Christine's been doing it, and we have too. Neel calls it "shaking the dust off our karma." I call it downsizing our life. Really? It's getting rid of all our crap. While our bathroom reno was in full swing, our guest bedroom was a satellite bathroom, holding all of our medicine cabinet detrius. Our office? Well, that was the tool shed. Once everything got back in place, we started taking stock, and realized that we have a lot of crap.
I want to live a freer, easier life and getting rid of the crap is a start. That stack of magazines pictured above? Maybe 1/4 of the Martha Stewart Livings and others I've had carefully cataloged and sitting in magazine boxes on top of our bookcase. You know, just in case. In the last weeks, I spent several happy afternoons pulling out inspirational photos and beloved recipes, and now the magazines themselves are gone. That feels good.
I've read countless "clutter clearing" books (just got rid of all of them), and I've learned a few things along the way. What's true for me wouldn't necessarily be true for you, and I'm sure it's not wise enough to fill a book, but they're true for me.
- You expand to fit your space. We moved from a 1600 square foot condo to a 2700 sq. ft house 11 years ago. I've said over and over again that this house is too big for the three of us, but you know what? We filled it up.
- Not all clutter clearing advice works for everyone. This is why my list is so personal. I'm not full of tips necessarily, just sharing my experience. One of the books I read was about a couple who sold all their stuff to travel the world and live out of a duffel bag. How did they do it? They had house parties where people came in and bought all the things from their home. Not my bag (Living out of of a duffel? Not my bag either, really. I do still like stuff.). I'd rather donate.
- Sometimes you have to buy things to clear things. In our bathroom we went from six drawers to four, and while we got rid of a ton of stuff, we still needed a wee bit more space. Buying the little wooden cabinet that sits at the end of our tub ensured that our meds and vitamins stayed tucked away, that we had a space for our towels, and that we looked clutter free.
- Looking clutter free isn't the same as being clutter free, but it helps!
- Don't get rid of things for the sake of getting rid of things. It's easy to get caught up in that sense of "Gone! I want it all GONE!" But don't just pitch without thought. Really weigh if something is important to you. You can always get rid of it later.
- I'm raising a hoarder.
- I miss the old Everyday Food magazine.
- Go slow. I was shifting cookbooks around on a high shelf in our kitchen hallway (after eliminated a bunch) when the remaining cookbooks shifted like dominoes (you've likely seen this scenario in a horror movie) and knocked a full bottle of wine off the shelf. I watched it fall in slow motion, bounce off our concrete counters and shatter on our wood floors. Wine splattered every where. It took an hour and a half to clean up. The drawers were fill of wine. The cabinets were full of wine. My kitchen, hall, laundry and living room had puddles of wine and shards of glass. It stunk. I've mopped three times and vacuumed twice, and I swear it still feels sticky. I'm not sure I could have prevented that wine bottle falling, but I could always slow down.
- MSL magazine has gotten better over the years. I had a system for what I saved as I ripped those things to shreds, and mine went back to 2004 (sad, I know). I kept photography inspiration, decorating inspiration and recipes. In the older issues, I mostly pulled recipes. As we got to more recent magazines, I was pulling more and more pages of photography inspiration. I'm glad to have them. But one box of loose pages is way, way better than stacks and stacks of magazines that I never look through any more.
- If you haul seven boxes and six bags of stuff to the front stoop before you leave the house to be picked up by the donation guys , it's guaranteed to rain.
- There's always more stuff. You expand to fill your space. Things keep showing up. New school clothes, magazines, mail, textbooks. Things keep showing up. We've made great progress this summer. Our guest room looks great, our master bath and guest bath too. Our utility closet (where we keep the mops and dog food and such) is sublime and the office is almost done. The living room is sharp and the dining room, aside from a project Cal is working on, looks good too. But, as Neel keeps reminding me, the attic "is packed to the gills."
(Heaves sigh) We still have a long way to go.