Less Stuff, More Living

I’m a consumer, and I buy things I don’t need. I spent my twenties accumulating because without doing so, I’d be sitting on cardboard boxes rather than furniture today. In my thirties, I was a new parent, and with kids comes more “necessary” equipment. Then the stuff took over. Now I’m in my forties, and I want less in my life.

Decluttering is a common theme in magazines, blogs, and TV shows and has been for the last decade or more. Watching one episode of Hoarders and you see how lives can be controlled by stuff. Right now my dining room is being held hostage by paperwork that needs to be sorted, filed, or tossed, but everyday there’s more mail. Argh!

Over the years my husband and I have made several sacrifices. Some have paid off. Others, not so much. As much as I dream of being a great gardener and feeding my family with fresh, organic produce, my poor body just doesn’t do digging and weeding.

But we’ve managed to live with only one car for the last sixteen years, and are happy to live without cable TV. We do have Internet, however. I won’t live without that. Same thing with Netflix, ereaders, computers, phones, and iPads. Those possessions all save me a ton of time while taking up minimal space.

I try to buy less than I used to, and I’m now very conscious of the packaging that ends up in a landfill somewhere. Now that we’re slowly going through our possessions, I’m passing some on to new homes so they can have a new life.

But it’s not enough. I’m still swallowed by that pile of paper on my table. I’m overwhelmed by the storage areas in my house. Why am I keeping fifty cardboard boxes? Do I really need the box my iPad came in? Could I use it for something else?

Since paring down is a slow process that overwhelms me, I’ve decided to live out my utopian vision through the fictional commune at Kaleidoscope Gardens instead. The men and women in my Naked Organics series conserve and reuse everything. That iPad box of mine might end up be filled with art supplies or a tools. It has a sturdy handle, after all. When it’s no longer useful, it could be shredded and composted, turned back into soil to feed the plants that eventually feed the people who live there.

When writing Farm Fresh, my research turned up fascinating tidbits. It’s made me even more aware of what I’m bringing into my home, ways I can reuse it, and rekindled my fascination with composting that I gave up after becoming a mom. I might get a compost pile started again, and I’m certainly going to be getting rid of more stuff. I’d rather spend my time living rather than sorting.

Who knew fictional characters living off the land could inspire me so? 😉



Jude Garrity visits the farmers market every Saturday. As an environmental engineering student, he’s curious about living off the grid and sustainable agriculture.

And one particular farmer.

Hudson Oliva has worked hard to support his commune, where queer people live without fear of harm or retribution. When Jude asks pointed questions about living there, Hudson realizes he needs to be honest about his home. Few people know what the farm is actually about, but Jude is insistent.

Jude moves to Kaleidoscope Gardens, however his sexual hang-ups make it hard to adjust. He’s an uptight virgin living among people who have sex freely and with multiple partners. When Jude finally loosens up, Hudson is flooded with emotions. Falling for Jude wasn’t part of Hudson’s life plan. But when vindictive rumors about the commune begin to spread, love might be all he has left.





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