Stuff and Nonsense

One of the items on my to do list for this week is to go through every single space I can think of in the house and get rid of stuff. It amazes me that I can be as dedicated to getting rid of stuff as I am and still have a house full of junk that I am saving for some reason.  I didn’t even realize how much stuff it was until we moved everything out of our bedroom, and it just looked so much better emptied of all the detritus.

I started with the hall closet and I quickly realized that even though everything has a place in the house, and nothing is spilling out of drawers, the stuff has expanded to fill the available space.  If we had room to keep it, I kept it, even though I didn’t really need it or want it.  If I haven’t used it in three years, there’s a reason, and yet, still, I hang onto it.  So this morning I dug through the linen closet and got rid of all the pillowcases I don’t like, brown sheets that make me annoyed every time I go to put them on bed, skimpy or ratty washcloths, old bathmats, and then I folded up everything that was left and now I have a nice orderly and half empty linen closet, full of nothing but stuff I like and use.

In our bedroom, we had an entire dresser shoved into our closet, filled with Mr. E’s clothes, and then another eight drawer dresser filled with all my stuff.  But the closet looks SO MUCH BETTER without that dresser in there.  I am determined to cut down the amount of clothing we have so that we can fit all of our things in the one big dresser and we won’t have to put the other dresser back in the closet, and so I dug through all my clothes this morning, and made a giant pile of things to get rid of.  If it was old or stained or didn’t fit, it was easy to get rid of, but then there were other things I paid a lot of money for or that I once thought would be so perfect, things I thought would change my life in some tangible way, and even though they were never right, those things were harder to get rid of. Finally I made myself ask “Does it make me happy?” and if the answer was “No”, if it made me feel sad or old or frumpy or fat or weird or self conscious, I got rid of it.  No matter how much I paid for it or thought I should keep it just in case I changed my mind and started to love small brown Coach purses all over again.  It was quite liberating, and in the end, I would so much rather have five or six things I am excited to wear than drawers full of clothes that aren’t quite right.   I do laundry all the time! I really don’t need twenty seven pairs of pants.

Then I started in on the shoes, and I made myself get rid of every other pair.  For every pair I got rid of, I could keep a pair, and let me just say that sometime soon someone who wears a size 7 shoe is going to have a VERY good day at Goodwill.  But truly, why in god’s name do I need a pair of gold Jessica Simpson heels that hurt my feet and that are too high for me to walk in? I will never ever wear those.

And now I may have finally figured out how to curb my little shopping problem – I am on an “one in, one out” basis for the forseeable future. I can get a new skirt or a pair of shoes, but it should be better than something I already own,  because I am going to have to get rid of a pair or shoes or a skirt in order to buy it.

As I was staring down the vast heap of old socks I’ve had for seven years, those white tube socks I have never liked and never worn, I also had another revelation.  I think I will always have a little bit of that “I don’t want to have to replace this if throwing it out turns out to be a mistake because I can’t afford to do that” mentality from grad school days, when we really did have no money.  But now, if I get rid of eight pairs of tube socks, and come this winter, I find myself in want or need of more tube socks? I CAN BUY SOME MORE.

The real test is going to come when I have to clean out the cabinet where I keep the table stuff, the vases, all the decorative trinkets.  I have a problem with decorative trinkets, and somehow it’s so hard to remember that there’s no point to hanging onto placemats that I have never liked, even though I feel like I should like them.  They were expensive! They were a gift! The color is so pretty!  But they come of out of the dryer wrinkled and they immediately shrunk to a too small size and there’s  no point in keeping something that’s just not right.  I will get more placemats, ones that I actually like, and I will move on.



17 Responses

  1. We are going through the same thing here. With the kitchen reno, I’ve gotten the itch to do the same with all the stuff in our closets. Our clothes are ok at this point, but I did the hall closet over the weekend and I feel so much better about life knowing it is only filled with things we will USE. Goodbye ridiculous board game called Fact or Crap that I held on to for something like TEN YEARS and never opened. (Was forced to keep Simpsons CLUE though. DAMN.)

  2. De-cluttering is the BEST! You make we want to go and de-clutter something too!

  3. Doing our floors spurred the same thing here. I am holding onto way too much stuff and what is being held onto isn’t good enough in many cases. Purge!!

  4. Oh my God, this spoke to me LOUDLY. I need to hire a U-Haul truck for all the crap I want to purge from the basement of our house, the closets (my husband has at least FORTY shirts in his closet but wears only about six of them with any regularity).

  5. This week is “junk week,” when you can set anything out at the curb for trash pickup. It is SO FUN. We’ve gotten rid of several big things and it feels great.

  6. I really really really need to do this. It’s hard, though. congratulations!

  7. Wait. . . .did I write this post?

  8. The place mats are SO HARD.

  9. The one in, one out thing has been life altering. My mom’s house could be on an episode of Hoarders (not even joking) and when I moved into my own place, I swore that would never happen to me. I am completely unsentimental and trash stuff if I haven’t used it in the last year.

    But you’ve reminded me that I absolutely need to reorganize our linen closet because I can never find a hand towel to save my life.

  10. I am always trying to get rid of stuff, but we are very much in the “can’t afford to replace things” phase of life which keeps me from getting rid of lots of it. Sadly.

  11. Yes! That point when you hit the “if I don’t like this, I can replace it if I need to” is so liberating. My dad is the oldest of 11, and his parents grew up in the Depression, so between those two factors, he grew up with the “nothing EVER gets thrown out, no matter how worn out it is.” Nothing gets replaced until it has died at least three deaths.

    True story: two years ago we put our house up for sale, and put in new stainless steel appliances. Our old appliances were actually fairly new, and my parents’ stove and dishwasher were both on their last legs (20 yrs old) and had been repaired three times within the past year. I offered our stuff to my dad. He said “No, I don’t think we need them, there’s still some life in our old ones.” My mother called me back within three seconds of my father getting off the phone, saying HELL YES WE WILL TAKE THEM.

    But yeah, I totally get where you are coming from. I am purging like crazy for our upcoming move.

  12. This is on my list of to-do’s. I’ve already done 2 closets. I’ve got a Good Will bag going!

    You are a brave sister, getting rid of your shoes like that!

  13. You go! I really need to declutter my garage. I have a huge stack of boxes–and no idea what they contain. But surely, as soon as I open them, I’ll be nostalgic about the contents and won’t get rid of anything. Sigh.

  14. This is exactly what I’ve been doing! I’ve gotten rid of so much stuff. Now I have all these big gaping spaces, and I’m trying to figure out how to redistribute the good stuff to better use the spaces.

    Like Emily, I cleared through board games and was ALSO forced to keep Simpsons Clue. Also Simpsons LIFE, even though we have REGULAR Life, and I refuse to get rid of the CLASSIC version of a game for one with cartoon characters.

    • I am so thankful my husband doesn’t know that there are Simpsons board games, seriously. Elizabeth

  15. Getting rid of stuff is awesome! It’s so nice to look in my closet and not feel guilty about the huge plastic box of purses that I was holding onto because WHAT IF I WANT TO USE ONE OF THEM??! that I was never using! It was too hard to get to the dumb box, for one thing, and I really didn’t know what was in there anyway. And now I have floor space in my closet. A miracle.

    About having empty shelves, drawers, etc…one of my fav sites is and she advocates leaving room to grow. Basically, that you should have an empty shelf or drawer (or both!) in your world. I didn’t think I’d like that, but it does feel good to know that I have a whole drawer in my dresser with nothing in it AND an empty cubby in the closet. Amazing.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: