When I moved here three and a half years ago, I began actively cluttering up my house. For the first time in my life, I had all these rooms, and all this space, and a basement too. How could I resist filling it up?
Well, my work here is done. This house is full. It’s full of furniture, books, art, art supplies, found objects to be used in making art, clothes that don’t fit anymore, camping stuff in case I ever go camping again, yarn, a giant loom bursting with good intentions, and a million tiny things that I only see when I’m looking for something else.
And then there are my collections. Over the years I’ve collected antique photographs, vintage cameras, old purses, playing cards, Saints cards, teapots, mannequins, vintage clothing, pottery and much, much more.
It’s time to declutter. These days I’m feeling drawn to the idea of being surrounded only by things I use and/or love.
I find the process of decluttering difficult because it’s all about making decisions, and I’m not good at snap decisions. I like to look at things from all angles and consider them carefully before deciding. It takes time, and there’s a part of me that argues for keeping every single thing. Just about everything is potentially useful when you really think about it. So decluttering is basically about arguing with myself, which naturally creates tension.
It’s difficult too because there’s so much emotional weight attached to so many objects.
I have a number of items that belonged to my grandfather, who died 15 years ago. I ended up with things nobody else wanted but nobody wanted to throw away. For example, his Christmas in a Frame prototypes, which he was trying to get patented. His Shriner stuff. His ugliest teddy bear. All his slides. I don’t really want this stuff, but I don’t feel comfortable throwing it away either. By keeping it, I feel I’m somehow protecting him from disappearing into obscurity.
Another example of emotional hoarding: I find a pebble in an old jewelry box and I think “I must have kept it for a reason; it must have had some sentimental value,” so I keep keeping it, even though I no longer have any recollection of its significance. I become sentimental about my sentimentality. I think it’s time for me to let some of this stuff go, don’t you?Apart from the psychological challenges of decluttering, there are practical questions as well. For example, what do you do with all the stuff you’re getting rid of? Put it out on the curb and let people help themselves? Donate it to a shelter or some other organization? Sell it on UsedOttawa.com? Keep it til Spring and then have a garage sale? Some combination of those things?
I feel exhausted even thinking about organizing my clutter for resale. Besides, once I’ve filled a box with stuff I want out of my house, I don’t really want it hanging around until garage sale season. I’ve barely just begun the decluttering process, but already I have three green garbage bags of clothing, a box of books and a box of kitchen stuff cluttering up my living room while I try to decide how to dispose of it.
Anyone want a rice cooker? Books about running? Small orange pants?