Becoming an Un-Collector ~ Brenda’s Story

BECOMING AN UN-COLLECTOR by Brenda Argo

I never meant to be a collector, but like some insidious disease, it crept up on me.  I over indulged in yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores.  It all seemed so innocent at the time.  I was always poor and I could buy something for practically nothing and fix it up.  I loved antiques and it was all about the great find and the good buy.  If it was furniture, I bought it really cheap, then scrubbed, cleaned, stained, and finished it, investing hours and hours of my life into it. (this made it harder to part with down the road because it had become a part of me!). I was always financially strapped it seemed, so at the time, this seemed like a good way to furnish my home early in life and marriage.  The problem was, it never ended.  I loved old glassware, old pottery, old platters, old furniture, old people.  You name it——-if it was old, I loved it.  I read somewhere that you should never buy 2 of anything because it starts a collection.  And it really was true.

I collected for about 40 years!  Oh, I had yard sales occasionally, and sent things to the thrift store along the way, but I kept all the “good stuff”

Until recently!  Recently, I realized I was STUFFocating.  I don’t know why it hit me so hard.  My home was still fairly neat and orderly.  I still used a great deal of my “stuff” and enjoyed it.  But, I realized ever space was filled with furniture.  Every drawer was filled with excess glassware or other stuff.  I had SABLE!!  (STUFF ACCUMULATED BEYONE LIFE EXPECTANCY!!!!!!). I instantly became an UN-COLLECTOR!!  Now, UN-collector is not a real word, I’m sure, but it is what I have become.  Cold Turkey!  I can’t get rid of Stuff soon “ENUFF”. (I read somewhere that ENUFF= Eliminate the Needless, Useless, Foolish, Frivolous!)

Now, I’m de-collecting because I am an UN-collector.  And the moral of this story is IT IS MUCH EASIER TO BRING IT IN THAN TO TAKE IT OUT!

There are only 4 ways to get rid of stuff:

You use it up

You throw it away

You donate it

You sell it

It is much easier and quicker to donate it all, but most of us have a little guilt over money spent, or because of the worth of an item, regardless of how little or much we spent.  In that case, a sale is in order, which is a lot of work.  I have had several large yard sales over the last few years and have donated several car loads of “the good stuff” to a friend’s charity.  I still have a long way to go but I am working on every area of my home.  And it IS work!!

The funny thing is, that half a century ago, my goal was to live a simple life.  Somehow, it got so out of hand!   I am writing this to encourage others, especially new readers, to never bring in the excess to begin with.  If you already have clutter, start removing it in any manner you choose.  Use is the only value a thing has.  We can only treasure so many items at a given time.

Follow William Morris’ advice to have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.  (and I would add, limit the latter.). Cleaning will become easier and we will finally attain the simple life most of us desire deep within.  Time and space are the REAL treasures


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Raesha de Ruiter Zylker

    This post is AMAZING!!! I’m sharing this with my sister and my mom:) My mom is a serious collector and we are trying to get her to start addressing this so that my sister and I are not left with a house full of S$%T when she passes on.

    • Thank you so much, Raesha. Your comment makes me very happy, because I was hesitant about sending my story in to Colleen since it wasn’t instructional. I hope you have much success with your sister and your Mom. It is not a pleasant thought to know you will have to get rid of endless amounts of “stuff” if someone passes away. I am motivated by the hope I can make it as easy as possible for someone!

  2. Hi when I saw this headline I thought it was me she was writing about as I am going through the”don’t want my children to have to decide what to do with all this junk” phase. For no matter what the story is or how sentimental I feel about my stuff, that’s all it will mean to others some day. Of course keep family history and heirlooms items and have displayed only the things You love and life will be so much sweeter. I know ,as I am in the midst of this part of my journey at the moment. Now please don’t think I’m too maudlin ,I’m being realistic, I am enjoying life and just making these coming years as simple and pleasant for myself as I can. I love nice things also but have stopped buying home stuff and use up what I have and let the other stuff go to someone who may need it more. Love your blog Colleen,blessing from Ireland,

    • Hi Brenda! Thank you for your comment. Well, we have more in common than our names…..because I SO want for someone to not have to go though so much stuff if I pass on! And you know what? In my observation of other people’s children, it doesn’t seem like they are sentimental about “things” like my generation was. Times have changed so much. It is all technological now. Little girls want iPads instead of dolls, etc. As a child of depression era parents, we held onto and treasured everything. Sometimes, too much, because it caused that “just in case” mentality in myself and others. We had little, took good care of what we had, and tried to make it last forever. Now, we live in a throw away society, and I don’t think the next generation will be all that fond of what is left behind. That is just my observation.

      I have gone so far as to imagine if I were near my end, I would just start giving things away, so I would only have the bare necessities. My bed, the fridge, a little table. Lol!!! I figure I’d better get started NOW!!

      Ireland is one of the places I’d want to visit if I were a world traveller like Colleen! It is so wonderful to get an input from people all over the globe!! Thank you!

  3. Best writing on this subject I have run across. Thank you so much!

    • Thank YOU, Karen! Such a lovely comment! I am truly flattered that you would say that over my feeble attemp to express myself!

      • You express yourself extremely well, Brenda … I’ve always enjoyed your comments on the online comment thread. 🙂

  4. Brenda, thank you…this is a great post. Since I’ve started decluttering regularly, I’ve discovered that I have several “collections,” even though I never considered them to be.

    • Yes, Deanna, that is what happens! You buy something that matches your “whatever”, and before you know it, it is a collection. I started off with one small antique apple butter crock (it still had part of the label that said apple butter) that I bought for $1, because of a story my Mom had told me. Then, I found a larger size that matched it, and on it went. Ha!! Now, I have several waiting to see if an antiques dealer is going to buy them!!

  5. WOW Brenda! That is a great post! I especially like these phrases: “We can only treasure so many items at a given time.” and “Time and space are the REAL treasures”. I “collected” (decor duplicates) for a long time, too. We had too many prints to hang on the wall, too many linens, too many shampoos, and such. A lot of it is gone now but we still have work to do.

    I am so glad that you and I and many others have found a new way to live. I’m sorry that it took me until my late 50s (60 now) to get this. Better late than never though. At least hubby and I are still agile and alert enough to work on it! 🙂

    And thank you as always to Colleen for this forum where we can share xo

    • Peggy, you and I are in similar situations! I am 63 now and thinking I’ve got to get this completed before I get too old to run up and down the steps to the second floor! I’m glad you and hubby are still agile. In my case, I’m thinking “the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be”. Ha!!! ( for all you Aussies, that is a line from an old American folk song.).

      I used to love things on the walls, too—old pictures, displays, etc. Now, I have gone in the opposite direction and have almost nothing on my walls. But, I still have wall to wall furniture that I have to deal with next! It is a layer by layer process. 🙂

      I am using up shampoos, too. The ones I really hated are being used to do laundry right now!! That is a great way to get rid of it quickly!

      Thank you for your comment. We will keep clearing things out and we will arrive!!

      • Hi Brenda,

        We never had a lot of stuff on the walls. But I had decorator plates and framed prints, way too many even to switch out. Tiring just to think about them all LOL 🙂

  6. I really enjoyed your post, Brenda, thank you. It is amazing how these collections can creep up on us until suddenly we realize that we have an overwhelming amount. For some years we were collecting model lighthouses, and it was a fun hobby at the time; we would also try to visit the actual lighthouses so it was a great family activity – but now we have two china cabinets mostly filled with these models, fragile things which won’t be easy to move. Looking back I also think that we enjoyed them more when we just had a couple of them, so your comment about only treasuring so many items at a given time really resonated.

    I wish you well as you continue to declutter – hope the antique dealer buys those crocks!

    • Christine, thank you for the well wishes!! I am glad you at least enjoyed your lighthouses for a season! My sister loves lighthouses, too, and for years all she wanted for her birthdays was lighted lighthouses. However, her house was full of clutter, and she was always waiting till she got some project completed before she was going to put them out. (Waiting for that perfect time…that never comes because life isn’t perfect. ) Finally, my niece and I refused to buy anymore because she wasn’t enjoying what she had. That was at least 20 years ago and they are still in the original boxes SOMEwhere!!!

      Perhaps the day will arrive when you will want to remove your collection, perhaps keeping the ones with the best memories, and eliminate 2 china cabinets. 🙂

  7. I have to agree with your sentiments Brenda. I have been slowly decluttering in the last two years. My bookcases have gone from seven to four. I used to have my paperbacks in double rows on each shelf. Hundreds of books have been redonated to the opshops. My four remaining bookcases still have books but in single rows. Also I have used shelves to store games, art supplies, fabric and sewing supplies. I feel so much lighter!

    • Congratulations, Michelle!! I’m sure you do feel lighter! I don’t know what it is about books that makes them so hard to part with! I have been through mine several times and am down to reference books and a few favorites I will keep always. However, I’m sure that there’s more I could get rid of!!

  8. This is a good post Brenda. You are right about collections growing without our realizing it. I had a collection of rabbits. It started with one. A friends gave it to me. Next thing I know she was giving me one for every occasion. I finally said stop. A couple of years after that I gave most of them away. My other big collection was books. I used to have hundreds. I have about 20 now.

    • Deb J, I have heard stories about how fast rabbits can multiply!!! 🙂 :). Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!!
      It is a good thing you said to stop, or your rabbits would still be multiplying!!

      It is so great you are down to such a low number on your books! That is my goal, although I’m not sure I will ever be THAT low!!! I seldom read fiction, so those are not my problem. But, I probably have too many reference books pertaining to my own interests. I do use them, but probably not often enough to merit keeping!

      • Brenda, I decided to give away all of my non-fiction especially reference books. I seldom used them and found it was easy to find many of them online where I could read them for free. If is is one that I use often, I wait until I can fint it cheap for my Kindile and buy it. I think I have about 5 on my Kindle at the moment.

        • Deb, I am old school, and don’t have a Kindle. I have always been Interested in alternative healing, and many of my books are regarding subjects on issues I have dealt with. (like when my thyroid went ka-put). I underline and then write the main point at the top of the page. It is so easy then for me to look things up, even easier than finding on the computer. I also have some Christian reference and study books that I keep. However, I am sure I could let go at least half of what I still have, and that is on a future agenda!! I do have a couple bags waiting to go to the book trader—but i get money instead of trading ! Oh, I forgot to say that I am really weird and love survival books—how to eat the weeds, snare rabbits (see, you could have just called me in to take care of your rabbit situation! Ha!), and all those things. 🙂

          • “Take care of your rabbit situation.” Too funny Brenda. It sounds like you have a good reason for keeping your books. I would too in that situation.

          • Mmmmm yum, rabbit stew. I love a good feed of bunny.

            • Hilarious, Colleen!

              • Hilarious but true Brenda. My mum used to make rabbit stew when I was a kid. I always pick the unusual meat dishes if there are any on a menu when dining out.

                • You have my admiration, Colleen. I’m one of those people who eats the same thing every time I go, and it almost never includes any meat!

                  • No need for admiration Brenda we just like what we like. If I go to a new Thai restaurant I usually order the same things, Pad Thai and Red Chicken Curry. This is because they are by barometer as to how good the food in in each restaurant. They don’t have to taste the same as other places they just have to taste good. And if they don’t I usually don’t ever go back.

      • LOL, Brenda!

  9. Great post Brenda!
    Like you I was neat & organized, so it took awhile to realize that I had many collections. My wake-up call was moving everything down 3 flights of steps when I moved. Crafts, books, decorative items, indoor house plants…..you name it I had it in spades. The slow process of decluttering is much harder than bringing things in like you said.

    I still like to look, but don’t feel the need to own or upgrade what I already own. I now look to get ideas for what I already own, make do or improvise. It’s been a long path for me, but worth the time & effort.

    • You are so right, Calla! When everything is in its place, it is so easy to overlook the fact that one is overwhelmed with stuff! And, you might have noticed above in one of my comments, that those “stairs” were mentioned!!!!! I am currently trying to minimize all heavy items that are on my second floor!

      I still like to look, too, and occasionally go to thrift stores. The difference is I am no longer tempted if I find something old just because it is a good buy. I only purchase something that is needed.
      Thankfully, I was never a retail shopper!!!

      As you said, it is a slow go, but well worth it!!!

  10. Stuffocated ! I loved reading this, it hit close to home.
    It reminds me of me. The old stuff, the old people, the old dresses… the furniture, the things I can “fix up”… this is me in 20 years if I don’t get my act together soon.
    I am currently decluttering the closet (always) and now the kitchen cabinets.

    • Lorena, you described me exactly 30 years ago!!! I hope this encourages you not to go to the extremes I did. As I said, if I had stopped it would have been fine. I probably furnished my original home with less than some people invest in one major item retail. (I have since remodeled and had to purchase a few new items. Funny how my “new” sofa set is worn out but all the antiques I refinished are still in great shape. Ha!). Balance is the key to everything. I can’t stress enough how easier it would have been if I had stopped with “enough”. Now, I am spending precious time to eliminate all I went overboard on!!

  11. Your post really inspired me Brenda. Thank you for sharing.
    Living a simple life is my goal too.
    I have done so hard work on decluttering -and I am proud for this-
    yet only recently came to me the idea that I have to TRY not to accumulate stuff…
    Your post was really to the point for me! thank you 🙂

    • You are welcome, Athena! I’m so happy I could inspire you even a little! Keep that idea of a simple life foremost in your mind and ask yourself as you contemplate a purchase if it will add to or detract from that life!!

      It had not occurred to me that we have to TRY to not accumulate, but you are right. Especially when we first begin this journey of decluttering. My husband used to tease me about taking a load to the thrift store so I could bring some more back home. It shocked me to realize he was a little bit right. :). Now, it is not a problem. So, it does take a little training sometimes!

  12. Dear all,

    Each post here sounds like me 🙂
    My decluttering is an ongoing process (has been for years). I would like the simple lifestyle too, although I was never a “keep up with the Joneses” type person, there are still many things to go out the door.

    Funny thing is, once it is gone I don’t miss it, and most of the time I don’t remember what I gave away 🙂 The mental freedom is fantastic, and seeing empty spaces where before it was crammed with stuff is such a wonderful feeling. Should have done this 30-40 years ago.

    Thanks everyone for your input. Glad I joined this group.

  13. Katherine, we are so glad you joined this group, too! As I have said before, everyone feels like family. I have often wondered if any of the commenters live anywhere near me in the USA because it would be so fun to have a decluttering friend “who feels my pain”. (Bill Clinton voice there. Ha!)

    Don Aslett was the first author I read regarding decluttering. He said he had asked hundreds of people if they regretted or even remembered what they had gotten rid of and the answer was always no. Isn’t it interesting how we may hesitate to eliminate something and then never even remember it when we do!!! But, like you said, the mental freedom is fantastic!! Thank you for your comment!!

  14. Wow!!! My problem, too! Read another quote recently that fits right in with this. “We have to get out of our own way, so we can do what we were meant to do.” My interpretation – I have a nice upstairs craft room – one corner computer area, TV area, bookcases, small loveseat, many sewing machines, fabric, yarn, painting area, etc…. The room is so piled up that I can barely walk through let alone have any space to do anything!!! I barely have room for what this room was meant for – enjoyment of crafting. I need to get out of my own way, getting rid of the excess, so I have room to sew, quilt, craft. I’ve boxed myself in with collections, craft supplies, excess ideas that can never be realized in the tiny area I have left.

    • Jill, sometimes it just takes a while to realize we are totally overloaded and to see our own excess. I guess we just get used to it being there. I’ve read to take a picture of one’s space to see how it looks to other people. I’ve never done that but think it would work.

      I asked a friend to give me an honest, objective opinion of what needed change in my living room.
      She pointed out my two most useful pieces of furniture. Still haven’t figured out how to fix that. Ha!

      Good for you, seeing YOUR problem. Now you can set about making your desired craft area!

    • This note is for Kimberly. You could be standing in my sewing/bedroom. I keep trying to sort fabric, clean up extra clothes in the closet but always find something better to do. Brenda has spoken well and I know I have an addiction to books and fabric. Everyone’s reply’s are always an inspiration to me. I am catching up on some old 365 blogs so pardon this delayed note.
      Brenda, you were hoping for a U.S. fellow reader. I live in Northern Virginia, USA. Perhaps we are neighbors.
      -Maggie-

  15. Brenda,
    Wonderful post! I especially like your term “Stuffocating”. We live our lives forward but can only understand them looking backwards. Experience = Wisdom. Mahalo (thank you) for sharing your wisdom with “stuff”.

  16. Brenda,
    Wonderful post! I especially like your term “Stuffocating”. We live our lives forward but can only understand them looking backwards. Experience = Wisdom. Mahalo (thank you) for sharing your wisdom with “stuff”.

    I just received an error message when I posted my comment. If it posts twice, you will know why. Will try again.

    • Wow, Kimberly! What great wisdom! Your quote about living our lives forward!!!!! I am going to copy that to my quote book!!!

      Mahalo for your comment! 🙂

      Happy Decluttering!

  17. Great post – I love the idea that if you have more than two it is the start of a collection. I used to love collecting sets especially books but I eventually realised that it was the ‘hunt’ I enjoyed not the owning.

    My daughter leaves for University tomorrow so that will be a big exodus of her stuff. Im not looking forward to saying goodbye but her packing and preparations to move to the Halls of Residence has created quite heap of boxes and baskets etc in the garage.

    • Moni, that is a case of mixed emotions! Sorry to say goodbye to your daughter, but glad to say goodbye to all those boxes!

      • Yes very mixed feelings.
        It is likely at the end of the year we will rent a storage facility and leave her stuff down there rather than hauling it all the way back and forward. She wanted a lot of my baking stuff, which I was more than happy to hand over (Im not much of a baker).

    • Moni, I know you have mixed emotions abuot your daughter leaving. I am praying God will keep her safe and give her a good year at college.

      • Deb J – thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I remind myself that we have skype and messenger these days and there are five flights a day from my city to her city, so its not like we are restricted to writing letters or a long trip. She is soooo excited though, the rest of us are starting to get a bit emotional over the last week, meanwhile she is absolutely amped and raring to go.

        It is very strange seeing her room packed up. Her bed, bedding and drawers are staying behind but she’s always had a chaotic room and its going to be weird seeing it so empty……and tidy.

    • Hi Moni, goodbyes are never easy. Having done that a lot over the years I have come to realise that the anticipation and actual goodbye are the worst part but after that life settles into a rhythm again. She will be just fine I am sure and will learn a lot of independence by making the separation. She will make you proud I am sure.

    • Moni,
      Sending Love, Aloha and prayers to you and your ‘ohana as your daughter embarks on her University journey. When our daughter left to attend University 5,000 miles away, I didn’t think I would live through it with all of those mixed Mummy emotions. Sixteen years later, I look back and not only did I survive, but to watch her earn her BA and then MBA was absolutely the best. Live forward knowing that it will be so worth it in the end.

  18. Hi, Brenda! 🙂

    This went down a treat with my coffee! I am so glad that you overcame your initial hesitation in sending your post to Colleen … just look at how many of us loved it! What you wrote – so well, I have to add – strikes a chord because so many people love collecting things – it seems to be hardwired in our DNA.

    What you said about two of anything making it a collection made me think of Noah, but then he was a man with a mission!

    I still have my much-loved books although greatly reduced from what I originally had. As I decluttered the superfluous stuff, I found that there was more than enough space to keep the things I cherish … and still have lots of breathing space left over in our home.

    Thank you for sharing, Brenda.

    • You are so welcome, Nicole! Thank you for commenting! I like your thought that it seems to be hard wired into our DNA to collect. It made me think about how children seem to want everything, and most times are given it. In my case, though, my Mother always said, “you are old enough to know your wants won’t hurt you!”. Ha!! It is very true!

      Yes, Noah was a man with a mission, and now I am a woman with a mission!!! Move it out instead of IN!

  19. See Brenda, I told you everyone would love it. Decluttering doesn’t require much instruction it is the feelings and inspiration behind getting rid of things that inspire people and you have done a good job of that with this post. Well done.

  20. Brenda, you really hit the nail on the head. I think a lot of us did exactly like you did. I also did not adjust mentally to having 4 children and realize that this was a permanent change in my life and I would never again have enough time to really sew, etc., like I once did. By the time the last child left, my husband had retired, and a retired husband can be as demanding and as interrupting as a toddler, lol. Also grandchildren arrived, with some babysitting, mending, etc. You said two is a start of a collection, some say three is a collection, and I found I had a lot of unintentional collections. I no longer hang on to most family things, because my children do not have the memories I do of my great aunts and aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. so they are meaningless to them. Also they all live very busy lives and I hate the thought of them having more to deal with. I had a real SABLE as far as material and various crafts, and have donated a lot of things and kept only fabric that I do think I will actually use, and have tried to keep only sewing items, since I do not see crochet, rug making, etc. any where in my future. Every time we haul off a bag of donations (mostly books now) I feel like weight left.

    • Molly, you are so right about not having time to do things we once did! I don’t have a family but my husband is a full time job! I laugh and say that the only two things I hated doing in life were cooking and sewing, and I married a man who has no legs and never stops eating. Ha! (second marriage. The first one was tall and skinny and ate hardly anything! The latter has been a shock to my system!!! Lol!). By the time I cook and take care of the house and dogs and hem some pants (tee-hee) and read some things I think are important on my iPad—-like 365 less things!—-my day is gone. Not to mention I am slower than I used to be! :). Thankfully, my only real hobbies were the rubber stamping and reading, so I don’t have other craft things to get rid of. But, a paper fetish can take up a bit of space!!!

  21. Another terrific post! My self employed husband is going from one trade to another and we went to a local flea market so he could talk to a couple of vendors about selling his leftover stock. It’s been years since I’ve been to one and what an eye opener! Table after table of things and all I could think was “clutter”! I became a little short of breath at one point and almost bolted from the place! Since discovering Colleen and this wonderful place, I’ve been slowly selling/donating/trashing and I can see headway being made. I also decided I did not need something on every wall and am so pleased with how a bare wall actually makes a room feel less crowded. Part of my motivation is having been the one that had to go through both my grandmother and my mom’s house in the end. I really, I mean really, don’t want to leave it to my own daughters to have to go through piles and wonder what?why?who?!! Love that the comments are global…isnt’ it grand to be connected to so many kindred souls across the globe!

    • Karen, yes, it IS so wonderful to be connected across the globe! And, isn’t it amazing how we share similar circumstances and thoughts and feelings???? I think every comment has had something in common with myself. I was afraid people would think me morbid for thinking about dying and leaving junk behind, but apparently other people think about that, too.

      My 76 year old, now self employed, husband is adding to and not seeking to get rid of. Groan!!!
      Today, he bought a truck. He is selling landscape stone. Now, talk about something to get rid of!!!! And, he used to be a builder, so he has a shop about 15 feet X 36 ft full of tools, and nails, etc.
      I wish he was thinking a little more on downsizing instead of upsizing!!!!

      I am happy you are seeing headway in your efforts! It DOES take some time, but is so worth it.
      It is a real eye opener when you have to go through a deceased person’s belongings, isn’t it?

  22. Hi Brenda,

    I had been buying some tea implements for my daughter because she prefers tea to coffee. Several Christmases ago, we bought her a mug w/ infuser and lid to be used with loose tea. I haven’t seen that mug in years, so I assume it broke. I had a visit from a good friend the other day and gave her some hot tea. She really liked it so I said take it, no one else is using it. She said, but this is loose tea & I don’t have any way to use it. I thought a minute & remembered the leftover infuser & lid. Now, with hardly any thought, there is a small canister of loose tea, an infuser, and a lid gone. Yippee! (daughter has a separate infuser that she always uses)

    • Peggy, that is so great! Isn’t it interesting how something we might have held onto before, we are now glad to see it go out the door! There must be something about tea this week, because I just gave my sister three tins of loose tea that had been given to me. It wasn’t decaf and I was sure I would never use it. Also, I’m into a “use it up” of some herbal teas. Ha! I will drink some tea to our success!

      • Hi Brenda,

        I think that’s funny too. The fella who is soon to be our son in law kindly picked out some herbal teas for me. (I love herbal tea!) I found that I didn’t like all of them. So one day I made all the teas and drank them to see which I liked and which I didn’t. I put the ones I didn’t care for in a basket and will offer them around to others 🙂

        Someone recently gave my daughter a box of caffeinated tea and no one at our house wanted it (I usually get my caffeine from coffee and chocolate LOL), so it has been donated already.

        I have been trying to use up my herbal teas, too, so I can order some “Blueberry Superfruit” herbal tea which we have had before and like. But I keep buying medicinal herbal teas for throat, digestion, sleep, etc… so I’m not having much success. Still, I enjoy my teas – I will drink to further success as well 🙂

        • Cheers, Peggy! Do you hear our clinking tea cups??. :). Truthfully, I have decided that I love the IDEA of herbal teas better than I love the teas! I have tried so many over the years. I think when it comes down to it, the only one I might keep on hand is camomile. Just to simplify matters. :).

  23. Brenda, do you think I should get rid of my husband? I have had him for almost 39 years! But he does do all the cooking and cleaning. Julie

    • Brenda, Just kidding, my husband is my most prized possession. You have inspired me to start decluttering and getting rid of things. I am planning a big garage sale and everything that does not sell in 2 hours , is free!

      • Julie, your comment is showing up in my email but for some reason not at 365. It is probably my goofy iPad.

        My advice to you is keep your husband!! He is younger than you and is the only man I know who makes his wife pies every week!!

        If you want to have a yard sale in your subdivision, call me and I will bring my junk to join you!

        Thank you for reading and commenting and including me in your will. LOL!!!! But, don’t leave me your Hummels.

  24. Brenda in Ireland said “… keep family history and heirlooms items …”
    After spending a lot of time going through (and still going through after 4 years!) my deceased mothers massive hoard of stuff I am still trying to find out what some of those family things are. Most of the people who would know are gone.
    I say pass on those heirloom things to the younger members of the family now, rather than keep them. And, more importantly, pass on the stories that go with them.

    For myself, I have a lot of unintended collections to weed out too. Less than before, but still lots.

    • Stephanie, you must be a patient woman!!! 4 years is a long time to spend going through someone’s things. I probably would have given up and sent it on its way. I agree about passing on heirloom things with their stories to others who might want them now. That way, you don’t have to dust it and someone else would enjoy it! Win-win!!

      I truly hope you are soon done with this chore and get through your unintended collections! I know you will feel a sigh of relief when it is over. Speaking of “sighs of relief”, when I haul off some heavy books or loads of stuff, I often imagine my HOUSE is saying, “AHHHHhh…..that feels so much better! I’ve been bearing that burden for years!”. Ha! My talking house.

      • There was a LOT of stuff. Close to hoarder level, but neatly and tightly stashed for the most part. Less now, much has gone on its way. She had kept pretty much all of Grandma’s stuff too. Dad is in a high care nursing home, sadly with his mind gone. He also had lots of stuff, there are 3 big sheds to go through as well.
        We have a younger family member living in their house, so there was no hurry to empty all of it. Just enough to start with so he could live there. Every visit, he and I do another section, another cupboard. I will get there in the end.

        • I am sure this will make you not want to leave your own things for someone to clean up!! With Colleen’s blog and the 365 family here, hopefully NONE of us will do that to those left behind!

          • Yes yes yes, I couldn’t agree more!!! I have had to clean up lifetimes of stuff after deceased family members. It is, was, and always will be horrible, costly, dusty, and time consuming (for the most part, maybe some stuff isn’t so bad?!?)! I refuse to be that person who leaves this world and leaves physical stuff or outstanding debt that is a pain in the back side for someone else. Nope. Nada. Nien! Never! Yahoo, it is so freeing to live simply and simple live.

            • …simply live.

              Sorry for typo!

            • Annabelle, you are so right and put it elequently when you said it is freeing to live simply and simply live! I’m sorry you have had to clean up after deceased family members! I haven’t really had to to that yet, thankfully, but I have a good imagination. Even with the things I use daily or seasonly, I think, “wow! This would be a lot to get rid of.”. My plan is to reduce more and more as the years go by. If I get too old to can food, I will send off the jars, canner, and all the acccessories. I will sell or donate more and more as I get older if I don’t wind up getting rid of it all now! Ha! I removed two pieces of furniture this week from the living room and it feels wonderful.
              I’m so happy you have found your simple life. I’m still diligently working on mine!!

  25. Brenda,
    Snap, Don Aslett’s were the first de-cluttering books I read back in 1992 and I re-read them annually. As you say, these collections sneak up on us, you can never let down your guard. I had the unpleasant task of clearing out one of my mother’s homes over a long weekend in Florida (I live in Virginia). Strapped for time to empty the home four of us just took car load after car load down the road to a massive Goodwill store. Who knows if there was any treasure in the junk. After that I was determined that my child would not have such a fate befall them. At the time I was not having nice thoughts about my Mom who was a hoarder all her life.
    I have never been an on line shoppper, just a thrift shopper for years, but I have to stay out of all those stores now, prices dirt cheap and temptation too great. I have enough things to last me the rest of my life and I am only 60.
    Thank you for such an on the target post!

    • Marguerite, thank you for your comment!!! I think it was 1995 when I got my first Don Aslett book
      CLUTTER’S LAST STAND. I still love to look at all my red underlined sentences!! You inspired me to pick my copy up (I have all his books, I think) and I opened it to page 118 where he said ‘Get rid of your clutter and collections before you cash in——don’t give junk a chance to be resurrected in someone else’s life’. Which was what happened to you via your Mom. Don was the first person I ever heard say, “it’s OLD —– so what??!!”. It got me to thinking about how I didn’t need to own all the old stuff I loved. One of his books was instrumental in me getting up promptly from reading and throwing away all the big wide rubber bands I had saved from broccoli bunches. LOL!

      It is truly my hope that none of us 365ers will leave our junk to be dealt with by someone after us!
      I suppose the only positive outcome from the experience with your Mom’s house was the realization you did not want to do that to someone else!

      • Haha Marguerite and Brenda,

        I had to get out my copy of Clutter’s Last Stand! In referring to the china closet (hutch), Don Aslett says, “Who in their right mind would really take all this space, time, trouble, and insurance money to display a bunch of dishes?” He has a lot more to say, all of it funny (to me). Love this book 🙂

        • Peggy, you just hit me on the head!!! My last remaining intentional collection sits in a huge primitive corner cupboard (that I restored, of course). It is full of the green Fire King, McKee, Jadite dishes that I collected long before they were collectible. I kept finding them for almost nothing (10cents to a dollar) at auctions, yard sales, etc. I used them daily for about 20 years. There are 6 open shelves that get plenty dusty that are stacked completely full. Everything in my dining room, from salt and pepper shakers to candle holders, to lamps is that lovely green color. Any food looks beautiful on it, like placing lettuce underneath. Alas, it has not been used except for holidays for almost 16 years now, since we remodeled. I don’t have a place for it in the kitchen and it cannot be put in the dishwasher. If I lived alone, I would love to use it again, because things would be different in the kitchen. But for now, it just sits there, useless and beautiful. I have been trying to decide what to do with it, but I have been leaving it for last. My niece even got me (for free) a dental cabinet that is the exact same color that works as a server. It is the one area I am totally hesitant about giving up. Any suggestions?

          After your comment, I went back to CLUTTER’S LAST STAND to find the part about the china cabinet. He is so funny! I don’t have any of the fancy dishes or silverware, and nothing insured, but I sure have a lot of GREEN, and it isn’t money! Ha!!

          • Brenda, I had to google Fire King Jadite to discover what you were referring to here. I think I found a photo of your shelves using google…
            http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4091/5031794920_f2f2ce9f4d_b.jpg
            Ha ha Just kidding.
            I actually own one Fire King Gold mug. My siblings and I used to use them at our grandmothers before graduating to proper china cup and saucer. Now my granddaughter uses the one I have when she comes to my place. Keeping up the tradition.

            • You got it, Colleen! I might have known you had eyes in the back of your head (as my Mother used to say when I was small) to see our clutter. Ha! Although, I’m not at the point yet to see my dishes as clutter. ;0). But, they ARE collecting dust now that I am not using them all the time to keep it washed off. I AM saving them for a later decision, because I would hate to regret giving them up.

              I currently have blue accents in my kitchen (although I took most of it to the garage yesterday for future sale or whatever) and blue is my favorite color. However, I had a brainstorm late last night.
              In the future, I could remove the blue, and replace with some green. Keep using the everyday white Corelle which I love in the kitchen. Take the Green dental cabinet to the kitchen because it is overcrowded now in the dining room. Then, the kitchen and dining room, although separate, would “flow ” better from one room to another. I could use green coffee cups and eliminate the blue. It would allow me to get rid of more things and use some of the green. I know you can’t follow this visually, but I THINK I have a plan now!!

              I love your gold coffee cup story. In line with decluttering, it is always more treasured when you just have ONE of something with a special meaning, isn’t it?

              • I am glad you have come up with a solution for now. And who doesn’t love white Corelle for everyday use. That is what I have. Mind you that is all I have to it is everyday and special occasion.

                • Colleen, a friend first gave me a set of Corelle she was discarding many, many years ago. I loved the feel and ease of cleaning it and how little space it occupied stacked! Later, I found 12 white plates at the thrift for $3 and bought them. I have gotten the rest of the small pieces at the thrift stores, and purchased the serving pieces. I also have the lids that fit the cereal, soup and smaller vegetable bowls, turning them into refrigerator dishes.Oh, and the little bitty deep bowls, whatever they are. So handy! I purchased my large serving pieces. The only thing I dislike about the Corelle is it gets so hot in the microwave. I don’t use the micro a lot in reheating, but do sometimes.

                  I also found the start of a set of their Morning Blue pattern at a thrift, and was using it because I love blue. But, as I felt my kitchen was way too “busy” as I was cleaning out recently, I packed it up and switched to the all white. I was amazed at how tranquil it felt. I have loved using it. If I didn’t already have the Jadite, I would own nothing else either. I have never been one to have a second set of dishes for company or occasions. This just came about when we remodeled and I could not put the Jadite in the kitchen. I will probably eventually sell the Jadite and the corner cupboard.

                  • Colleen Madsen

                    Hi Brenda, my mum started using Corelle many years ago and it was the way it stacks so well and takes up so little space that is the most appealing attribute for me. My mum had the wide tip tea cups and saucers, and although they are the best stacking cups ever they allow too much surface area so your tea goes cold too fast. Therefore I never have had any of those. I don’t have any of the serving pieces and I rarely have need for anything like that.

                    • Hi Brenda, I was at the movies this week and thought of you. One scene was of two people sitting at a table and lo and behold on the table was two pieces of Jadite. Can’t actually remember what items they were but I probably wouldn’t have even notices if it wasn’t for the conversation here about your collection. In future I will always think of you when I see it.

                    • That is funny, Colleen. I often see the Jadite in magazines, too. — or at least I used to. I’m happy to know you will think of me when you see it. 🙂

          • Also, I would do as you are doing and save it to declutter until you are ready, or decide to keep it, or maybe just some of it.

      • Clutter’s Last Stand was the first decluttering book I read too. I love Don Aslett! He was the one that got me started, and I’ve stayed decluttered ever since. It’s the only way to live. 🙂

  26. Margaret and Brenda – on the topic of parents leaving their children to sort out their possessions, my daughter was particularly vocal on the subject on the weekend. Not regarding myself as I am alive and have no intention of re-cluttering my home. I suspect it is upcoming changes to some relatives living arrangements which have triggered her off. She summed it up as dumping your responsibilities and clean up on someone else.

  27. I enjoyed this post. That’s where I was about 4 years ago when I seriously started decluttering and going minimalistic. I had lots of ‘collections’. Old buttons, old jars, dressersI didnt need, dishes, vintage fans etc. I loved some of them but I didn’t like the cluttered look in our very small under 900 sq ft house. So, I have a friend I gave most of it to as her house is 3000 sq feet and she like the vintage look. I still have a some Fiesta ware I ‘m not sure what to do with as I like the colors. But I don’t really use them . I use White dishes as much as possible. Then I have a set of Franciscan ware Desert Rose in a box. Not too sure what I’m doing with those. but I liked your post, because I admit it’s the same for me, not so much what sparks joy, but what bugs me.

    • Christina, I wish you well in your decluttering journey. Sometimes I think my stuff may be multiplying! I have gotten rid of so very much over the last few years and I can’t believe there’s so much left. At times it is overwhelming and I wish I could make myself just give it all away. In my area, glassware isn’t selling well like it used to. And I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the excess furniture. I think I may be having an indoor, antique yard sale at my husbands office location in the near future. Bring your Desert Rose and come on over. 🙂

      If it is any encouragement, I have a friend who lives in a home your size. She doesn’t really have antiques, but it has a vintage feel and is the neatest place I’ve ever seen!

  28. Brenda, this was the best thing I have read in ages! Thank you thank you thank you. All the points you discussed are 100% spot on. I have had a somewhat similar journey like yours and I loved reading this post. Thank you.

  29. Just an update – my previous note was for Jill regarding the sewing/craft room. An for the record, I too read Don Aslett for my first decluttering book. I think I have all of them and recently reread them as inspiration for cleaning out more things. I have been ill the last few years but am feeling a lot better now and want to get cracking at tossing and donating while I can. Seventy came creeping up this year and the stairs are becoming more of a challenge. Must work faster!