Several years ago, we decided to take a leap of faith and attempt to open a southern command for our business. My husband and I and our 11-month-old daughter drove to Florida in a camper that we literally purchased two days before we left. We never did establish a Florida office, but in that two-month trip, we did come home with the realization that we had too. Much. Stuff.
We literally sold half of our belongings and prepared to try to sell our house and move down there. In something a little bigger than a 25-foot camper. Fast forward five years and two more kids and we have amassed almost as much stuff as we used to have. But there are almost twice the number of people.
So when the opportunity to review Blessed By Less came up, I was pretty excited. With the excess of Christmas and a birthday looming ahead, and the mess being more than the girls could handle, I was feeling like there was just too much stuff. Again.
Blessed By Less is written by Susan Vogt, who is on the downsizing end of life. While she writes from the point of view she is in and knows best, there are some tips for those in the building-up years. I like that she never tells you what you should have but leaves it very open and between you and God. I also like that she addresses many of the pieces from a spiritual place, as opposed to the mental energy/space constraint tact that many authors take on the subject.
She covers various aspects of decluttering stuff from a unique point of view as well. Things like consuming less to save money, carrying less — including your purse! — letting go of others' baggage, saving energy, and even laughing and smiling more.
Each chapter has a tip for someone just starting to live with less as well as one for someone wanting to go all in. There is also a scripture for meditation and questions for reflection and/or discussion at the end of each chapter.
I value the different perspective and point of view that her book had. I'm not as in love with the book as I wanted to be, though, for two very personal reasons. First, she IS older and in the emptying nest phase and so her stories and examples don't resonate with me. The second is that it has a very social justice vibe to it and that irritates me to no end. I am all for being a good steward and helping others. I even recycle, use cloth napkins, and real dishes whenever I can and even use cloth lady-things. Ahem.
So it makes me crazy when others insinuate that I must do x, y, or z because its just. And if I don't, then I'm a horrible person. NOW, understand, she never says that. She doesn't even insinuate it. However, the phrases she uses evoke that kind of response from me and it irritates the libertarian in me. Right or wrong, it is what it is. So if the modern social justice talk bugs you, you need to know that it permeates this book.
That being said, Blessed By Less really had a lot of good material in it and if you are feeling overwhelmed and don't share the same weird annoyances that I do, it will serve you well. I especially like the gentle first steps, the triggers for extreme lightness, and the questions for reflection and discussion.
I love books that ask me to act on what I've learned. I also like her guidelines for determining your own rules and that she never tells you to only own 144 things, but leaves it to you. I believe this book has something for everyone.
And despite my crazy idiosyncrasies, I will be working through this book for Lent this year as I embark on another purging challenge. Stay tuned. :)
Interested in Blessed By Less? Using our affiliate links supports the work we do and costs you no extra.
Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.
Copyright 2014, Jen Steed
About the Author
We welcome guest contributors who graciously volunteer their writing for our readers. Please support our guest writers by visiting their sites, purchasing their work, and leaving comments to thank them for sharing their gifts here on CatholicMom.com. To inquire about serving as a guest contributor, contact editor@CatholicMom.com.