March 28, 2011


In the last couple of months, I've been de-cluttering here and there, as inspiration strikes me (thanks to Don Aslett's book: Clutter's Last Stand).  It feels great to clear out the junk, but I'm discovering some peculiar attachments.  

Empty boxes, for instance.  They are so useful.  So full of potential.  Think of the things they could hold!  The things we could use them for - why, organization!  Covering with cute paper for toy storage boxes.  Carrying a meal to a friend.  Shipping pottery pieces.  Stabilizing a full crockpot during transport.  Facilitating the wrapping of oddly shaped gifts.  And so on.  Don Aslett (or was it Sandra Felton of the Messies Manual?), advises keeping only four boxes of various shapes and tossing the rest.  I compromised (and felt strangely consoled) by using the boxes for the junk I'm giving away.

Chairs, too, claimed my affection.  The one at my desk has a caned seat, and (despite its dubious strength) brings me joy every time I look at it.  The dark wood armchair in our bedroom is incredibly comfortable, although seldom used for seating.  In my attic is a "telephone chair" with a charming calico-covered seat and an attached stand and shelf for the phone and phone book.  The beautiful heirloom rocking chair in the spare room is upholstered in ancient gold tweed but the seat is too deep to get out of easily.  It's a lot harder to part with chairs than cardboard boxes.  The chairs stay, for now.

I was already aware of my infatuation with books.  What caught me off-guard as I pulled one after  the other off the shelf was how many of my books evoked guilt in me (to the tune of "I should read this/there's so much good information in here.").  I liberated myself of FOUR big boxes.  No more vertical stacks on the shelves.

And then, of course there was the clothing:  baby clothing, children's clothing saved for next season, maternity clothing, and "pre-pregnancy" clothing, not to mention surplus coats and shoes.  Thinking of those who could use these right now (as opposed to me, "sometime" in the future) steeled me to be ruthless.  Five bags to pass on....

Toys were hard to get rid of - for me, anyway.  My daughters didn't seem to experience any pangs when they decided to give away my favorites.

But, despite all my wrenching feelings of attachment, out my Stuff went - box after merciless box of books, toys, clothes and all.Preview

I had some discouraging moments of contemplating how encumbered I've been by my Stuff, but mostly the high of de-cluttering has been sufficient to keep me from wallowing in regrets.  Emptying spaces has the exhilarating effect of directing my focus forward rather than backward.

It was cathartic:  when I cleared out an area and trucked the Stuff away, the house felt more spacious, airy, lighter with less Stuff.  I feel better able to pay attention to what I'm doing after some "shoulds" have been evicted. Possibilities seem to have multiplied.  I could get that door painted now.  I could rearrange the girls' room.  Start on that comforter for Isaiah.  Use that adorable flannel to make pajama bottoms for the girls.  Finally paint the trim in our bedroom....

.....Figure out how to keep the clutter I cleared out of my house from showing up on my to-do list....

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