For most of the last month, I’ve spent a lot of my time clearing out my house some more, having yard sales, and listing items both on ebay and on half.com. I was hoping to be done by the start of our new homeschooling year, but no such luck. I’m starting to wonder if this won’t be my “project” for the next year!
It seems strange. Twenty two years ago, I traveled Europe with all of my worldly possessions in my backpack. Now, I have so much junk that I’ve taken four van loads to the thrift store in the last 2 weeks. I find myself wondering, “Where on earth does all of this stuff come from?”
My hubby and I have been feeling pretty overwhelmed by the “clutter” in our home, as we are faced with moving when this whole foreclosure saga comes to it’s inevitable ending. It’s both freeing to clear out all of the unneeded bits, and quite sad. It’s also pretty scary, because we’re not sure where we are going to go and what kind of place we can even afford as expenses keep climbing and wages stay the same.
Some have written to ask if we are in foreclosure “again”. Nope. More like “still”. The process has been paused, then restarted, then paused again. Notification was recently sent that the process is again moving down the pipe. To that end, we are packing, decluttering, and so forth. There is such a back log in some areas that these things take a lot longer than they used to.
Big Houses Attract Clutter
As we have been trying to sort through all of the stuff one married couple amasses after 20 years of marriage living in a 2700 square foot Victorian farm house, raising five children, we have come to realize that the simple act of having a big house attracts a certain level of clutter. We justify holding onto items “just in case” because we have a large family and a large house, and a three story barn. Others justify dropping off things to us because we have the room. It’s crazy.
We went through and decluttered room by room over the last few months, we put anything we didn’t want to keep into a corner of a room, which soon took over the whole room, in anticipation of our yard sale, ebay sales, and half.com listings. I finally had to bite the proverbial bullet and go into the dreaded room to start sorting. That “weekend project” has taken me most of August, and I’m only halfway done. We started to call the room, jokingly, “the land of the misfit toys” (like the old Christmas cartoon from our childhoods). That’s what it felt like, anyway.
Lessons from Clutter
As I sorted items, listed items, or donated items to the local thrift stores, I was struck at times by memories of buying some of this stuff.
Sometimes it seemed like an urgent need to have it now, but now this item is just another piece of clutter, taking up space. In the last five years, especially, I’ve gotten really good at fighting the urge to engage in “retail therapy” of any sort. I’ve gotten better, with the Lord’s help, of really looking at things and asking myself, “Do I really need this?” before opening my wallet. I used to think that I didn’t have a “shopping problem” because I’m so thrifty when I shop, and the same is true of my husband, who often would come home with finds from flea markets, garage sales, or “curbside specials”. Instead, about four or five years ago now, we started to realize that buying anything that we didn’t really, really need was wasteful, even if it was a “good deal”, or even free. Standing in the “land of misfit purchases” there, in what was once our spare bedroom, I was surrounded by “Good deals” that we wound up not really needing. Ouch.
Disorganization can lead to some clutter issues too. I was struck by this reality too, because I’ve become much more organized in the last few years, but not before rebuying lost, needed items. Sometimes, I found multiples of the same item, like mailing labels. Yes mailing labels. I’m sure some of the mailing labels came from my inlaw’s house, as they had a vast assortment of “office supplies” that they dropped off to our house by the trunk load. But, given my own addiction to office supplies, I’m sure I bought some of this too. We had multiples of some tools, some craft items, and other things. How many times did I need something that I already had, but couldn’t find? Yikes.
Flylady is right. You really can’t organize Clutter. As we sorted through much of this stuff, there was a large number of organizational helps to be found. Yes, cluttering my house up with organizational tools. Brilliant.
We’ve both come to agree that saying no is a good thing too. One of the weirdest things we found on our decluttering challenge was 7 sets of golf clubs. Why is that weird? Because none of us plays golf. No, these were dropped off by family members because they were decluttering. We have clothes galore that were generously handed down by friends and family, but frankly there was just too much of a good thing too.
Simplicity is a good thing. Right now, I have a whole cupboard of “cleaning supplies’. For most of it, we’re trying to use those up in some way before buying anything else. As I’ve posted before, I make my own laundry soap, and I use vinegar for cleaning naturally. I’ve come to realize I don’t need anything else, except maybe mr. clean magic erasers for tougher jobs. When I started emptying out that big cleaning cupboard, I realized how much easier it is to just need vinegar to clean, instead of a different bottle of dangerous chemicals for each and every job. It takes up less space too.
As we get rid of all of this extra “stuff” we’ve been storing or hanging onto, things that have been lurking in the upstairs hall closet or the basement corners, I’ve been overwhelmed with a feeling of freedom to just let this stuff go already. Society tries to convince us, through clever marketing and ads, that “stuff” is going to make us happy, but actually the opposite is true most of the time.
Decluttering is quite freeing.