Toss and Don’t Replace……

IMG_1678I know this seems contradictory, but is not. Let’s talk about material things, the ones we accumulate constantly and then have no idea what we are going to do with them. We all do it and we should stop. George Carlin, the famous comedian and linguistics genius, once said that we work to make money to buy stuff, we even keep buying bigger houses to put our stuff……..Sadly, he was so right!!! The world has become one big pile of stuff. We all contribute and we all are guilty of not doing enough to stop. Never mind the thousands and thousands of landfills we fill every year with our trash, rubbish, garbage or whatever we want to call it.

This week, I went to help Frankie’s aunts pack. They are elderly and are moving again this Summer. Haven’t found the place yet, but they need to get rid of tons of stuff. When they retired, they moved in together and each brought her stuff. Very little was tossed at the time, I am sure!!! Now, with advancing age, so-so health and only two months to do it…..this has become a monumental chore.

Driving back home, I started thinking about all the stuff I am still  accumulating, be it stuff I buy or stuff I get as presents. What have I been doing? Do I want my children one day  to do what I did for my mother? or what I am doing for the aunts? Suddenly everything became very clear, there is no need for me to worry, I had the solution!!! I will not buy anything new and I will accept NO MORE gifts of things I need to pack and unpack. I have enough tea-sets, mugs, cups and saucers, dishes….etc… to give away or make two families happy. I can have coffee mornings for 12 or more, serve dinner for 12, entertain my whole family without having to resort to paper plates (God forbid!!) and have people over for drinks and serve my munchies in the nicest dishes. Enough!

I know this is not really de-cluttering, but I will assume it is. If you get no more stuff, you don’t need a bigger place, you don’t fret about things getting lost or broken during your next move…….De-cluttering used to be an excuse to get more stuff. Until my last move, I was in the don’t buy unless you are replacing mode. Not anymore, now I just want to toss, not replace. It’s a decision that came very naturally.

De-cluttering will mean, from now on, not getting anything I have to keep. I will buy only what can be used and dispose of after a period of time. I will get only what I can discard or give away, things like clothes, sheets and towels, books. Or things that get used up like make-up, perfume, toiletries. This is a real breakthrough!!!

There are things I will still be carrying with me, I know. My photo albums, my picture frames, my paintings, my journals, things my children made for me through the years…..I am a mother, after all, and these are part of my life forever. Now, everything they left with me, to store or take care of, that needs to go. They are adults and have lives of their own. They should start getting their clutter in their homes! It’s the way life works. This feel great!!!!

So on that happy mood, I arrived at my house. Immediately made plans for removing all the stuff I have been getting ready to give away. We have a guest bathroom and it hasn’t been used in months…….it is full of all the stuff I have taken out of closets, kitchen cabinets and drawers. Never fear, I already started making the rounds. Sale Rack, where I sold my gently worn clothes etc., was my first stop. The This “n” That charity shop was visited today. The Salvation Army will get the rest. I am already breathing a sigh of relief!!!

lSale Rack

Outer Order, Inner Peace: De-clutter

Last night, my daughter Camille and I had a girls night-out. We went to my favorite vintage store in Coconut Grove, Sale Rack, they were celebrating their fourth anniversary. It was a complete success: we drank, ate, conversed with new friends and shopped!! When we were leaving, Allison, the owner, told us: “Ladies, remember to empty your closets!!!”. Of, course, she meant that we should look through our closets, decide what we’ll keep and what we’ll toss. She will be more than happy to buy what we don’t want……yeah!

I have been de-cluttering for ages. In my opinion, this exercise is life affirming, addictive and necessary. It helps you feel in control more than anything. As in everything in life, there are different kinds of de-clutter. The easiest, in a way, is  getting rid of physical objects. I follow the three adjectives formula: useful, beautiful and loved. Each category is carefully considered before making a decision. I can get tangled in sentimental wanderings and end up with more than I want or can keep. So a bit of ruthlessness is called for.

First things that need a good look-over are those you have accumulated throughout the years. I don’t know about you, but for years I collected things. Adding small boxes, small houses, silver miniatures, until I needed a special display to stored them. There were things, as you can see, without any practical use, except that I loved them. Now, how much did that matter? was it necessary to just accumulate and store? They are now in boxes, somewhere in storage. Need to go over them and toss. One thing is for sure: nowadays I use this simple rule of thumb: if you buy one, toss one. You’ll think twice when buying something you do not need. It’s worked so far.

When I moved, and I have done my share of that, I try to get rid of whatever I feel  would not be needed in my new place. Unfortunately, here I come against sentimentality. Should I keep my children’s favorite toys, books, baby clothes? I have been ruthless, but I still have a few of boxes. With a bit of force, I have told my children that once they have a big house of their own…they have to take all this! We’ll see…..I don’t think they take me seriously!!!

Now, clutter is not only the physical things we cherish. Clutter is also emotional: toxic friendships, loose ends, unfinished projects. We cannot and should not forget these. They clutter our lives and rob us of precious time we could use to work on our passions. Here I come against guilt. We want to, but we don’t want the tangled mess we can get into. You know exactly what I am talking about, don’t you? Guilt makes us keep this emotional clutter……Need to let go of that guilty. Really…

Since Camille returned from London, I have been on a de-cluttering mood. Every week or so, I go through my closet, kitchen cabinets, boxes. I give away to charity what I don’t want, I throw out stuff that is not longer usable. I now will take to Allison everything that is in good condition and see what she has to offer. If she doesn’t buy something, she will ask you to donate it to a shelter for abused women. Can’t think of a better place for my pretty things to go!!!

One final thought: clutter blocks the flow of energy into our homes and into our lives. Cleaner and uncluttered surroundings boost our mood. Cleaner and uncluttered  emotional state boost our happiness. So, toss and make space for magic to happen in your life!!!

P.S. Trust me, if you live in Miami or are visiting….you are going to love this place!!

http://www.shopthesalerack.com

Sale Rack