Ten Things

When my wife, Dixie, and I moved into this house twenty-five years ago, we looked around at all the space and said, There’s no way we’ll ever fill this! Our small stucco California bungalow looked to us like a mansion. And it was compared to the condo we’d just left.

So much for that pipe dream.

At this point in time, every drawer, every closet, every bookshelf, every space capable of filling, including a small crawl space in the attic, (thank God we don’t have a full attic) is filled. Every wall covered in art. Every corner in the garden teeming with potted plants. We’re buried in stuff. Not in the hoarder kind of way. I’m not wired like that. Neither is Dixie. Phew! Still, we are both ready to lighten our load.

To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau: Do we own our stuff? Or does our stuff own us?

Or George Carlin: Our house is just a place to store our stuff while we go out and get more stuff.

It’s overwhelming. But I’ve come up with a plan that’s helping. Committing to letting go of ten things a week. It can be ten big things like ten sweaters or ten pieces of artwork—furniture even, a lamp that’s not bright enough for my old eyes, a magazine rack that never gets used—or ten little things: ten pencils, ten paperclips. Whatever! Just so long as there are ten. Yesterday, I got rid of ten pots from my garden shed. More, actually. Yay!

It feels good every time I let go of something. It gives me a little space. Space for something new. A turtle’s approach for sure, but it’s working. For Dixie too. And it’s fun. And a lot of time, I wind up doing more than 10 things, because it feels so good to let go.

Another thing that’s working is leaving a bag in the corner of the bedroom, so in that moment when I’m looking through the closet and see that blouse that I haven’t worn since 1984, the one that I had such a good time in that night long ago, I can just pluck it off the hanger and toss it into the bag. Right now in the bag are two yummy cashmere sweaters that would only look good on me if I had the body I had forty years ago. Goodbye, old friends. Go forth into the world and find someone who you will look good on.

So, that’s it for today. Would love to hear your tricks for decluttering.

And remember: Live the love. It’s all we’ve got.

8 comments

  1. What a great idea! Okay, who am I kidding, I may have to start with five. LOL Great idea though. Gonna give it a shot. Thanks.

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  2. I love this and I must adopt immediately! When we moved to Texas – we came in a small Uhaul. Not THE smallest but the next size up. Flash forward 7.5 years and I was looking around our house (that had been so empty – so uncluttered! and far before my dresser addiction) and there also isn’t a corner or closet that isn’t crying “Help me Mr. Wizard!”
    Ok – as far as a trick I remember is from YEARS ago when internet first started and I used to get a little letter from the Fly Lady (Shine your sink – your life will follow or something like that). As I (vaguely) recall, one of the exercises was “The 5 minute Boogie” (or the 15 item boogie – can’t remember exactly LOL) and that’s where after you set the timer – you and your partner each grab a box and run around the house to find things to donate. Then of course, it’s recommended you take the box out right away so as to NOT pull stuff back out!
    I think I’ll do that today. 🙂

    Oh, and I’d like to see pictures!

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  3. I use the 30 day purge method. Each day for 30 days you pick one thing to place into bags or a box & you donate them. I can’t believe how many empty hangers are in the laundry area now! A drawer that actually has a bottom or a cabinet that things don’t fall out of when you open the door! Our 4 bedroom ranch home is actually roomy one again,

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  4. I know just how you feel. The lovely wife and I moved in to our house 16yrs ago…its more than big enough for two..I am probably the culprit for most of the “stuff” but she has boxes in the attic (big bloody attic the width and breadth of the house, with cutesy little stairs already there that just made it impossible to ignore…) that she has not opened since we moved! ..

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