Isn't spring the perfect time of year for a clean-out? I'm in the midst a massive clearing of extra 'stuff' in my life and I'm excited to share with you a little bit about my experience over the past month. Maybe you're the kind of person who has mastered the art of 'stuff' and only have what you love, use and need in your life. If so, read no further, kudos, I admire you immensely and soon will be a lot like you!
Or are you a little more like the old me in that despite constant efforts to be neat and tidy, piles of papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and the clothes hamper overflows like a volcano onto the bedroom floor? If so, I wish you the best with all of my heart because I know first hand that having clutter, unorganized space and too much stuff can feel incredibly heavy and can actually hold us back in life. Have you ever thought "I should stay home this weekend to clean out or organize my _________________" and passed up a fun time with good friends? I have…and that seems to be such a waste of this precious life. I'm so excited about learning a few new tricks so that I never again feel guilty and miss out on living life to the fullest because of my stuff. And I should note…my main living spaces have been fine. The problem zones are closets, cupboards, cabinets, bookshelves, end tables, drawers, under the bed, storage rooms, backseat of the car, basically anywhere I could 'put things away'.
So...I've been listening to two books about decluttering and organizing on Audible repeatedly for the past month. I've clocked 2 days, 18 hours and 56 minutes of listening time on these two books. Seriously. I listen via the app on my iPhone while I drive, while I cook, while I get ready to go out, and especially while I clear clutter and tidy. They are:
Most of the time I really find the process of going through my things to be enjoyable, exhilarating even. The best method for me seems to be to work in categories, such as dealing with all footwear at once, and then dealing with all books at once. I had books all over my home and office (and some in my car) and it was enlightening to bring them all together into one pile in my living room and to go through them one by one. For each one I simply listened to my intuition - if I loved and cared about the book, it stayed. If I felt ambivalent or even disliked it, it was gone. I kept about 75 in my bookcase (which actually feels quite sparse to me) and I kept about 100 more that I'm not quite ready to let go of…they're in a newly labelled rubbermaid in my neatly stacked storage room. I took about 100 books to Westgate Books on 8th Street and they bought many of them. The rest went to charity.
I've done the same with clothes, shoes, accessories, cleaning products, toiletries, CD's, tea kettles, glasses, bedding, candles, files, you name it. If it's in my life, it's part of the audit.
There are so many ways to reuse, recycle, consign or donate now and whenever I'm not sure where to discard something I simply ask my friends on Facebook. Old paint cans? Sarcan. Old prescription glasses? Lions club or any optometrist's office. Beat-up luggage? The Awl Shoppe will re-use any salvageable parts for repairs. Clothes? Consignment at Stasia. Vintage dresses? Better Off Duds (I didn't have to ask my friends about that one…I'm a regular, right Nicola?). Donations to charity? Value Village, the Lighthouse and the Food Bank always appreciate clothing and household goods, too.
I've gone through a range of emotions while working through this process. Many items have warmed my heart and brought back a thousand beautiful memories, such as miscellaneous momentos of my childhood (pictured above), a backstage pass from the first show I ever worked in the music business, a silly drawing from a former lover and a mixed tape of the best songs from high school. Those are keepers. On the other hand some items brought back some upsetting feelings, such as sympathy cards from a challenging time, a business card from a job I hated and an old CD set about weight loss. I couldn't get rid of those fast enough.
Sometimes tidying pays off financially, too. I literally 'found gold' in my bedroom. In a small box in the bottom of a drawer full of things I found this 1 ounce gold coin. I'd completely forgotten about it even though I have moved it with me several times. It was a gift from my grandma when I was a child and is now worth about $1,500!
And then there's this beauty: a pin of my bestie and me in our ringette gear. There's nothing quite like an old friend. Love you, Brandy!
I'd love to hear about your decluttering and organizing adventures, too. What treasures are you finding hidden in those piles?