Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Big Declutter

A couple years ago when HG was about to get married, I started to get the bug. I got rid of bags of stuff. Went through cupboards and drawers. I was able to give her a few hand-me-downs of kitchen things that she, miraculously, didn't receive as wedding gifts, but mostly I was in clean-out mode.

I'm there again.

I recently read an article about the stats of our stuff. It was shocking. Stuff like: kids play with 12 toys but own well over 300, or we wear 9 outfits but own 60. As I look around my home, I'm highly embarrassed about the things that we own that are purely there to collect dust. I have a new resolve, and this is my plan.

1) I need to clean my house to get ready to get all of my Christmas stuff out. Since Thanksgiving is almost here I don't have much time. In the process of basic cleaning I vow to box/bag things that I know without a doubt that I need to get rid of. This list will include, but isn't limited to: books that have been read that no one else will want to read, magazines, clothing, things that are broken/beyond repair, ugly, etc. In general these things will either go into the trash or a donate bag. Before Christmas this is all I will have time for.

2) Have you seen the articles about the stuff that is worth crazy amounts of money? Pokemon cards, old VHS tapes, etc. I have a bunch of random stuff lying around that are on those lists. I need to sell them. I don't expect top dollar for it all but if I can list some of it on eBay and make enough money for it to be worth it, then why not? Better than the trash bin-for me and the collector! Action point: set up an eBay account and learn best practices so I'll know what I'm doing when I start.

3) Stop pretending that I'll be 1 (or 2 or 3) sizes smaller by next spring (or winter). I have a ton of clothing that I need to just ditch, already. Yes, I need to lose weight, but even if I do there are things that won't make the cut. I've actually started doing this already. I keep a bag in the corner of my room that I toss stuff in when I'm getting dressed. If it doesn't fit, if it's stained, if I simply hate it? It goes in the bag. I no longer feel guilty, because like the article said, we only wear about 9 outfits anyway. Now if I could just get my husband to do the same!

4) Eventually I plan on doing the Japanese thing about "does this item bring me joy?" I don't guess I'll follow it to the letter; I'm way too sentimental for that! But I need some guideline for getting rid of stuff and that sounds as good as any other reason.

5) I would like to organize our family photos. I have a central place that most of them are kept but now most of them live on a hard drive or on an internet account. First up: gather old photos that I've always wanted to have hanging somewhere and make it happen. I have a long wall that I've always wanted to make a 'gallery' and the pictures of grandparents and great-grandparents, as well as great photos of us and the kids. It's one of those "Just do it" type of things. It would make me so happy to be able to see them every day-why does it take me so long to do this stuff??? Second: dig through digital photos and make books- kids, birthdays, holidays, vacations. We take great photos and they live inside of an electronic device. That's sad.

So it looks like I have at least a year's worth of work ahead of me. Wish me luck!


Diana said...

Looks like you've got a good plan laid out.

I completely subscribe to the "joy" model, though I will humble brag and say I was doing it long before it was the next big thing in homekeeping. A few years ago I made a pact with myself. I would no longer buy anything, even useful things, unless I loved them. Not liked, LOVED. I also promised myself that when I do find something I love I will find a way to buy it even if it's more expensive. It has been awesome from the perspective that it naturally keeps clutter down because while there are lots of things I like there are very few which I truly love. I actually play the really long game plan of "is this something my kids will consider junk when I die?" If it is, I don't buy it. But it's also been great because I don't feel like any of what I have brought in is clutter, because I do find it joyful and beautiful (and usually also useful.)

That said, it does take a little longer, and sometimes it's probably a little "weird" compared to what most people would do. Case in point, I've been looking for a lamp for one room in the house for probably three years. I found lots I liked, but never any I really loved. Finally found one and bought it, then had to start the search for a shade for it. I found one, but it's crazy expensive and outside the budget right this second so the lamp is currently shadeless and I refuse to buy a cheaper shade for it while I save my pennies to buy the one I really want. It doesn't bother me, but I can see where some people would not be able to deal with things like that. Similar: I've been without a stand mixer for a few months now, too. My old one burnt up and I'm just not ready to spend $800 on the new one I really love. I have found I am more content waiting than settling though so it works for me.

I would totally consider your sentimental items to be things that bring you joy though. I mean, isn't that the very definition of sentimentality? I definitely consider things like my Grandma's old stand-alone sewing machine (which I use with the machine stowed as a small sideboard table in the diningroom) joy-inspiring and beautiful. I have artwork I made in HS hanging, use clay bowls my kids made in school in my office to corral office supplies, etc.

I guess that would be my other decluttering rule, too. A few years ago I attended a garba, which is a celebration, for Navratri at a Hindu temple. I was invited by my bellydance instructor who was in turn invited by her bollywood dance instructor who was a member of the temple. It was an amazing experience, but one of the things that stuck with me is actually something the temple member explained while we were all getting ready at her home. She brought out all these gorgeous scarves and outfits and jewelry and was encouraging us to take our pick of what to wear. Of course we were fawning over them and a little worried about hurting some of her gorgeous things dancing in them all night. She totally brushed it off and explained that we should not hesitate to wear the very best of everything, because why else would God bless her/us with them? Our blessings are meant to be used and enjoyed in this life. If we do not use them, if we just tuck them away, why would God bother bestowing us with more? We aren't demonstrating much gratitude for what we have if we don't even bother to use it. Ever since, I use everything. Heirloom family furniture is in everyday use in high traffic areas of the house, the good dishes are in every day rotation, I don't wait for special occasions to wear nice jewelry, and so on and so forth. And if I don't consider it enough of a blessing to use everyday, why am I keeping it around? I let it go, because passing blessings along so other people can enjoy them is another way to be grateful for them.

Anyway, I'm totally rambling. I love that you're blogging regularly though. This is what I miss about old school blogging. Keep us updated on your progress! :)

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Luck! I need your motivation.....

Melisa Wells said...

Good plans. I bought the Konmari book and while I haven't followed everything to the letter, simply asking if something brings me joy goes a long way in helping me make decisions. I'm also in a state of OMG WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF AGAIN, and trying to figure out how I can schedule some bulk time to work on things. May do it Christmas week...

kyooty said...

AJ used the pokemon cards you sent us, the last round of decluttering,like crazy and then gave them to MJ. :) Thank you!