May 13, 2013

Coming Clean on Clutter

Last month I made some true confessions, a result of exhaustion and overwork. Now I'm going to dish some more dirt.

You may be aware that my mother moved almost two months ago and that I’ve been spending a lot of time working on her condo, getting it ready for sale. I’m delighted to report that it sold in four days, for the asking price. I’m convinced that it sold quickly because we took the time to clear it out, freshen it up and stage it.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of time to think about what to do with stuff. My mother took what she wanted with her to her new, much smaller, home. I gave items to family members that had meaning to them and donated a tremendous amount to charity.

That left things like my mother’s sewing machine, my father’s binoculars, the movie projector, movie reels and photographs. A LOT of photographs. My mother had them squirreled away everywhere. I’ve been going through the photos, giving as many as possible to family members and throwing away a few, too. Yes, you can throw out photographs. If you don’t know who the people are, or you don’t have contact with them anymore, there’s no reason to hang onto old photos.

There are the wooden blocks, puzzles, Lincoln Logs and Tinkertoys of ours that my mother kept for her grandkids to play with. I can’t imagine giving them to some future grandchild, saying, “These were mine when I was little,” but I’m not ready to give them up yet.

So now my house looks like a yard sale. There’s a bag for my brother, one for my sister, one for my cousin, one to take to my mother. There’s a pile of household goods for my nephew to take back to college with him, for his new apartment. In July. There are boxes that I still have to open and make decisions about.

Sometimes I adorn the dining room table with treasures, then donate them after living with them for a week or two. I have a client who calls the process “auditioning” and I thought it was charming until I started doing it myself. Now it feels like living in a time warp. A cluttered time warp.

I think this is just a process I have to go through. I’m making progress. I’ll get through all the boxes soon. But first I have to find a place in my cupboard for a set of soup mugs.

Organized by Marcie TM: Save time and money by letting go of what you don't need and finding room for what you value
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  1. Marcie, I think auditioning an item is charming. I did something like that with a bowl of my mother's. See my post here.…-full-of-memories/
    And if the photos have identifiable landmarks from your town in them and you know that approx date, consider donating them to your local historical society.
    Love your posts!

  2. Thanks, Linda. Reading your article made me nod my head and laugh. At least you had the good sense not to bring the stuff home with you! That's the advantage (disadvantage?) of having the family live so close to each other.

    Good suggestion about photos. I'm guessing that most, however, are going to be like my family's - taken at a party and you don't remember who the people are anymore.


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