Monday, January 19, 2015

on buying and decluttering

Have you ever had times where you just don't feel like you are making progress?  That's kind of how I have been feeling lately and I think it is because when you are actively decluttering, people also kind of assume you aren't buying new things either.  And by people, I mean me. <p>
I guess I got it in my head that to declutter also meant I shouldn't buy new because well, it kind of defeats the purpose of getting rid of stuff, if you just replace it with different stuff. Plus, many of the decluttering people I follow, are also into a no buying year/month/ etc.<p>
I have never been much of an impulse buyer who buys things just for the sake of buying them.  Which sort of makes you wonder how I ended up with all this "extra" stuff.  But note, I didn't say I never bought stuff, I just don't shop for the sake of shopping.  Plus, I think my big problem has always been saving stuff.  Stuff most people would toss or donate.  I might need it someday.  So you know I bought decor for my first apartment, then we moved to a different apartment and say my pictures don't really go--I don't give them away or pitch them--HEAVEN FORBID!  Nope, I save them because the next place might have the perfect wall. But I find myself having lived in once house for 15 years and I still have the cute vase that sat in a niche in the first apartment. <p>
And then there are gifts.  So, someone maybe gives me a cute set of potholders, but I like the ones I have, but I keep both because what if I need them?  Or, and this was a big thing with my bath stuff--I'm almost out of this soap, but the store has discontinued this scent that I love, and so I'll buy a new scent, but I don't really want to use the last of this one up. <p>
Don't get me started on my thrift store problems. But let's say that the only impulse shopping I really do is thrifting.  If it is quirky and cheap--it is a big temptation for me.<p>
So, you might think that in the middle of my decluttering year, I also cut down on my buying.  And for the most part that is true or maybe it is just that I don't usually buy stuff anyway.  However, this week (and let's be honest the last 3 weeks) have been different.<p>
Christmas came of course, and while I really felt like we were more focused with our buying and with our "requests" we still ended up with "stuff." But maybe it wasn't the right stuff because I've sort of been doing a lot more shopping as of late and feeling bad about it.  Since I regularly list the stuff I declutter, I thought it might only be fair to also list the "stuff" I have bought for the family and myself. So here goes:<p>
A sports bra<br>
an undergarment for my daughter<br>
dress shoes for each daughter (2 pairs total)<br>
4 pairs of socks <br>
a bottle of Soak wool wash<br>
2 pairs of jeans for me<br>
a sweater for me <br>
2 white shirts for the girls (concert wear)<br>
black leggings for one daughter<br>
3 pairs of gloves <br>
2 hairbrushes (specifically wet brushes)<br>
a book for my husband<br>
5 yards of flannel<br>
a winter headband thing for me<br>
All this was purchased in the last two weeks.  and while some of it (say the socks and undergarment) were needs, none of the rest of it was a strict need.  Yes, the hairbrushes work better than the old ones, and yes, it is nice to have my ears covered outside (my earmuffs broke) and yes there is a concert coming up in which my daughters are required to wear black pants and white tops, but it still feels excessive.<p>
I have been trying to mitigate the effect on the overall clutter of house. So, for example, I made a point this weekend to clear the girls' sock draw of outgrown socks.  To which point I pulled out 17 pairs of socks.  13 of which went into the "rag bag" and 4 pairs went to "storage." (Why storage?  well 3 pairs were Christmas socks, so I put them away until next November, and one pair was a handknit pair--I'm not getting rid of those.) And I pulled out the "extra" hairbrushes (yes--sigh--we do own 2 hairbrushes per head here in this house) and threw them away even though one daughter whined about how her "Belle" brush (which she has not used on over 2 years) was her favorite. Plus my extra hairbrush because honestly, I'm thinking of getting myself a wet brush and pitching my brush and maybe my roller brush.  Oh man when I put it like that--it feels wasteful.<p>
Ok, I also made a point to use up the Soak wool wash in the scent I like but could not buy, when I washed the weekly sweaters, and I didn't count this as decluttering. <p>
I am not doing a one to one replacement for the sports bra (although I probably could and maybe will come spring) and the book (my house is overrun with books anyway).<P>
I could go on like this for a while, the flannel getting made into needed pajamas, the concert attire will be incorporated into regular wardrobe choices, outgrown shoes will be donated, but the fact of the matter is, I just wanted you all to see that I am human.  I buy stuff.  Some stuff yes, to replace, but maybe some stuff just because I wanted them and they were on sale (hello purple sweater for me at 75% off!), and that's ok.  I'm still decluttering and wow--now I actually have room to put those things I wanted. And maybe most importantly--when I am tired of the cheap purple sweater--maybe I'll know I can let it go to someone else who will pick it up for cheap at the thrift shop.

Friday, January 9, 2015


For 2014 I resolved to get rid of two "things" every day.<p>
We had just come off a pretty intense Christmas with my family--My mother loves to shower people she loves with presents.  She fills shoeboxes for each person with small gifts, and candy she thinks they'll like.  Top this off with the other gifts we received and we came home with a LOT of stuff.  Some of it just you know useless to us. (sorry family--I know you love us--sorry).  My husband was beyond frustrated at how FULL our house seemed and because we were both already stressed out we had an argument.  He claimed that now we'd have to integrate all this "stuff" into our house just because someone close to me had given it to us.  <p>
Man that shows how well he knows me.<p>
I however, took this as a challenge--I COULD de-clutter, I just needed to do it on my terms, not on some self-help book or his notion of how it should go.  So, I said--what if I got rid of at least two things every day? Because here's what I figured.  I figured that what tends to stop my major de cluttering efforts is that I get overwhelmed.  I don't know where to start, I get half way through and I get tired and weepy.  But TWO?  Heck I could handle two. <p>
Let me tell you, he was skeptical.  He's a great person though and said--yeah sure whatever.<p>
By the end of January, I think he realized I was serious.  By the end of February he saw progress.  By summer, I think he was convinced. <p>
The people I told about my plan said things like: wow that must feel so freeing!<p>
Honestly no, at first it was very much feeling like major anxiety. I felt a little empty after the first carload got donated. Then I saw progress.  When the sprinkler guy came to turn on the sprinkler system, I had nothing to shift to prepare for him. I started to realize just how much stuff this two a day plan had eliminated from my life.  AND I realized I didn't even miss 99% of it. <p>
I wasn't perfect.  I went on vacation. I had days where I was just so overwhelmed with my life where I just couldn't handle deciding on even one thing to get rid of. I had trouble with things.  BUT, I kept at it.<p>
And it changed me a little.<p>
Sure, I still have clutter.  In fact some areas I feel like I de-clutter once a week or once a month. I still buy things. I still have too much stuff.  But I'm still working at it, still discovering ripples from it.<p>
So what have I learned?  Well, I do tend to hang on to gifts and souvenirs way more than I should.<br>
 A minimum was a good plan for me, as several times I'd start to feel overwhelmed or weepy and I would say--Hey, you got rid of 5 things today--just stop. And just as many times, the next day I'd find myself donating the very thing I felt I couldn't live without the day before.<br>
I also learned that I don't have to feel guilty about getting rid of things.  My donation center takes rags--so instead of throwing away clothes that are stained  or ripped, I put them in the rag bag! If I put stuff out on the curb--other people will take them before the garbage guy comes. <br>
If you make space in your storage spaces, you CAN keep things you really want to keep. <br>
Sometimes it just helps to think One in, One out.<p>
So, for 2015 I'm going to keep going.  Maybe not quite as fervent, but I still feel like there is progress to be made.