Published: March 14, 2010
I received a note from a friend the other day with a P.S. that said: “I clipped out the article you wrote about cleaning out, and my husband and I are planning to do that soon.”
Since I wrote that article, I have been doing more cleaning out, too.
Daughter Anne was in recently and hadn’t been to my closet in a long time. She said, “Wow, Mom. What did you do with all of it?”
Well, I’ll tell you what I did: I gave it away.
Without sounding sanctimonious, I got rid of a lot of stuff, and the more I get rid of, the more I am fueled to purge even more.
If you visited my attic and saw the broken chair (the only thing we have from Tommy’s grandmother), the broken sewing box (the only thing any from any member of my side of the family) you’d question my success. But they’re on the short list.
In truth I have started dumping stuff. And it feels great.
This weekend I ran into Dr. Rhea Seddon (astronaut), and she said she had been cleaning out her father’s home. She sent an e-mail to friends and acquaintances saying she was selling everything, and contacted a Nashville expert in high-end garage sales to help her.
Rhea said she learned one thing: get rid of the junk NOW.
Years ago (more than 30, in fact) when Rhea lived out of town she invited Tommy and me to visit her at her father’s house. It was the night before he had his supper club for dinner, and his table was set more beautifully than any table I have ever seen before, since or after.
On that table were glasses made to his specifications from Venice, exquisite antique plates from France and other treasures and service items that discoverers of King Tut’s tomb could only hope to see. And they were auctioned off.
It must have been painful in many ways. But like all of us, Rhea can’t absorb another house full of “stuff” into her existing one. Most of it had to go.
And when she said, “Get rid of the junk!” I took notice of the myriad things in my possession and worry about what my kids will have to burrow through one day.
They probably don’t want the empty picture frames, the box labeled “miscellaneous stationery,” the already read mystery novels and the 20 ballpoint pens in every other room. They might want the artwork, the photographs and scrapbooks but I doubt they’ll want the unidentified computer cords, the stashes of fabric, the partially burnt candles or the half skeins of yarn.
Even so, these things are still hard to part with. Probably because I just plain like my stuff, but mainly because I think I might get around to using it some day.
The stark reality is that I’m 63, not 33, and I won’t have time to use everything I have. It’s time to be less sentimental and more realistic and pitch it.
Among the habits I’m starting to develop are not dropping in Big Lots and Tuesday Morning anymore. I don’t NEED anything there. And I’ve stopped browsing through antique malls, though I find them to be relaxing and great fun.
The best offense is a good defense and that’s a good start.
I also plan to remove something in every room at least once a week ... and record it on a calendar.
I’ll keep you posted with my progress. And you let me know about yours.
‘Til next week.