Less Stuff, More Joy

Cindy Tsai-Schultz (Alison’s mom) strikes again with a witty and inspiring blog. She shows the way supporting Nia House’s Yard Sale can bring you joy in life. Thank you, Cindy.

With four hours left before Alison and I needed to board a flight to Colorado, nothing was ready. Snow and ski gear strewn on the floor of our bedroom.   I was cranky and sweaty and I needed to make lunch for the kids, walk the dog, clean the house and finish doing laundry so I can pack for the trip. Peter was in LA and was going to meet us in Colorado in a few days so I was solo with tons of snow and ski gear and kid for this trip.

FEAR overtook and I FREAKED.

I pulled it together and packed for Alison: regular clothes, ski clothes, ski gear, books, dolls, crafts, car seat, food for the plane, and iPad. Check.

Packing for myself was less than stellar. I did pack ski essentials – skis, boots, poles, snow jacket and pants, socks. The rest, not so good. 10 days in Vail with one t-shirt, one yoga pant, and a sweater and the clothes I wore on the plane.

But once we got to our final destination, the freak-out was long from my memory. Even with my poor packing skills. Vail was awesome.

This morning after hitting the snooze button one too many times, I was looking around and I realized that we have a lot of stuff. And most of what I do in my spare time is managing stuff. I am the official family stuff getter and stuff manager. And I’m don’t like it.

This got me thinking. In Vail, we were in a very small condo. There wasn’t much room for stuff, which was good because we didn’t have much stuff. The grocery store was a 3.5 mile walk (we didn’t have a car) so we went once, stocked up and cooked what we had. When we weren’t on the slopes, we had a great time – talking, eating, and playing. No one felt deprived, bored, or hungry.

Can I bring some of that back to Berkeley? Can I spend most of my spare time talking, eating and playing instead of being the stuff manager?

I’ve been reading The Sweet Spot, Finding Your Groove at Home and Work by Christine Carter (Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley). One of the take away messages is – we make too many decisions in our daily lives. We need to save our brainpower for the larger and more important decisions and the small less important stuff can be on autopilot.   For example, what we wear. We have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. Christine Carter suggests designing your clothing around a “uniform.” The rest goes away.

Marie Kondo, the new organizational guru from Japan says to discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting discard for their service.

Thank you stuff for your service. Good-bye. More joy, less stuff.

This morning, I put large plastic bins around the house. If there’s something that I haven’t used, don’t wear, or doesn’t spark joy it’s going in the bin and going to Nia House for the Annual Yard Sale.


The Yard Sale is May 2, less than a month away. 

Clean out your closets and have more joy.

Nia House

Nia House Learning Center, 2234 9th St, Berkeley, CA, 94710, United States

A Montessori Toddler & Preschool Program serving Berkeley since 1974