This week was the week for toughing it out and finally decluttering, recycling and donating those boxes of "stuff" that had been hiding out in my garage. Those boxes that had moved with me from home to home...that had been taped up and labelled but remained unopened for the longest time. Those boxes that were piled up in a corner of the garage...dusty boxes of stuff that I'd collected and treasured over the years. I couldn't remember what was in most of them...so I got the kids to school, and went straight to the garage. Time to get started.

What motivated me? Why didn't procrastination win (again)? A few things happened that sparked me into action...
1. A family member offered to help me move these boxes to another part of the house, to the attic, to store them somewhere else. I didn't want to do that...again!
2. I was scrolling through Facebook and was inspired by a quote that I read, "If you have more than enough, give some more away." ~ Zoe Kim. The fact that I hadn't missed these things in so many years, meant I couldn't possibly need them. Maybe others could use them?
3. I wanted to use the space for something positive...not just storing stuff. I want to renovate it, make it into a space the kids can use for their hobbies. At the very least, somewhere they can store their bikes, their scooters, their outdoor stuff.

So I was sparked into action. As with the title of the post, it was like ripping off a plaster. There's a reason these items never made it into my home...I just hadn't known what to do with them or how to part with them. I either didn't care for them enough to bring them inside or I'd simply packed them up and forgotten about them.

And oh boy, did I come across some memories from the past. Some which made me laugh - childlike love letters from boys in the days before mobile phones and emails - to bittersweet ones; to photos and gifts from family members that are no longer with us. Some I had good reasons for keeping, and others were easy to demote to the recycle bin. 

I allowed myself just one bag to fill with things that I wanted to keep. If it got full then I'd have to decide what was most important to me. I know this isn't for everyone, but it really helped me focus. Helped me narrow down my clutter...find those gems in the bags of stuff. Those first baby shoes, those treasured photos and a couple of books I'll enjoy re-reading.  

It took me four hours. Fourteen bags and boxes made their way to charity stores, charity collections and paper recycling. These are the questions that I kept asking myself to keep me going...

  • Do I need it?
  • Will I use it again?
  • Is it useful to anyone I know?
  • Would I spend good money on it now?
  • Am I being selfish (keeping valuable items in dusty boxes when it could raise money for charity or be loved by someone else)?
  • Is it holding me back?

I'm not going to say it was easy, because it wasn't. I definitely had many shaky moments in those four hours. As soon as I got two or three box loads into the car, I took them straight to the charity store. Before I could change my mind. I kept telling myself, "I have enough. I have enough. A home, my kids, my health, a job".....It sounds so dramatic, writing this ...  I wonder if anyone can relate?

The most difficult things to part with were gifts that had been given to me. I had to reason with myself that I had no use for them and they needed to go to a home where they would be loved. Handing that box of gifts over was the hardest. I gave them to the lady in the store and had to be almost prompted to leave....had to make myself walk out of the store. I went to pick up my shopping on the way home, forgetting half of it, in a little bit of a daze.

The easiest things were books. I'm talking about hundreds of books, though I didn't waste time counting them. Why on earth had I kept so many books? English books, novels, dictionaries and language books from my student days. Red bound leather books with gold edgings...volumes of Pushkin and Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky, in Russian. Who was I kidding that I would ever be fluent enough to enjoy them! I dithered that I could keep them for the kids...but I want them to make their own choices and not to encourage them to follow mine.

In the end, I think it's sometimes just about letting go of those visions we once used to have for ourselves, then we can make way for new ones. Making room for positive changes...or just making room. So as I cleared out my stuff, I daydreamed a little. I thought about putting a big window in that garage that would look out onto the garden. About boarding the walls and laying a carpet. Adding a desk and a table. Creating a space to do stuff, not store stuff.  Hopefully it will happen, making plans to move forward...isn't that what it's all about?

I'd love to hear if you've been involved in any decluttering projects recently. Maybe you have some tips to share or you think I'm being over dramatic about parting with my things 🙂 I'd love to hear your opinions and comments. I love reading each and every one!

 

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30 comments on “Ripping off the plaster….decluttering the past”

  1. Found this through the Facebook group “no Sidebar”.
    I can definitely relate. I like your questions for deciding whether or not to keep something – makes much more sense to me than “Does it spark joy?”.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment and for stopping by, Lei. I’m so glad you can relate 🙂 I love that Facebook group, too x

    • Hi, Michelle 🙂 It’s not always easy, is it….but you’re right, it does feel good to get rid of that clutter. Thanks for stopping by x

  2. This is what we were doing last weekend, but not on such a big scale. Among the things I kept was a little radio that used to belong to my Granddad. It was broken, and I’d been taking it from house to house, unable to sling it because it had been his. So I finally pulled myself together and decided it was no use broken, but then my partner managed to fix it! That’s one time when I was glad I’d hung on to something – I was convinced it wouldn’t work again! But generally I agree with you. It’s no use taking things from house to house if you have no use for them.

    • Hi, Kirsty, what a lovely story about your grandad’s radio. I’m so pleased that your partner was able to fix it, some things are just so special, aren’t they? Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story.

  3. “Would I spend good money on it now” Great question to ask. I have been paring down over the period of several years. We have no kids (our choice) & are in our late 50’s, so a question I ask myself is, “would our nephews & nieces want this stuff”? They probably won’t, so it has been less emotional for me to get rid of it. Great post!

    • Thanks, Linda 🙂 It sounds like you’re doing a great job of paring down…it does take time, doesn’t it? Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story x

  4. You really get to give yourself a big hug. What a wonderful thing you’ve done to give your more-than-enough away. Sadly, I ruined a piece of my child’s artwork because I let it sit in the garage too long among the stuff out there (water damage). That SHOULD have taught me to declutter the garage right away, but no. I only pick at it now and then. I feel a New Year’s Resolution coming up regarding the garage and clutter!

    • Thanks, Priscilla, what a kind comment 🙂 You’re so supportive 🙂 I did find a couple of books that were past their best and they had to go to the paper recycling rather than charity. As much as we try, these things happen to all of us I think. That sounds like a fabulous resolution…thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great weekend.

  5. I am so proud of you. This is, I believe, the hardest part of moving forward.

    I LOVE the title you chose as well. “Ripping off the plaster” reminds me of ripping off a baindaid, which it feels like sometimes!

    Take care,
    Mel

  6. Oh my, this post stirred some big feelings in me! I have eight or so boxes of vintage homeware sitting in the garage. I used to collect it but now it’s just there, cluttering up space – literally and mentally. Your post has made me realise that I know exactly where it can go! Thank you. I’m going to do this!

    • Hi, Rae, your situation sounds much like my own at the start of the week! I’d love to hear how you get on…and good luck. Thanks so much for stopping by x

  7. People hold on to the strangest things – I know I do. I was going thru papers I had saved for some years. Periodically I go thru them and throw some away. There was one mass card from a funeral of a friend who died at age 35 in the 1990’s. Everytime I see it I feel sad at the waste of life so young. This time I said out loud, “Marty I love you but you’re gone.” Then I threw the card away. I did that with several Christmas cards that I had held on to as I had lost friends and relatives. Sad but I had to let go. It’s a personal journey – you’re doing fabulous!
    #MMBC

    • Thank you for your kind comments, Carol, and for sharing your experiences. It’s lovely to hear your thoughts, I’m sure a lot of can relate.

  8. I’m a great believer in getting rid of clutter. In fact, I’m probably a little too ruthless and sometimes throw things away that I need at a later date, but I don’t regret it. It must feel like a weight’s lifted to have got rid of so many things that somebody else will get the chance to cherish #mmbc

    • You sound like you have this decluttering thing sorted, Louisa. I imagine your home must be so lovely and clutter free 🙂 I still have a way to go but I’m enjoying the process and yes, it is a joy to have donated and recycled so many things this week 🙂

  9. I had depression for a long time. One of the things I did to help me was declutter my home. It made a big difference in my life. I think all my mess was adding to my depression. Not having so much stuff gave me so much freedom.

    • Hi, Kendi, thanks for stopping by 🙂 I’ve so glad decluttering your home helped you to feel better. It certainly helps me to think more clearly, too, if I’m not surrounded by stuff.

  10. Good for you. I can really relate to the idea of doing it in one sitting, so to speak. No time to change your mind. My mother gave me a couple of bags of papers of mine recently. I just went though and kept a few bits. Kept old id cards and a few newspaper cuttings. May sound morbid, but there’ll come a point when my children will go through them when I’m gone, so I only kept the things I thought they would understand and maybe make them smile. #MMBC

    • Hi, Cheryl, and thanks for sharing your tips! I don’t think that’s morbid at all….I think it’s something the next generation will thank us for. As difficult as it is to contemplate, it’s something important to think about. It was at the back of my mind, too, if I’m honest.

  11. Hi Rachel, It’s been a while since I had a good declutter, and we are in need of one before Christmas! How we go about it does make a difference. A fair few years back I decluttered the children’s room and what made it easier was the fact it was coming up to Christmas and everything we no longer used or wanted was going to be used in Christmas hampers and delivered to families who aren’t so well off. And that really made a difference to how easy it was to get rid of stuff (of course we kept some stuff). The same happened with books too, the winters are long and quiet here so in the summer we used to collect books to read that tourists left behind. We had over 500 in the shed!. We gave the majority to the local doggy ladies who do car boots to raise money to help the local strays and that made it an easier task.

    We still have one bookcase, but I favour my Kindle which helps keep clutter down.

    Thank you for your inspiring post (it’s really was) and for linking up with the #MMBC.

    xx

    • Thank you for your lovely comment and for sharing your story, Debbie! I love that you donate to the local doggy ladies who do car boots, what a great way to spread a little kindness 🙂

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