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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Feeling overwhelmed by stuff... Part 1

I can't pinpoint exactly when I decided I needed to breathe.  I needed open spaces and clear countertops.  I needed my head clear and my housework load lightened. I had stuff, a lot of stuff.  I wasn't really a hoarder, but I was definitely protective of my "stuff".  I mean, what if I needed it some day?  I had backups of kitchen appliances in case one broke, I had extra towels, lots of stuff.  I collected cookie jars at one time, sheep and angel figurines.  I did this when we lived in a small house and when we moved into a bigger house, I got more stuff.

A few years ago my older sister had a stroke.  Over 3/4 of her house ended up stacked in my two car garage.  We could not open the door all the way, it was so full.  I started sorting through the boxes after we realized she would not be able to live on her own.  I knew that she had always "bought stuff" to feel better, just like I did, but I didn't realize how bad she had gotten until we had to throw out about 30 pairs of flip-flops in various states of wear, from almost new to worn through.  She had knick-knacks, lists of "stuff" she had bought at auctions and never unpacked, etc.  It was sad and disheartening to see.  It was harder knowing that I went shopping to feel better and was slowly heading down the same path.

I did some research and read a lot of books and articles on "de-cluttering".  Most of the authors said that it was better to purge quickly.  Pull all of your belongings out, dump them in the middle of the room and start tossing. Get rid of any "extras", limit what you have in each room, etc.  That didn't make sense to me.  Getting rid of all your stuff fast, like ripping off a bandaid, might clean out the room but it didn't fix the problem.  I would just acquire more "stuff" to try and fix whatever was wrong with my emotions. So I started slowly...

Awhile back, I decided to start using more metal, glass and wooden things.  This meant that when I would clean out a kitchen drawer I could get rid of all the plastic serving spoons (some of which I had triple of).  I moved all of my dry goods from plastic containers to glass jars.  As I started putting things in bags and boxes to take to the local thrift store or to the dump, I started feeling something.  It was a sense of relief, almost of freedom.  It felt good.  But it was just the beginning...


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