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!