Because when it hits me, it really hits me. Prompted, in part, by the decision to move when my son graduates from high school in a year, I decided it mad sense to winnow down my belongings now. I've been reading some books on simplifying and getting rid of clutter, and they resonate. One of the books said that we use 20% of what we own 80% of the time. So why do we own the rest of that crap? Following the book's suggestion, I picked a room and started. In this case, my room. The author said to start by piling everything in that room in a central place and then deciding what went back in. I altered the plan, a little though, starting first with my clothes and then with the rest of the stuff in my room. Here, I've gathered up everything on every flat surface in the room (shelves, dresser tops, bedside tables, the floor). Yikes.
I even culled and organized on the level of the little drawers in my jewelry box. Now there is not an earring or ring, for instance, that I can't find easily. And jewelry I never wear went into the get-rid-of pile. The harder decisions were the knick knacks - after something has sat there for a while you don't even see it anymore. And while I don't really have any collections, I do bring back rocks and shells from places I visit around the world. The problem was that I had completely lost track of where each one came from. So I pulled out my favorites and piled the rest into a bag to be used as vase-filler to hold flowers upright. Every single item was evaluated and judged harshly and sorted into what would stay and what would go.
The clothes de-cluttering project, I'll admit up front, was a bear. There is nothing quite like seeing all your clothing heaped on the bed and floor and realizing you have waaaaay too many clothes. So I was brutal - out went anything that didn't fit well or that I didn't like or that I just don't wear for reasons I can't even explain. Someone out there could be using those things, so why keep them? Another book I read said you should get rid of all duplicates and have, for instance, only one pair of sneakers. Well, no. Because I have a couple of pairs of running shoes and a couple of walking shoes, since those are my primary forms of exercise. Add in gore-tex hiking sneakers, and my yard work shoes, plus a pair I wear frequently when I'm not exercising. Dammit, I'm keeping them. But I did get rid of: 9 pairs of jeans (if I ever go back up to size 3, I'll buy more), ski pants, 12 pairs of sweatpants/pajama pants, 5 pairs shoes/boots, 28 (!) shirts, 8 pairs of shorts/capris, 4 jackets (including a down coat that it never gets cold enough for here), 2 scarves, a purse (I'm down to three now), 4 hats, 8 sweaters, 7 dresses, 5 skirts, and a robe that is so heavy and fluffy it gets on my nerves.
Another suggestion was to only keep what fits you now. The only exception I made was that I have some very nice skirts that needed altering. I wear pants that sit at my hipbones, but skirts are different Any skirt that fits me in the hips is going to have a huge gap at the waist. I found a tailor in town who is reasonably priced and skilled. It's kind of comical - he is Middle Eastern ( I think), about five feet tall, and has a limited grasp of English. He just says, "You try, yes?" And then as you stand in front of a mirror, he makes a few quick marks with a piece of chalk and he tells you to get the next one. It seemed so haphazard that I was sure this process could not possibly work, but every skirt I own now fits like it was made for me. And just look at my supremely organized closet - sorted by type of garment and color and no extra junk stowed away in there.
Cleared of excess, my room is now a thing of serene beauty. Surfaces are clear except for a few items that have meaning to me. A place for everything and everything in its place. And a remarkable amount relegated to the pile of stuff on its way out.
My new rule is that as each room is cleared, there will be no more setting stuff on the floor or dresser or chair to be dealt with later. No more things tossed into a drawer (because every last one was emptied and de-cluttered) and no spilling-over stacks of anything. I have a hard time now not just standing in my room and basking in the clearness of it all. But it's just one room. I'm already plowing my way through the kitchen.