Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
If you live in the US, you’re reading this on May 31, the last day of my 365 challenge. Ah, let’s all say that together, “365 Days of decluttering.” Sounds nice, doesn’t it? How did I get to this point? What have I gotten rid of? What have I learned?
In 2002, my family of a 2 1/2 year old daughter, husband and I bought a well used house in a very nice neighborhood. An 86 year old widower lived in the house, which hadn’t been remodelled or updated in dozens of years. You can use your imagination! Within 3 months, we had another daughter. With these two ever-changing beings scampering around underfoot, we took on two major remodels with Dan and I providing a lot, but certainly not all, of the labor. In addition, Dan worked full time, and I had the kids home with me.
The house was always in flux. Many, many objects had homes and the insides of the cabinets and closets were fairly clean and tidy, but every surface was covered in … everything. Dan would pick something up and ask, “Where does this go?” to which I would respond, “I don’t know. Just leave it there.” It was an embarrassment, and I hated having people stop by. (The Fly Lady calls the situation I was in C.H.A.O.S. for “Cant’ Have Anyone Over Syndrome.”)
In the summer of 2009, we finished our second major remodel, which included the kitchen, all the living/eating areas, and the addition of a room and bath on the second floor. When the workers finished, they left behind a beautiful, mostly completed home. It needed paint everywhere, inside and out, plus clean up in the yard, but it was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I looked around at all our junk spread everywhere in the house and knew I could no longer use “I don’t know where it goes” as an excuse. The remodelling was done; everything had to have a home.
I started working on it on my own. I got my friend Holly to help me out a couple of times. I hired Susan and Amy from The Clutter Consultants to help me a couple of times. But it was slow going because I was also painting when I had a block of free time. Then at the very end of May 2010, my friend Janet sent me a link to Unclutterer. From there I found 365 Less Things. I said, “I can take that challenge,” and I started the next day, not only decluttering but holding myself accountable by noting what I had decluttered everyday as one of my Facebook posts.
It took a couple of months before others could really see a difference, but the successes kept building on themselves. As the months progressed, I heard from friends that they were inspired by me, and once I read on Facebook, “Inspired by my friend Cindy today I decluttered…” People asked me for tips on how to get rid of things and wondered how to sell on Ebay.
In August 2010, Colleen planned a month-long trip to Italy with Steve, and she began looking for people who would write guest columns to help fill up the space. I wrote six, and I think two other people wrote one each. (Can you imagine that she prepared the rest of the 30 days by herself?) You can read my first post here. The at the end of October when Colleen’s son Liam was hospitalized after a serious accident, I got an email from Colleen: Could I please try to keep the blog running while she was at the hospital? Well, of course I could. When Liam was healed and home, I continued to write once a week what is now called Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom.
In the past year, I have decluttered 2316 items and have made $2635.70 (1868 Euros, 2493 Australian dollars).
The largest thing I decluttered was a car, which was worth $1500 but needed $3000 worth of work. I traded it to Joe, who maintains my cars, for $1000 credit on maintenance of my other vehicle. That was in February, and we have found that having one car works just fine for us and have not replaced it. (My husband rides his bicycle the 3 miles to work each day.)
The smallest things I have decluttered have been all the little scraps of art junk generated by my children.
None of the items I decluttered were especially wrenching for me, and my only regret was the cracking (but not yet broken) lid for a 13 x 9 pan. I wish I’d saved until until it did completely break.
My house was a constant mess. If I can get control of mine, you can get control of yours.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Purchasing decisions take much longer because everything has to be examined through the lens of “How long until I declutter you?”
Selling is worthwhile. (An area of controversy here on 365 Less Things, but this is my list.)
If you declutter, your friends, relatives, children and spouse will follow, but at their own pace and in their own time.
Letting go of something, or lots of somethings, probably won’t be as wrenching as you anticipate.
Your house will practically self-clean when you reach a certain mass of decluttered items.
Decluttering is never completely done. It’s a form of housekeeping, and it has to be maintained.
Words of wisdom from my husband ~ “Just because you have room for something doesn’t mean you need to keep it. Usually people think that clutter is anything you don’t have storage for, but clutter is a whole host of things you no longer need, want, or value.”
Words or wisdom from my 11 year old ~ “It’s OK to get rid of one more thing . . . two more things.”
And My Final Conclusion
I decided that 365 days felt rather anticlimactic for me. It represents a completion of an assigned number of days, but I am not through. I decided to extend my challenge to the end of the year, another 6 months. I’ll re-evaluate if I can go into maintenance mode then, but for now, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
* * * * * * *
Today’s Declutter Item
Cindy wrote about freebies the other day and how they often just end up as clutter. This toiletries bag is one of those free clutter items and it was full of free product as well. It seemed like such a novelty at the time but it didn’t take long to figure out that mostly it was just a blight on the environment. All those tiny products in little plastic bottles with no recycling code on them what a waste. i have learned my lesson.
My Gratitude List
- Something that made me laugh ~ My friend Amber and I discussing the idea of starting a café critic blog together. We were just joking of course but we had fun discussing the details or our imagined escapades trying out all the different cafés in town and giving our “expert” opinion on their offerings.
- Something Awesome ~ That just cleaned look when you have finished vacuuming and wiping out the interior of your car. Tip:- never by a car with a dark interior.
- Something to be grateful for ~ Having the car for a few days in a row. I am getting so much stuff done, including cleaning it.
- Something that made me happy ~ The joy of helping out a friend in need.
- Something that felt good ~ Crossing things off my to-do list.
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow