Who are you now

Does your clutter say more about the person you aren’t than the person you are. Or perhaps the person you were, rather than the person you are now.

Lets take “the person you aren’t v. the person you are first.

Do you have outfits in your wardrobe that are the latest fashion but don’t really suit your taste or your body for that matter? Are there also pretty but uncomfortable shoes in there that you avoid using and when you do it is torture. Do you have ingredients in your pantry, shelves of dusty cookbooks or files of unused recipe clippings, and a kitchen full of rarely used utensils, pans and gadgets? Do you have craft supplies for a hobby that you loved the outcome of but have no aptitude to participate in? Do you have pretty, cups, plates and dishes in a china cabinet for fancy dinner parties that you never host?

I could go on and on with other examples but I think you get the idea. Can you see yourself in one of these examples or, after reading them, can come up with other forms of aspiration clutter around your house. If so, ask yourself, “Am I that person or do I only wish I was because it represents someone else’s ideal?” Make a better fist of trying this persona on for size by participating for a while. Long enough to come to a conclusion. Or give it up and be the unique person you really are with your own assets and lovable characteristics.

Question two ~ Does your clutter say more about the person you were rather than the person you are now.

Are there sporting items idle in your home from back in the day when you participated in that sport? Perhaps equipment that you keep telling yourself you might use again someday. Do you have half a closet of clothes that used to fit you and hope will again someday? Do you have old ingredients in your pantry for dishes you can no longer eat because of digestive sensitivities. Do you have a room or closet dedicated to toys and children’s clothes from back in the day when your children weren’t grown and left home. Do you have shelves of books you used to have the time to read once upon a time but now you don’t.

Once again there are more and more examples that I could come up with. I am sure each of us have at least one example of this kind of clutter that we just haven’t got around to disposing of. Then there is the case of not admitting to ourself that we have moved past that phase and are unlikely to ever return.

Take a look around your home and see if you can find examples of these kinds of clutter. I have two drawers full of beading supplies that I doubt I am ever likely to return to. I use the findings to repair broken jewellery for the thrift shop I volunteer at, but aside from that I haven’t actually used any of it for ages. At the very least I need to reduce these supplies, at the most I should let go of nearly all of it except what I really do use. I’ve decided to use some of it for a craft project I have in mind but after that I think I will find an outlet to dispose of what’s left. In fact I have an idea in mind.

Can you be honest with yourself about your aspiration, or past life, clutter? Let us know if you identified any and what you are going to do about it.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a tool of some sort. Be it craft, kitchen or garage.

Eco Tip for the Day

Challenge yourself to put every piece of recyclable material in the recycling bin no matter how small.. It is easy to be blasé about small pieces of paper or plastic but so long as they can be recycled they are best kept out of landfill.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


Continue reading with these posts:

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  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
About Colleen Madsen

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

Comments

  1. This is the perfect post for me right now. There are several examples of my old self fighting against my new self. I DO have shoes that I avoid because of they aren’t comfortable and on the last pass through my closet I wasn’t ready to part with them. Maybe I am ready to get rid of at least a pair or two now… Thanks for the inspiration Colleen!

    • Hi Kayla, I am glad the this post might inspire you to let go of a couple of those pairs of uncomfortable shoes. I had a feeling this post might speak to you.

  2. Colleen, I think one of the things about this great post is that it makes you think about things. One thing it has made me think about is my clothes. I don’t have very many but I have to admit what I do have I’m not that fond of. They are just things I could find at a price I was willing to pay. While they are okay they are not my most favorite. I need to stop buying things I know my mother will accept and instead buy things I really like and that are me. It will have to be done slowly because of our finances but I’m going to eventually make the switch.

    • Deb J.
      You owe it to yourself to wear only clothes that you love and make you feel great. They don’t have to break the bank. You deserve it! Watch your spirits soar when you start doing a few things here and there just for you 🙂 It took me almost 50 years to get my act together on this one.

      • Kimberley, when I lived on my own I did wear things that were ME. Then my Mom started living with me and I became tired of the almost daily “I wish you wouldn’t wear that.” I’m going to start living with it. I’m tired of giving in to keep the peace.

        • Good for you Deb J

        • Deb J,
          Stand your ground. I can tell how much you love your Mom by your comments and wonderful posts. You can’t keep sacrificing your well being and peace of mind to appease your Mom. Keep in mind that as many people age they somehow feel empowered to just say and do whatever they want whenever they want. It’s almost like some type of entitlement mentality because they have lived so long. I have personally experienced this with grandparents and in-laws. And, then of course, some people have always been this way.

        • Good for you Deb. I would just gently let her know, if she begins making comments like that, that you don’t appreciate it and that you are happy with your choices. Perhaps she will realise that you are happier wearing what you want and leave it alone.

          • Colleen, I had to laugh about Mom maybe letting it go. That’s so not Mom. She never lets anything go. But, I will just have to put up with it and not let it bug me.

    • Good for you Deb. It is nice to feel good about yourself and to look your best helps you feel your best. And you are right, don’t dress to suit someone else. And buying fewer items, that you like, at a higher price is better than buying a lot of items you don’t really like. Things you settled on, so to speak.

  3. This is an AWESOME post!
    By the way a belated Merry Matariki to everyone.

    AND did you know that June is Rebuild Your Life Month and June 23 is National Let It Go Day. Its the 24th here but am happy to jump on the bandwagon a day late. Or ahead. Whichever.

    I just read a post from somewhere else as I was clearing yesterday’s inbox and spied this unopened post and I loved this line “Letting go is a muscle that needs exercised. The more you use it, the more you will eliminate the fear of the unknown in your life”

    If you are interested in reading it:
    http://www.unclutter.com/letting-go-create-life-you-love/

    But back to your post Colleen I felt they tied in together nicely for me – you have written a great post. I love this: Does your clutter say more about the person you were rather than the person you are now.

    That is going on the quotes wall of fame!!!

    If I had to catalogue everything that isn’t in use in my household, what picture would it paint? Would that image reflect me today?

    • I like the quote you gave us Moni. “Letting go is a muscle that needs exercised. The more you use it, the more you will eliminate the fear of the unknown in your life”

    • Hi Moni, thank you for sharing that link. I enjoyed it and shared it on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

      I actually think that the photos of my decluttered items reflect a lot about who I was and still am. Someone who likes to simplify my daily tasks. Unfortunately by trying to do this I just complicated it by adding more and more stuff to take care of. At the same time previously I may have been more sentimental about stuff than I am now. Most of what I have left says ~ This lady likes to live a simple life.

  4. I know where I’m going now. I buy less, throw away less and stress less about stuff. I like my new habits and friends.
    Cheers

    • Hi Wendy, I think you have changed a lot since we met. But in all the best ways you are still much the same. Cheerful, generous, friendly and considerate.

  5. Lost my original comment (like magic, it just disappeared), so will keep this simple.
    Your post should be titled, “Isn’t this how clutter begins?” 🙂
    We move from one phase of our life to another. We don’t or won’t let go of what used to serve us while at the same time adding things that now do. It’s as simple as doing the math.

    • The same thing happened to me when I responded to Moni’s comment yesterday then I had no time left and had to move on so am responding to everyone now.

      Oh my you hit the nail right on the head with your comment. That is exactly how clutter starts.

  6. Probably guilty on all counts except for shoes. When my feet got longer, I ended up donating every pair I had after I bought the larger size, and I bought only comfortable ones. Sunday I found 10 various sized crochet hooks while looking for a needle to replace the one that broke on the sewing machine. I don’t know how these stayed off the radar while going through sewing/craft stuff–and I don’t know when they were used last–probably by the daughter who did a bunch of granny square afghans. They are set aside now for either consignment or donation. Last week to my disappointment I found another file box with more videos, so I am slowly going through those–so far they have all been in good shape and are all headed for donation Will work on my radar and hope it does a better job of spotting things. This day was mostly spent getting some paper records in better order and putting duplicate and unneeded copies in our “use the other side” pile–for printouts that only have to be kept about a month.

    • Well done Nana you are going strong with your decluttering. Don’t be shocked when you stumble across things that you miss or didn’t even realise they were there. This just means that you are effectively skimming off the layers of clutter and revealing another layer. That is a good thing. Eventually all you will be left with is the good stuff. Then it will just be a case of maintenance decluttering as life does move on.

  7. Another great post, all of which I can identify with and agree with. Regarding small pieces of paper: I use the backs of old letters, junk mail etc ( some for drawing paper for my little granddaughter, some torn into smaller pieces for grocery lists, phone messages etc. All these bits find their way into the paper recycling bin. Letters are shredded and any small bits of paper( old grocery lists, instructions from medicine packets etc are added to the shredder box and eventually put into a plastic bag ( yes, I know the reservations here but this is how we are asked to bag shreddings and tiny pieces for recycling and the bags are ones that have been popped through the door by charities wanting clothing and Bric a brac donations). I reuse jars and plastic tubs as much as possible but I am still amazed how much recycling we generate very fortnight when I see it all together in the bins and bags at the kerbside, waiting for collection. My consolation is that at least it is going to be recycled and not ending up in a landfill somewhere spoiling our beautiful countryside.

    • Hi Linda, I am surprised that you are encouraged to put your shedding into plastic bags. We are not supposed to put plastic bags in our recycling bins. I save any large paper bags and some small boxes that come along for the purpose of packaging up my shedding for the bin. Given that I carry my own bag, so don’t accept bags in store, it can be a challenge to get enough to do this task. Now that I live in an apartment I just retrieve small boxes that other people put on our communal bins.

      Don’t be to alarmed about how much packaging comes through your door. Just do your best to reduce it as much as possible. For example I don’t little individual yoghurt tubs, I buy one large one and scoop out what I need each day.

  8. Good post and this is why I need to let go of my last fishbowl and the rest of my aquarium books.

    I was able to sell my last fish tank and tank stand but kept a hold of the fishbowl. Guess I can let it go for now even though I kept telling myself I’d make it into a terrarium but it’s been sans plants for a few years now. Hmmm.

  9. A few years ago for me it was my jewelry making stuff – I have a friend who makes BEAUTIFUL jewelry and she taught me how to make jewelry too. I enjoyed having the finished product, and while I was adept at it, I didn’t enjoy it – I’d much rather scrapbook or embroider! So I gave her everything except my basic repair tools and some basic repair pieces (a couple of clasps, earring hooks, etc.). They all fit in one tiny box and I can do simple repairs myself if need be, but I don’t have all the clutter of the rest of it! My friend was more than willing to take the things and even made me a necklace and earring set as a thank you!

    I also decided to simplify my wardrobe for the same reasons – I’m much more a classic person rather than a trendy person and the trendy pieces were not getting worn. Donated to my favorite charity and now someone else can have “the look” without the price and I don’t have them cluttering up my closet!

    Thanks so much for your work here – I get so much encouragement from reading here!
    Lea

  10. Wow, this is an eye-opening post. This situation is something that may be dragging me down in the declutter department. How disgruntled do I have to get before I implement changes? So much has gone out the door already, but there is still much work to be done. Thanks for this. 🙂

  11. Such a great post, Colleen, thank you! This is truly looking at the heart of clutter. I know that I have items in every room and closet of this house that reflect the person I used to be – the one who played tennis three times a week, but hasn’t been near a tennis court for 18 years – and the person I would like to be – who could fit into those clothes that were perfect five years ago. It really is a case of taking a very hard and honest look at it all and accepting and celebrating who we are now, not regretting the way it was or might be. Life moves forward and we change with it and I don’t want to be burdened with artefacts that no longer are a part of my lifestyle. That tennis racquet will be going out!!

    • Christine – It’s funny that you mention tennis rackets because I had that very conversation last night with hubby. He hasn’t used the tennis rackets in years but he’s asked for a ‘stay of execution’ until the end of the year ie when it is Summer again and he will see how keen he actually is when the weather is better. Personally I think he’ll want to go fishing which is the hobby that replaced all hobbies, but I’m happy to wait till then.

  12. Hi, Great post today and I think this applicable to all of us at some juncture.

    It’s a good reminder to keep on top of who we are constantly evolving into, keeping up with the changes in our lives.
    This post hits home for me because I was once a freelance artist – painting, drawing, sewing sculpture, you name it. Now working full time with teens, I don’t have time nor do I make time.

    I have been slowly culling my studio in the garage from something that was a huge mess into simpler and simpler versions of its former self. Now despite its reasonable simplicity I realise I am just never in there. I am tackling one box at a time and so many bits and pieces literally tug at my heart as I contemplate letting them go.
    Art materials are attached to such emotion, they represent possibility. There does come a time however when they kind of reach a use by date. I find a useful ploy is setting a “Use By Date” on art materials. If you don’t use it in a year, or 6 months, were you even going to use it?

    Thanks again, this post has reinforced my studio journey. The time has come to let the person I was go or at the very least, open up possibility by freeing it all up again for new avenues.

    • Sarah,

      I really like your ‘use by’ date idea and will add it to my criteria for downsizing more stuff.
      Thanks.

  13. The thing I continue to remind myself about letting go is I am making room for the future. What that future is, I’m not sure but for every object tossed there is that much more room to expand. This last year I have tackled some objects that have been repeatedly been passed over because I felt I *might* one day need them or want them. A lot of this stuff was childhood stuff (dolls, journals, knickknacks, letters, etc.), clothes/shoes (a near constant battle), and so called family heirlooms (that I’m supposed to hang onto, because no one else wants it). So I have been tossing, and donating, and giving away, and leaving on the curb. And then I realize little things I would actually *like* to have. A wireless printer, so I can print from my phone or macbook for my work. Nice new business cards, after tossing boxes of outdated business cards. A tv mounted on my wall (above my desk) for my recently vacated space – removing some artwork that a relative gave me and I never really liked anyway. I know I have gotten rid of more than I have brought in. But with some of these objects gone, I begin to have a clearer idea of what I would like and how I want to live.

    Don’t get me wrong – there is still more to go. Like my bowling ball, in a bowling bag, engraved with my name. Its probably next on the chopping block, since I haven’t thrown it in 20 years. And the kitchen gadgets my aunt insisted I take when she moved, three years ago. I have basically never used them, and I’m sick of seeing them when I go in the basement. But its a process . . . one object at a time LOL.

  14. I have to say that my mouth dropped open when I read this post…I have never ever considered this perspective before..and it’s true! I am hanging on the stages of my life that will be no more! What am I thinking! I am also hanging on to items that belonged to people that are no longer with me too…my dad passed in 1996 and I have things that are his, just because they were his….time to let go…………….really it’s time to let it go……thank you so much. I have printed this out and and carrying it with as I begin a major declutter of my life……

    • A sincere “Good for you” Carol. Making up your mind to finally let go of sentimental items that you have had for a long time is a big deal. I hope the decluttering process goes smoothly for you and you begin to enjoy the open spaces you create.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I received the following comment from Kimberley to one of last week’s posts ~ Who Are You Now. […]