Saturday, June 1, 2013

Still de-cluttering...

As my younger son and I drove into town to Goodwill this afternoon, the Macklemore song "Thrift Shop" played on the radio. Seemed fitting. I've been piling the things I'm getting rid of in the living room, and took this photo mid-way through the process. I ended up with about twice this much stuff, boxed and bagged and loaded into my car today. Five big full bags of clothing, among other things. It's been interesting to watch the effect on my life of getting rid of things - like when I get dressed in the morning. I used to stand in front of my closet and think that I had nothing to wear. I had plenty, of course, but it took energy to look through and I'd often pull out several things before I found what I wanted. Now that half of it is gone and I like every single thing I have left, getting dressed is easy. I also like not having to move things around to get what I want out of a kitchen drawer.  And even the rooms I've not gotten to (the den and the basement), I've made dents in. I was moving the ironing board this morning to get something out of a basement cabinet and I stopped to consider it.  How many times had I used it since I moved into this house in 2007?  Exactly zero. In fact, years ago an old boyfriend wanted to iron something when he was over at my house and for the life of me I could not think where they ironing board might be. I finally remembered that I'd stashed it in the basement.He was appalled that I could not readily recall the ironing board's location. Apparently I do not iron. Into the pile it went. Someone who does iron might as well get some use out of it.
As I made piles to give or throw  away, there were just a few things I could not bear to send to the landfill or donate. Chiefly, Froggie, my stuffed animal from childhood. I know, it sounds horrible to burn your transitional object. Froggie travelled with me everywhere, including family trips to Panama, Canada, Hawaii. Throughout my childhood, she lived on my bed, including at boarding school in Switzerland and even in the dorm when I went away to a University. I loved that frog deeply as a child. So much so that the fabric had frayed to the point of allowing stuffing to protrude in several areas, making me cringe when I looked at her. It was time to let her go. With some old letters I did not want to hang onto as kindling, I made a small funeral pyre in the backyard and sat until nothing but ashes remained.
I've really thought hard in this process about the notion of sentimental items. A standard de-cluttering rule is not to keep anything you don't actually have out or in use. But screw rules - my goal was to figure out what worked best for me. Ultimately, I decided to keep some things that were meaningful to me but to winnow them down to one small box. Another de-cluttering rule is not to buy organizing systems of containers. The idea is that organized clutter is still clutter. But I made an exception in this case because I knew it would help me limit what I kept. And because I sure do hate rules. In a 6x6x10 box, I kept the little things. My kids have always loved looking through the bigger box I used to have them in, and ask questions about each item. Anything that didn't still conjure up an important memory, I tossed. As you can see, I still have a fair amount of room left over.
The other two boxes are 3.5x10x12. One holds photos and one old cards, my children's drawings, letters and other paper items. Some time ago, I got a deal on scanning photos and I took the boxes and photo albums my ex had at his house of our family photos. I dismantled the albums and spent a couple of weeks sorting and organizing the twenty years of our marriage in photo form. I finally had 1600 photos scanned and put on a DVD. I kept a small stack of the hard copies and returned the rest to him. I still have some from my childhood to scan and will add that DVD and the few I keep. The two boxes are about three quarters full. And if I want to keep something in one of those categories, it will have to fit, even if that means clearing something else out to do it.  

42 comments:

  1. smiles...we make our own rules...and it looks like you have been moving a lot of stuff...so its ok to hang with a few....thrift shop...oy, my boys love that song...i threatened them with actually wearing their grandfathers clothes...smiles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ultimately, we all get to decide how we want to approach these things.

      I absolutely love that Thrift Shop song.

      Delete
  2. I am realizing as I get older that I am becoming less sentimental. Of course, it helps that I don't have children, or anyone in the family who will want any of my sentimental 'heirlooms'. It has been hard coming to that conclusion, but I'm feeling freer now that I've accepted it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too. And having helped clear my grandmother's house after her death, I don't think my sentimental stuff will be my kids' sentimental stuff.

      Delete
  3. Great job on the de-cluttering...I am doing the same thing here, in fact, as it is pouring rain outside I will stay in and go through my closet and clothing once more. Your post was a gentle reminder about that. I'm finding the more I clear, the less I bring in and the less I feel I need.

    You mentioned pictures and family trips and when I saw Panama, my eyes widened...Panama was my childhood home from infancy through high school. I was curious about how old you were, what you saw and how you liked it, etc.

    Enjoy the weekend and thanks for the musical interlude.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh interesting! I was just there for a summer, when I was almost-five. I have surprisingly clear memories of it, I think because it was so different from where we lived. Not lots of memories, but clear ones. The marketplace and the sight of turtle eggs for sale, seeing spider monkeys in the jungle. My grandparents' gardener and housekeeper. I like dit enough that for our first trip with my own children, I chose Costa Rica because I thought it would be similar (and I wanted to go somewhere I hadn't been before).

      Delete
  4. " but it took energy to look through and I'd often pull out several things before I found what I wanted. Now that half of it is gone and I like every single thing I have left, getting dressed is easy."

    Isn't it amazing how when you have the minimal (or the basic necessities) it makes life so much simpler and easier? That's one of the reasons why I like living in a studio apartment because it prevents me from collecting things I don't use or really need.

    " I loved that frog deeply as a child. So much so that the fabric had frayed to the point of allowing stuffing to protrude in several areas, making me cringe when I looked at her. It was time to let her go."

    I TOTALLY know how you felt because I did the same thing with a stuffed animal that I had had for so many years. I didn't burn it, but rather left it behind when I moved back east. And like you, I felt it was time to let it go. Yet, the memories will always remain in my heart.

    The only thing I'm sentimental about and hold on to now are photographs of my family. But even those, I have minimal.

    Love the video!

    X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WIth kids who will come home to visit (I hope!) I can't ever do a studio apartment, but I really do want to downsize when I move from this house. I do think that at least setting limits on things will help me stay focused on a more simplified life.

      As I become less attached to things, I see myself going through additional rounds of this.

      Delete
  5. You sound resilient in your paring down. It will make moving some day so much easier! Although, you've put an awful lot of heart and soul into your present home and gardens...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have, but I'm ready to let go of this place. I'll miss it, but I'm ready for a change.

      Delete
    2. I moved from my "divorce home" a couple years ago. It was a fine house, great for getting the remainder of kids through high school and on to college. When my big lab passed away, I was ready. It took me a couple years of looking, but I knew when I found it. I'm in my "all about me" house now, and it's perfect. I hope to never move again :) Good luck in your upcoming hunt! I enjoyed that phase of life so much.

      Delete
    3. That's what this home is for me. And it's been a good place.

      Delete
  6. wow, i need to read and reread these posts about de-cluttering to inspire me to do likewise this summer while i'm off school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read up on dec-luttering before I got started and it really helped push me to action.

      Delete
  7. Oh we are in the same mode lately. I've been attacking the clothes particularly, especially having been at a friend's house yesterday where she showed me 3 rooms full of new clothes she bought recently in Florida. 90 outfits. I was gobsmacked. All had their labels on. She admitted she won't wear even 1/6 of it all but likes to stroke them.

    I can't say much as I used to collect shoes....

    Good job there, woman, loved the video too.

    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She likes to stroke them. That just sent a chill right to the core of me. What a sad, sad statement about your friend. No happy person lives that way.

      Delete
  8. Ok, how can you not iron? I just ironed my son's clothes for graduation two days ago.

    A few years ago, I took all my kids' artwork, made a display on the floor for each of them, took a photo, and then tossed it all in the trash. You just can't hang on to everything and they didn't seem to care.

    But, poor froggie.........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Easy - I just don't do it. I did keep my iron, which I've used once to iron patches on my son's pants. But I used a towel on the dining room table instead of an ironing board. If the kids' need something ironed for an occasion like that, their father can do it. He was always the more meticulous ironer anyway.

      I am doing more of that - taking photos of most things, keeping a few things that are really special to me.

      Delete
  9. I am using the idea of what my daughter might and might not want once I'm gone to decide on my sentimental items. If she won't want them and I keep them packed away why bother keeping most of them?

    I actually have 3 completely empty cabinets in my kitchen now.

    http://www.pickupplease.org/ will come pick up your items from the curb. They have locations all over the country.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I checked that link. Not only do they not have a location in my state, they don't have one in any of the eight states that border it! I am just refusing to keep anything packed away. Even those small boxes of letters and things I look at regularly. When I move in a year (I hope) I plan to do an even more strict culling.

      Delete
  10. Wish I could say your efforts have motivated me, but.....for instance: my fly-tying room....I have accumulated materials (feathers, fur, hooks, etc) from 40 years tying. Plus, I have a boatload of my dad's stuff, materials from the 40's onward. I have it in cabinets, shelves, boxes, and spread out across a 8' desk. I look at a patch of feathers I got in 1981 and think "I might use that". On and on.

    Eventually I have to do something with it all, plus fly rods, reels, etc. None of my kids are interested in fishing. None of my kids are sentimental either, but a few years ago when they were all here I found them cataloging things, arguing about who gets what. I told them I was going to get a food taster for when they are home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My goal here isn't to motivate others, just myself. Blogging it keeps me honest.

      But I'm actually feeling a little sorry for what your kids wil face!

      Delete
  11. I've actually got two ironing boards. I got rid of one in a yard sale last year. Probably drop another this year. Bet even though I never iron my clothes, there's no way I'm getting rid of the last, because now and then I need it for sewing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why'd you have three? But sure, if you use one you should keep it. I never had any use for mine.

      Delete
  12. I really need to get rid of some stuff I have, too many things that I never use
    Blog about life and travelling
    Blog about cooking

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's a serious transition when you finally throw away your childhood stuffed-toy! Some things are just so suffused with memories and associations, it takes quite a strong impulse to part company....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seeing the intensely battered version was taking away from the memories.

      Delete
  14. I like the sound of doing something where the outcome is so pleasing.
    I really enjoyed that song! The guys singing it are appealing and the sentiment is perfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've watched it many times - it really is appealing.

      Delete
  15. Between a recent visit from my daughter and reading about your Great De-cluttering Project, I'm finally motivated! Huge bag of clothing---gone to the charity shop. Old bedframes....gone! Furniture I hate/no longer use....gone/enroute! And more to come. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doesn't it feel great to get rid of things?

      Delete
  16. I can relate. I have been on a decluttering binge the last couple of months and despite some heart breaking decisions, am glad that I have almost completed the exercise. Only clothes remain and those should go soon too. The toughest will be the books which I am saving for the last.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been doing successive waves of books. SOmehow it's easier for me that way.

      Delete
  17. I don't iron that much either, because I take the irony clothes out of the dryer right away. I recently watched the movie "Benny and Joon" and there's a scene that shows Johnny Depp's character making toasted cheese sandwiches with an iron. I considered buying an extra iron for that purpose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do that, too - I just hang things up straight out of the dryer. Benny and Joon - haven't seen that in ages.

      Delete
  18. I am so impressed. You have worked so hard and really go rid of so many things. I hope to follow in your footsteps.

    ReplyDelete
  19. i just need to do the things you did. i have organised clutter. plenty of it :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping I can keep doing this in waves, and continue to reduce.

      Delete
  20. I need to think about your process and experience and apply it to my closet. I'm not a hoarder of things but I do love my wardrobe and am terrified of letting even the things I don't wear now go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've really loved having fewer clothing options - it's very freeing!

      Delete