Due to my father's unexpected passing from a heart attack yesterday, I am putting my current decluttering on hold while I attend to family matters. Will pick it back up in due course.
Today I went through our DVD collection and pulled out those I think we no longer need (some we've never even watched). I gave the kids a chance to choose any they really wanted us to keep - after a few were put back, there were 64 to get rid of. I also picked up 6 other random items to toss or pass along, bringing today's total to 70, and the grand total for the month so far to 1021!
I focused on two major things today - magazines, and all those electronic and computer cords etc.
I like gardening and self-sufficiency. In 2013, I grew 1000kg of produce in my backyard, so you could say this is a major focus. (You can read more about all that on my Thrifty Kiwi website). I've found a number of magazines to be great sources of inspiration and encouragement, so have subscribed or bought many issues of New Zealand Gardener, Kiwi Gardener, Lifestyle Block, and Organic NZ. I've intended for a while now to go back through the back-issues, take copies of the information most relevant to me, and then pass them along to a friend who would enjoy them. But I've been too busy to follow through on that process. So the mags have sat in a cupboard, and on my mental to-do list. I didn't want to just let them go, because there is so much good info in them! But ENOUGH! I choose freedom from the nagging need to do that job. I choose the space instead of the items. Besides, I have a couple of shelves full of great gardening books, unlimited access to the internet, membership in many libraries, and I know that all the REALLY good stuff in those magazines will turn up again in future issues, or be published in their periodic special issues. So out they go. 103 of them, in a box, ready to go to my friend who I know will really enjoy going through them and benefit from the information (and to whom I give full permission to tear them apart, keep what she wants, and recycle the rest).
Along with the magazines worth passing on, I also am passing on a cardboard stand that holds them all on a shelf well, and throwing out a stack of cardstock, 6 assorted brochures and magazines, and a pile of post-it notes.
I was clearing some odds and ends from the bookcase I cleared of books yesterday. One of those was a basket full of phone chargers, headphones and assorted stuff. After going through it, I also grabbed the tub of computer and related cords stored away in a cupboard. How many universal phone chargers does one family need? I kept three, plus gave my husband a couple of USB cords to keep in the car for when he is away. Every time we get a new computer, an ethernet cable comes with it. How many of those do we need? I kept one and tossed the rest. Assorted audio/visual cables? Everything that needs connecting is already connected. Bye-bye to the rest! Disused cell phones? Various phone-to-phone and phone-to-jack cords? A broken camera? A spare mouse? Cables for who-knows-what? Never used SIM cards? Etc. Out it all goes! All in all, I discarded 81 such items!
Below are all the items I kept from this category - the spare phone will be plugged in as soon as a jack is added.
As I was getting dressed this morning, I remembered why I don't wear one of my favourite bras anymore - it has a broken wire which hurts! Out it goes.
I also returned a road code and special pillow case to my daughter who recently moved out.
As I was loading things into the van to drop off, I also grabbed a few other items from the shed - a set of Winnie the Pooh bed ends I had saved from my daughter's bed, intending to do something creative with them, which I haven't got around to, a mattress from a camp bed we no longer have, and a folding deckchair my son acquired but seldom used.
This brings the total for the month so far to 951! Might break the 1000 tomorrow! Whoo-hoo - freedom here I come!
On Friday I cleared another 6 foot bookcase; there were 4 of them all full of books; now 2 are completely empty. I also sorted out my knitting wool, puttered around sorting some more bits and pieces, and reaffirmed my decision to NOT keep all the piles of little bits and pieces (more on those in another post).
When Aunt died in 2011 and we cleaned our her house, I brought the roll-a-ball here for my kids to enjoy. And they did. Occasionally. But they were probably already too old to get the most enjoyment out of it. Funny, though, how things we have fond memories of and want our kids to enjoy don't always translate to something they actually want to do! Now it gets used every now and then by visiting children, but it takes up quite a bit of space. I've decided it's time to just let it go - and pass it on to my brother for his children to enjoy; they're about the right age to have fun with it.
I also sorted through our Lego. My kids haven't played with it in years. Again, it's useful for visiting children, but it is rarely used. This is something I've thought of getting rid of a number of times, but have always ended up keeping. I think that's partly engrained in my because of the fact my mother often told me how valuable Lego was, and kept all of our childhood Lego. The other day I texted my older 3 kids who have left home to ask if they cared what I did with it. Their responses were interesting:
"Nah, do what you like - when I have my own kids who are old enough, I'll buy new Lego"
"No, I don't care - haven't played with it in years."
"Whatever you want - I think it's funny you're even asking me!"
LOL - see what I mean about how we think not always translating to the kids and what they really want/need? Time to just let it go!
So, I sorted it out, and put the lego-like transformer pieces in a bag to give away locally, and the rest of the real Lego in a tub which I'm going to give to a friend with a younger child to play with for as long as she has any interest. Then I'll pass it on to someone else.
So that's 92 items today, bringing the total count for the month to the 15th to 751 items gone! Yes, I've well exceeded the numbers suggested by the game itself that I started out playing, but getting rid of stuff feels so good! I'm not stopping now!
After returning from doing the monthly shopping and errands, I cleaned out the fridge and tossed 25 items. I may be having some trouble adjusting to cooking for 1-4 people instead of 8!
I then had to cook dinner, put away groceries, feed critters, prepare for and attend a committee meeting, and deal with some office work.
After all that was done, I really felt like decluttering something!
Since I still needed to put away some conditioner I had bought, I decided to haul the entire contents of the bathroom cabinets and drawers to the kitchen (where I could work upright as my back is sore) and sort them out. Ok, that's a lot of stuff!
Now the cabinet and drawers are nice and neat, and I know what is in there. Turns out I won't need to buy any shampoo, conditioner, shaving foam, razors, skincare, hairspray, hair mousse, toothpaste, dental floss, soap, liquid hand soap, insect repellent, suntan lotion or deodorant in quite some time! Of course, with less of us at home, everything lasts longer. Did I mention I need to adjust? LOL
Today I was challenged to think about how many items I keep "just in case." The extra sheets I mentioned yesterday are a prime example - something I'm never likely to need, but I had hung on to, just in case. Just in case what?? The 12 other sets were suddenly no good? One of the kids wanted a particular colour? What drives that kind of thinking?? Fear!
Most of us keep a bunch of things we don't need, just in case. For example, the clothes that don't fit, just in case one gains or loses 10 kg. The extra can opener you don't like using, just in case the main one breaks. The books you've finished reading, just in case you ever want to loan them to someone or read them again (even though that is unlikely). The jigsaw with the missing pieces, just in case you find them. Etc. And why do we do this?
Because we are afraid - afraid that if, one day, we need or want this item, we will not have it. Or we are afraid that if we get rid of it, we will feel guilty for "wasting" the item or the money we spent on it.
Come on people! (I'm talking to myself here!) It's a WASTE to keep stuff I don't need cluttering up my life and preventing me from having peace and freedom. It's a WASTE to hang on to something that someone else could be using. If the WORST thing that can happen is I might want one or two of the 100's of items I'm keeping "just in case" one day, then what is there to fear? Better to have all that space and peace, and then buy the 1 or 2 again when I actually need them, than to hang on to everything "just in case."
Today I spent most of the day weedeatering and mowing, as it was the last in a short burst of fine days we've had before a storm front comes in. While I was mowing, I was thinking about this just in case problem, and so this evening I tackled the third bookcase in the dining room with that in mind.
I also finished up the last few items off the other set of shelves I was working on yesterday, and located the following to get rid of (and thought about why I still had them to start with):
From now on, as I choose what to keep and what to toss, I will try to be mindful of "just in case" thinking, and force myself to be clear on what it is in case of - and if it is really necessary.
What are you keeping "just in case"?
Today I wanted to focus on finishing off some things, tidying up, and dropping off donated items etc. But in the process, I still managed to come across 63 more items that we don't need!
3 PJs (WHY was I keeping them in a box to use to make something else?)
2 pairs of ripped pants
1 curtain that doesn't fit any windows
7 sewing patterns we will never use
7 items of cutlery I don't like
1 sheet that doesn't fit any of our beds (found this out accidentally when I grabbed it to make my daughter's bed after some water spilled on it)
2 bag straps
22 containers of beads and sequins (yeah, right - I'm going to suddenly take up intricate detailed decorating of clothing etc)
3 rolls of nylon thread
1 jewellery case
2 dog tags
Amazing the amount of random junk that accumulates! Feels good to set it free!
Total count for the month so far: 483 items, plus literally thousands of papers and 2 big trash sacks full of trash.
On Monday I took a side-step from working through the living room and did some major shifting in the master bedroom. This was a complicated dance, but with a purpose. You see, I want to move one of the now-empty book cases from the living room to a spot down the end of the hall where it will fit nicely, and where I can then store some of the books as I sort another two bookcases. BUT, that spot as been occupied by a set of drawers that I moved there temporarily about a year ago when our son left home and my husband took over his bedroom as an office. I wanted those drawers in my room, BUT that means moving out my big dresser, and moving a book case, BUT to do that, I needed to get rid of a free-standing wardrobe being used to store sewing supplies and extra blankets AND move a bookcase full of things.
Meanwhile, one of my daughters is in need of both a bigger dresser and a bigger wardrobe (her bedroom doesn't have a built-in one). SO, the day was a complicated dance and lots of sorting for both of us.....
I then sorted through all my clothes and put away what needs to remain in the new drawers I moved in, and sorted through the contents of the bookcase and wardrobe, and either tossed it or put it away where it needs to go. All in all, I discarded 89 items - including the 3 pieces of furniture. I won't itemise them all today, but I will tell you about something that made me laugh at myself....But first, the after pics in my bedroom....
When I was checking the drawers before moving them into my room, I found the things I had put in them temporarily - some tablecloths that don't have a place to belong in the dining room, some tax summary records I needed handy (they will be going in the filing cabinet), and some sheets....the thing about these sheets is, a few months ago I cleaned out my linen closet, sorting all the items and changing to a new, upright storage system for towels and sheets etc (works really well - more on this in another post). At the time, I put back in the linen closet a box each of fitted and flat single sheets, both very full. I discarded a lot of spare sheets, but a few I put in these drawers *just in case* I needed them.........WHY would I need more sheets when I already have more than enough in the linen cupboard?? <Shakes head> Guess what got added to the discard pile? Along with a hat I never wear, a box of overlocker threads I will never use, some unneeded stationary, a pile of papers, a bag of trash, and a bunch of other random things.
I spent all of Sunday afternoon going through them. This was a good exercise, as it caused to me to see what I really have. A number of books had only 2-6 recipes I really wanted - so I tagged those with post its. Quite a few had nothing of real interest. In the end I selected 42 books to keep, and 38 to get rid of. This morning I copied the handful of recipes I wanted from the books I had tagged, and put them into a clearfile.
Plus I was reminded of the story of the dead sticks. A few years ago, my friend and I both read a book from the library (Lessons in letting go : confessions of a hoarder by Corinne Grant); it was the story of one woman who began the journey of letting go of lots of clutter. (As I remember it..) at one point, she needed to move apartments, and a friend came to help her pack and move. As he's emptying the closet into boxes, he holds up something and says "Why do you have this?" She replies "Oh, that's the bouquet my boyfriend gave me at our prom!" He looks at it in confusion and says "But it's just a bunch of dead sticks!?!" And that's when she realised...yes, actually, it is just dead sticks. The bouquet had long ago dried out, and then disintegrated. You couldn't tell what it really was anymore, and it certainly served no useful purpose. After all, she could remember the good times without the dead sticks. She tossed them out, and vowed from then on, not to keep any more dead sticks.
Today I realised I had some "dead sticks." For example, in 2014 I spent a ridiculous sum on an absolutely gorgeous planner in a purple (my favourite!) leather zip-up cover with a flower on it. It was soooo pretty! Surely it would make me super organised. It didn't! I hardly used it. And of course, 2014 was a while back. There are no extraordinary notes or memories recorded in that pretty diary. Why do I still have it? It was too pretty to throw out - but it's not like I'm going to use it again!
And how about all those packets of fancy copier sheets my mother passed on to me 10 years ago, and I haven't used yet (you know, glossy photo paper, T-shirt transfers, address labels in an ugly format....)?? Why do I still have them??
Dead sticks, people, dead sticks! Time to let them go.
Today I have decluttered the following items:
2 file boxes
30 completed school books
7 literature resource books
13 unused school resources to pass on
1 CD-rom Essay Writing set (another dead stick - never been used!)
2 bags of trash
1 fishbin full of paper for recycling or burning
46 random items from the shelves
6 packs special printer papers
2 new accounting books (I do this digitally now)
1 hardcover book
1 graph paper refill
1 new visual diary
7 books to sell
2 books - first aid and bush craft
1 paintbrush canvas roll
1 spiral bound notebook
1 2014 (dead sticks) purple diary
10 kid's story books
3 kid's educational newspapers
That's 155 items and a BIG bin full of paper!
It really does feel good to let go! I feel like I'm peeling back lots of layers, to ultimately reveal what is hidden underneath - a life of calm and pleasantness.