Monday, April 27, 2009


What's with all the one word post titles? It's like my writing has become decluttered as well!

I've been trying to figure out a way to describe how my "stuff" situation always was that I found so unsatisfactory, and how it's moving towards my ideal now. And I think they key is "layers".

I used to have a lot of layers. In deep storage I would have the things that I didn't really want but didn't feel I could get rid of. In the middle layer was things that I might want but I wasn't sure. Stuff like pants "one size too small" were in this category. In the top-middle layer was the things that I thought I was using but actually wasnt'. And then finally, the top layer; things I actually used.

I hated the layers. I hated how I'd buy a new storage piece and the things that would fill it were things from the bottom "layers". There was no room for my "top layer". Usually my "top layer" ended up on top of or next to the storage pieces. This meant I always had a mess.

I envied people who had only one layer. People who could set their tea down on the end table and not have to clear a space first. People who had the clothes they actually wore in the dresser instead of in the laundry basket. People who could actually get INTO their craft rooms :-)

I had to concentrate so much on storage I was never really sure what I had. I also never really got to enjoy the things I had because I had "stock" covering or obscuring them. I didn't feel I was able to have something "nice" because I could only afford to have "a lot" if I bought cheap things.

The Condo Fantasy

When I lived in a small place, I used to fantasize about moving to a bigger place. A REALLY big place! So I wouldn't have to make choices about what I had; I could keep everything I had already "just in case" and then buy what I REALLY liked. I bought a house approximately three times the size of the first one. I love my house. But I remember that feeling of dismay as I unpacked my belongings and those enormous cabinets and big rooms started to fill up SO fast.

I didn't quite get it--now I had room to put all my kitchen stuff in the kitchen instead of half of it in the basement, so what was the problem? Why were the cabinets packed? Seriously, didn't other people have like 10 sets of glasses and dishes? Where did NORMAL people put their things? If moving to a larger place didn't help, exactly how big of a place did you have to get in order to store all your stuff??

And then one day, the Condo Fantasy emerged. Not that I really want to give up my house or move to a condo in reality. But the concept of moving to a smaller place, and having an "excuse" to prioritize my belongings and only keep what I really loved was appealing. It was comforting to have an excuse to the voices in my head and the dissenting voices from outside forces. I could say simply "I just don't have room, I'm moving to a smaller place."

This seemed like the ultimate sense of freedom! I would no longer have to struggle over whether to keep those snowman dishes or those old plant pots or those broken-down lawn chairs.

And so I realized that now I was okay with a fake "excuse". I could *pretend* I was moving to a smaller place, and use that criteria as the lens through which to view all those questionable things. Would I keep these snowman dishes if I only had room for one set of dishes? Nope? Out they go!

Friday, April 17, 2009


I am free of all that limits me
I am free of other people's expectations
I am free of other people's judgment
I am free to make my own decisions based on my own circumstances
I am free to get rid of things I am not using
I am free to make my own choices
I am free to make choices that others do not agree with

I am free

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Yesterday the odds were in my favor as Mr. Knitty was home to help wrangle Maggzilla and he was able to remove all his *stuff* from my "craft room".

This means I was able to get in there (and, since he's unpacked his stuff, I had a number of new boxes) and purge. The craft room has always been a sort of dumping ground for "things I don't know what to do with but can't get rid of". Guess what I filled the boxes with. I just started at one corner of the room and tried to go with my immediate reaction to each thing. When I started to hear the voice in my head say "I have to save this because....." I put it in the box. Each time I filled a box I sealed it, stacked it by the door, and got a new one.

This morning I put all the boxes in my car and my trunk is full. Very full. So full when I open the hatchback everything will probably come piling out on me.

I tried to avoid the trap of "going through boxes". I will do that, but first I wanted to clear the space by getting rid of the things that aren't in boxes. I was able to move Maggie's toy chest and an end table downstairs. I was able to move my sewing table to a nicer location. I was able to put a bookcase where the desk used to be.

I am now ready to move on to "going through boxes". One drawer, one box, one thing at a time. With garbage, recycle, and give away boxes right next to me to make it easy to carry out my decisions.

It feels SO good. So freeing. I am going into the craft room for the first time in my life and SMILING rather than sighing.

I have this kind of guideline for getting rid of stuff. I get rid of:

*Things that I am saving only because someone gave them to me
*Things that I am saving only because I spent money on them.
*Things that I am saving only because I *could* do something with them, even though I haven't in at least a year
*Things that I look at and think "I have to save this". Usually this covers the previous three categories: I have to save this because so & so bought it for me.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Cash instead of Clutter

So yesterday I just could NOT stand it anymore. I was going to wait until my dining room table was cleared of critters (they are bunking upstairs while the basement is being worked on) but I just couldn't take it anymore and decided to go through my china collection.

I have a long, mixed history with my china collection. You see, I was engaged for several years before I actually got married and had a house, and during that time I found myself desperately trying to "buy" my way through time faster, like, if I had a full house full of stuff the house would magically appear to contain it, you know?

Yeah, it didn't work. I just ended up with a bedroom closet stuffed full with housewares and huge credit card bills. Mom gave me a loan for the credit cards...and that was the WORST feeling ever--having to owe Mom. Truly. I think I learned the lesson better than I would have by paying finance charges, because the feeling was so squicky.

Once they were paid off, and I was married with house, I couldn't wait to unpack all of these things and use them! Unfortunately, we had to do a lot of work on the house, and the house was very small to begin with, and so I had a storage problem right off the bat. It's tough to store 8 sets of dishes plus serving pieces when you don't even have an actual dining room.

Even worse, I had a sinking feeling as I unpacked many of them---I didn't really like them anymore. I had been in such a buying frenzy that I had bought many things that weren't my style or my taste. Because I had not yet embraced the idea that if I didn't love it, I could get rid of it, I felt I was consigned to the keeping of this object forever. This object that I went into debt for, stored, hauled around.....

When I moved into a larger house with a real live dining room, I again couldn't wait to unpack my things. Now I could have EVERYTHING in the dining room, displayed and beautiful and ready to use. I took a day off from work to fill my new dining room furniture--I was that excited. After about an hour, I nearly cried. Already everything was full! I had wanted to have everything stored so that it could be removed without unpacking the entire piece of furniture, and not only did I not have room for that I could barely CRAM everything in.

Sometimes I looked at those things and sighed--I didn't like them that much. I had either bought them or registered for them for my wedding. But I never thought that I could actually get rid of them. On Mother's Day, the year I was pregnant, I was going to host the family at my house for brunch. I had a pretty new tablecloth and I started to set out my best set of dishes.....and I sat down and cried.

I didn't love those dishes--I didn't even like them. They looked stupid and tacky in my dining room. I really really wished I could have a set of nice, plain, cream colored dishes to set off my dark wood furniture. My husband sort of laughed and told me that of course I could have new dishes, and bought them for me that evening. I proudly used them the next day. About a year later I managed to sell the ones I didn't like, too.

And so I had gotten rid of the Southwestern dishes I didn't like. I also gave a set of holiday dishes to my cousin (she does Xmas brunch, not me). I never cared much for "theme" dishes anyway. Now I was down to things that I did like, but maybe didn't use or didn't like that much. And those things took up so much room in my furniture that I couldn't display the things I DID like, like my cream dishes, or my grandma's rose dishes, or my collection of colored vases.

I decided to take everything out of the china cabinet and display the things I wanted, store the things I needed, and then sell the rest. And so this morning, I was able to post a number of things on my employee exchange and I have already netted $30. Not too bad!