100 Things: Idiot De-Cluttering and Other Things I Learned

A few of the 100 things

First of all, full disclosure: I gathered 100 things in 48 hours as promised, but I haven’t yet given everything away. There is a good reason for that, and no it’s not that I am clinging or have too many other things to do. It’s this:

I want to avoid “Idiot De-Cluttering”.

I don’t want to just randomly rid myself of things without giving thought to what I’m doing, only to replace it all with more empty stuff next week. Or tomorrow. Or next December 25th. So, I’ve drifted in and out of the dining room all week, where the stuff sits in piles on the table, and I’ve meditated on what values I want my stuff to reflect. I’ll be writing more about that in the weeks and months ahead.

This is how the gathering process went down:

At first, it’s pretty easy. I start with my densely-packed book shelves and pick out twenty volumes with nary a moment’s hesitation: house maintenance books I never look at, a memoir by Sarah Ferguson, three books about coaching kids basketball, two on deck-building.  I check the over-stuffed closet under the basement stairs and find four framed items that I can easily part with. Mike Weir’s big win at the Masters 10 years ago and framed tickets from the 2000 NHL All-Star weekend in Toronto. In the kitchen, I find a pocket of giveaway treasures in the little cupboard over the refrigerator. A stemmed glass from Margarita-ville in Niagara Falls. A one-cup coffee maker, picked up for me by my husband at a garage sale, made obsolete by the Tassimo that sits on the counter. A dollar-store mug. 

I get stuck at twenty-eight items, circling the house, but coming up empty-handed. I can weed out my closet, sure, but even then, how am I going to get to 100? I go back to my bookshelves and pick up a volume of poetry by William Shakespeare given to me by my boyfriend when I was 16 years old. I didn’t read it even then, just placed it on my shelf as a reminder of, what, teenage puppy love? Really? From there, it’s not that hard to re-examine my collection, and in no time at all, I have another seventy-seven books in my pile. I add a couple of board games (with the kids’ blessings), the Lite-Book I never use, and miscellaneous computer paraphernalia from my office. And voila, I’ve reached not 100, but 127!

Here’s what learned:

* That was fun! Like a scavenger hunt, without the list.

* OK, perhaps my idea of fun is different than yours. I also think that cleaning my Roomba robot vacuum with needle-nose pliers and a paper clip is fun, so your idea of how to spend an entertaining hour may be different than mine.

* If I didn’t have a second garage, I would surely need a storage unit. Now there’s a scary thought.

* Ergo: some major de-cluttering projects await. (Having said that, no way in hell frozen over am I going to go into that garage until spring. Have I mentioned that the temperature is hovering around -30?)

Some interesting questions came up, like

* Do I really need my framed law degree?

* Do I really need my black belt certificate? Or should I just punch the person asking?

* And most of all these: What should guide me in examining our stuff? Does this thing matter? Does it add value to my life or my family’s life, and by value, I mean in terms of my values: love, honesty, integrity, simplicity, beauty, order. Genuine functionality as opposed to “someday” or “just in case” functionality.

More reports and musings to follow including, What Our Books Tell Us and Wearing My Way Through My Closet, with the occasional digression into whatever else comes up.

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