257 You Don’t Even Know What You Have
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A couple weeks ago, I was looking for a book in my Kindle because I wanted to take a picture of the cover. I was going through all the books in my Kindle and scrolling… and scrolling… and scrolling.
There are so many books in my Kindle, far more than I realized. And yet I just keep loading more. And I have nothing to read. Or I’m not in the mood to read the books I have. Or I don’t have time to read the books I’ve loaded.
That same day I was looking in the cabinet above our coffeemaker where we keep all our coffee and tea, and realizing how many boxes of tea we have. Boxes and boxes and boxes of different teas. I didn’t realize how many boxes of tea we had.
A couple days later I looked in my closet and realized how many clothes I have that I don’t wear. Now, we live in a 1960s farmhouse and the closet in our bedroom is very small, so when I say I have a lot of clothes, it’s not like there is a Kardashian level walk-in closet crammed full of stuff. But when I am home on the farm, I can sometimes wear the same outfit 3 days in a row. So why do I have a closet rack full of clothes?
It’s as if we are surrounded by stuff and we are blind to it. We don’t even see it anymore.
(For more of my thoughts on this topic, check out chapter 5, Use the Stuff You Buy from my book It’s Not About Money Except When it is.)
This actually isn’t about Thanksgiving or Christmas
I suppose this sounds like I’m scolding you or trying to make you all thoughtful and selfless as we head into the holiday season of thankfulness and gift giving. That’s not my point. The irony in this topic is that we always bring this up at gift giving time when it’s really something that slides into our life more in all the small daily things we do and bring into our life.
I think gift giving is a really awesome fun time and I don’t think you should be afraid to bless people with some things they might want or not have. But today I’m here to tell you to pay attention to everything else that creeps into your life that you are absolutely blind to as you buy another box of tea that will still be sitting there this time next year because you have so much tea you can’t possibly drink it all, or another button down top you’re not going to wear, or another book that won’t get read, or another canning jar to go with the other 700 canning jars you haven’t used in a decade…
And we’ve got some preppers in this community so sometimes this conversation can be hard to zero in on because the knee jerk reaction is often “well yeah, I have all that stuff so I’m prepared.” And that’s a whole ‘nother topic for another episode—you can check out my past thoughts about it in Episode 64: The Problem With Stuff (Decluttering on the Homestead)
We all have piles of stuff somewhere in our life that we’re blind to and just keep shoving more stuff on top of. I’m not saying go all Marie Kondo on it and pick up each item and see if it brings you joy. However, if you had to pick up every item, you’d probably be surprised about how many things you were picking up.
If you had to read all the books in your Kindle before you downloaded more, how long would it take you?
If you had to drink all the tea in your cabinet before you bought more, how long would it take you?
If you had to wear every seasonally and situationally appropriate shirt in your closet before you could start the process over again and wear something a second time, how long would it take you?
I think this not know what we have is the same reason it’s suggested that we keep gratitude journals, and write down three things everyday that they are thankful for. When keeping a gratitude journal, you’re supposed to look beyond my spouse, my kids, my house, my dog, my job, food on the table — the knee jerk reactions when anyone asks us what we’re thankful for. All the things that would be in our speech if we were to get up on stage an accept that Oscar, right?
A gratitude journal helps you to see the stuff underneath the stuff that’s underneath all the other stuff, because you can’t just keep writing: spouse, kids, dog. What else do you have? What else are you thankful for?
The string of lights that turned green as you approached every intersection while driving a busy downtown roadway?
That there was just enough coffee left to brew another pot when your aunt dropped by unexpectedly?
The fact your dog came back when you called her and by some kind of miracle she didn’t go after the bunny she saw in your yard?
The podcast you listened to that made you remember something that completely solved the plot hole in the novel you are writing?
Spend some time today considering all those big and little hidden things you have, because I bet you’ll find out you’ve got a lot. 🙂
— Amy Dingmann, 11-21-23
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