Posted by: susanideus | October 22, 2006


As I sit here in the room I claim as study and craft room, I look around and see TOO MUCH STUFF!  My bookshelves are full to overflowing.  It’s not that books are a bad thing — in fact, I tend to be inordinately fond of them.  I have novels and non-fiction and how-to books and reference books and craft books and magazines and cookbooks.

My husband once told me I have enough Bibles for a small third-world country.  I patiently explained that each was a different translation and so could be used to compare and contrast different passages as I did research.  When he asked how many cross-stitch patterns I could use at one time, I simply pointed out how important it was to get them before they went out of print.  And, said the dear man, “I don’t suppose you could try reading the books you have before buying another…”  Poor man – he simply doesn’t understand how a review or reading the flyleaf of a novel or listening to someone else’s recommendation just sends me into action mode — books call to me, truly they do.  I could use the “going out of print” tactic again, I suppose.  “Why do we have so many cookbooks, when we’re rarely home to cook?  Besides, you rarely use a cookbook when you cook.”  What can I say?  I read them — they’re art!

I love crafts!  Counted cross-stitch is a favorite — it’s like painting on fabric, only with a needle instead of a brush.  I’m fairly accomplished in this area, having done it for many years.  In a move, a huge collection of patterns and magazines was lost.  I grieved — and then began replacing them.  I truly have enough patterns and fabric and threads to keep me going for years.  Sewing used to be a common pastime for me.  I still have the sewing machine and serger — now sitting on the floor of the closet, right next to my fabric stash.  I knit some and crochet a lot.  I have collections of yarn and a number of unfinished projects.  I have scrap-booking supplies, thinking that surely someday I would find time to organize and put into books all of the photos of my lifetime.  Those supplies sit next to the boxes of photos.  I have a plethora of rubber stamps and paper and ink pads.  I planned on making last year’s Christmas cards — didn’t happen.  I have stamps for every season and occasion and they remain basically unused.  In my defense, I did decide quilting wasn’t for me, so I gave away fabrics and patterns — well except for a few wall-hangings and one jacket I think I must have in my wardrobe.

Writing is a passion.  I have several dictionaries, more than one kind of thesaurus, grammar books, a collection of half-filled journals, a pile of notebooks, a drawerful of pens, pencils, highlighters and sticky notes, many inspirational books about the writing life, a desktop computer and a laptop.  I do write, but nowhere near as much as the trappings would have one believe.

Problem is, I reason, that there are never enough hours in the day.  I still have to work for a living.  And, that sounds weak even to me…

Earlier today, I began to read “Plain and Simple” by Sue Bender.  I hadn’t gotten too far into it when a sentence just reached out and grabbed me.  “Accumulating choices was a way of not having to make a choice, but I didn’t know that at the time.  To eliminate anything was a foreign concept.  I felt deprived if I let go of any choices.” (pg. 7)

As I look around me now, in this room, I see an accumulation of choices, way too many choices.

It is not that there is anything inherently wrong with anything in this room, or in my desire to do all of the things for which I am so amply prepared and stocked.  It is more that it is over-abundance, both of materials and intentions.  I have so many choices that I never finish anything.  It is frustrating, it is depressing and it is wasteful.  I must simplify.

Actually, even before reading Bender’s words, I had begun a process of sorting books.  They are difficult to give up, but I have done just that.  Some I have donated to places that can use them, some of them I have taken to sell at Half-Price books.  Yesterday, I took a box and 2 shopping bags full.  I managed to get out of there with only three new books and some cash.  It’s a start.

I’ve decided to share some of the stamping and scrapbooking supplies with my daughters; some I may donate to a church’s women’s group or a senior center.  They should be used!  Likewise for fabrics and patterns.

I know if I delve into my past, I will find that I felt deprived as a child and was not encouraged to be creative, so then decided as an adult, I could do it all.  But I can’t — even if I were not working.

I will further examine this idea of choices as I journal and write.  I suspect I will find an over-abundance of choices in other areas of my life.  Like Bender, I’ve always wanted to excel at everything I do, and to be in control.  As with crafts, in my life, I must simplify.  It will be a work in progress.  You see, I don’t make choices well…



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