I had a purely joyful day cleaning out a closet yesterday. I know this is not normal. But neither am I.
As many of you know, I love to declutter. What do I love more than decluttering my own life? Helping other people declutter theirs. But yesterday it was on my home turf.
It all started with a mistake: buying my Christmas tree from Home Depot instead of cutting it down myself. That poor tree drank hardly any water from the day I brought it home. So though I usually leave the tree up until the Epiphany, this one was so brittle it just had to come down. My sister was up the road having breakfast with a friend, and when she offered that I should meet this new guy I said, “Sure – you guys can come over and help me get my tree out of my apartment.” Men like showing off their manliness. I like giving them opportunities to do so. This guy was no exception. And they’re still in the early dating stages, so of course he would say yes.
The tree was gone, but now I was left with a large pile of needles where the tree once stood and a trail of them out the door and down the stairs. I lived with the needles for a couple days – cleaning is not my favorite thing. But yesterday I finally lugged my vacuum out of the closet – only to find it had hardly any suction. It picked up the needles when I moved it forward, but when I pulled it back it dropped them all down again. It was one of those temperamental days of mine so this nearly put me over the edge. Here I was, ready to clean, and my vacuum was useless. Ugh. I wished I had a husband or boyfriend who could fix it or run out and buy a new one, but I’m on my own. I allowed myself a few tears over my inability to attract a mate and then got down to business: I called Grandma. (Mom and Dad weren’t home – they’re usually my first call for help.)
I got dressed and went to Gram’s to borrow her vacuum. Then, I came back home and pulled most everything out of the living room so I could vacuum. And it was then that I decided to deal with the pile of crap I had hidden in the corner behind my recliner chair. It was crap that had seeped out of the corner closet, so I decided to deal with that too.
This closet is not one I frequent and in helping people declutter I often recommend we start in a place where they don’t have a lot of things they use often as those are easier to recognize as no longer needed and therefore easier to get rid of.
What was in this closet of mine? Mostly yarn, candles, gift bags, and tissue paper. I dealt with the yarn first. It was overflowing out of its cardboard box so my first thought was: it needs a bigger box. Then I thought better of it. If I’m going to sell or get rid of all my stuff by 7/7/11, I need to get hopping. How many times had I moved all this yarn from place to place? Was I really ever going to use it?
So I sorted. I was easily able to part with most of it – with the exception of a small shopping bag of expensive yarn that I just felt I needed to hang onto for a little longer. But what to do with it all? My knitting and crochet group at the library had loved my idea of a yarn swap in January, but now I realized I didn’t want to swap. I wanted to be rid of this stuff! So I bundled most of it up and called my schoolteacher friend. “Oh, the teachers would love it!” she said. I have found that schools will take a lot of things. Not just books and arts and crafts supplies, but bookshelves, small furniture, remnant carpets. Got something you no longer use but not sure where it should go? Call a local school.
My front hall had become my staging area for items ready to leave my apartment. Usually it was just a can or bottle to deposit in the recycling bin downstairs. But today you could hardly get through the space. When I undecorated, I had also managed to get my Christmas decorations down from five boxes to just two, so I had a couple empty plastic bins to return to Mom and Dad’s. I won’t get into all the other outgoing stuff. But let’s just say I wanted that yarn out of there! So I decided to drive the half hour to my schoolteacher friend’s house to give her the yarn. I also put all my tissue paper and gift bags together and decided I don’t need most of that either. I was going to bring the tissue paper to the new consignment shop – they said they would use it to wrap breakables. But I told my schoolteacher friend about it and she said the art teachers would love that too. And the gift bags.
So I’m well on my way to minimizing my belongings. Appropriately enough, I was listening to Nina Yau’s free e-book Minimalist Freedom while doing some of this work. Very apropos and inspirational.
Next? Well, I loved my living room when it had hardly any furniture in it. So though I’m still six months away from moving out, I think it might be time to get rid of most of it. Most of it belongs to my mother, so that shouldn’t be so difficult. Didn’t sell my couch yet – posted it on craigslist, but no real takers. But am ready to put my favorite recliner chair on there next!