Recently a friend was cleaning out items from his mother’s estate, a chore than sadly has stretched on at least two years now. He brought over a bag of craft supplies, jewelry, and a peanut butter jar full of needles and other small sewing items. Â In pretty short order, Dan and the girls and I sorted through the jewelry and craft supplies. Only the peanut butter jar remained. Specifically, it remained on my desk for weeks. Finally I got sick of looking at it there, so I moved it to the kitchen island to motivate myself to sort through it. There is remained for another month. I looked at it yesterday and realized that I still hadn’t sorted through it and that, more importantly, I obviously didn’t care. I don’t need any needles; I don’t need any pins. I suppose it’s possible that there is some tiny sewing item in the jar that might make my sewing box better and more complete, but I don’t know what it is and (say it with me) I don’t care. It’s just clutter. I don’t know everything that’s in that jar, and I just don’t care. It wasn’t my clutter, but then I let it become my clutter. I put it into the thrift store bag without opening it. Problem taken care of.
We think that we have to sort, and categorize, and make a wise decision about every item that needs to be decluttered. Maybe it doesn’t matter to you; maybe you don’t care. Â Do you need to look through each craft supply, each ball of yarn, each set of beads and make a separate and independent decision? Not if you don’t care. Just get rid of the whole lot and be finished with it. Same with books, tools, cookware, collectibles – anything that you feel this constant, aching need to “deal” with when you just really don’t want to. Let me free you from that nagging thought. Who cares if you could make a few bucks on Ebay? Who cares if one of those 100 books might be worth more than 25 cents at a garage sale? Just free them from your life. Sometimes it’s okay not to care.
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter a souvenir.
Eco Tip For The Day
Drink tap water in preference to carbonated beverages. It doesnâ€™t take aÂ genius to work out how much better that is for the environment. Your waistline and your teeth will thank you for it as well.
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow
Colleen Madsen says
I can very much relate to this Cindy. Been there done this several times now. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the effort to faff around with things like this. Particularly in relation to this line “Who cares if you could make a few bucks on Ebay?”. Sometimes your time is just more valuable than the items involved.
Good post Cindy – I agree
Such a great sentiment Cindy – “I just don’t care”. I’ve certainly had that feeling over a number of items and it is so freeing.
I am starting to feel a lot like this about some textbooks I have been trying to sell – I bought them all over the past 2 years but never had the time to read them all, so some were never even opened. Now they are just taking up a lot of space and I know I will never get a chance to read them because there are far too many and we are studying new things now. I’ve been having no success selling them and have already asked my university library if they would like them, they have said yes, so whatever isn’t gone by midday Friday will be donated. I chose my university library rather than a thift store/charity shop because I felt that more students in the long-term would benefit from them. I can’t wait for them to go, one way or another! 🙂
Colleen Madsen says
Get those books out of there Jane and use this lesson to help you reframe from hasty purchases in the future.
Have to agree Colleen, I was very hasty. If I was to do it all again I would have purchased more second hand and as I read each book, rather than all new, all at once.
This year was the first in my studies I bought second hand books wherever possible, and the total was still expensive – how on earth I coped when I saw my bank balance in previous years I’ll never know!
Lesson definitely learnt! 🙂
It’s funny – so many times Colleen and Cindy seem to be tuned to what is happening right now in my life. And today they’ve done it again.
I have been emptying our house, slowly at first, and am on a roll now. I got rid of a set of china – I had bought it, and this will sound so stupid to you, but I bought it because my best friend would have liked it. Well, that friend dumped me two years ago. Just out of the blue. I did call to find out if I had done something wrong and she said no, she was just so busy now. That’s the last of what I heard from her. So dumping that china felt really good. Yes, I could have sold it, but I didn’t really care. I don’t use donations to help reduce my taxes. So getting rid of them was enough. I went on a rampage with a big black plastic garbage bag, and just swept through the rooms, gathering ANYTHING that I could toss. And I had to get two bags. Because the more I dumped, the better I felt. Why keep my make-up bag and make -up if I don’t use make-up anymore. So lots got tossed. And it feels SO good!
It is like wasted thoughts. It doesn’t do any good to ruminate on what you can’t control. St. Francis’ Serenity Prayer is a good place to start. Practice contentment.
Colleen Madsen says
Good for you Annie, it sounds like you are getting quite ruthless with your decluttering. That is a good sign that your attachment to stuff is waning. That makes for easy decluttering.
It is interesting to see what is important to one person has absolutely no value to another person. For instance, my great grandma’s S&P shakers. Anybody looking at them would say, yep, those are S&P shakers, uh huh, big deal. 😉 Or my husband’s grandma’s afghan which I don’t place value on, which is kindof a not-great thing to say. I suppose there is no right or wrong. Great post, Cindy!
Michelle, Michelle, Michelle – that afghan is still around?!!!!
Moni, this afghan is the bane of my existence!!! Seriously though, since we’re going to be around other family members for Thanksgiving, I’m going to get hubby to speak with his brothers about it. Maybe one of them will want it. And then I can get rid of it – guilt free!
Michelle – Take it with you already to change hands to the person who says yes!
Colleen Madsen says
Actually Michelle I think those two items are essentially the same thing. Two different people placing value on items from there grand-parents. Unless your husband doesn’t give a hoot about the Afghan either and in that case I would just get rid of it regardless of who made it.
Good ideas! I hadn’t thought about my husband’s nephew, but he will be at dinner too and maybe he wants it, so I am going to take it. Thanks ladies!
Thanks for sharing this. If we could recognize that we “don’t care” sooner then life would be easier….or at least less cluttered. I have some friends leaving Brazil so they were getting rid of a lot of stuff. I was trying to help out by taking some of the imported stuff off her hands while still being selective. I had already taken just what I wanted and resisted taking things “just in case.” So when she called me on her last day saying that she would love to give me and some friends some gifts and the box I had already looked through I felt compelled to go out to her house to help her out but told her I would call her back. In the mean time I realized that I did not want anything in that box and the gift she wanted to give me was something that I would not use. So I bolstered my courage and told her that I couldn’t really come out (which was true) and to give the stuff away to anybody she wanted and that she did not need to save anything for me. It is funny how we can feel obligated to take someone’s stuff when we really can say no.
Colleen Madsen says
A good lesson learned Grace. Well done. And a very diplomatic way of say thanks but no thanks.
Great post, Cindy! I had this problem once. A guy lent me some English text books because he wanted me to give him some lessons. We were just work colleagues. I agreed and took those books. He never asked for any lessons, I changed jobs and we parted ways. Some 5 or 6 years later after he calls me, out of the blue, asking me if I could “please give his books back and thanks for keeping them all this time” in the same phrase. As I had decluttered those books just a few months earlier, I said I was sorry but the books were not with me. He had the nerve to be upset. As I cared nothing for him I told him my house was not his library and if he really cared he would take better care of his stuff.
As for me, it is a lesson: borrow, use, give back as soon as possible. As for getting other peoples clutter, sometimes I just do what Cindy said: I don’t even open the bag.
Marie L says
Excellent post Cindy!! It is so true. Who cares?? Sometimes I just don’t care. Other times I get a guilty feeling on throwing away perfectly good stuff. But sometimes it is the only way you have to get rid of stuff. If you have to wait for someone to take your stuff, then it’ll sit for months in your house. If you want to sell it on ebay, better be something of monetary value, because after ebay and paypal fees what is left is just peanuts. I have sold a lot of collectibles on ebay in the past years. But now that is a soft market. You get just 1/10 of what you paid. I think this new generation doesn’t want any collectible stuff in their homes. And we, collectors,are getting old, and we don’t want to spend too much time cleaning collections. So collectibles are in a limbo. Young people want tech stuff, not collections. They are more practical, than we were.
Great post today, Cindy. Too many times I have gotten caught up in the details of things. I must admit it is in my nature because I am a detailed person. I have no problem getting rid of things, but I tend to want to know what it is I am getting rid of. I don’t have to sell it either, I am perfectly fine with letting it go out the door, but not without a once over. I guess it is something that I need to work on, letting it go without fussing over every detail.
Great posts again this week. Over the last week I got rid of more books. The last text book went to Amazon and all the other books finally got dropped off today at the donation area at the library. I drove around with many of these books in my car for weeks. Yikes! It feels great to have got rid of them all.
The other areas I have been contemplating are sentimental areas. I have artwork and a toy car collection that belonged to my Dad that I have been giving a lot of thought to getting rid off. They have been at my house for about 12 years now since my Dad passed away. They have never moved from storage in the garage since they were shipped form England. I will never display the paintings because we like to use our travel pictures as artwork. I have held on to them because they are of the English Lake District, which I love. Who am I kidding? I will ever put these pictures on my wall. They do not reflect who I am, only who I used to be. I think it is time to take photos and scan them into my computer. I know I will feel much “lighter” when I do this.
I used to feel like I “should” care about the trinkets and items that we have inherited by moves and the passing on of friends and family, (they were FREE after all) but now it has gotten so much easier to let it go. I get more from donating items to a charity that really does care about the items’ value than I do about trying to guess and extract the value for myself. My old self would think that was a waste, my new (less cluttered) self thinks it is the right thing to do.
Excellent, creativeme, and I am coming around to that way of thinking as well. 🙂
Asking ourselves how much we really need of an item helps to make the decision easier. If you have what you need already, like you with the pins and needles, you can just pass it on for someone else who may need it. I think we forget that when we pass something to someone else, whether we know them or not, we may be meeting a need for them. For some reason it seems to be hard to just accept that we have enough, even if it is functional. When you think of blessing someone else in need, it is easier to let go.
Janet K says
Fantastic post, my dear!! I watch an older friend of mine who very much wants to declutter a life of collecting “stuff” but at the same time feels the need to examine every item and make sure it finds the right home. It’s hard to watch. I can be ruthless in my decluttering and I feel like it is a blessing. So glad you came out and said the emperor has no clothes and YES it is okay not to care.
nicole 86 from France says
when I got painfully divorced , I gave my elder daughter all the photos and album of our family life,. As for me, I would have destroyed them , because of my very young grand children , I did not dare. My daughter keep them in a cupbard of her huge house. Was I right ? I do not know .
It is difficult to part from books, they are the only thing I miss after hard dcluttering, I even think of buying books I sold or gave way three years ago !
Colleen Madsen says
I think you did the right thing with those albums. Having them in your home causing you pain would not have been wise. When your are ready you could always ask your daughter if you could have them back. Cull out the poor photos, meaningless shots and duplicates to lessen the load. Don’t destroy photographic history even if it changed in a way you preferred it didn’t. It is still your history and that of your family.
I am sorry to hear that you miss your books. One think I will say is the when you are decluttering only let go of the things you are willing and happy to part with. It is not a crime to maintain a shelf or two of books in ones home.
Nicole, Can you order those books you miss? I think there is nothing wrong with having books you love. It is, of course hanging on to books we never read or intend to read. I found out last week that in my book decluttering that there was a book that my daughter really loved that I gave away. I was so happy to see it for a really good price on a kindle deal today. So that saved the day. I have no problem buying back books I gave away when I find out that they were more special than I thought. We aren’t clairvoyant and won’t know what will happen in the future. So if you can find them again than do it. : )
nicole 86 from France says
thank you for your help. I can find some of the books, but I am becoming a bit stingy since prices have nothing in commun with my selling ones ! And moreover now, I get relunctant when decluttering. I definetely must get more easy-going.
I got off the phone with my dd who wants to bring a friend down her to Brazil. She mentioned that this friend has some anxiety issues but one of them revolves around living in a house full of stuff. My dd said you could not even get around the stuff easily in this house. I thought, wow, those people really don’t care enough about their daughter to see what is happening. I wish we would all care about the right things and let go of those things that just don’t matter. I felt good however that she wants to bring her here where she will not be faced with so much stuff and can may be breathe more easily.
I don’t even offer things to our grown children because I don’t want to clutter up their houses. I don’t think they would take stuff out of feeling obligated, but you never know. Just went through sewing supplies again, and though I didn’t have a nice handy peanut butter jar to toss, I didn’t do a lot of thinking either–just a quick glance and go or stay–mostly go. And I really don’t care if I missed keeping something. I just take most of it to the thrift shop. I feel like anyone who likes something enough to pay money for it will probably appreciate it more than my kids who have plenty of stuff. I had considered selling some books on amazon, but I think it would be more trouble than it is worth–now if we were just starting out and could use the possible money, I would care, but have decided to donate the books, I don’t care. All I care about is getting them gone.
Nana, I agree! Unless you are in the book business it is probably better to donate them like you did. A friend of my posted on facebook that she has a whole set of some teen books and wondered if she should sell them. Now I knew that they had no value but I couldn’t come right and say that. Thankfully she just donated them. Sometimes the book market is so fickle and unless you are willing to invest a lot of time you won’t really get that much back from all of your effort. I think you made a good decision!
Vicki K says
As I am getting out my Christmas things, I am being ruthless, realizing what things I really enjoy, and putting the other items in the donation bag. And I decided Not To Care that some of this decor is ‘really nice’.
Normally, I would clear out decor after Christmas. But doing it now means the donation recipients should be able to sell it immediately since it is still early in the season.
Thank you, Colleen, for continuing this wonderful blog and facilitating such inspirational discussion. I’ve been doing the Slow and Steady approach since April. Today as I was getting into cupboards and closets – I realized that there is noticeably more space and less Stuff to contend with–I am so thankful to be on this road!
When my grandmother died years ago, all her stuff came to my mother’s house. My parents ran a business at the time, and never had the time to sort through my grandmother’s stuff.
When we finally started to sort through the things, a lot of it had gotten damaged (wet) in storage, mice damage, etc.–and I would have thrown out the majority of it with barely a glance, but my mother insisted on picking up and looking over every piece, EVERY piece.
It was very frustrating trying to help on this decluttering project. I guess I’m just not as sentimental as my mother is, or something, because there was very little I saw among all the stuff that I would have bothered to save, but I do understand that she wanted to hold onto some of her mother’s things.
I also agree about how many times our time is worth more than trying to sell something on Ebay–or having a garage sale, for that matter. I hate garage sales; I think they’re way too much work for too little return.
I couldn’t stand having piles of stuff taking up space all winter while I was waiting for the garage sale season to come around again, and I can’t be bothered to sell at a garage sale anyway. If I don’t want it in my house, I want it GONE, not stored so we can try to sell it for twenty-five cents.