Blogging, Holidays, House and Home, Parenting

Where have I been all this time? –And- My thoughts on STUFF

a graduate and her dad
My dad looks a little sleepy in this picture, but I look good, and he’s not online to see it and complain about it, so here ya go. I got my Master of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing from Mount Mary College on May 18th, 2013.

Hello there. I’ve been MIA from my blog for some time now. I hope you all didn’t miss me too much. This may turn into a long, rambling post with little to no point. I hope you don’t mind.

So, where have I been? First of all, I made it to graduation and crossed the stage on May 18th. I may now officially refer to myself as Mandy Webster, MS, MA. Wow, look at all those letters behind my name! I also got an A on my creative writing thesis (go me!) Graduation and all that goes with it is part of the reason why I’ve been largely absent from the blogosphere.

I was also wrapping up all seven of the courses I taught this semester (or quarter depending on which school I was teaching at.) Needless to say, after teaching seven courses and writing a thesis in one semester, my house was a bit of a wreck. Since graduation, I’ve been on a cleaning streak that has completely distracted me from all things academic.

Last summer, I vowed to clean out all of my closets, bookshelves, file cabinets, and Rubbermaid storage containers. But of course, I procrastinated, and it never happened. I ended up not being assigned to teach anything this summer, so I decided this would be the prime time to get things done. And instead of putting it off until the end of summer this time, I decided to do it first thing before summer could carry me away.

You will be proud to know that every closet in my house now holds about half as much junk as it held two weeks ago. I have hauled off several truckloads of crap to St. Vinny’s, including about 500 books. Literally 500. In fact, 500 is a conservative estimate. It may have been even more than that. I swear, my house is a prime breeding ground for books!

a stack of books
This is one of several stacks of books I got rid of this week.

I took about four big bins of paper out to the recycling bin and have spent approximately two whole days shredding documents (including documents from like fifteen years ago!) with social security numbers and bank account numbers. I even had old checks from about five different closed bank accounts. What’s wrong with me?

Maybe the better question now would be, “What’s right with me?” Why am I suddenly able to let go of things that I have held on to so tightly for so long? I have HAD a ton of stuff I didn’t want and didn’t need that I dragged to my apartment from my old house when I got divorced almost four years ago. I didn’t even want most of it then. Why was it so hard to get rid of all that STUFF? Why is it so easy now?

I guess this is a sign that I am ready to move on to bigger and better things without letting the old garbage weigh me down anymore. Do you know how good it feels to get rid of literally a ton of material belongings? Do you know how much easier it is to breathe when you’re not surrounded by all that STUFF?

The challenge now will be to not get weighed down again. If it were only me living in the house, it wouldn’t be so hard. I hardly ever buy stuff for myself, other than what I absolutely need. I don’t even buy books anymore, borrowing them from the library instead. The main problem is my kids and the relatives who feel the need to constantly buy them more STUFF. Where do people get this crazy idea that the person who buys the most STUFF is the one who loves the kids the most?

I don’t know if you realize this, but kids are just as easily overwhelmed by an overabundance of STUFF as we adults are. If not more so. They don’t need all that STUFF. Even if they think they want all that STUFF, they really don’t. They really only want their one or two favorite toys they play with all the time. The rest of it only gets picked up for a few seconds at a time before being tossed across the room while the child is looking for that other toy that he really wants.

Hawaii license plates
It’s funny the things you find when you’re cleaning closets. I found my old Hawaii license plates and my old North Dakota plates. I think I’m going to get them framed!

One of the truckloads I hauled off contained several Christmas presents that had never been played with even one time. I have taken a vow to be a minimalist when it comes to gift giving from now on. Most of the items I bought my kids for the holidays last year were things they needed, and all of those items have been well used.

Does a kid really need more than one or two “want” items for any gift-giving occasion? I don’t get the logic behind blowing wads of money you don’t have on crap you don’t need that will never be used just so you can extend the amount of time you spend unwrapping presents.

Remember the Little House on the Prairie books? Remember how excited Mary and Laura were that one Christmas when they each got their own little tin cup to drink out of? Remember how happy they were that they no longer had to share a cup at every meal? Now, there were some kids who knew how to appreciate what they had.

The problem with giving your kids everything they want is that they never learn to appreciate anything. Why take care of your belongings when you know you can talk Grandma into getting you something new?

Anyway, I’ve hit a page and a half in my Word document, which translates to quite the large blog post once it’s all copied and pasted into WordPress. I suppose I should wrap this blog post up now and put a bow on it.

What’s next? Hopefully a full-time job finally, and finishing up my novel. I also plan to keep blogging, hopefully more often than I have these past few weeks. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Come back tomorrow, as I have an idea for a cool new weekly blog thing I want to do. I just have to get tomorrow’s blog post written and some details hammered out. How’s that for a teaser?

graduation picture
This graduation picture is courtesy of my friend Anna (above, center) over at Clutterheart. Go read her blog, you’ll love it!

So, what have you been up to while I was out? Hopefully not worrying about my whereabouts! Please share whatever you want in the comments below. I’m making today open discussion day to reward you for making it all the way to the end of this pointless blog post. Just don’t spam me, please. The spam is getting really old.

~Mandy Webster

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3 thoughts on “Where have I been all this time? –And- My thoughts on STUFF”

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