it was too costly to fix the different areas that needed repairs.

You might think, wow, Tami, this is a post about your dad, and Father’s Day was yesterday. You suck as a daughter, but let me tell you, life with a father has its good days and its bad days. While I have many memories of the inside of our home, our yard was my dad (and mom’s) pride and joy. It was always in tip-top shape. My parents worked for hours and hours each week to weed, water, plant flowers, and keep a vegetable garden in the back. They landscaped, arranged rocked, and pruned trees. If you drove by our house, you might think what a nice looking yard, and it was.

Now that I have a yard of my own, I understand how exhausting it is to keep it up, (and I do not have 3 kids to help either). I also know how rewarding it is, to sit outside and enjoy the fruits of the many hours of labor. There is an appreciation for all you have done. I hope my dad felt the same way, and looked at our yard with pride. Looking back I can see how “doing it right the first time” has weaved its way into the inside and outside of my house. I often approach a project with Chris and plan out how we might do something so we do not cut corners and have to do it again. It is not always flawless, but we try.

Last night, Chris and I sat outside with a drink, put our feet up, and admired the landscape. Miss you, Dad.