The recycling bin was especially heavy this week after I went searching for space in a file cabinet in which to file a few hard-copies of drafts and other pieces related to my current writing project. How-tos on scene building, character development, querying, and the like were tumbling off my shelf in our office. What I discovered was an entire file drawer filled with outlines, overheads, and handouts for presentations I’d done as a literacy coordinator and teacher consultant for the Northern Nevada Writing Project. All neatly tabbed, sorted, and archived. Mind you, I’ve been retired for over ten years and in that time, NO ONE has asked me to present. No one.
Yes, I had spent hours developing this pile of stuff. And it was all good. Really. But it has nothing to do with my life now. And no, burdening some young teacher with my old stuff would only add to their work. And it didn’t contain the current buzz words—Common Core or Standards-Based—which would be necessary for inclusion in today’s classroom. So yes. It all went.
De-cluttering has become a habit.
Two and a half years ago, when we moved from our BIG house (basement, attic), to a medium house (no basement, no attic) we tossed or donated about half of our worldly goods. The purge continues. These days, I keep a bag in the sewing/model train room to collect small items as I continue to edit my collection of kitchen utensils, bras, shoes, picture frames, baking tins. jewelry, scarves, doodads, and what-nots. When the bag is full–at least once a month–I drop it off at the nearby donation center. This week my donation will include two large wooden, thirty-year-old dollhouses and tub of furnishings. My granddaughter–the reason I saved them in the first place–says she’s outgrown them.
Nonetheless, some things—like my grandmother’s 1910 Queen Anne sofa with its down cushions—are pretty and useful and comfortable. But I recognize that there will likely come a time and place when having that and her cute old Singer sewing machine (in its cabinet!) are simply too much. And the jam-packed curio cabinet and Hoosier with my collection of Depression glass and vintage snack trays? That will have to go too. But not yet. They still make me happy, although less so as time goes on.
You see, I don’t want to burden my children with too many of these “treasures.” What 30/40-ish person wants three cut glass relish dishes? Certainly no one I’m related to. So, I keep whittling away at my material wealth. Perhaps by the time I am ready to move into assisted living (or am taken to the big garage sale in the sky) there won’t be much left. My daughters won’t have to worry about what to do with all my crap. I won’t be cluttering up their homes. And I hereby absolve them from any guilt about what they must give away.
Serendipitously, many of the meditations in my yoga classes lately have been about de-cluttering our lives and our minds to reveal what is essential, to find focus. I’m finding that particularly apt these days, not only in my physical environment, but in other aspects of my life. I’ll be focusing my posts on that for a while. Have you tried de-cluttering as a habit? What have you discovered?
6 thoughts on “The purge continues”
My possessions seem to be like paper clips. They multiply when I stop paying attention. I’m getting to that point in my life in which I will have to start winnowing, too. I see a dumpster in my future, and our local thrift store will start to look like my garage, I’m sure. I enjoyed this post, and the nudge it gave me to get cracking.
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Ha! We used a dumpster (and a local charity) when clearing out the basement and attic at our old house. I’ve never missed a thing. I used to laugh that I’d drop stuff off at the back of the thrift shop and then shop in the front. At this point though, more is leaving the house than coming in. Good luck!
We’re in the process of moving and are using the time to weed out as much as possible. It’s very freeing!
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Moving is a great motivator. I agree that it is freeing. A friend who knew where she was moving, let go of everything that didn’t “go” with the décor of the new house. My décor is kind of “early hand-me-down” so that doesn’t quite work for me. I have to use a different standard: Will I have to dust it? Is it useful? Have I used it in the last year? Will anyone but me miss it? It’s a process. Good luck with your move!
Thanks for the insights in this column and the “nudge” to continue decluttering my own house and basement. ‘Tis time!!!! I will ask myself the same questions you’re asking yourself.
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It’s a process. I look around and there is STILL an awful lot of stuff here.