“Clutter is the dark side of abundance” declared, Denise Sheehan, a friend of mine. As I laughed I realized just how true to that statement is for many people. Clutter is the things of should and ought. As in I should really keep that service for 75 that was Great Aunt So-and-So’s once removed by marriage because my 8 week old niece might want to use it for her wedding once day? Or I really ought to go through the stack of stake of magazines-books-news-paper-journal-articles, I have been meaning to read for the past 12-24-36-60 months?
It is true there are something items like keepsakes of rights of passage or a beloved cookbook splattered by meals, or a well made piece of furniture, that stand the test of time. “The Tyranny of the Heirloom”, is real too. We have an extraordinary ability to transfer our memories, hopes, wishes and pain to stuff. The objects that belong to us and those that have belonged to others and have now found their way in our domiciles, office, cubical, sheds and garages can support, can be touchstones, can use useful, but they can also be blocks, tripping us up. Guess what- I bet we can still recall those memories, the good the bad, the ugly and the funny, with or without objects.
It’s March 20th the official start of Spring. Time for some “spring cleaning.” The act of clearing is freeing, even if it feels like a chore at times. When I was packing our house for a move, there was a lot of decluttering to be done. We are sentimental people by nature and were raised to hold on to things you might need in the future. Delcuttering is not a natural way for us- God love the folks for whom it is, there is something to admire in that way of being. Out went the paperbacks that had been friends to me since high school, moving on to be a friend to others. Making space for new book friends. My kitchen, my love, oh to cook and share a meal, what a pleasure. But really did we need all that stuff? So away went the chestnut roaster, the 4 extra serving bowls of the same size as the 2 we really use, the tumblers that don’t get used enough because other drinkware has seduced our hands and lips. The dance dress I bought because I loved the color and womanliness of it, but just did not fit well enough, found a home with longer torsoed dancer. You get the picture. Suddenly what we were bringing with us to create a new home was more “right” and all the things we let go, found their ways to other right places. What started as chore instead became a series of celebrations.
Here are 6 ideas to make decluttering less of a chore and more of a celebration.
- Swap and Shop. Hold a clothing swap with some other women. In my experience women seem to do this more than men, but Fellow’s have at it too.
- Start a book pass along group. This is something I started doing with my Mom and other folks I know who share similar tastes in reading.
- Share the Wealth. Are you a Knitter? Well if you are , I bet you have a good stash of yarn just waiting find itself project bound, just maybe not one of your projects. Not a knitter, apply to your hobby/creative outlet of choice.
- Create a Starter Kit. Too much kitchen stuff, well how about putting together a “starter kit” that could be given to a person starting out on their own, or even folks transitioning from temporary to permanent housing? The same could be done for linens in good shape, furniture etc.
- Play a rousing game of “HA! I already…!”. Reframe the act of sorting through the saved bills from 10 years ago as a celebration of “HA! I already paid you!”. Stacks of college notebooks = “HA! I already graduated!” You get the idea.
- Get back that lovin’ feeling. My friend Susan Stone is a professional organizer. She suggests falling in love with your space again. “Like any good relationship, the one you have with your personal space requires time, attention and the commitment to discovering the very best it can be.” She suggests starting with one room, name it “something juicy and delicious,” then go about courting it, by seeing the good in it and letting go of what you don’t need.