Friday, April 6, 2018

The Reds Tackle Decluttering.

RHYS  BOWEN: I've been thinking about down-sizing. We have just returned from our condo in Arizona. It is simply furnished with modern lines (thanks to Ikea) and no clutter. I love it! I love the ease in keeping it clean and how nice it looks when the sun shines in through those big windows. Now I am back home in California and horribly aware that we live in a big house with a lot of stuff. So the question is: how do I get rid of it? Where do I start?

I have been good about weeding out clothes I no longer wear. My daughter has made me promise that for every new item that comes in, two must go out. I've pared down books. We've put all of our old video tapes onto one digital file so they can all go. But I'm married to something akin to a hoarder. He prints out every letter he sends via email and keeps them all in files. Filing cabinets all over the house. Every letter he wrote to the water board in 1985!  He started going through things and discarding them but then gave up. Sigh.

And I have been a collector all my life. I have collected books. I have collected items from my travels. When I was a child my aunt and father brought me home dolls from every country they visited. I display those in a corner cabinet. I have collected paperweights. I still enjoy them on the card table. I still collect little boxes when I travel. But in the past I used to collect elephants. Everybody gave me an elephant: ebony, ivory, glass, ceramic. They all now live in a big box. But how do I get rid of them? And little houses. I used to collect little antique houses. They live in another box.

Oh, and we inherited a whole houseful of antique Chinese stuff from John's parents.
So I want to know: do you collect? And have you been able to give up your collections? Any helpful hints on simplifying my life would be appreciated!

HALLIE EPHRON: I am not a collector but like you, Rhys, I'm married to a man who is--which is the plot of my new novel which I am striving to finish.  I've been reading Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and nowhere in it is guidance on how to get rid of a packrat spouse.

But even as a non-collector, I have much more stuff than I need, and my kids have made abundantly clear that they're not interested in most of it. There's a whole profession of organizers dedicated to helping declutter -- the National Associations of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO - http://www.napo.net) -- and as part of my research for my novel I went to a meeting and was very impressed. They recognize the emotional component.

JENN McKINLAY: My greatest joy, okay, after my hooligans, is throwing stuff out. This is fabulous because the Hub is a hoarder. We never argue but we have spirited debates about why he feels the need to keep every shirt he's ever worn. Also, how many bookcases can one house accomodate? How many guitars does a musician actually need? And, just because that golf trophy was your grandfather's do we really need to keep it? I could go on. I won't. I keep nothing. Like a butterfly, I shed my closet once a year, keeping only things that were handmade (knitted sweaters, etc.) or business clothes that I don't wear often. In a perfect world I would live in a sterilized pod with just my laptop and a coffee maker and visitation from my pets.

INGRID THOFT:  Jenn, I’m with you.  I love getting rid of stuff.  I always have a box destined for Goodwill, and I feel a closet purge is in my near future.  Thankfully, my spouse is not a pack rat; I actually think that might be grounds for divorce!  The best question to ask yourself when sorting:  Would I buy this today?  Obviously, if something was a gift or holds sentimental value that question does not apply, but what about taking a picture of the item and letting go of the item itself?  I had a comforter that I loved as a child, and I had even named it.  As I got older, it was practically disintegrating so I took out the scissors, cut out a small square and still have that swatch of it.  I think I could pitch it today, which suggests that baby steps may be the way to go when getting rid of stuff.

In terms of collections, I expressed a love for elephants when I was a child, Rhys, and the elephant floodgates open.  I rotate those I have on display, and I’ve gotten the word out that I don’t need anymore! 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I've had collections in the past. When I was a girl, I collected dolls from different countries, and since we traveled around quite a bit (military) I had a very nice group. They all live in Youngest's room, along with HER collection of antique-style dolls, which means I'll probably be displaying 25-30 dolls until Youngest buys a house. When I aged up a bit, I started collecting tacky snowglobe paperweights - you know, the kind with a plastic marlin jumping over a badly-painted orange tree and the words "Sarasota, Florida." I stopped displaying them after I got married, but they are still all there in a box in the attic. (At least they're small, which is more than I can say for the dolls.)

Now, I don't think of myself as collecting things, but my daughters quickly put me right. I do collect: china, silver, table linens, silk floral arrangements, glasses - I've simply convinced myself it's not collecting if they're useful. Youngest pointed out that four complete sets of china (for 8, 10, 12 and 14) is a little more than "useful." My plan is to give them away to the kids as they get married...but realistically, that means I'll probably go out and get more for myself.

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh Julia, I think your daughters are being a little hard on you! If you have dinner parties for any of those number of guests, you are perfectly equipped.

We worked hard in CT this year to cull stuff we didn't need or use. We barely made a dent, so I think we'll get back on that again soon. But papers are absolutely the worst because if you're paranoid, you want shred everything with any personal info on it. And that is so tedious! You may know that my hub has a website for Baby Boomers headed for retirement--last week one of his blog posts was on the subject of how your kids don't want your stuff. Here it is in case you need motivation to declutter:
https://www.topretirements.com/blog/home-and-garden/an-sad-surprise-nobody-wants-your-stuff.html/https://www.topretirements.com/blog/home-and-garden/an-sad-surprise-nobody-wants-your-stuff.html/

RHYS: That's so true, Lucy. Our kids say "don't you dare die and leave us with all this!"

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: We had our roof repaired last fall, and the roofers brought a dumpster. I thought--hmm. A sign. I asked them--can we put stuff in there, too? The roofer said something along the lines of "You're paying for the dumpster, lady." Okay then.
So I got some guys and pointed them to the basement and to the garage.  Throw everything away, I said. I'm not even gonna look at it.
Jonathan was not so sanguine. That's a perfectly good suitcase! he cried.
It's a Samsonite from the 1950's! I said. And it has no wheels. Would you take that anywhere?
Before he could answer, it went into the dumpster.
Oh, it was fabulous. Our car now fits in the garage.The basement is gorgeous and has shelves and organization.
The dumpster was FULL. It was scary, I tell you, scary.
My only downfall is paper shopping bags and t-shirts. And bubble wrap. How can you throw away bubble wrap?
As for collecting stuff, I don't. Not on purpose at least.

RHYS: Oh funny, Hank. John is exactly the same. Don't throw that out. It's still good!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I think Jenn needs to visit those of us who tend to accumulate!!! But I've just had the next best thing, a visit from my Kansas City friend, who goes through my house like a whirlwind. If she could ever stay more than a couple of days we'd have the whole place ship-shape. Except the the garage, which is hub's territory! Last week we redid the display shelves of the big hutch in our dining room, and then I cleaned out the lower cabinets. A huge bag for the trash, and three big boxes of giveaways. It's so liberating, and it looks fabulous. Now if I just had the time to do the rest of the house...

RHYS: Any brilliant tips on decluttering? Who still collects things (apart from books, I mean. I know we are all guilty of that.

63 comments:

  1. Oh, Rhys, I’m not going to be much help here . . . your collections are lovely and if they bring you pleasure, then surely they need be kept.

    I do give clothing to the church for the free clothing ministry; I give things to the girls. And I do toss the truly unneeded stuff and the junk that once threatened to take over the garage.
    But, as Lucy noted, the paper stuff is difficult. There’s so much identity theft these days that we don’t dare skip the shredding. We try to sort and dump it when it first comes in the door, but it still has a bit of a tendency to accumulate 

    My children are good at the whole tossing out thing, but somehow they always end up asking Mom if she has this or that because they need it, but they’ve already tossed it out.

    Like Julia, we have lots of dishes. And bookshelves.
    And I do collect things . . . Precious Moments . . . angels . . . books . . . .

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    1. Collections are tough, Joan, because they do bring joy. I try to just collect chocolate ;)

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    2. Chocolate collections never last around here, Jenn! :)

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  2. I don't actively collect anything, but I do like lovely things although they must be useful. For example, I love a pretty mug for my tea or coffee. One kitchen cupboard has two shelves full of mugs - more than two people need! I've culled so that now only the *really* pretty mugs remain - and I just love using my favourites every day. Not much help, really, am I on decluttering advice!

    But I will offer this: If you turn the thought around and ask yourself "What here do I really want to *keep*?" rather than "What here must I get rid of?", you might find it easier to move things along that remain on the shelf or in the closet or cupboard after the one or two (or more) most treasured items are chosen as survivors of the purge. This approach worked splendidly for my mother when she was moving out of the 2,000-square-foot family home into her 649-square-foot seniors apartment. (Though, yes, she does she occasionally still say, Damn - I wish I had brought X with me. And, usually, it's a book.)

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    1. That's a good suggestion Amanda! Funny about me and books, I very rarely re-read, but I still hate getting rid of the good ones....

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    2. Brilliant, Amanda: turn the thought around and ask yourself "What here do I really want to *keep*?" rather than "What here must I get rid of?"

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  3. I don't collect things, and I do use my mother's good china on occasion. But it's the emotional connection that paralyzes me. Those old letters and photos. The children's books. My father's radio. The little Japanese stamp my students gave me forty-five years ago. I start going through these things and then I go slower and slower. Finally I pack it all back in the box and give up. I need someone to be ruthless with me!

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    1. I have a drawer full of my children's drawings and essays that I cannot throw away and they are so not interested in. Note to future keepers: PUT THE DATES ON YOUR CHILDREN'S DRAWINGS AND WHICH ONE DID IT. I know, that doesn't help on the current topic.

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    2. Yes, if you don't know who drew it and when, then out it goes.

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    3. Hallie, how about getting a really nice album for the drawings? If they don't fit, you could scan and resize them. My friend Mychal Mitchell at Iona Handcrafted Books makes some lovely ones. They are expensive, but the "curated" collection might be something you kids would want to keep.

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    4. Great idea, Debs! I have a quilt album like that, and it's the first thing people pick up and want to look at.

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  4. I have a plan, it's in progress, my daughters shoveled out the bedroom closets over Christmas. But the paper...AAAAGH.

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  5. As I've mentioned, we are clearing out a house full of paraphernalia related to my husband's family business: 70 years' worth of business records and correspondence (which I've consolidated into two boxes); hundreds (literally) of birdfeeders; animal traps (no kidding); books galore; a million or so miles of film in metal cans; thousands of plastic cases full of video; and artwork up the wazoo.

    Steve's dad went to South Africa, the Arctic, and the Northwest Territories, frequently, beginning in the 50's. We have unearthed amazing things: a pair of real canvas spats from the 30's, African carvings, batiks, soapstone carvings, original paintings, ancient books on all kinds of natural history--including some with handpainted illustrations. From the 1800's, for cripes sake.

    I also found furniture buried beneath hundreds of cardboard boxes (men!). There's a magnificent table that came from a wealthy family here in town, Art Deco, very unusual. The cobalt glass top broke, tragically, years ago, and my brother-in-law painted it and has used it as a desk for 20 years. Some of the furniture I found includes the six dining chairs that go with it. I'm restoring this set for the new house.

    We've been giving things away, to friends or to charity places, with both hands, and filling bin after bin full of paper to recycle. I'm keeping the things we really love, though, and plan to display them.

    Because here's the thing. Looking at Pinterest and Houzz photos, along with house for sale sites, everything looks the same, no individual personality. Clutter is one thing, but sanitized blandness is something else altogether. I want my travel mementos around: the sweet ebony sculpture we chose from the artist in Tanzania; the lovely Peruvian cross I bought at the ceramicist in Urubamba; the Aboriginal dot paintings I found and loved in Sydney. And the ebony mask my aunt brought back from Africa when I was a kid, and the dramatic black and white portrait of an African elephant my father-in-law took in 1960.

    But the dishes. That is a hard one. Julia, I can relate.

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    1. That's our problem too, Karen. John has lived all over the world and has a lot of interesting memorabilia.but the kids won't want it

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    2. If it gives me pleasure in my home, on my shelf then I keep it. If the kids don't want it well that's their problem to get rid of it once I'm gone. I could no longer give or dump the old photo album with photo's of my beloved Grandfather and my Mum than fly to the moon. My Mum gave them to me when I was in my 40's and my response was raised eyebrows and why me? Now I'm 60ish I am interested in my family and roots. My Dad has just moved in with us (as a 98 year old home was getting a bit much to manage on his own) and I fully accept that I will have to clear his old home out ready for sale. It's daunting but then his 'stuff' has given him much pleasure over the years and it's wasn't my place to have said get rid of it because I won't want it!

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    3. I'd like to add that when my kids go through our stuff they will find that a good portion of it belongs to them since both my boys are 'away' one living in Panama .... can't take stuff to Panama and another in Sydney in a very small apartment....sorry Mum can you keep it for me? So I guess I don't feel so guilty about leaving it for them!

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  6. My husband was a borderline hoarder and now, nearly 13 years after his death, I'm still coping with the piles of crap he left behind. When I moved from the house we shared, I took only the things I needed to the new house. I put the rest into storage, because it takes a lot of emotional energy to go through a loved one's stuff. When I moved into my current house, I was able to clean out the storage unit, and I should have just tossed it all into the trash right then, because clearly I didn't need it--I'd lived without it for three years! But . . .

    With time comes distance, so some of the things I felt I should keep because he loved them have gone away. Books are easy to release back into the wild, because somebody out there needs the wisdom they contain. Clothing is even easier, since I no longer want to wear it. And then there are what I call my "Oh, honey!" boxes, which are full of stuff that make me say, "Oh, honey, why on earth did you keep this crap?" They can go pretty fast.

    Where I get hung up is with the stuff that is still perfectly good and useful, but I don't want. The problem seems to be that there's no easy way to get it to the hands of the people who might want it. With collections, I think E-Bay would be your friend. If you once wanted to collect it, somebody else probably does now. But dishes? Pots and pans? Art supplies? Outdated computer stuff? Help!

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    1. Yeah, but if you do Ebay, then you have to administer it, and that seems like such a pain. Let alone figuring out WHEN you'd have time..

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    2. There are now third-party vendors who will sell stuff for you on consignment.

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  7. I think you hit a nerve with this post.When we cleaned out my parents last apartment, we found things like many giant bottles of Tylenol and tubes of cortisone cream, literally more than a lifetime supply. Home movie reels from the 1950's. Paperwork from when my father broke his arm at work...when I was 2! Lifetime of record albums, though they never connected the player in the last move. I have sworn I will never do that to my kids. However. Husband is an attorney so believes in keeping all important papers forever. And collects crafted pottery. And I accumulate books.(Big surprise) So I am not making much progress in the big clean up. Plus we have a 95year old mother-in-law still in her own home who believes very single thing she's ever owned is of great value.Yes, the knit suits from the 1980's and the "antique" sconces. So we have that ahead of us too. Maybe I'll start with my own office. After I finish the WIP of course. :-)

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  8. Why is this so impossible? Is so fascinating. I have gotten rid of so many things, but I look around, and there are so. Many. Things. Left. How many glossy paper shopping bags does someone really need? If I I have 25, let’s say, do I really need 25 glossy shopping bags? How many is enough? Oh no, my brain…

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    1. Throw them away and you'll need them tomorrow.

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    2. Two. Keep two, and I bet Jenn would say one!

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    3. Ingrid is right! I say keep one. Donate the rest to goodwill :)

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  9. My problem: My daughter and her husband and 2 kids live in a 2-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with virtually no storage. So their plastic bins breed in my basement. We've become their walk-in closet.

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    1. Yeah, our kids are in Brooklyn, too. Exactly the same. Where is their camping equipment? Yup. Our basement.

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    2. How funny you both have kids in Brooklyn. Where I am. Perhaps we will bump into each other on the street one day! My Brooklyn-raised kids live in Queens -they are trying to move back to Brooklyn - and NJ. In apartments. Mom's storage services? Oh, yes.

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  10. I dislike this decluttering business. I love my stuff. I collect vintage tablecloths and linens. I'm the rescue society for doilies. I've taken to wrapping Christmas gifts in them. I keep joking that one day I will apply for a performance art grant to cover a football field with tablecloths. I'm hopeless and I accept that about myself.

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    1. Yay Ramona! That's your story and you're sticking to it!

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    2. "Rescue society for doilies" That was my laugh of the week, Ramona! Brilliant!

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  11. I am afraid that I am the one who is the problem at my house. My husband is very Scandinavian, clean lines and no clutter. I am Asian descent and love bright colors and various knick knacks. We recently moved in with my mother-in-law to help her since she is having memory issues. It is hard to describe what it was like to try to downsize from a 4 bedroom, with office and basement, to essentially a bedroom. Oh, we did rent a storage area for some things but the downsizing was painful. I kept moaning something like, "What do you mean that shelf is only books? Those are my shelf of books signed by authors!" or "What do you mean you want me to get rid of my wood carved moon cake molds? Just cause I don't actually make moon cakes..." It was traumatic for me, though I do see the beauty in being able to pick up and move at the drop of a pin.

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  12. If you have five of a thing, say, brown purses. Someone told me to look at them and say: If I needed a brown purse, which one would I choose? Then take that. Which one is your second choice? How about third.
    Then you think--third choice, the one I would NOT pick, might someone else's first choice. And I could make that happen!
    All of a sudden it's easy to let it go to its new home where it will be beloved, not tolerated. Think of it that way. It really works.

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    1. My decluttering friend pulled everything off the shelves of the dining room hutch and put the stuff in two big boxes. Then, she said, only take out the things you really really want to put back. That made it so much easier. I downsized my parents five times, I think, so am constantly reminding myself that I don't want my daughter to have to do that. And I still have a bunch of my mom's Japanese and Chinese prints that I have been able to part with....

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  13. I once had a closet end stuffed with dresses--you know the ones I mean--bought for a single event. Then the next event comes along and none of those dresses are 'right'--don't fit, too out-of-date, too ugly. And I thought, the racks at Goodwill are stuffed with clothing just like this--but I didn't want to throw them away. So I donated them all to my local high school theater department--they could use as is, restyle--whatever! And my youngest nephew has a unique way of decluttering his room. I'll suddenly find a pile of his clothing in my room, or an amp, or wall clings he has no interest in displaying.... His brother, on the other hand, will sort things out--used clothing, books, then apparently be overwhelmed by the thought of loading stuff into his car and actually taking it somewhere to move it along in the recycle reuse chain of life.

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  14. I can empathize with those who are needing to declutter.

    I have been doing a little bit of that myself lately. I have had a large (enough) collection of comics for years. But most have sat unread since the initial reading so I made the decision that if I wasn't going to reread anything I had, it was getting put out of the house. Luckily, my local comic shop buys comics so I've been selling off stuff here and there and keeping what money I get for them as store credit for the stuff I am still buying/reading. But I used to have 18 longboxes of stuff and now I'm down to 11 so far with more to go.

    My music and book collections are probably the next thing to feel the edged blade of the decluttering axe as well. Actually, I've done a little bit on the music side of things already.

    But the books side will be harder because there are so many authors that I read and enjoy that the notion of getting rid of their books sort of pains me. I'm keeping the books that I have gotten signed by the authors (Ingrid and Hank that means you stay in the collection of course!) And the must have authors that I can't see calling it a collection unless their books are part of it will stay as well. But if it is unlikely that I'll read it again or there's no chance I'll ever get them signed, the library will get some donations. (Sure glad I'm meeting Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day next month so I can keep the Country Store mysteries too).

    Complicating matters is that I need to figure out what to do with my mother's library of books too. Some of the books she never got the chance to read and are in perfect condition. The screeching cry of eBay can be crying out in the distance to try and sell those types of books on there. But a lot of stuff might just also hit the library donation circuit. I have to do the same thing for her extensive DVD collection.

    And despite the fact that my idea of clothing rarely extends beyond T-shirts and pants, I really need to do something about my closet. I've got a lot of shirts and some are old enough that I really should get rid of them. So that's another decluttering event to schedule. Those will just hit the trash bin.

    Sigh...the perils of not having unlimited space I guess.

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    1. Good luck ! And libraries will welcome the donations with open arms! Xxx

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  15. I'm a collector. And I'm lazy. Combine the two, and you have collections of stuff I don't need but I enjoy knowing I have and stuff that should be thrown away but it takes too much work to get to it. I'm at the point where I really don't even know where to start any more.

    Okay, so it's not as bad as that makes it sound, but if I don't get going on things soon it will be.

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  16. Ouch. Just ouch. My husband rents two! storage units for "our" stuff and his parents' stuff that he hasn't gotten around to doing something with. His dad took slides and there must be 30+ carousels full. I haven't been to check in a long time because I can't stand it! And I plead guilty to wishing Harvey had flooded the storage facility so we could throw everything out. We recently moved my mom from her apartment to the nursing facility. All my siblings helped dispose of furniture, kitchenwares, and the like. What little was left was donated or moved to my house. I had to file or shred everything that was in the desk. I still have tons of paper that should be shredded. I can't park in the garage because of the stuff out there. Believe it or not husband Frank has gotten better about getting rid of stuff after dealing with his parents' but I haven't gotten him to pitch a lot of the junk in the garage. Anyone need a big canvas tent from the 1970's? I think only another move will reduce the clutter but that may not happen for a few years.

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    1. OH, slides! We also have so many waiting to be digitalized. But we did have all our videos put onto one hard Drive!

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  17. Shalom Reds, What a great topic. I am most certainly a hoarder. My best friend's wife said, "You're not a hoarder, David. I've seen your apartment." Well, despite treasuring the vote of confidence, I can think to myself. You haven't seen the bedroom. I have three perfectly good pianos (two acoustic, one digital) which I can't play because they are being used as shelves for several years of read and unread mail and bills.
    Fully 75% of my clutter is books and magazines. I live in a small two bedroom "Brooklyn-style" apartment with a roommate. Two pianos and a large dining room table takes up half of our common area. So the bookshelves of my most treasured books are in my bedroom. The rest of the books and magazines to keep are in grocery store paper bags and piled high in the corners of the room.

    The remaining 25% is divided evenly between unusable clothes and paper. I help a friend with his shredding, so I think that since I'm soon to become a senior citizen, I will ask if I can bring my shredding to his house and do it after I finish with his stuff.

    Then there is the computer file hoarding. Several years ago, after I had been taking piano lessons for a while, I found a Spanish pianist's website on which he had collected and posted his entire piano bench of music (public domain and otherwise). I started methodically downloading it to my computer. I got most of it. And then, one day it just wasn't there. The lesson I learned, if you want it, Download it now. However, like a good hoarder, I am ashamed to admit that I have only printed out and used a very small number of pieces.

    There is one thing you cannot hoard. And, that is "time". There are 24 hours in each day and spent or unspent you can never call them back. I am a slow reader but while it generally takes me up to an hour to read Jungle Red Writers, and even though I only generally get here 3-4 days out of seven, I enjoy each hour thus spent. How's that for a run-on sentence.

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  18. I still collect cups and saucers and mugs. I'm more selective now than I used to be, and I've quit collecting lots of other things.

    I've discovered downsizing really is a great way to declutter. If it's a long distance move and you're downsizing, you stop and consider what you really need. Plus, you're going to have to pay to move all of that 'valuable' stuff. We've got a ways to go, but 2017 was a great year for us to declutter.

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  19. Such a timely topic for me! We recently gave real consideration to downsizing but decided, in the end, that we'd rather wait until we are ready to make retirement decisions and downsize then. BUT -- big caveat here -- we decided to purge, clean, and update the family home as though we were about to put it on the market, so that we could better enjoy the years we stay in it. So we are in the early stages of a full-scale purge. As in, I have conquered one set of shelves in the family room so far. (And part of its contents are still sitting on the floor, waiting to be carted off.)

    I have to admit, I am the more problematic one in our house. I think it's because I grew up fairly poor. If something broke, we attempted to fix it. If it broke irreparably, we were more likely to do without than to replace it. So I tend to hold onto everything I've ever owned, because "you never know when you're going to need it again." Sigh. But I'm trying, really I am. And I am absolutely convinced I will enjoy our home more if we are successful at purging, simplifying, and updating.

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  20. I didn't understand I was a hoarder until I watched the cable show "Buried Alive". I found myself identifying with the folks who would say "I had plans for that rock." Over the last 5 years I have been able to let go of a lot of stuff. I ask myself 1. Do you use this? 2. Am I holding onto this broken item to fix it in the future 3. Am I holding on to this for sentimental value? / I did not realize that many do not attach emotions to stuff. I always had. For me letting go of stuff is like letting go of my past. I have found however, the less clutter in my outer space results in a having a less cluttered mind.
    Now I must leave to throw away some more rocks.

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    1. Very impressive, Coralee! Most people have difficulty sorting through their own stuff; you should give yourself a lot of credit for getting that done. I agree on the less clutter in your space, less clutter in your mind. It stresses me out if I'm surrounded by too much stuff!

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  21. Some decluttering is on our weekend agenda, so this is a timely column. The only thing I collect is antique manual typewriters, which are bigger than dolls and heavy as heck. I have stopped acquiring new ones and need to have a talk with myself about how many are meaningful enough to keep. In the meantime, I fret a great deal about our shelves and shelves of books, which seemingly propagate in the dark of night . . .

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  22. This is a little "too" timely for me. For several years I've wanted to declutter. Every time I get started, though, I can only manage to do about 15 minutes and then one or another of my orthopedic issues kicks in and I end up with enough discomfort that I'm not able to concentrate on what I'm doing. The project gets put aside indefinitely. I try to find another one that's easier. Same results.

    I may in the next few days do a little better. Yesterday I had some minor knee surgery. A sister from out of state is staying with me for a few days. Last night she cleaned out my refrigerator. I asked her to go through my outdated reference books while she's here, and toss them for me so I can relocate many of my mystery books (no need to ask who wrote them:) from end tables, coffee table, bedside tables, etc, to the book cases. That might be on the agenda for tonight or tomorrow. I've given away a lot of books recently to a friend's home-bound sister, and she's enjoying them. That's been a nice feeling for all.

    I have other spaces here that my sister wants to attack, but her idea of what to save and how to save it isn't the same as mine so I had to jokingly tell her "don't try to 'fix' me!" I might need more surgery in the future, and I can see the gleam in her eyes; she'll come armed with a list of things to do which had better get my approval before she starts on anything!


    DebRo

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  23. I should have posted this earlier, but it just came to me.

    A woman here in Cincinnati started a web business that was local originally, but is now national, called Everything But the House. EBTH is an online auction site, and they liquidate everything from entire estates to my mother's collection of Longaberger baskets. A couple years ago I sold a bunch of art, and they did agree job. They photograph everything, write full descriptions, and even have experts do research on your items, if they historic or artistic value. Jewelry gets weighed and assayed, and lots of close up pictures.

    I have bought a couple things, too, and the process on both sides is fairly smooth. It might be worth looking into, if you have a lot of things to get rid of. Best of all, once you turn it over to them, you never have to see it again, unlike a garage sale.

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    1. Karen, a friend of mine who lives in Arizona used this business in clearing out his mother's house in Kentucky. It was very well done, and I even bought a couple of smaller items. They really do sell everything but the house!

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  24. Jenn, you and my daughter could be twins. I do think she actually delights in getting rid of stuff. She keeps tight control of what comes in (I no longer give her anything to set out), and she keeps the kids' belongings pared down, too. I've joked with the kids before and told them if they want to keep something I've given them, they need to hide it. And, my daughter has finally put a stop to new stuffed animals, which guts me, as I love to give the eight-year-old cute little critters. I mean, really, I thought this was a free country. Hahaha!

    And, anyone wanting their extra stuff cleared out would benefit from my daughter coming in to do the job. I need to have her come to my house again, but she scares me. Sentimental value vs. practical value is no contest to her. I'm hoping to get rid of a lot of stuff when my husband retires (partially) this summer, and we can start in on the family room, laundry room, and garage. Hank, we may need a dumpster.

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  25. I am pretty good of getting rid of “stuff.” Julie isn’t. Nuff said?

    The only thing I collect is signed first editions of authors I know. Other than a few things of particularly beautiful, useful, or of sentimental value, I’m decluttered. I’ve even given most of my good jewelry to my daughter and granddaughter

    Julie has crap from every phase of her life, including stuff she hasn’t seen in years. It isn’t my problem. That’s why we have an attic and a basement.

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  26. I don't collect anything anymore. I sold my comics back to the store once I stopped rereading them. Current comics and magazines go to my cousin. Most books are donated to the library. Our church has a Clothing Closet and a couple of yard sales. I may have to hire a company to get rid of heavy things like a Bruce Jenner treadmill. As long as I have the house, I can keep all my picture albums, things my family or I made,and things I bought on my trips. I have been trying to get rid of some of that.

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  27. A slight variation on the "what do I want to keep" approach: I've resolved that whatever stuff -- books, art work, glass and pottery things, photographs -- I have has to be out and visible. The only exception is holiday specific items. Have a lot more holes in my walls and a lot more dusting to do, but being able to see and to touch these things is ever so valuable. Like the rest of you, books just don't want to leave. :-)

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  28. Since I sew for dolls, I've collected American Girl dolls for around 13 years now and to say I have lots of them is an understatement. My daughter says they're getting donated when I'm not around anymore. That's helped motivate me a little to get them more under control by selling them, not that I've sold tons of them yet. At least I have sold a couple very reasonably to my niece who's little girl loves AG dolls now. Like Hank, I do have a thing for t-shirts and bubble wrap (if it's not torn) I stopped collecting Precious Moments statues but not till it was too late and now I have a boatload of them to sell--but I don't trust selling them online due to breakage or possibly someone lying about breakage (happened when I sold another breakable online). My most recent obsession is cozy mysteries. While I try to get as many ebooks as I can, sometimes the paperback is less expensive. Storage is becoming a problem LOL so I'm not any use as far as how to stop collecting, just commiserating with some of you. I think if Jenn visited me, she could probably help change my thinking about my stuff at least a little--not quite sure I'd want to be totally minimalist ;) I like your hubs' article, Lucy. Definitely stuff I need to think about as I enter the 2nd year of my 60s this summer.

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  29. *whose little girl, not who's, ack I can't believe I did that! I'm a nut over misuse of apostrophes and I just misused one!

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