Do you have a secret cupboard or closet that is home to everything you can’t seem to find a home for? Do you secretly stash stuff there (here and everywhere) when guests are coming over? Is there an overflowing mass of papers, old mail, two year old birthday cards that you can’t part with and drawings that your kids have done somewhere in your house that you really want to take care of but can’t bring yourself to do it?
What’s stopping you? If you are anything like me, the thing that is stopping you is the fact that you will have to make a bigger mess in order to fix the current mess. You will have to confront things that you’ve been putting off confronting. You will have to fight the demon of your inner pack rat and actually throw some things away! ((GASP))
Generally speaking I do not have a problem throwing things away. In fact I tend to throw too many things away… things that are useful… things that we need. Whenever we have moved (which has been too frequently in the past 8 years) I have taken it as the opportunity to shave down our belongings in a crew-cut like fashion. Ultimately this is a good thing I think because I don’t feel a deep attachment for any of our things. They are after all just things. But sometimes this has proven to be an issue with my husband.
When we first got married and I was helping him clean his god-forsaken room where papers, books and old cassette tapes were strewn about like so much hay in a stable I forcibly removed from him several old “keepsakes” that he had a hard time letting go of… those old cowboy boots that he bought just to go two-stepping with that girlfriend a few years back. He had worn them all of 5 times maybe. Still, he paid good money for them at one point in time and to get rid of them was close to sacrilege.
Cassette tapes were my next battle. Boxes of them, bags of them, piles of them… none of which were being listened to because the man owned the newfangled technologically advanced wonder, the CD player. I managed to get him to part with about 8 tapes when we cleaned his room out that day. The rest of them were moved to the new apartment and stuffed, once again, into the dark musty reaches of our closet only to be brought up for discussion upon the arrival of our next move. This time I won. He almost winced, and I’m sure I saw a tear bulge out from the corner of his eye, as he handed over the boxes and piles of tapes to be taken to the Salvation Army. But alas, we were free of all cassette tapes, except those that really did get listened to in the car, some of which, I must admit are still in the under-seat drawer of our mini-van.
These small victories of mine increased in size over the years until I was able to get rid of a good deal of clutter. Our last move, which came 9 years into our marriage, was probably one of our smallest, with regards to possessions, so trim had we made our collection of belongings. However, there is a downside to this. Months after a move my husband would suddenly begin the search for something that we had once owned. He would dig and search and turn the basement storage area upside down looking for it only to come up and ask me, “Where is that thing.” A sheepish grin would come across my face and I would say, “I think I remember giving that away last May… sorry.”
Hence was coined the oft repeated phrase, “You’re too efficient woman!”
Too efficient? Really? Is there such a thing? Let me assure you, if you are a clutter-bug, I am not your polar opposite. I am not an organizational nazi on most days. I have a couple of secret stashes of dirty secrets, places where I stash everything that I don’t want to deal with, find a place for, have to decide whether or not to toss or keep… but something has come over me recently and it can’t be Spring because for Pete’s sake, winter lasts until late April here! In the last two weeks I have organized the top shelves in two coat closets and just today I got the decluttering bug again.
I just organized a cupboard (double wide and very deep) in my kitchen that was previously not dedicated to much of anything other than “stuff.” We are all guilty of just stuffing stuff in there when we have company coming or when we are sick of looking at it form a growing mountain on the counter top. The truth is sad isn’t it?
Anyways, I went rummaging through my basement finding old organizational shelves and drawers that got buried during our move or that were not serving much of a purpose down in my son’s makeshift art studio (just our old kitchen table that he does all of his drawing at). Once upon a time it was organized down there too… Not anymore because I swiped everything useful and organized my cupboard instead!
So now my cupboard is wonderfully organized and holds a bunch of my homeschooling supplies, papers, notebooks, etc… that weren’t living very happy lives before being so haphazardly strewn about or stuffed.
Oh, it felt so good to throw things away again! (Disclaimer: No cassette tapes were harmed in the making of this blog post.) It felt so good to shred papers up and bring order and beauty out of chaos. It feels so good to look at that cupboard and be able to know what is in it without doing any digging. I simply have to look and I know what is in there now! Why did I wait so long?
So, if you have a secret stash of stuff that you just don’t want to face for whatever reason, go and get yourself a couple of organizational towers, boxes, file shelves or drawers, pull out your paper shredder, get a giant trash bag and get ready to take a big trip to your recycling dumpster. Just think of it as saving trees or something noble like that and maybe that will make you feel that not only are you making that space useful, not only will you be bringing beauty out of chaos, you will also be contributing to the creation of something like brown paper bags and paper towels or kleenex boxes that otherwise might not have ever been made if not for your decluttering bug! (That’s really just for all you environmentally motivated types that need a cosmic reason to clean out the cupboard.) For me, the satisfaction of having a usable space again is enough!