I took a long, hard look at my house over the weekend and realized something important. I don’t like being there.
I don’t like sitting with all my stuff. And we have so. much. stuff. I want to come home after a long day and not have to worry about clothes piled high on my desk, the place at which I should be able to work on photos and answer emails for my business. I don’t want to have to kick things aside just to make it to my bed at night, or push things off of the couch in order to sit down during dinner. None of this was right. So I decided I needed to make a pretty big change.
I’ve started decluttering.
And what has it taught me? Well…
1. The difference between want and need.
Although elementary, when sorting through our belongings, we have to seriously ask ourselves if we need the things we’ve been holding onto. I have a book problem, for example. I only have one small bookshelf and I’ve made it a goal to not put books anywhere other than said bookshelf. Although I love a large book collection, we live in a trailer, and just don’t have the space for it. And last night, however difficult it felt to my book-hoarding self, I had to ask that necessary question – do I really need this book? – on at least 50 or so books before my bookshelf was finally filled with only the books I truly wanted to keep. …And then I did it again when I found yet another box full of books that I’d brought home from my parents’ house recently. The ones that didn’t make the cut were packed up in boxes and placed in a pile for donation.
On a positive note, I’m happy with my updated collection. The ones I’ve kept are mostly classics I know I’ll read again (and a classic hardback copy of Winnie the Pooh stories I know I’ll want to read to my children one day), or self-help books from which I truly learned valuable lessons in the past, or non-fiction books that really interest me. I got rid of a lot of books I simply didn’t like. Lolita was one of them. That book horrified me.
2. The beauty of minimalism.
Last year I really wanted us to get our act together and keep our home clutter-free. But we failed dramatically, and even let it overflow into 2016. All of January I was booked solid and stressed out. I worked a wedding in a blizzard and had to deal with scheduling conflicts with my team and my clients. I didn’t have any energy to clean, let alone patiently go through my things and decide what to keep or get rid of. But this past weekend we finally started, and we’re about halfway clear of the clutter.
And I am obsessed with how empty everything feels. Our living room is so spacious now and the cats seem to be so much happier with the extra room. (There are toys everywhere.) Most importantly, I don’t feel claustrophobic anymore when I open our front door, and that’s such a good feeling. While I was sorting through my things in the bedroom last night, DJ consolidated our DVD collection in the living room and we’ll be selling quite a few of them to our local movie store. We also got rid of one of our couches and a huge pantry that simply didn’t belong. What’s left is one couch and a recliner, two small tables, and a large hardwood floor on which to move around. I think I’m in love.
3. How much easier it is to breathe.
It’s making it more relaxing to sit with a cup of coffee and a good book. I don’t feel as if I need to be doing something else because it’s already getting done. And here soon, it will be done, and I will have more time to try new recipes and read more books. I’ll have a space to study and edit photos. I can light candles without fearing that the house will burn.
Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but still. Overall, I’m very happy with our progress, and I urge you all to jump on the decluttering train. You won’t regret it.
How did I begin this journey?
I started with a list. Because I let everything go for so long, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed and I didn’t know where to begin. The point is, you just have to begin.
Start with the little things. I’m lucky I had my fiance there to help me. He took care of the living room while I slaved away on my side of the bedroom. I tried to go in a reasonable order. For example, it made more sense that I go through the boxes piled on the floor before attempting my closet. And it made more sense to hang the clothes I’d let pile on top of my desk before sorting through my wardrobe to sell/donate/throw away what I didn’t want. I also organized a storage dresser so that each drawer was categorized to hair, skin care, health (workout DVDs, weights, back pain remedies, etc.), journals and pens, winter gear (gloves, hats, scarves), and the list goes on. Although DJ would appreciate me simply getting rid of the dresser, I thought it would make more sense to organize what I had first. It eventually eliminated all the clutter on the floor, which was a great achievement.
Choose one thing at a time, and eventually you’ll get there. After all my hard work last night, I’m ready to tackle my jewelry, and sort through what clothing I’m going to keep vs. get rid of. I can’t wait to share my progress with you!