Keep it or toss it, uncovering the past

I’ve been doing some serious decluttering in our house. I mean, we’re talking I’m deep in the throws here. I’ll get started and if I’m really into the task at hand, I won’t come up for air for hours. For each item, I either: a) keep it (I’ll have to figure out its permanent location later); b) trash bag it; or c) Goodwill bag it. I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I am attempting to follow her method, albeit her encouragement of speaking to inanimate objects is a little strange.

The decluttering I’ve done so far has resulted in bags and bags of trash at the curb, and multiple trips to the donation center. But I still have a long way to go before I can declare this house of ours to be clean.

After so many years, I can honestly say, wow, we sure have collected a lot of shit. And the items unburied run the gambit from plain boring (I found some insurance claim letters from 1997! BOR-ING!), all the way to fun memory jogging (I found Gerald’s and my YMCA membership ID cards, complete with pictures, from before we were married, but we had fibbed to the Y and claimed we were already husband and wife so we could get a cheaper rate! FUN!).

I happened upon a bundle of mailed Vegas wedding fliers/pamphlets. After Gerald and I became engaged, we toyed with the idea of having a Vegas wedding. We didn’t know if we wanted a big costly to-do and thought maybe it would be fun to run away to Vegas and get married by Elvis or something. This was before standard household internet access so I had sent inquiries to all the wedding chapels the old fashioned way. For any of you youngsters out there, this means I sent mailed inquiries through the United States Postal Service, and then I got responses through the United States Postal Service. And boy did I get responses. Some were simple and plain, and one included a sprinkle of confetti. That one was my favorite.

Thank you, thank you very much.
Thank you, thank you very much.

Now when I came across some old diaries, oh ewww is all I got to say about that! It’s a good thing I didn’t already die before I started this decluttering project. I would NOT have wanted any of my family members to run across my old diaries. Oh, just imagine it, high school girl drama all the way. And then he said, and then I said. And she’s such a bitch and oh my life is so horrible and hard and nobody understands my problems. Oh woe is me! Ya know, that kind of drama. Throw in some shameful teenager/young adult behavior, and that’s just NOT something I need my kids reading about their mom.

Something else that’s happened since I started sifting through all this “past” clutter – How different I am, how much I’ve grown as a person, is more obvious to me now more than ever. I’m so thankful to have matured into this woman who is a pretty decent wife, if I do say so myself. And how cool it is to be a mom. Every once in a while, when I’m hanging out with my sister, she looks at me and laughs, “I can’t believe someone married you!” No worries, I know she says this in sisterly love. And it is funny. If you look at the person my sister used to know 20 something years ago, I can’t believe someone married me either!

I had no idea what awaited me when I first embarked on my journey to a clutter-free house. I can only imagine what else is lurking in that cedar chest, and the other closets and cabinets I have yet to tackle. Guess I’ll soon find out.


15 thoughts on “Keep it or toss it, uncovering the past”

  1. Oh, man, I’m happy that most of my stuff is already organized to the extend that I no longer have to look at it, because if I were to embark on a journey like this, there’s no saying where it ends (I also have all my diaries from age 8 to 23 or so stacked in the attic – I don’t have kids, but my younger sisters are going to have a field day).

    1. I just had to start this project. I’m tired of living in a mess. My clutter was/is both out in the open AND stashed away in odd and various places all over the house. I know I’ll feel so much lighter and free (!) once completed. Well, that’s what I HOPE for anyway. Marie Kondo says once you do this whole process, the clutter will never come back. I guess we shall see…

  2. You are inspiring me to want to de-clutter our house as well. I’ve got the book you mentioned in my queue at the library so hopefully it will give me the kick in the ass that I need to get motivated. I too have run across old diaries and letters from my youth and have been mortified by what I read. That only thing that is good about reading old letters is to appreciate how much you’ve changed (hopefully for the better) as you’ve aged.

    1. Yeah, as in “Thank God I’m no longer that whining, self-centered biatch.” Oh, well, for me anyway. Before I bought the book, I looked at the library’s waiting list (for the Kindle version) and it was somewhere in the two hundreds. So I broke down and bought the hard copy. Kristine from Mum Revised turned me on (that just sounds wrong) to the book. It’s been great but it does take a lot of time. But if you’ve applied the method correctly, you will never have to do the huge decluttering part again. So Marie Kondo says, anyway. You’ll have to keep me posted, Gina! And of course you’ll probably find some blogging material while you’re in there too.

  3. I hope, I really hope, that you didn’t throw out those diaries. Yes they’re embarrassing and awful and don’t show you in the best light, but someday, many many many years in the future when your kids are too old to engage in inappropriate behavior they’ll appreciate a glimpse of the you they never knew.
    In all other regards declutter away!

    1. Too late, Christopher! They met their fate with the shredder a few days ago. I’m okay with it. They contained memories that I wouldn’t want outside my own head anyway.

  4. I was about to ask you to come and clean my house, too, but I can see now that doing it yourself is part of the process. How tiring is it? We moved into a smaller house in another state in a bit of a hurry a few years ago. Things were packed in a jumble and a lot of it is in boxes in the garage. Even the thought of sorting and decluttering is exhausting me! I’m glad it’s working well for you, though, and I’ll have to check out this book.

    P.S. I finally figured out how to subscribe to your blog, which is a little embarrassing. “Notify me of new posts by email.” I’m a genius!

    1. It is very much a personal kind of process. Sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge to start purging some of Gerald’s things (huh hum), but you’re really supposed to stick with your own belongings/space. Once you get going, it’s hard to stop. I’ll even forget to take a break to eat, I’ll be on such a roll. Yes, check out the book for sure. Marie Kondo makes you realize that it’s totally okay to let things go. You’ll see, Margo! 🙂

      And I’m positive it’s me in regards to my site not being very intuitive (is that the word?). I really need to spend some time in making it a little easier to navigate. 🙂

  5. I’ve always been a borderline hoarder. I think it’s because my parents liked to spend their weekends going to flea markets or estate auctions. It was all about finding that unique item, where it would be displayed and who would ‘just die of jealousy’ when they saw it. And mostly those ‘treasures’ just went in the closet.
    When I moved last year, I gave away or sold thousands of books, china sets, knicknacks. It’s very freeing somehow to to have all that stuff off of my conscience.
    I do miss my purple plaster elephant though.

    1. Ooo..that reminds me, the attic. All sorts of things I can get rid of up there. But yeah, I think a lot of us are like that. We like to get get get but then rarely discard, at least not near as much as probably should happen anyway. I know that’s what’s happened to me.

  6. Ant & I had to do this before we jumped countries. We had a ridiculous amount of crap to get rid of. No diaries, but I threw away about a hundred old keyrings and then all of the cards I’d ever received on birthdays. Even found my first birthday card in there (I kept that though. Not sure why but I did).

    1. I threw out a lot of cards as well. Before I started this endeavor, I thought if we ever move, then we’d be forced to get rid of all the junk. I’d just want to start a big bonfire in the backyard (pretty sure the homeowners association, oh and law enforcement, would not have approved). Well since we’re probably not moving anytime soon, I’m glad I finally took action now. I have spared my baby book and the boy’ baby books (so far…).

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