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Friday, February 23, 2018

The Emotional Toll of Decluttering (and not so much on the Shopping Ban)

 (I have been trying to write this post for weeks. The first draft couldn't be posted for some reason, then somehow got deleted. Then tried to post it a second time, and was deleted again. Started thinking maybe it wasn't meant to be when I tried again. Thank goodness I wrote it in Pages this time. Crossing my fingers!) 
     Disclaimer: Honestly, this feels more like a journal entry than a blog post, just not as much whining as I usually spill all over the page.
     Over the last couple of months, I've been reading/listening to a number of books on decluttering. The authors rave about the freeing feeling that decluttering has provided them. I'm still holding out for that feeling - getting only snatches of it here and there. I look around and see very little change. Many miles to go before I sleep. When a book tells me it can show me how to declutter my home in a week, I deduce they are high on something I need to get ahold of, and close the book. I'm not delusional. My hubby says I'm a hoarder, and if you saw my office, with every available surface stacked with books, magazines and papers, you'd believe him. But I'm not the only one (hoarder, that is) living in the house. I'm well aware that this is not going to be a quick transition, but I'm feeling the one-step-forward-two-step-back frustrations.
     It took me an entire afternoon to clean out my nightstand. Two whole drawers. I filled dozens of baggies with jewelry I haven't worn in years, threw out piles of papers and memorabilia that no longer held any significance, and donated a stock pile of wallets. I don't use wallets. I don't even carry a purse, haven't for years. If it doesn't fit in my pockets, I don't carry it. So why was I keeping the wallets? (Oh, and any idea what I can do with Wilf Carter and William Shatner's autographs? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?)
      You may think I'm a decluttering virgin, but I’m not. Every few months I go through my closet, filling a huge clear gardening/recycling bag for donation. No walk-in closet for me in our '60's built home, and I don't have a dresser, our room is too small for two of them.
     I tackled the dreaded Tupperware cupboard, which I do regularly, and only had about a dozen pieces to recycle, and some specialized lunch containers to donate.
     There are actual empty cupboards in my kitchen - areas that are hard to reach (no short jokes, please) - so I've avoided putting anything in them where they would just collect dust.
    I emptied out my laundry room cupboards and my hope chest, which were full of fabric and needlepoint projects still in the packages. I donated the fabric to my Mom's quilting hobby and the needlepoint projects to the seniors centre. Then I went looking for my sewing machine - turns out I had given it to one of my daughters years ago. Hadn't even missed it. My yarn collection (seventeen rough totes, four of which I have already worked through) has been moved to a sea can on our property (my husband doesn't see his hoarding issues when he has acres to spread it out), so that, you would think, would free up some space. (Funny, I can’t let go of the yarn, but the finished projects, no problem.) But I guess I was very good at filling nooks and crannies. No one could notice the difference in the house.
     I'm working on my office - the toughest room in the house by far - so maybe that's why I feel so bogged down in the decluttering. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo suggests one go through their clothing, then books and papers. That's where I've stalled out, and drifted off to other rooms and groupings. My kitchen is easy, I emptied out my cupboards only a year ago to paint them, and got rid of tons of stuff then. Yet, the office has been beating my butt for over a month.
      Yes, I burned two or three boxes of old, useless books that couldn't be donated, gave away eight more boxes, but now I'm just rearranging the rest of them. And there are ALOT  of them. Marie says that if you haven’t read them, you won’t. But I can’t let them go, not all at once, anyway. I’m trying to read through them, then I can hand them off.
      Papers aren't so hard to get rid of, but there is tons of it to go through. Binders full. Lots of binders. And boxes. And drawers. And shelves. Then I got distracted by my old diaries and journals (Dear gawd the teenage me was sooooo pathetic!) And magazines! I emptied nine magazine racks, but still have six more I have given myself until June to read, or I toss them too. 
     In Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki, one of his many rules states “not to get creative” when decluttering. At first, I wasn’t sure what he meant, but as I started going through the closet in my office, I found myself imagining ways of altering or fixing items I found stuffed in there. “This heavy card board box would be great to cover with Christmas wrapping paper and use for gift giving…” Only we don’t exchange gifts at Christmas, my girls just want money.
     There is plenty more to sort through in that room, I’m still in the process of emptying out the large L-shaped desk with shelving and cupboard storage and drawers, and I plan to sell it. But I work it in spurts, then I find myself a less taxing area to hit, so I don’t feel so overwhelmed. It’s the worst room by far.
     I did, however, find it very freeing to unload my Inbox. All 3400+ unread messages, and everything read still in it. Then I started emptying some of the folders; one had over 6000 emails in it that had been randomly stuffed into it, and I don’t know how they got there. I just closed my eyes and pressed delete. After that, I unsubscribed to around 80% of newsletters and advertisements, like Old Navy. I realized over three quarters of my emails were just trying to sell me something. Useless, considering it’s my NO SHOPPING year. And the files? Very few of them I ever went into, looking for something specific. If it was something I filed away “to read later…” Yeah. Never happened. 
     As for my shopping ban? So far, so good. Only 10+ months left…
It’s actually not near as painful as I thought it would be. I even tacked another item on the list of no-no’s: DavidsTea. I found that I likely have enough of it stashed away to last me the year, anyway. So if I run out of a favourite, too bad.

     One of the hardest parts of decluttering are the communal items, and my husband’s stuff. He has collections, too. Several collections. Including couches. We have six in the house, and I plan to sell/give away half of them. I foresee a divorce:-) You see, my hubby wants me to declutter, but he doesn’t want me to actually get rid of anything. Hence, the sea can. The 40 footer is half full of furniture, Christmas decorations, my yarn, some of my daughters’ stuff for their “someday” homes, and an “in-caser” furnace. In case we need the parts for ours. We have a furnace room full of in-caser items. A set of golf clubs, in case hubby decides to take up golf, a wheel chair and two walkers in case we need them some day, a couple of milking pails and extra parts in case he can convince me to milk cows again, etc. Need I go on? So I can’t just get rid of this stuff, it’s not mine to do so. I have trouble parting with some of my stuff, so I can understand illogical attachments (Hello? Magazines? Yarn?) I have to respect his feelings, and his stuff. But I can move it out of the house and show him how much “lighter” we can feel with it all removed. Again, fingers crossed!

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