Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lesson Learned #1 - Good Stuff Bad Stuff

  I've spent many precious life hours over the last 10 years moving stuff out of my house.  
In the last year, the highway of departing clutter has become an absolute speedway.  
Here is a lesson I have learned in the process.

Lesson Learned #1

Not all stuff is bad stuff!

While reading about minimal life styles and the joys of "less is more," you can get swept up by the hype.  Some self identified simplification gurus put a high premium on getting your possessions down to the bare minimum ... being able to contain all your belongings is your car ... or the joys of brushing your teeth with soap ... or having empty surfaces and shelves throughout your living space.

I have a much more middle-of-the-road picture of minimalism..

I have had a decent life where disposable income was the norm.  My husband and I had a broad range of interests and hobbies.  We enjoyed collecting stuff around those pursuits.  In some regards, we still do.

But over time we packed away many of our passions.  Sometimes we no longer enjoyed the ownership of an item, but it wasn't junk so we just boxed it up and forgot about it.  Usually we didn't have space to display everything that 45 years of marriage could produce.  Or our tastes changed and our interests evolved.  On we moved to the next endeavor.  Do you recognize yourself anywhere in that description?

One remarkable side benefit of diving deep into your stored belongings is a discovery of a long forgotten treasure that you forgot you owned.

This chess set is one such item.

My husband collected chess sets.  We must have 15 of them.  This was not a cheap hobby.  Most of the sets we purchased were several hundred dollars.  But over time we packed them away.

This beautiful hand carved and painted Camelot Chess set was created by a wood carver called Whittle Works.  Holy Cow!  These figures haven't seen the light of day in probably 15 years.

Gosh!  I still love these!!  Why the heck aren't they out where I can enjoy them? Well, they are now out.  I will tell you why they weren't out.  The set was "out of sight out of mind" in a box buried deeply behind a bunch of bad stuff I didn't care one twit about and now does not live here anymore.

Some minimalist minded folks would question keeping this chess set.  They would ask:
  • Have you touched this item in the last year?  No.  Not touched or seen in the last 15 years.
  • Do you enjoy playing chess?  No.  I am an embarrassingly bad player.
  • Will you play chess with it in the future?  No.  Not my game.  I prefer Checkers.
  • Do you find beauty or get enjoyment out of this set?  Yes!  End of Story.

So, there you go.  
The chess set stays.  
The bad stuff goes.


  1. I don't have anything packed away. They say you should only collect stuff you love and I've always done that. I think with us moving so many times we never did accumulate stuff we didn't want or like.
    I enjoy my stuff. : ) That said we do have a lot of garage type stuff that Ken likes and now that we have HT most of it stays up there!
    Those chess pieces are beautiful!!

    1. Hi Karen. Well, there are a few major differences between our situations for sure. You touched on one of them. We haven't move for 30 years. And we have had 5 different family members move into and out of our home. Sometimes the stuff moved with them, but sometimes we inherited households. And then there is my husband who has shed all his books and his games because he cannot see, and at some point his toy soldiers will go as well as his extensive American Stamp collection will also go for the same reason. Sometimes life just controls what winds up in your home and what finally gets discarded. But the frequent moving you guys did was the equalizer I didn't have. As I am doing this clean out now - one question is always a consideration. Would I move this item when we downsize and move? The answer for this chest set is ... yes!.

  2. Having not dived into the minimalist mindset, I wasn't very aware of its various mutations. But I CAN say I like your approach, and since I DO want to reduce our amount "stuff," you will be my example. Keep posting!

    1. The range of approaches to simplifying your life is HUGE. Most are dramatically minimal in their approach. I think they are fun to read and it is interesting to see how other live. And I pick and choose what works for me. And I think any steps in that direction improve how you feel about things.

  3. I enjoy my various collections even though I do have to dust them from time to time.
    I do try to minimize some of my "stuff", every now and then we do need to evaluate what is clutter and what is not.
    I like your approach to the minimalist mindset

    1. I think the problem is that we had too many collections and over time our tastes changed. And we also got rid of a lot of furniture. Just no where to display half of what we had. Just too much.

  4. Richard and I were both collectors. We have a lot of stuff. And none of it is packed away. But, now that he is gone, I need to decide what to do with the stuff. I no longer enjoy collecting. And it's all collecting dust. But it is hard to part with.

    1. I not longer enjoy collecting the things I was once avidly interested in. Now my interests lend them selves more to crafts - than to items for display.

  5. Replies
    1. Yes it is.

      And in keeping with our pattern of behavior over the years, we don't have just one of this man's work. We have 3 of his chess sets. The other 2 are beautiful as well - if memory serves me well *sigh*! I don't have a good place to display the other 2. We might give one set to our son who expressed as interest.

  6. My oldest son loves chess and I bought him a lovely hand carved set he cherishes but I have to say seeing your set puts the one I found for him to shame. That is one gorgeous set.

    I too find minimalism can take many forms and not all match my lifestyle. There are areas I have pared down and even eliminated completely but others I have held on to because I enjoy my hobbies, without them I would be lost.

    1. I agree. Without my knitting, weaving and the like I would be unhappy!

  7. I agree -- that chess set is an heirloom. Definitely a keeper!

    The trick, I guess, is in knowing the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff.

    Thanks for enabling the "anonymous" comments!

    Chris from ravelry

  8. So glad you finally can comment here.

    It is tricky know what is a keeper and what you can't live without. And it is a very personal subjective decision. Which means there really aren't any wrong decisions in your choices. For example: I just gave away 2 small bags of yarn. It was ok yarn but I knew I would never get around to knitting with it. I have so much great yarn. The ok stuff was just taking up space and was distracting. I am so glad this yarn has moved on to other owners who think it is great!

  9. One of the comments that stuck with me about destashing (from one of those shows) is if you have something you love - display it! With that thought in mind, when I finally uncover my Grandmothers old apron I think I will hank it. She sewed most of her clothes and she always wore an apron that covered her from top to bottom, usually out of a little flower print, with a pocket and bound with bias tape - it says Grandma to me.

  10. Gorgeous Chess pieces . . .


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