Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finally Decluttering

I think one of hardest mental hurdles I have is letting go of stuff. But it's not like I'm alone in my family in this aspect. My mom can tell you stories about how when my parents got divorced and she was going through everything we had she found boxes of reciepts my dad kept from business trips in the 80's (this was in '02) as well as boxes of fabric that she had bought intending to make dresses for me and my sister, back when we were 5.

I can't exactly tell you why I have some of this stuff. I think a large part of it is the nostalgia factor. We moved around a lot when I was young, thus I don't really have a place that I can consider "Home", instead I have things that I surround myself with that I consider home. Then there is also a part of my brain that says - don't throw it out - you might need it later. The logic that if I don't use it in a year throw it out just hasn't caught up. It's getting there though.

So this weekend I attempted my first declutter project of this whole organization kick. Specifically - I have a desk in the corner of my living space that was meant to hold my computer. But over the last two years it became more of a clutter and dust landing. Instead I had set up my compter so that I could do everything from my bed - a big no no if you talk to any health professional. In addition, the area in front of it had become a magnet for junk. Why not? It's not like I was using the desk.

Needless to say, it was a big task. The dust was really heavy and definitely aggrevated the lungs, but I'm sure this meant that it was aggrevating my lungs just sitting there before. Then there was the decluttering. I started going through a pile of papers and found things like info posters from Jaycee events I did in 2004, emails about upcoming meetings from my previous jobs, and directions to hotels I used years ago. I easily junked those along with the stack of business cards from that previous job.

There was a pile of video tapes gathering dust of some activity my Jaycee chapter used to hold - all of these tapes recorded before I entered the chapter, but I had them becuase I had run the event when I was a Jaycee. Well, I'm not a Jaycee anymore and wasn't particularly interested in them. I saw them earlier this week and knew that I wanted to get rid of them, but wasn't sure if I had the right to dispose them. So I contacted the people I was still in touch with and told them that if no one spoke up for the videos by Feb. 1 that I was going to chuck them. Only one person spoke up and said they already had tapes - thus giving me permission to get rid of them. So into the trash they went.

But then there was my personal nostalgia albatross- my stack of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. Back in college I was fanatical about my love for all things Buffy, and had purchased the first 10 issues of her comic. They were sitting in their plastic and everything. The problem is that I don't read comics, but I wasn't sure if I had the heart to just throw them away. So I spent an hour trying to find a shop where I could drop them off. Unfortunately there were no takers - so I finally did what I thought was impossible, I threw them away. In order to prevent me from stealing them back out of the garbage can, immediately after I started cooking dinner, which meant the various vegetable remnants as well as other cooking related trash ended up right ontop of those comics. There was no pulling them out after that.

But I am happy to say that I am now writing this sitting from my desk chair for my new computer/art center (very thankful for thin screens). I even went through the plastic drawer things I have where I stick pens, pencils, paper, cards etc. and threw out writing utensils that didn't work any longer and cards and envelopes that looked totally beaten up and unsuitable for use. I also uncovered a lot of cards that I can use for upcoming holidays - including one that I will send to my mom for Mother's Day.

There was a lot of stuff in this corner. Some of it still hasn't found a home - either in the trash can or on another shelf. It is frustrating that I didn't get through everything, but then realistically I never expected to. I just need to repeat to myself is that I am taking baby steps, which is way better than taking no steps at all.

UPDATE: I just wiped out outside taking 6 pounds of trash that I cleaned up this weekend out to the garbage can (and to fetch my water bottle out of my car). Although it sucks getting all muddy - it felt great to dump that stuff out.

1 comment:

Kate/Susan said...

That's fantastic, Emily!!! I have a bunch of drawers to go through, and I am dreading it, plus we've decided to totally empty our downstairs closet after we buy a shed this spring. YIKES. I don't even want to think about what I'll find in there. But baby steps, right! :-)

I think parental divorce is one of those things that kind of does keep you from getting rid of things. For me, I remember thinking that if my parents divorced after 25 years, my entire past full of memories must not have been what it seemed, and a good part of my self-image, which was tied to my family, crumbled. The only thing I had to hold onto was STUFF... It was very comforting. And I still have a lot of it. It's inspiring to know someone in the same boat can clear ou the clutter!