My Ruthless Rules for Stuff
If you've ever browsed through a second-hand shop and wondered who can give away their grandmother's yearbook, or their great-aunt's old wedding dress or their family's heirloom dresser, the answer is me.
I'm the one.
I've never actually had my grandmother's yearbook or my great-aunt's wedding dress or an heirloom dresser. But I feel certain that, at this stage of my life, they wouldn't last under my roof.
I am done hanging on to things for mere sentimental value. I only want things in my house that I will use and enjoy. If I won't use it or enjoy it, I will give it to someone who will or donate it to a charity that will put it to better use.
(I'm so mean.)
This hard-nosed approach is a distinct change for me. I used to be nostalgic to the core. I kept every note I ever passed to me in high school. (Reflect on that a moment. Every. Note.) I kept old clothes that didn't fit anymore and were hopelessly out of date because they reminded me of a sweet moment in time. I shlepped boxes of my childhood toys across the country, and I dutifully cared for the hand-me-down furniture given to us by well-meaning relatives.
Then came move #10. We had almost a full six months to plan this particular transition, and we knew early on we would be leaving behind our large, 5000-square-foot home behind and starting over in a 1900-square-foot townhouse. We knew we would have to get serious about selling, donating or tossing many of our worldly goods to make this happen. So we did. We sold big items on Craiglist, we sold smaller items at a local consignment store and we donated loads and loads to the area Goodwill.
And you know what? It felt GREAT. Turns out, all my childhood stuffed animals had mold on them anyway, thanks to that damp cellar in our Northern California home. And the notes were most illegible. And getting dressed was much easier without all those old clothes hanging in my closet. The more I got rid of, the lighter I felt.
In the midst of the Great Purge of 2006, I read an article in our paper.
Seems there was a local man who, in the 1970s, started collecting kerosene lamps. It was a fun hobby for him, made easier by the fact that he was a truck driver and able to visit antique shops and auctions across the country on his travels.
Problem is, he couldn’t stop collecting kerosene lamps. Or tools. Or toys. The article said he first fell in love with the sing-song rhythm of the auctioneers conducting the sales.
“I used to get half toned up and go to these sales,” he said. “I didn’t care, I’d give them bids.”
Eventually, he ended up with 14 buildings – 14 BUILDINGS! – stuffed with stuff. “And I didn’t even know what was in them,” he admitted. He recently opened a store in his farming community to sell off some of his stuff. The store’s name? Dad’s Good Stuff.
I couldn't stop thinking about that man. His story both amused and horrified me. And honestly, it convicted me. I wasn't a hoarder. But I wondered where one draws the line between holding onto things because of the memories associated with them and holding on to things because stuff is our security blanket.
It renewed my energy to be ruthless as I sorted. In the end, we fit into our cozy townhouse with room to spare.
And you know what? I didn't lose a single memory. They are all in there still, tucked behind the library due dates and the reminders to pick up more orange chicken at Trader Joe's.
So now I live my life under the banner No More Stuff. Everything in my house must meet my two rules: Do I love it? Will I use it? If not, it doesn't stay.
P.S. Corey and the kids are grandfathered in.
This gets tricky in two areas, which I'll discuss tomorrow. But for now, because it's a blustery Monday in my neck of the woods and I feel chatty, tell me your story: How do you decide what stays and what goes?
Posted by Kelly @ Love Well on Monday, April 16, 2012