De-Cluttering: Why & How I Do It

We moved four times in five years. Every move got harder and more frustrating. Finally, when ExMutant and I separated, I felt like I got the chance of a lifetime. There was so much crap in the house and I felt like it was just weighing me down. Many things were directly his that he just didn’t want, other things reeked of him (in a vibe type of way if that makes any sense), some things reminded me of “us”, and a few things I just didn’t want anymore.

I read Karen Kingston’s Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui and that is what got me going. Bags upon boxes and boxes upon bags went flying out of my house. I had a full trunk every week for Goodwill. It felt amazing, thrilling, addictive even. I felt freer and lighter every week. But, it wasn’t enough really. I slowed down for a little bit not really having a routine yet. Then one day I was having a conversation with my Grandmother and ended up going to the City of Coral Gables and getting my permit to hold a Garage Sale in three weeks (the Saturday of Easter).

On a weekend the kids were with their father, I basically did the equivalent of an episode of Clean Sweep in my house. And then every day I kept sorting and adding—mostly to my massive sell piles but also to my keep piles and of course trash bags. I know the garbage people probably cursed my name those weeks. I was ruthless with my sorting.

For kid stuff I realistically evaluated the usability of the item. For instance, I knew to keep entire crib sets was silly. One of the most exciting parts of being a parent is decorating the nursery. Why deprive them of that? With clothes I evaluated how classic of a piece it was and what kind of condition it was in. I personally love dressing my kids in clothes that belonged to my brothers and me and that has actually helped me decide what’s better for keeping and what’s better to toss. I raided the playroom and bookshelves too. I’m not having more children (at least not for a long time if ever) so I got rid of everything that was too babyish. Out went the broken toys too.

I raided my kitchen cabinets, my linen closet, my closet, the kids closets, the book shelves, the storage bins, the storage closets, the TV stand, the still-unpacked boxes, the dressers, the top of the fridge, the bathroom cabinets, everything. I swept out every shelf and emptied out every drawer. I basically kept telling myself, “This is MY life now and this is MY house. What do I want MY house to look like? What do I want MY things to say about MY life? How do I want my kids to remember their childhood home?”

I sold the couches that day. I sold the TV stand and let the TV live on the floor a few weeks. I sold the nightstands, the ottoman, the arm chair, the bookshelves, the garage shelves. Out went bed sheets, towels, dishes, glasses, mugs.  Goodbye craft supplies. The dress I wore at my wedding reception, clothes, shoes, purses all got put out. Everything that didn’t sell, didn’t stand a chance. Into my Murano it went and Goodwill was amused.

This was a drastic measure. It’s not necessary for everyone but it was for me. I used the money to pay my lawyer. I gave myself a fresh start and haven’t looked back once. The only thing I regret selling was a set of pillowcases I accidentally associated with a sheet set that no longer fit my bed when in reality they were from the brand new sheet set my mother had given me at Christmas. Oops but not remotely any sort of biggie. My kids never missed anything that went that day either.

And right after everything went out, other things started to fall into place. A friend of mine found out I sold the couches and asked if I wanted her gorgeous designer leather couches—for free. My Mother realized my TV lived on the floor and asked if I wanted her absolutely beautiful entertainment center my Father was itching to get rid of in favor of a wall-mounted TV.

The essence of that garage sale holds true even if you de-clutter just a bit every day. When you remove things from your home, you make room for others. In some cases, you might be making room for actual concrete items like my couches and entertainment examples but mostly you’re making room for more intangible things. Things like space to dance with your kids, the peace of mind of not tripping over something, peace of mind that piles have evaporated, less things to stress about having to clean or tidy, and so on.

De-cluttering is a very empowering action. We often find ourselves attached to objects and when that happens, the object gains a sort of control over us. De-cluttering restores the power over objects to you, the rightful owner. Think of your objects as at-will employees. They are in your home because you want them there. You chose them based on a myriad of qualifications and they shall remain in your employment at your discretion. You are free to terminate them at any time.

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