Life etc.

Decluttering 101

Since I’ve already got all my craft show boxes hauled out in the open after last weekend’s show (which reminds me, still need to post my recap of the show & pics!), I started doing a little spring cleaning this week. Going through old clothes to donate, digging through my summer stuff & finding more clothes to donate (if I don’t fit into my skinny shorts now, it ain’t gonna happen), generally making giant piles & messes everywhere! I realize this is the storm before the calm, but it’s my least favorite part of cleaning. And one of my main excuses for procrastinating. My parents are doing much of the same right now as they just sold their house and are packing up to move out to BC. It’ll be great to have them closer to me & I’m sure my mom wishes I was closer right now so I could help her through the process of letting go.

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illustration by Matt Muhurin via Reader’s Digest

We have such strong attachments to our stuff. Even the stuff that isn’t being used or making us happy I still have a hard time letting go of sometimes. I’m constantly doing the “yeah, but what if I one day?” rationalization. And the thing is? One day I very well may look back & think this would be the perfect time to use those old scraps of fabric. Or that dress that didn’t quite fit that I never quite got around to altering. Or those books that have been on my shelf for years that I’ve still never finished because I just can’t get into them.

Let go! You can always get more stuff. How many thrift shops & garage sales are there in your town? Plus Craigslist. And Freecycle. And eBay. Chances are, if you discover down the road that you might’ve been able to use that thing, you’ll be able to find a suitable (or better) replacement. But in the meantime, it won’t have been taking up space for all that time!

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photo credit: Jen Siska

When I actually started pulling everything out & seeing how much physical space it takes up, it kind of shocked me. How different would my office/studio FEEL on a day to day basis if everywhere I look I see something I love? Not something I don’t really like, but I keep because somebody gave it to me for Christmas 9 years ago. Not something that reminds me that “oh yeah, I never did finish making that quilt”. Not something that lays a guilt trip for not using it. Just stuff I use. Just stuff I love. And a whole whack of clean clear space. Ahhhhhhh!

My closet is the same story. Jeans that make me feel guilty for not going to the gym? Gone.

Shoes that are super cute but kill my feet? Gone. With a sigh, but still, gone.

I waste so much time eying my closet & mentally discarding the majority of it. Wouldn’t it be easier to see less stuff, but all the things that you actually wear?

It helps to think of the cycle of all of this stuff as just that – a cycle. Let it go & maybe someone else will find it & absolutely love it. And that will open up your home, your closet to make room for something that you absolutely love.

I know some people who will actually sing a little mantra as they go through this process, saying:

As I clean out my space, I’m cleaning out the closets of my mind.

I’m opening up my life for wonderful things.

I’m making room to receive only the things that bring me joy.

Cheesy? Yes. But it sure beats cursing & sweating under a pile of boxes! At the very least, get yourself some good music going. And when you’re all done, here are some resources to donate your stuff:

Clothing Swaps – either set one up with girlfriends or see if your city has one coming up. We just did the Swap O Rama last weekend & it had a great turn-out.

Women’s SheltersWISH in Vancouver is a great organization

Thrift Stores that support a charity you believe in. I like the SPCA one in Vancouver.

Websites for selling or donating your stuff:

Freecycle.org – if you feel up to listing your stuff one by one, Freecycle is a popular way to find local folks who need exactly what you’re ready to get rid of.

Craigslist.org – you can try selling it for a price first & then move it to the FREE section later if it doesn’t sell

eBay – I kind of hesitate to mention eBay here since there are so many costs involved that it may not be worth it. You need to pay a listing fee, a percentage once your item sells & then if you didn’t calculate your postage properly, it can end up costing you money to sell there. Not good! On the other hand, something you were planning to give away could end up getting a bunch of bids & sell for a few bucks. If you do decide to go this route, I suggest starting small & buying a few things to build up your reputation score. People are cautious to bid on items from new sellers with no feedback.

BookMooch – Kind of like an online swap combined with a library. List all of the books you want to get rid of plus make a wishlist for the books that you want to get. When you send someone one of your books, you get points. When you request (& get) a book from someone else, you spend your points.

SwapTree – same as BookMooch but expanded to include games, DVDs & music. I believe SwapTree is US only currently.

And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, check out my fave organization site The Unclutterer. Happy decluttering!

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