Clean Sweep

I am in the midst of a cleanout.

It’s hard to put a date on it, to say I’m in Week 2, Day 6, because really, I’ve been in declutter mode since childhood. My mother was a hoarder, a messy hoarder, and it seemed like there was never time and/or money to organize properly. Thus, we had toys and books and clothes and movies EVERYWHERE. The idea was it was wasteful to throw away things that weren’t broken, or even things that were, because they still had a use somewhere and Daddy worked hard to pay for that, you know.

I went to college, and was in control of my own space… but then I moved to Brazil for the summer. And back to the dorms. And then I moved to Kansas for the summer. And then I had a whole apartment! (But then I lived more at my boyfriend’s house than mine.) And then I moved to Indianapolis for the summer. And then I officially lived with my boyfriend. And then we got engaged and graduated and moved in with his parents for a few weeks. And then we got our own place, and started over on building a home. Once they built theirs, we moved back into their old house, on top of everything they didn’t bother to move out.

All along the way, “stuff” is accumulated. I’ve been collecting my personal stuff, periodically leaving/retrieving stuff at my parents’, and then you wind up with all the stuff for grown up life… wedding stuff and remodeling stuff and career stuff and I’m still corraling farm stuff and mechanic stuff and gun stuff… On top of other people’s stuff. This stuff has got to go!

So while I’ve effectively been in declutter mode since age seven, bound by the “Is this REALLY broken? Could I donate it?” mindset, I’m approaching this final leg of my transcience (just over a month in this house now) with a new mantra. The wastefulness is not in disposing of fifteen year old hair dye or perm kits, it was fifteen years ago buying said things. It’s reckless and selfish to acquire excess “stuff”. It doesn’t serve you sitting in the back of the closet and it probably won’t serve you in 10 years when you finally unpack it.

This new mindset is freeing. While a deeply-habitual voice in the back of my mind is screaming in agony when I pitch an empty cottage cheese container, she’s soon smothered by the satisfaction of an empty cabinet shelf. The space, the flexibility, the opportunity to grow later – that’s what my husband and I are aspiring to.

Fear not, my fellow genetic “keepers,” “savers,” and “collectors” … there is hope. If I can turn 25 years of my stuff, of my husband’s stuff, and my inlaws’ stuff into a functional, peaceful home, you can too. Stay tuned for progress — I can’t promise it will be easy.

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