Friday, November 14, 2014

gifts

I made a trip to my donation center today. And I thought to take some before and after pics. So here is before: before

And her eis after--although I was lazy and did the top of the stairs.
after

You might notice that there are some things left behind, mainly a small red box and a framed poster of butterflies. First, I didn't designate the poster as a donation--although I should. But I bought it to decorate the nursery for my girls, and even though it fell off the wall when they were babies and woke everyone up--I still love it. The red box on the other hand...

You see the red box holds a Christmas present I got. And no not one from last year or last decade--one I got THIS year. Yes, it is not even Thanksgiving or December or anything. And guess what--I feel bad that I don't want it.

You see gifts are a hard one for me. I grew up in a family that really really treasured gifts. Gifts were very important. My mom is still very much a gift person and giving gifts must be her love language.
And don't get me wrong--I like gifts. I just like gifts I can actually use. Maybe gifts I can use up. Like food, chocolate, restaurant gift cards, coffee gift cards, heck actual coffee. What I don't like are gifts I don't need, gifts that will sit and take up space and gather dust. And while I'm sure normal people have no problem re-gifting or donating (or returning) stuff like that--I do. Well not so much returning, because then I can get stuff I can use. But honestly there is this ingrained THING in me that says--Hey you got me a gift and I should appreciate the gift because I appreciate you.

So the red box. It has a Christmas mug in it. It wasn't a mug full of anything like chocolate or a gift card. Just a mug. And I have actually gotten rid of a bunch of mugs. In fact, I have 3 mugs I should get rid of but can't because they each commemorate something. Well maybe just two--am thinking maybe I don't care about a former workplace's forced exercise event. So why did I not take this mug off to donation--even though it was sitting RIGHT there? Well first--someone GAVE this to me. They think I need this or at least they wanted me to have this. )Although the reality is probably more like--OOH holiday mugs are on SALE!) And, well..... you see I was thinking of re-gifting.

What if I put a coffee gift card in it, maybe some chocolate and gave it to a teacher? And see I could not for the life of me decide if this is a good idea or not. Wouldn't I just be giving someone else yet another mug that they would struggle with? Or would it be appreciated because of the coffee and chocolate? So here is what I decided--if it is still in the donation pile after Christmas--it goes. If it seems like a good idea when I am doing teacher gifts--it becomes a vessel for a gift.

So how about you? What does a gift mean? Could you easily give away a gift someone gave you --even if you could not use it and in fact had too many? Comment--or send me a tweet @Todaystwo.

Friday, November 7, 2014

paper

The thing is, I always forget how paper can also be clutter.

Paper seems so innocent. It is flat and smooth. You can fit a lot of it in small places. And it is useful and necessary. I mean have you ever tried to have lab work done without a lab slip--which is of course paper. Have you ever been asked for your "registration and proof of insurance"? also paper! Coupons, report cards, mother's day cards, order forms, the list goes on and on. I'm sure you can add to it!

But all that paper can add up. I mean it is easy when your new proof of insurance comes, to throw it in your glovebox. My Doctor always sends lab paperwork home with me for the following year! The kids bring home papers nearly every day from school. Paper is everywhere and some days when I look around for clutter I can easily part with, I forget about the paper. Or I feel like it doesn't count. Like say getting rid of 2 sheets of paper is not a start on eliminating clutter.

But it is. So this week, I've really focused on paper. It came across accidentally as I was making my to do list for the week (yes, I make a weekly list of all the stuff that I should do during the week--that usually has no "day" attached to it--the things that will fall through the cracks otherwise). I added: Shred checks.

See our bank was bought out by another bank, but only the branches in Michigan. So we had to get new debit cards, get new checks, and all the other things associated with changing banks. And so I had a stack of checks and two old debit cards that needed to be disposed of. So yeah, I put them on my list, sounds normal right? Up until I tell you this all happened in SEPTEMBER. So for nearly 2 months, I've had a pile of checks that I could no longer use, sitting on an end table, waiting to be shred. Well if that doesn't sound like clutter, I'm not sure what does.

But then it became this theme, what other paper do I have floating around here that I don't need? And it hit me as I added another proof of insurance card to the glove box. I have a whole compartment in my car FULL of papers. And we have two cars.

So after the checks, I decided to tackle the glove boxes. My husband's had all the usual stuff (car manual, registrations and insurance cards), plus a menu from Panera and two stale lolipops. The car I usually drive? well
before
There were four pens--do you know when the last time I was looking for a pen in my glove box. There was actually less paper than in the other car, which is amazing given this car is 6 years older--you'd think 6 more registrations, but nope. It also had more "emergency" stuff. Including two sets of screwdrivers. Um, I have no idea what to do when the car breaks except to call someone else, so why do I need screwdrivers? Plus also binoculars--but I use those. maybe. sometimes.

At any rate, I did get rid of all the expired papers, and one set of screwdrivers--figuring this is the car of family vacations, what if I need to replace batteries on a toy? or fix glasses--as I think the set I kept has tiny screwdrivers too. But I didn't need 2 for sure. So this is what went back in: after

So now I challenge you. Take a look at your spaces, your hidden places. Find that paper you don't need, and recycle that paper. It really does make the paper you NEED much easier to find. (although I'm hoping I don't need to find my registration/proof of insurance anytime soon--at least I know I can.) And yes, I give you permission to count it as cleaning or de-cluttering in whatever game you've challenged yourself with.