Today, in our Blogging from A to Z Challenge, we are going to begin the hard work of simplifying. Beginning in your room from day one, we are going to cull the clutter.
Clutter is a Verb
What is clutter anyway? Interestingly, we often refer to clutter as a noun or an entity, which it is, but essence of clutter is best found in its definition as a verb. According to Merriam Webster, clutter means: “1. To run in disorder, and 2. To fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.”
Are you running in disorder? (Do you know where your keys are? Are you always late for things?) Is your movement impeded or hindered around your home (by kids’ toys, clothes on your bed, shoes kicked off in front of the door)? Do you feel that you are less effective in your home than you ought to be (constantly looking for things, being unprepared for meals, not having time to spend with your loved ones, running out of clothes to wear)?
In case you are wondering, I had to answer yes to many of these questions/scenarios. How about you? It’s time to face the clutter (noun) which is derived from the 1500’s Old English word clot:
My own definition of clutter, which I formulated before looking it up, had some surprising similarities: “Clutter is anything you do not need, love, or use; that which does not belong, which inhibits freedom of movement and peace.” The way to conquer clutter is to cull it.
To cull means: “1.
Why We Hold On To Clutter
As we discussed yesterday, sometimes we hold onto things out of compulsion, guilt, or obligation. We think about how much we spent on that outfit (never mind we haven’t worn it in five years, and it no longer fits). We try to convince ourselves that we will use that waffle maker someday . . . really. We remember the loved one who gave us that now-faded quilt, and we fear letting it go because it somehow means we are letting go of the person or our memory of them.
Or, we are like my dear, seven-year old daughter. Over the weekend, I culled several of my kids’ toys, relegating a bin of the excess to the attic for rotation and another bin for giveaway. (I will discuss simplifying with children in a future post.) One of the items in the giveaway bin was a roll of princess coloring sheets in a plastic princess tray holder. It has sat, untouched, for several months, but when my daughter saw it in the giveaway pile, she protested, “But you gave that to me for my birthday!”
“Yes,” I responded, and proceeded to explain to her that, just because something was a gift, or it cost a lot of money, or it used to be her favorite, doesn’t mean she has to keep it forever. I encouraged her to never feel like she has to keep a gift if it no longer holds purpose or interest for her.
I don’t think she was entirely convinced (and you might not be either, yet), so I removed it from the pile and set it aside, under the condition that if I didn’t see it being used in the coming weeks, it would indeed be given away. She immediately colored a page of Ariel with glowing reddish/pink hair and has not touched or mentioned it since.
How To Cull Clutter
Today, cull your possessions with an honest heart. Put those things which no longer are of value or use to you in a bin to give away. Marie Kondo spoke of this in regard to books, and it helped me to let go of several (and I love my books!): A book’s purpose is to be read. When we hold onto books which we intend to read (kind of like that waffle maker) or that we once loved but have no intention of reading again, we deprive that book of fulfilling its purpose, which is to be read. Don’t deprive your possessions of the right to fulfill their purpose . . . somewhere else.
There are so few irreplaceable things in our home. If you get rid of a book or shirt or kitchen gadget, and find you have made a mistake, you can certainly buy another. But, I can promise you that, 90% of the time, you will not give another thought to the items you release. In the case of a sentimental heirloom or truly irreplaceable item, I have found that taking a picture of it can be a helpful step in letting it go. I wrote about this in my post Ode to Ave Maria.
Don’t worry if you aren’t ready to part with as much as you hoped to today. Take ten minutes in your first area, and if you are motivated, continue through the rest of your rooms, removing as much as you feel comfortable with. Sometimes, we aren’t ready to part with certain things on the first go-around, but on the second or third time through, we find that we are. This happened to me with my CD collection.
Take your time with this process of culling and de-cluttering. As FlyLady says, “Just seeing one small area that is clean and clutter free, gives you the energy to do more.” We didn’t collect all of this clutter in one day; it’s going to take more than a day (or 26 letters of the alphabet) to get rid of it all. Kondo says that the complete process of “tidying” can take up to nine months. So, give yourself some grace. Do what you can today, and celebrate your accomplishments. Next, we will talk about what to do with our bags of giveaway items.
Blogging from A to Z Challenge
Day 1: Assess
Day 2: Beauty