Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cleanin' out my closet

Trends come and go but one thing is usually a constant someone is trying to sell you some method or accessories in the name of making your life less cluttered.  

About 15 years ago it was the container store - I mean you did not really need to get rid of your stuff when you could put it in lovely decorative containers.  They were lovely and some were quite useful but let's face it buying more things to store the too many things you have is really pretty counterintuitive.  

Then there was the feng-shui trend - we were all dodging cross winds and setting our beds according to the Eastern, or was it Western, flow of ... ah whatever.   I did not do it.  I am one of the least superstitious people I know and the idea that my chi or my chai (oh wait that's a drink) can go out the window just doesn't do it for me.  I like the idea of Asian aesthetic but not necessarily to the extent of my ancestors needing to live in a corner with incense. 

I grew up in apartments and it is a wonderful thing for me.   I actually miss apartment living a lot of times.  I also moved a lot - I mean a lot and the fact that I have been in one place for soon to be 12 years makes me really antsy.  I actually like new places even though moving not so much, I mean who likes to pack and unpack and if you answered yes well then you may want to look at your control issues.   I like apartments, and with frequent moves even more so, because you are forced to not have so much stuff and get rid of things when they no longer are needed.   

Not so in a house - actually in a house you have spaces that tempt you to not throw stuff out.  There is the garage which often turns into a storage bin.  Then there is the basement or attic, or both for some. I was talking to a friend about this and he summed it up so well; your coffee maker isn't working as well, you buy a new one.  In an apartment you get rid of the old one but in a house you put it in basement "just in case".  Just in case what you suddenly decide to rival Starbucks and need equipment.  No just in case turns into just junk you keep.  

My husband is one box away, and me, from hoarding.   He likes to keep everything.  I will not go into the reasons but it also results in rather high volume discussions, aka fights, about how I throw everything out.  I don't but because he keeps so much it is hard to find things that get lost in the stuff he keeps.   This year I decided that I have had 11 years of way to much crap accumulation.   

I picked up the latest trend book - and put it down in about 10 min after the lovely Japanese author announced that as a child while other children played she liked to go home and clean, ok then that is just odd.  Onward I found a blog that said you should start with a floor, if you have multiple, and divide rooms into sections and do not clean beyond one section at a time.  

This works, well for me, because decluttering is easily turned into memory lane procrastination and slightly overwhelming.  I was slightly aghast at the multiple large black bags I filled with .. wait for it .. bags.  Yes - bags, plastic bags, nice store bags, gift bags, bags within bags.  It was slightly obscene.   I have been at it sine January and I finished most of the basement.  It is amazing how easily could have say thrown out their marriage certificate because it was squashed between two magazines in a box.   It is also slightly amazing how much I never gave away though I meant to and how much I have given to charity.  I am still working on it but it is coming along.  

The one take away from the Japanese book that I love is the rolling method - you roll things instead of folding,  easy to see, likely to use and hey if you need levels of rows let's face it you have too much stuff.   

Why do we do it ?  We hold on to things because they remind of us moments but those moments are part of us regardless of whether we hold on to the t-shirt you wore for your first overnight with a special person.  You will never actually refer to these things except when you are decluttering because you do not need them yet they provide us with a bit of a safety net, to tell us we were crazy once in the see through dress, we were not the responsible people we are today when we see the thigh high boots and we were dreamers in the pictures of our travels.  We were all those things and we are some things now that we have morphed into but cluttering our spaces actually stifles those memories not preserves them.  

I am all Ikea clean lines lately - with yes holding on to some things, this is my first round and my husband eyes the many, many black bags that make their way to the curb or to donations bins with trepidation.  It used to be that often you just threw away to make room to get more stuff but I am now at a point where I realize I need the peace of less more than the fulfillment of buying things.  I still love a good shoe but I do not need a third pair of black pumps.   If you are filling your life with things maybe it is time to declutter your brain and see what it is that you really need - maybe it is just a pair of new shoes or maybe not.   I am feeling lighter and more focused with less to distract me.  Such a good feeling. 

I am not a minimalist - I am a New York woman with an Eastern European background nothing small about either of those, of minimal.  I am, however, realizing that if I get rid of what I do not really need or do not use I can live larger and love bigger whatever is left behind.   In my last year of my 40s I am doing this not only to my house but realizing who is clutter in my life that I have not let go of even though they no longer bring me joy or do more than remind me of a time in the past.  Those people, like that I shirt I loved forever but no longer really need or wear, will always have a place in my memories just no longer a place in my life.   Like Eminem says "I'm cleaning out my closet"...

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