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The Joy of Having Less Sh*t

It was a beautiful weekend here in Florida…and I spent 99% of the weekend inside.  My husband is on antibiotics for an infection, and I’m recovering from a fall the previous weekend that left me with a skinned knee.  We decided to make the most of our weekend by being productive.  We moved into this condo a year ago and had 2 closets that were not being utilized properly.  Doug made shelves for the closets and went through the garage and storage unit, and I went through drawers and bins in the kitchen, bathroom, and craft room, and began pitching stuff we no longer had a need for. 

I usually have a rough time letting stuff go.  This is a behavior I learned from my parents and has been a horrible weight that I’ve carried well into adulthood.  I used to buy books on organizing with mixed results.  I’d buy the latest and greatest storage items, and end up throwing them out because they cluttered up my home even more.  It wasn’t until finding Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, that I began to understand what was happening.  It wasn’t the organization that was the problem…it was having too much shit!

Having too much shit means having more shit to keep track of and take care of.  The more shit you have, the more stressed you become.  I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks what my life would be like if I scaled back, so I began going through my possessions and rationalizing what was okay to get rid of and what was okay to keep.

I received gifts from cherished friends, but the gifts weren’t necessarily cherished gifts.  I held on to them in case they visited me and wondered where their gift was, those 1-5 days, every 1-5 years.  I decided I could deal with the 1 or 2 days that the “Where’s the gift I bought you?” question might be a problem and that my happiness the other 364 days a year was much more important.  

I had “family heirlooms” that I kept because they were treasured by previous family members, but not by me.  Somehow I got the message that when I sell or give that piece away, I would forever be disconnected from my family and my family history.  I decided that moving from Ohio to Florida already put me on the “disconnected” list.  I asked my family if they wanted some of the family heirlooms…turns out I have them because they didn’t want them either!  

I had numerous “collections” that I had either started myself or inherited from my family.  The 50 Corvette models my father bought in the ’70s and 80’s for $10-20 each?  The whole collection was now worth about $100 on eBay.  My mother’s music boxes, which I know she paid $300-400 each for, were going for $50-$80 each on eBay.  I decided to take pictures of the Corvette models.  I kept my 2 favorite music boxes and did video recordings of the others and sold them on eBay.  Just because the items are gone, doesn’t mean the memories of my parents buying those items are gone too.  Someone else can now enjoy (and dust) them.

My mother saved every one of my report cards and art projects.  Somehow I got the idea that if I got rid of them then I might forget what a great student I was.  I decided my stock and real estate portfolio was a better indicator of intelligence, and threw them out.

I was surrounded by puzzles, games, sewing patterns, fabric, and art project materials that I bought that were supposed to be great fun at the time I bought them, and then I lost interest or found another rabbit hole of spending I needed to pursue.  Each one of them taunted me and reminded me I was the Queen of Unfinished Business.  I held each one and listened to what my body had to say about the item.  If I smiled when I held the item, I kept it.  If I didn’t smile, it was donated.  

I was also surrounded by clothes that fit a smaller body than the one I currently had.  Every time I thumbed through my clothes and found an outfit that I loved but could no longer fit in, sadness would set in and I’d continue to beat myself up over the weight I gained.  I went through each clothing item and did the smile test.  The outfits that brought me joy, I wished continued joy upon the new owner of the outfit.

Talking through these things helped me part with my stuff, and now I have more time and space to do the things that bring me happiness. 

5 loads went to the dumpster, and 3 loads went to charity.  I still have a few more drawers and bins to go through, but I’m proud of how far I’ve come in being able to part with my shit.  I slept more soundly last night than I had in weeks…and am excited to finish this task because next week?  Doug and I are headed to the pool!

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