Feels So Good

This morning I had a really good clear-out. Now, a bag of trash and two bags of recyclables are waiting for the garbage trucks. In addition, I just took to the thrift store two boxes full of miscellany, a bag of clothes, a recycling bin full of pots and pans, and a George Foreman grill. And if feels soooo good! (Especially for ditching the George Foreman grill.)

When I moved here in November 2014 I fully intended to sort through the many boxes of memorabilia that I brought with me. They have been stored in the garage ever since. So, this week I began the difficult task of sorting through some of it.

I brought three of those boxes into the house and began the process of reading, taking a break, discarding, taking a break, saving, taking a break, and then taking another break because this process is hard.

I didn’t have a very good system for doing this so I ended up reading a lot of old documents from my children’s school days and feeling nostalgic. Nostalgia makes throwing things away very, very difficult. It is easier just to put it all back in the box and store it again for another thirty-five years or so. But, I persevered and have now reduced the three boxes to two file folders and half a box.

This inspired me to look around and see what else I could throw out and it turns out I have lots of things I haven’t used in ages. I decided to use the “joy” method for choosing what to take to the thrift store. That system comes from Marie Kondo who has blessed us all by providing an easy guideline for sorting: you simply ask, does it bring you joy?

Well, I had some old saucepans that had been collecting dust, a roasting pan that hasn’t been used in at least five years, some curtains I crocheted for a window in a house I haven’t lived in since 1994, a brandy decanter, a white wine decanter, a tall glass jar that was just for decoration, a pewter plate with the words “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou,” two packages of pretty glass pebbles, and a potpourri pot full of coloured rocks. Maybe they will bring joy to someone else.

I also sorted out lots of clothes that haven’t been used in years, including lots of scarves from the days when I wore scarves to work. Also in the thrift store clothing bag were some never-worn panty hose (remember panty hose?), some special occasion dresses I will never wear again, and even the outfit I got married in in 1975–including the hat! Yes, I have been packing that from house to house all these years. I have no idea why. It just seemed wrong to throw it out.

I couldn’t bring myself to ditch the Superman cape I made for my son when he was four, or the journal I wrote when I first visited California in 1973, and I am struggling to know what to do with a huge folder full of old love letters, but for now I think I am doing pretty well.

I would reward myself with a loaf of bread and a jug of wine, but I threw out the bread plate and the wine decanter.

18 Comments

  1. Marvelous blog entry! I can relate to so much of it, maybe especially the love letters. I am not a saver incidentally which must explain why somewhere over the last 57 years, I managed to toss the daily love letters Frank and I wrote for 3 months prior to our marriage. I only remember awaiting the arrival of the mailman each day, don’t recall the contents of any of the letters. That may speak volumes right there!

    1. Thank you, Mary Beth. Geoff and I were separated twice; once when he came to Canada before I did and a second time when he went up to the Northwest Territories before me. I kept all the letters and we wrote to each other nearly every day. Even if I don’t read them again, I can’t bring myself to ditch them.

  2. We moved almost 2 years ago after 28 years in the same house. Our move was quite sudden, but the relief of giving away stuff was wonderful, despite the stress of having to quickly decide what to keep. Besides our own stuff we also had remnants from two sets of parents and an aunt. Find, Mustard Seed, Goodwill, Basically Babies, the Ecostation and 5 dumpsters all benefited from our purging. Did we discard some potential treasures? Probably, but I don’t worry about that anymore.

  3. I love clearing up and chucking out!
    In fact I began sorting out a whle heap of ‘crap’ stored in one of the outside buildings. I have to be almost like a secret agent in case the wife comes out to investigate.

    Next will be the garage!

  4. Oops. Would you delete my previous comment? I accidentally sent it while attempting to edit it. I really love that floppy hat. Now that I see it, a great way of archiving your stuff before sending it off to a better place is to take photographs of everything and storing them in a cloud account. The journals can be scanned and the data stored as a PDF file. Great floppy hat, and pantsuit by the way.

  5. That is so crazy awesome and so crazy hard to do. I think that “take a break” idea might be key. I NEED to do the same, but I’m so easily stumped after I get past the joy no joy part…with some things I just am not ready to part with and have no place to keep.

    1. I decided the joy/no joy thing is good for kitchen gadgets but not helpful with sentimental things. For those I decided to whittle them down to a more manageable size. That way I still have their essence if not their form.

  6. I remember how good it felt driving away from goodwill after a sort out, I even whooped as I drove out of their driveway. After I read this message I took my George Forman grill, that I haven’t used in donkeys years and dumped it. Whoo!

  7. The last time I moved I did what I thought was a major purge. A few years later, I found five unopened boxes in the basement. I’d completely forgotten about the contents so decided rather than carefully go through each box to decide what to keep or not keep, I’d just donate everything. The hardest thing for me to part with are books: cookbooks, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art books, any books, but especially cookbooks. Even cookbooks I’ve never made a recipe from are hard to give away. I rarely follow a recipe but use them for ideas and inspiration. My rationale for parting with books (cookbooks being the exception) is whether or not I will reread the books; if not, I’d rather share what I have and hope others will get the same enjoyment I did. All this talk of decluttering reminds me, time to go through my closets!

    1. I used to have an emotional attachment to my books but now I enjoy giving them away. In fact, I just put my most recent three novels into a neighbour’s Little Free Library.

      I used to keep my cookbooks, too, but now I use the Internet for recipes.

      Good luck with the closet!

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