You know how when someone writes in all caps, you feel like they’re yelling at you?
Well, I wrote this post title in all caps so I can look back on it and yell…at myself. ;)
First things first – I must start by telling you something very, very important…
I LIKE STUFF.
(No, I’m not yelling at you, I just like stuff.)
I like stuff around the house, I like buying stuff. Stuff makes me happy.
Not clutter, just stuff. Pretty stuff. Stuff I like. I would like to think I’m normal. (I know, I know -- that is up for discussion.) :)
This week has changed something in me though – nothing crazy, like I’m going to live with only 100 items (I’ve read many articles about folks doing that lately – and I don’t think they’re crazy, I just know it would be crazy for ME.)
As most of you know, we lost my sweet father-in-law last week, and we started the process of going through his home to decide what to keep, toss, donate, sell, etc. The process has been a bit overwhelming – not because his house is overly cluttered, but because it’s just 50 years of STUFF. Fifty years!
It really made me stop and think – why I keep the things I do, why I’ve kept certain items for 25 years, why I buy the things I do. I didn’t really have a good answer to any of it. :)
But I was on a mission – I went after the basement with new eyes. I started the process back in January and made HUGE strides, but I still hadn’t completed it. And now I am on a get-rid-of-stuff binge like you’ve never seen. ;)
In just a couple of days, I had another car load ready for Goodwill:
I looked at our things with a whole new light – and realized some of my issues when it comes to stuff.
First – THE TOYS. Oh dear Lord in heaven, help me, the TOYS. Do I need to say more?
I never know when to get rid of them…there are toys we’ve had for years that I see the Bub play with every now and again, and I hesitate to donate them. For so long now, I’ve figured if he plays with it, we should keep it around.
A few weeks ago I did a little experiment. I packed away a ton of the little toys, (the ones that drive you a teeny bit cuckoo) and some big ones as well. And guess what – he didn’t even notice they were gone. For weeks.
Imagine that. ;)
Now there’s certain toys where this totally wouldn’t fly. But 95 percent of them are out of sight out of mind. So two lawn trash bags later, I attacked them with a new mindset:
I realized something else – my son’s toys sometimes mean more to me than to him. I feel an attachment to them as well. I have NO idea why – maybe because I buy most of them? Because I remember who gave him this or that for his birthday? Because I am the one who found it for a steal at Goodwill? Who knows. I know I need to let go of them like I do anything else in the house.
Speaking of Goodwill, I realized another culprit when it comes to the stuff in our home – and it’s a biggie.
Obviously, I like to shop “thrifty” – but thrifty can get you in trouble. Anyone who knows Goodwill shopping knows if you see something you like, you’d better grab it right this second. Many times I’ve walked past something I wanted, shopped through the rest of the store and gone back to get it and it’s gone. (Curses!!)
So I grab things, buy them and always figure, if I can’t use it, I’ll return it. But the seven day return policy KILLS me – I hardly ever get things back on time. And in my head, I tell myself it’s OK because “It was only $2.99.” Or $1.99. Or $4.99. But all of those .99’s add up. :)
And then I want to hold on to each thing I didn’t return (and oh yeah, didn’t NEED it) because I paid for it! What in the world? My thought process is whack!
I love to shop consignment shops as well – and most of these shops have NO return policy. You just can’t do it. I have to be pretty positive I’m going to use something before I buy it, but there’s still items that don’t work and then I’m stuck with them.
So I keep them. Cause I paid for them, right?:
You see my evil cycle yet? :)
I think the biggest issue I have is also due to the thrifty in me – the whole oh NO but what if I may need it one day syndrome. Stuff I bought years ago, and used for years…it served it’s purpose in our home. I keep it because what if one day I need JUST THAT ITEM. What if got rid of it? What would happen?!
The Earth may just fall off it’s axis.
I found plenty of things that I’ve kept for months or years without using or even thought about using, and they were off to Goodwill with the rest of the lot:
And guess what – over the past few months after at least 10 car loads to Goodwill and local shelters, there’s been ONE time when I needed something I had donated. And it cost all of $5 to replace.
I have a new mantra when it comes to our stuff when I’m determining what to donate, keep and what to BUY. It must serve a purpose, be something I enjoy and currently use or will (definitely, no doubt) use in the future, and if it’s a sentimental item, it must be truly important enough to me to use up valuable storage space.
And isn’t it funny how you don’t realize something is sentimental to you until you go through the storage bins every few years? Then, it’s all awwww, I loved this insert-thing-from-middle-school-here so much! Most of the time, I don’t remember that thing I loved so much until I see it. :)
As I continue to go through the basement and the rest of the house (I’m still going!), I have been asking myself if we really need it. Then I ask myself again, NO, do we really need it?
Then I ask again -- “For reals, Sarah. DO YOU REALLY NEED THIS?”
(See? Yelling at myself. In caps. In my head.)
It’s been an emotional couple of weeks for us, and I find that going through the clutter always, always soothes my soul. I literally feel like our house is lighter when I walk in the door. I feel lighter. I know it may sound crazy, but I really believe purging stuff creates space to breathe in your house and in your head. :)
So are you attached to stuff like me? Do you hold on to things for the reasons I mentioned? Or are you a constant purger? Do you follow the one item in, one item out rule? If so, you are my hero. I’m learning. :)