Monday morning. All is quiet and everyone is asleep. I’m alone with burgeoning thoughts that don’t seem to be going away. As I type, I look out on our side yard, a space I rarely spend time in, except to weed. When we first bought the house, we cleared out all the scrub growth from this part of the yard and repacked the beds with pine trees, burning bushes, rhododendrons, hostas, daylillies, and other assorted smaller varieties of plants.

The effect is… cluttered.

This is not a shocker since it’s exactly like everything else in my life.

My house looks like this, too, despite all the many and assorted blog posts I’ve both read and written about the evils of stuff. It seems the harder I try, the more I fail at getting rid of things.

Don’t get me wrong. You can walk through my house and maybe not realize I have too many things. My house is not like those you see on Hoarders, where you must step up onto a pile of garbage to walk into a room.

No. My stuff problem is behind closed doors. Closet doors, pantry doors, garage doors. I do have one room that is amazingly messy most of the time. Which one? Oh, just the one I use most and spend the most time in. My office/homeschooling classroom. Piles and piles of books, papers, and school supplies plague me. My desk is cluttered with projects I’m working on, assignments I need to grade, books I want to preview for the kids, books I’m reading, books I want to read, and work stuff.

And I wonder why my creativity has been stifled lately. Why my flow has been off.

Lately we’ve been talking about renting out our house so we can travel more. A real estate friend told us we could rent it to students at a nearby medical school or rent it in the summer as a vacation rental since we’re near some of the attractions in our town. What an eye-opening idea! If we could rent out the house and not only make more than our monthly expenses on it but also gain our freedom, then what are we waiting for?

There is the matter of some repairs and renovations we need to do before we would do this. And… oh yeah… all that CRA—…er… stuff we have.

What an American problem. Trust me, that thought doesn’t escape me. Most people in most of the world don’t have enough and here I am, complaining about having too much. Something is out of balance.

Some items are easy to ditch. The fondue pot I picked up at a garage sale but never used? Goners. But other items give me more grief. What about: The baby blankets from our four babies? The crafts my now-dead mother made for me throughout my marriage? The handprints brought home from preschool? The school papers and other mementos brought home from the kids’ school years? Old journals? My wedding dress? The dishes my parents got when they first got married?

I don’t use these things on a regular basis. I don’t really need them. It just somehow seems a shame to let them go.

My instincts tell me, however, that these possessions are holding me down, pinning me to a point on the map—specifically, this house—and not letting me go. I’m imprisoned by my stuff. Worse, when I walk into a room as cluttered as my office, I feel suffocated. My eyes fall on various piles of chaos and my breathing actually hitches and my heart beats faster. Eyes darting back and forth, I can’t seem to make sense of this disorder.

Kids’ crafts, school supplies, and

dishes in the sink.

Extra food from the grocery store

sits next to a list for the grocery store.

Cobwebs in the corners, 

anemic plants dropping brown leaves, and

little bits of toys on the floor. 

Check my iphone— 

ten messages from Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, 

kids’ games, even Word of the Day. 

The phone rings, the text dings, the doorbell bings, the oven timer pings, and

kids and friends flap flap through the house and yard.

My mind is swamped with disorder instead of order, 

discord instead of peace, 

piles of shadows instead of clear vision.

I’ve lived with less many times in my life (college, early marriage, on our sabbatical in Belize) and have been happy. I want that simple happiness again.