Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rethinking Clutter (more than just junk)

I have been working about an hour a day at decluttering my old house (the one I don't currently live in, but will again someday--it's a long story).  It is very slow and painstaking, mostly because of the mental energy it takes me to decide to part with something.  An item has to truly be junk, it seems, in order for me to willingly let it go.

I opened drawers in the past week that hadn't seen the light of day in years.  (Seems amazing to me that I can fill up every drawer and cupboard with stuff when I move into a place, but never go back and question whether that stuff still belongs there seven years later.)  Got rid of a few things (birthday cards from 1999, similar vintage check registers); added to the Goodwill pile (pack of birthday invitations, multitudes of cassette tapes, a book on teaching young children about money); and created a holding area for "I just don't know what to do with it, but I can't bear to part with it" (unopened deck of The Houswife's Tarot cards).

Then I went home and told my Sweetie about my progress, and my frustration.  She suggested a garage sale.  I have resisted garage sales in the past, preferring the immediate *gone* nature of the Goodwill pile.  Also, I have mostly considered my clutter to be junk, not really worth my time to try and sell for a few measly shekels.  (I also bow to the wisdom of FlyLady, my favorite decluttering guru, who believes garage sales are a way to put off the "getting rid of" process.)  Sweetie, however, changed my mind: she will put on the garage sale; she will do much of the work of advertising, arranging, pricing, and organizing the stuff; and we will use the proceeds to do something fun together.  (Maybe just go to Applebee's for appetizers, if we don't make much...)

This all happened Friday.  And over the weekend, my mind was slowly changed about the nature of my clutter.  I could hardly wait to get back into the house on Monday and get rid of things.  I found I was willing to part with many an item that had been in my anguished "what do I do with it?" pile, if I thought it might be worth money to someone else.  (The unused four-slice toaster; the jewelry from relatives that I won't wear and that makes me feel nothing but guilty; the extra televisions laying around.) 

Epiphany: my clutter is just stuff that doesn't work for me.  It doesn't have to be junk for me to get rid of it.

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