A Recipe For Life

So, last week I was faced with a major dilemma.  I started making chocolate chips cookies and realized, mid-recipe, that the largest mixing bowl I owned would not actually hold the entire batch of cookie dough.  I was stuck.  I panicked.  I told my friend “I need to buy a bigger bowl so I can eventually make this cookie dough correctly.”

A week later, with some down time, I stumbled (and I say “stumbled” because I’m sleep deprived these days) into some of my favorite blogs.  If you’ve been following me, you know the ones: The minimalism blogs.  I had been feeling so overwhelmed by the onslaught of baby items I’ve acquired recently (including, um, a baby) that I needed a quick reminder of what I was trying to do with my life and finances.  And after a few minutes of reading some of my favorites, I suddenly remembered my cookie-dough dilemma and I realized:  I didn’t need a bigger bowl.  I needed a smaller recipe.

Have many times have we done this?  Thought we needed a bigger bowl when in reality we really needed a smaller recipe?  I’ve done it a million times.  I bet you have, too, and not even realized it.

  • I need a bigger house.
  • I need a bigger garage.
  • I need more clothes in my wardrobe.
  • I need a bigger kitchen.
  • I need a bigger refrigerator.
  • I need a bigger dining room table.
  • I need a bigger salary.
  • I need a bigger wine glass.  (Ha-ha!  Just kidding!)

But what if we didn’t need those bigger things?  We just needed a smaller idea of what we need versus what we want.  When we start thinking we need something bigger than we actually do, we start being dissatisfied with what we have.

“To be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.” – Ken Keyes Jr.

Isn’t that true?  Doesn’t Paul (yeah, Paul of the Bible Paul) say “I’m learning to be content”?  He doesn’t say “I am fully content” because I think he’s wise enough to realize that even he, at  times, wishes for a bigger bowl.  But then he realizes a bigger bowl is truly not the answer and the key to his enlightenment is to scale back on his recipe.

So, instead of our list above, what if we thought the following:

  • If I get rid of all the extra stuff in storage, I would find that my house is the perfect size.
  • If I traded in my SUV for a smaller, more energy efficient car, then my garage would be perfect.
  • If I bought wardrobe pieces that were ‘classic’ and fit me better – even if they were more expensive – I would need less.
  • If I got rid of the griddle, the blender, the food processor, the waffle iron (or any number of items not needed or used) my kitchen would be less ‘full’ of items that drain my energy.  (My guilty pleasure?  I once had 3 bread makers, 6 ginormous pitchers, and saved glass jars to ‘reuse’.  I bet I had 20 at one point.  Now I struggle because I own a juicer and a Ninja.  Do I need both??  I don’t know.  Today I do, so I won’t donate either right away.)
  • If I bought only what I truly needed at the grocery store instead of ‘stockpiling’ items that were on sale ‘just in case’ then my refrigerator would be perfect.
  • If I stopped believing I was going to regularly entertain 12 people at a time, my dining room table – which seats 4 – would most likely work.  For those extraordinary times:  Folding tables and folding chairs.  It’s only once a year, if that.
  • If I had less debt, my salary would be enough.
  • And that wine glass…well…maybe another blog on self-indulgence J

Anyway, you get my point, right?  If, for just a moment, we’d realize that more is not always a good thing and bigger is not always better – we’d be free to embrace allowing ourselves to let go of old thoughts.  Our ‘stuff’ does not define us.  An empty corner in the living room does not scream “I can’t afford to buy something to put here.”  An empty corner in the living room does quietly remind us, however, “I don’t have to dust something and so I have time to go to the park and play with my son.”  How cool, right?

So – if you find that something isn’t working for you, as in “This isn’t big enough” – then I urge you to consider that maybe it is big enough…you are just trying to mix up the wrong recipe for your life.  I love getting rid of things.  I think I like getting rid of things more than I like buying things.   Even as I write, I’m looking around and see at least ten items that need to go in order for me to have more room to breathe.  My husband has learned to recognize this look and clears out before I decide that he has to go, too (Not really – but I do tend to make rash decisions on my cleaning/decluttering).

I bet, if you tried really hard, you could get rid of at least ten items this week.  If you do…let me know!  I’d love to hear all about it!