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My Decluttering Journey

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I’ve owned my house for ten years. For the first seven, I played the role of homeowner, sprucing up the place, gardening, home improvements, knocking down walls. All of it. It took an additional two years to admit to myself that I hated owning a home and that I’m not the fixer upper type person like the rest of my immediate family members. It took me (and my helpers) another eleven months, many tears, bruises, splinters, more tears, sweat, sore muscles, over a dozen trips to goodwill, a few beers, and an unexpected new furnace to get it ready to sell. Today, I’m currently sporting a scrape across my forehead from this past weekend. But tomorrow, the house goes on the market. For real. It’s happening.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. My several trips to the goodwill were pretty much to declutter my house. In the process, I’ve learned that I don’t need or want “stuff”. And it feels AMAZING. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few things that were trashed or taken to goodwill in error. Like the day I needed an eyeliner pencil sharpener. But who the hell needs 7 travel coffee mugs? Or their baby teeth and retainer? Yep, somehow those made it to my house when my parents were cleaning my stuff out awhile back.

The decluttering process has morphed a few times during the course of the eleven months. I started out trying the Minsgame, where you get rid of one thing on day one, two things on day two, three things on day three, and so on for an entire month. By day three, I started just getting rid of three bags of things. Because for me, once I was on a roll of parting with something (apparently that eyeliner pencil sharpener, among other things), I want to keep going. So I gave up on Minsgame and started working through categories of things like Marie Kondo suggests in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That was really helpful because I could do an entire closet of clothes all at once. My house was usually relatively picked up, but it helped being able to move the hammer I had left on the kitchen counter down to the place where I store tools and then deal with tools when I was ready. It was even more helpful to do that for items with sentimental value.

Once I got through a decent chunk of junk, I started to think about those items with sentimental value. I’m definitely (maybe not anymore?) that person who keeps things that remind me of good (and bad) times. Baseball tickets, every photo (and negative) I took in college, my ballet shoes from ten years of my childhood, all of the t-shirts and trinkets my mom brought back from her travels. The process of going through this stuff was daunting. For the ballet shoes, this represented a huge part of my life back then. One that I gave up so that I could go to college. The first step for dealing with them was to bring the rubbermaid tub up from the basement. That tub sat in my living room untouched for two weeks. Then one day I dumped it out on the living room floor and reminisced. I took some photos, but left the shoes on the floor. For another two weeks. Finally, after seeing them sit there, I was ready to do something with them. I sorted through them and got rid of the sweaty, gross stuff, but couldn’t bear to part with the pointe shoes. Those shoes had caused me so much physical pain, but taught me so much - everything from French to how to work as part of a team to accepting (not always constructive) criticism to self-discipline to how to tell a story set to music.

In the end, I knew I wasn’t ready to part with those shoes, so I took a few pictures (because that’s what I do), and packed them up into a smaller rubbermaid tub to put into storage. Someday, maybe I’ll be ready.

Clear a few of the physical cobwebs to clear a few of the mental cobwebs.

I’ve found that my decluttering process has morphed yet again. Now, I find myself doing a bit of decluttering each morning as I start my day. Clear a few of the physical cobwebs to clear a few of the mental cobwebs. It feels good starting my day with this habit now. Even if I’m only re-organizing or removing one item from my space, it’s working. Actually, it worked. Because tomorrow, my house will be ready to have random strangers walk through it.

This decluttering journey has been a long and emotional process, but it felt so good and I’ve seen several benefits from doing it. Both mine and my family’s Christmas presents were more thoughtful. The Christmas and Birthday gifts from my best friend were handmade gift certificates for my very own "cider of the month club” and a date night for Jucy Lucys. My parents have even started digging into their own stuff and making goodwill runs. I’ve also found myself able to work from home more regularly and for longer periods of time. I used to want to get out of the house, away from clutter and things that needed to be cleaned. Clearing the physical clutter helped me clear the mental clutter as well.

My uncluttered, de-personalized house goes on the market tomorrow.

Listing is here.