Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Over the last many years, I have purged belongings multiple times, as I mentioned when I posted about my no-shopping 2018 challenge (17 days in - yay!). But the other side of the non-acquiring coin remains decluttering. I just finished "Year of No Clutter" (borrowed from the library, NOT purchased, thank you very much) by a woman who has OCD and comes from a family of hoarders. She's a borderline hoarder herself, but worked really hard to get that tendency in check. This book was laugh-out-load funny at times. She still ended up holding on to way more than made sense to me, but it was a reminder that not everyone has the same path and I just need to keep walking mine.
As I have been taking a clear-eyed look at my belongings, I made the decision that there was absolutely no sense in letting my wedding dress just hang in the closet for eternity. I loved that dress and I felt beautiful in it, but it's not like I'll ever wear it again. And my son's girlfriend and older daughter are both significantly taller than me, and the younger daughter will be within months. Even if they wanted my dress, which I doubt, it wouldn't fit. But I also couldn't bear the idea of it hanging on the rack at Goodwill, just waiting to be turned into a zombie bride Halloween costume. I boxed it up and shipped it off to Brides for a Cause, which sells wedding dresses and gives the money to charities that help women. It felt like a win all the way around.
I also had several things I wanted to donate but not locally. Gifts from patients or other people in the area, say. I found another place called Give Back Box that lets you print out postage-paid shipping labels and they distribute the items to charitable organizations. I had two cardboard boxes that hadn't yet gone to recycling so I loaded up the things I wanted to leave town. And then threw in other things because there was still some room. The uncomfortable silver shoes I bought to go with the wedding, dress, for instance. The packed boxes are in my car waiting to go to the post office tomorrow.
Finally, I have three keepsake boxes I put together when I lived at my last house. One for photos, one for papers (cards and letters, my sons' art, school papers, etc), and one for general mementos. I just went through them again, as I do every year or so, to cull. My rule is that I don't keep more photos or souvenirs than I can store in these boxes. Each time I go through them, I find more things I no longer feel a need to keep. Like why, as an example, was I hanging on to my certificate of membership in the Huguenot society? In case I emigrate to Canada and hope that it will improve my chances of being granted citizenship? Or even my honor society certificate? Even when I applied to grad school, I didn't need to prove I was in the honor society. Or, for pete's sake, the boarding school prospectus and the term reports which noted my ineptness at skiing and my unwillingness to devote time to piano practice or speak up in math class? Why would I hold on to anything that says I'm not enough? But still, letters from friends and long-gone relatives, romantic notes from my husband, and hand-drawn cards by my kids stay for now. I guess a super minimalist would ditch it all, but I feel like this is a manageable amount of sentimental-only belongings. I plan to reassess in a couple years because I know that the more I pare down, the lighter I feel.

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