More decluttering

Monday, February 12, 2018

The donation truck is coming again today, and we already have another pile in the basement waiting for the next pickup. The more we declutter, the more we find. It really is overwhelming. 

We started tackling the basement yesterday, and it is looking even worse than when we started.

Warning: embarrassing photos.

Please tell me somebody else's basement looks like this!

Many of you suggested that it would be easier to part with things if I took pictures of them. This is especially true of some of my children's things.

A sweatshirt I made my daughter, a crib bumper pad, a sweet First Christmas onesie, and a soft little blanket. You mothers understand.

After I took the pictures, I hardened my heart, and out they all went.

I have a whole cupboard filled with stuffed animals. Then I found these. I kissed three of these dollies goodbye (literally), and shoved the rest in the cupboard with the others. I'll have to sort through these again, but really, I do have to save something for the future grandchildren, right? Or will I want to buy them new stuff? (Probably.)

I'm having book club tonight. We will have to navigate the pile from the laundry room clean out/painting.

Amidst all the mess, there is this one lovely spot . . . 

I'm so happy to have a new table and chairs, and I am super in love with this new chandelier. It was so heavy and awkward it took three of us to get it hung and leveled. Isn't it lovely?

I'm going to put some black and white framed photos on the wall and hang some curtains in here. I have removed all the little picture frames scattered about the house and on the walls, including the collage I made years ago of about 15 photos above the piano. There will be six 8 x 10 black and white photos here (in 20 x 20 frames), and about six in the upstairs hallway. That's it. After donating a whole box of picture frames, I still have about a dozen left. They will probably go in the next round of decluttering.

 I'm still deciding on centerpieces for this dining table. I'm thinking fuchsia peonies in two mercury glass bowls, candles, maybe a long tray. What do you think?

Whatever I do, I'm going to be super careful about what I bring back into the house.

Someone said we spend the first half of our lives accumulating stuff, and the second half getting rid of it. It seems so wasteful. And yet, there was a time when we did use the camping gear and hockey gear and cross country skis and bowling balls and Legos and all. And all those old suitcases and Christmas lights. Life just keeps moving on, and our needs change.

We do have room for all this stuff, but why? I see people moving and downsizing and they are totally overwhelmed. We won't be moving for some time yet, but I am thinking and working as if we were putting the house up for sale this year. That way, it will be much easier when we do finally downsize. In the meantime, someone else can enjoy the stuff and we'll be able to enjoy living lighter.

{I just ran across a huge tub filled with letters from my childhood. Remember when everyone wrote letters? Going through those will take some time, for sure.} 

Letting go of possessions and guilt

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Like many of you, I find the beginning of the new year to be a good time for taking stock. And as it has been cold and dark and perfect for nesting, for sitting in front of the fire with a good book or a knitting project, that "taking stock" has included looking around my nest and seeing if it's as cozy and welcoming as it could be.

While I wish I had full-time staff to clean my house (hey, we can dream, right?), I've always loved organizing and decluttering. Lately, I've been taking it to a whole new level.

Finally, after years of needing to spend money on a new furnace, a new roof, a new driveway, etc., I'm going to get my wish of replacing some furniture. You know, the fun stuff.

Now, please believe me, I'm not complaining. I feel very grateful for what I have. But, except for two couches and two chairs, our bedroom set and the mattresses, everything in our house is garage sale or heirlooms (read hand-me-downs). And the furniture we did buy new is at least 25 to 35 years old.

The garage sale/"heirloom" furniture has been re-glued and mended and painted several times over, and I am so ready to say goodbye to it. Suddenly, antique and vintage have become synonymous with wobbly, falling apart, and just plain old.

This rocking chair never did get repaired or painted. It's been sitting in the basement, the object of 20 years' worth of good intentions. Time to let somebody else take care of it.

As much as I'd like to think I could repair this desk and refinish it, this, too, has been sitting, unused, for more than 10 years. Bite the bullet, and pass it on. My parents spent $10 for it almost 60 years ago.

So far I've said goodbye to:

a couch
a dining room table and 6 chairs
a gateleg table and four chairs
2 rocking chairs
3 miscellaneous chairs
a coffee table
2 lamps
a desk
a filing cabinet
a side table

These all found good homes. The couch, which is still in good condition, looks better in a friend's home than it ever did in mine.

In addition, I've let go of:

a filing cabinet worth of paper
2 more boxes of old papers
3 old clocks
3 large garbage bags full of clothing
a box of picture frames
miscellaneous seasonal and other decor

I still have about 12 boxes of old homeschooling papers and old family photos I'm determined to get through. And a basement full of gear we probably won't ever use again -- cross country skis, bowling balls, camping gear, hockey equipment, etc., etc. Also, three huge piles of stuff, one for each kid who doesn't have room in their apartments for all of it. Hey, wait, one of my children has a house. I need to talk to her!

I've also been decluttering my email inbox. I've reduced it from 584 emails to 0! Okay, the zero only lasted a few minutes, but I've been zealously keeping my email inbox down to 5 or less, which is unheard of in all the years I've been on a computer. It's usually always hovering above the 300 mark, even with daily deleting.

I unsubscribe from everything I can, and mark lots as spam, but I still get some ads. Those are easy to delete. I put all my receipts in a separate folder (and just deleted anything older than a year). The majority of the emails sitting in my inbox are from blog friends, and they're so sweet I hate to delete them.

But the ones that come in as blog comments are stored on my blog. Any special correspondence I put in a correspondence folder. I'm going to try and respond to people ASAP, and then delete. It takes a little hardening of the heart.

This is the hardest part of decluttering, and what I've been dealing with, with all the vintage furniture and the photographs and 1st grade spelling lists and friendly emails.

The guilt of letting go of sentimental items.

But I've found that it's the decision to do it that's the hardest. Just like deciding to get on the treadmill. Once I decide, it's relatively easy. Once I decide it's okay to let go of a handmade or sentimental item it really is a breath of relief. It really is amazing how things can get to be like albatrosses around your neck without even realizing it.

I have pictures and I have memories. I don't need to keep every. single. item. anyone has made/given/handed down to me. Yes, of course, there are many things I will keep, but I don't need to keep everything. What a weight off my shoulders to see things going out the door!

And every time I go through this process I think, I'm never buying anything again. Or bringing home another sheet of paper. For example, I've stopped bringing home the little memorial pamphlet things from funerals. What do you do with them? They sit there, and then you feel guilty for throwing them away. Those pamphlets don't really add to the memories you have of a person. So I've stopped bringing them home. I stand at the recycling bin and sort my mail before I even bring it in the door.

But still, the papers pile up.

And cards and thank you notes. Those are so hard for me to throw out. Some I keep, some I throw out, no real method to that, but I can't keep everything. Again, it's hard to throw out a sweet note from a friend. What do you all do??

Right now we are painting. Tomorrow some of the furniture arrives. I am trying to replace with less. For example, I've gotten rid of 15 chairs total, and only getting 8 new ones. It will be so nice to sit on chairs that aren't wobbly or in danger of collapsing under the weight of an unsuspecting guest.

I'm going for what I call rustic glam. Unfinished looking wood and wrought iron combined with faux fur and some bling. Taupes, grays, cream with touches of blush. Lots of candles and pillows. Soft, comfortable, relaxed with a little glamour.

Here's a peek at the new chandelier that will be going over the new dining table. 

from Pottery Barn

It will be a whole new look. It's really been a little emotional, letting go of the old, ushering in some new, thinking about who I've been and who I am now. I'll keep you posted on the process.

And really, if you have any ideas for the sentimental papers, notes, and cards, I'd love to hear. xo
Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs