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other recent LOUNGE articles:
o Green Scene: Indoor Herb Gardening
Album-cover CD Box
A Room of My Own
Fight the Chaos
Gallery-style Picture Hanging Tracks
o After School
Sew What?
o Curtain Time
Lazy Decorator's Bag of Tricks
Home sweet homes
Minor Makeover Miracles: Kitchen
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burn baby burn how my house was destroyed and I learned to live with less 
by Bridget Huffine
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continued from page 1

When my mother received the green light from the insurance company to begin the rebuilding of our home and the replenishing of our closets, we weren’t quite sure where to begin. The vast quantities of things we had once had in our home were beyond comprehension. The insurance company asked us to make a list of all the items lost in the fire. A list. The list took several weeks and probably a ream of paper to complete. This was the point at which I realized that we’d had way too much stuff. Most people have way too much stuff.

Imagine your medicine closet at home and all of the items you have in there. There is probably dental floss, various kinds of medicines and creams (most of which are no doubt expired), razors, spare toothbrushes, hair products. These are things you use in everyday life, often without realizing it. Now imagine opening your medicine closet and finding it empty. What items could you live without? Which ones are "necessities"? No, I'm not talking about the bumble & bumble hair serum that controls your mane, and I'm not talking about the Bvlgari aftershave. I'm talking bare bones, nitty-gritty necessities.

Advocates of simple living often confuse the simplification process with the organization process. The fact that your junk is neatly arranged in a fifty dollar Lucite drawer system from the Container Store does not mean that you have achieved simple living. All it means is that you are a great organizer. Instead, weed out the loose buttons that came with shirts you no longer own, and the five extra phone cords in the hall closet. See how you feel. If you don't use or enjoy something once every few months, get rid of it. Recycle old term papers and class notes. Donate books and those back issues of Time to used bookstores and libraries. In helping others (by giving away your rubbish), you will help yourself (by giving away your rubbish).

I understand that an item does not become meaningless trash solely because it’s not a necessity. In fact, the hardest part for my family was losing the sentimental items, the pictures and gifts and letters. We lost the birthday party photos, and the home videos of my now deceased grandmother. And I was devastated when I learned that my dried high school prom corsage was ruined. But did the corsage preserve my memories of the prom? Of course not. Would I still have the corsage if my house had never caught fire? Probably. In truth, I hardly think about those things anymore. The destruction of the evidence of those events did not obliterate our memories of them. Instead, we have since been forced to recall the events in more depth and discuss them at length. The discussions often lead to a closeness that can not be attained by sitting together and watching a video, or going through an old box of pictures.

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