Saturday, February 14, 2015

Get Rid of It

When Mark and I moved to key west almost two years ago we got rid of a lot of stuff.  I mean a lot.  I would go to Goodwill with my trunk stuffed and they would pull up an empty commercial sized rolling laundry bin and fill it.  I thought we couldn't get rid of anything more.

Some how this looked "organized" to me back then.

When we moved to Key West, we realized that our 470sq. ft. apt was still crowded with all of our stuff in it.  We put some unneeded items like heavy bedding and clothes and books we wanted to keep in our small attic but still got rid of more.
This was after getting rid of "more".
 When our first tropical winter taught us that storing things too tightly meant that they would grow mold.  I got rid of a few more things.

When we decided to move back to Ohio I got the urge to purge and still got rid of more things.  It was simply easier than packing it all.
Starting to pack up.

Now back in Ohio, in the same apartment* we had been living in prior to the move, I am getting rid of more stuff.  Even with bags and heaps and loads less than we had while living here the first time - I just want to have less.

Each of the times I really made an effort to purge, once the offending goods were out of the house, I was always struck with "Wow, we totally didn't need all that stuff!  Look how much nicer and more comfortable the place is without all that! I should have done this ages ago.  I wasted so much time trying to clean and organize crap."  When I think back and know that some of the stresses of living in Key West were caused by living in a tiny cramped space it really saddens my heart to know that some of it could have been alleviated simply by getting rid of crap.  Yep, I really feel like my emotions could have be lighter and my relationships healthier just by getting rid of cloths I didn't wear and things I didn't need or really even like.  I have guilty feelings over it and I believe that is what is currently driving my need to decimate the pile of stuff under which I live.

I am capitalizing on my guilt.  I am not naturally minimalist.  Even my very first paychecks at 15 and 16 went to buying clothes, more clothes and home decor type items.  My bedroom was never clean.  It physically couldn't be because it literally wasn't big enough to hold all of my things.  If all of my clothes were clean I couldn't put them all away.  There was simply no room.  There is so much in my life that I want and need room for that I will not let it be squeezed out by stuff.

My thoughts and methods are as follows:

I downloaded the eBook for free using my library card and read it in my browser in just an hour or two.  I liked the stories of her childhood the author uses to describe her methods and the acknowledgment that even though it is silly to some, to many of us, our stuff is not merely stuff.  Our stuff has become friendly with us - it is part of our story.  I do feel that way and so thanking my old socks for years of use before tossing them didn't really feel that silly.  It actually felt kind of nice. Using the KonMari method described in the book was helpful.  I especially have taken the advice on folding.  I have always folded the usual shirts and pants, but socks.  I didn't have anything to lose and one frenzied evening I folded my socks.  I love the way my sock drawer looks.  My little socks are now my little foot soldiers resting comfortably and orderly in their bunks until called up to duty.  I actually now find a bit of excitement when I place a bunch of freshly washed socks back in line to await their next outing.  This has inspired me to attempt the last thing I though I would ever do - fold my underwear.  I expect great things from it.  I also agree with the authors thought that you don't need more storage space - your home already has the perfect amount.  When you are truly honest about what you want and what you don't you will be amazed that your socks now fit perfectly into your sock drawer and your t shirts now fill perfectly your t shirt drawer.  Try it and you too will believe it.

The new magic of my sock drawer.

Keep What You Want

This is another method or frame of thought I have been employing. Think about what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of.  I had about two shelves full of books and I wanted to just have one shelf for my books.  So I put all the books on the floor and first took the ones I absolutely wanted and put them on the shelf. The ones that didn't make the shelf immediately went into two piles: the  books waiting to be read fit into the "read it next then get rid of it" pile and the rest went to the pile for selling at Half-Priced books.  And you know what? I had a few more than would fit on one shelf when I added the "to be gotten rid of after reading pile" but, as mentioned above, the one shelf was the perfect amount of space for the books I really wanted to keep in my "stash", even allowing for a book or two to be added in the future.**

If I Died..., If Pompeii happens here tomorrow...

If some future family member or archeologist were to come across my personal collection of things someday in the distant future long after I'm gone - what story would my stuff tell.  Would it be a confusing and jumbled story where they never really get a clear picture of who I am?  This thought makes me very sad. I certainly don't want my stuff to define me - but hell, I certainly get to define my stuff.  Using the example above, I now look at my one shelf of books and think, "Yeah, I like this little vignette of myself."

Do you know how much stuff you have?  I've already gone through my closet about five times and each time I find more that I can get rid of.  I'm getting over keeping things because I "should"*** - I'm now keeping things because I want to.


* Not the literal "exact same", but the same building - just a floor below.  The layout and size are the same just flipped in reverse as now we are on the north side of the building as opposed to the south side. We were happy to be back in a place where our couch fits so amazingly.
** I do have a stack of about 5 books that I "need" as related to work so they were not counted in this experiment.  I now hope to find a place at the office to stash these.  Also, I have a small space set aside in the kitchen for my cookbooks.  I kept only the three that I really use and got rid of the rest - the internet has all of the recipes you can ever need.
*** "Should" items are often things that are high quality, still in good condition and not terrible.  I have, make that had, a lot of should clothes.  Nice clothes I had purchased and even still like but every time I go to wear I get a feeling of "Ummm...meh".  Just because it's a beautiful shirt and you get compliments wearing it doesn't mean you should keep it if you don't feel good wearing it.  I find "should" clothes are easier to get rid of if you have a friend or family member that would like them. Or find a cause or charity you feel good donating your nicer things to - donating to a women's shelter or church group in a challenged neighborhood lets you know that your nice things will be given to someone who truly deserves them but might not otherwise get them.


  1. Ugh. I so need to follow in your footsteps! I'm not drowning but it's a bit cloggy!

  2. Wait. So does this mean you don't want that yellow wreath back??