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I get anxious when I see clutter. Similar to Dr. Venkman’s feelings when he got slimed in Ghostbusters.
Clutter makes me feel funky.
Like a gooey coating on my feelings of calm, clutter has an unsettling weight. To counteract this funky feeling, I bring out the plasma rays of decluttering, discarding, and organizing.
Puttering with Decluttering
I used to be a hoarder of tiny things. At one point, I had to live a minimalist life compliments of the Navy. My stuff had to fit in a short gym locker and a small space underneath my bed. Like any wild teenager who joins the military because they want to rebel, I rebelled by buying stuff. Lots of tiny stuff.
Tiny statues, stationery, miniature stuffed animals all became collected items. I would marvel at my mini collection, but there were no gobs of joy. I dumped them as soon as I returned to civilian life.
When I left the Navy and started college, I collected less, but the unnatural urge to buy stuff continued. In a warped way, buying stuff would be a haphazard way to avoid the feeling of gooey loneliness.
At the time, I was caught up in other emotions and unable to find this truth. I drifted along with the urge to shop mindlessly. Memoires get hazier with time, but after college, when I had way too much unemployed free time, I started growing a fascination with Hoarders.
As I watched and waded through the mounds of stuff, I began to feel uncomfortable and deeply interested in decluttering. The similarities between hoarders and I were like the state puff marshmallow man and a fairy princess, but watching lives change after decluttering seemed magical.
I wanted to capture some magic too!
Following the instructions from the pleasant organizers on Hoarders, I started easy with clothes and home décor. Then, I worked up to books and photo albums. Initially, I felt more hesitation and uncertainty when I tried to decide if I liked the thing versus loved a thing. I used love to instruct my decluttering experience because it is an easy feeling.
When I love something, the answer is always yes. Yes, I need to keep the tiny yet inaccurate globe on my bookshelf. Yes, I need owl bookends even though I got rid of many books. Absolutely yes, a small stuffed Hedwig is an acceptable item for a 35-year-old Ravenclaw who is still waiting for an acceptance letter to Hogwarts.
Love is better than logic. My life has more love and less logic than the cluttered days of my past.
I had fear rumblings too, when I activated the decluttering, what if I love the object-in-question once I get rid of it?
Experience has given me the wisdom I needed for that funny fear: I have yet to love an item once it has met its decluttering fate.
Of the many items I have released, I have a hard time remembering what they were, let alone feel the sting of love lost. When I look at old photos, I realize the stuff I released was like running away from a giant lizard doom dog – my life is better without it.
After years of practice, my system of decluttering is streamlined. If I have the thought, should I keep this? That is my annoying alarm that I should have gotten rid of it – yesterday.
Once I realize I need to remove the item, the next decluttering stop is how to remove it. If the item has next to no resale value, I donate it. Is there some value? I try to sell it. If it looks like it would find friends in the trash can, I oblige by dumping it.
The Regret Sunset
Sometimes the pink happiness goo turns into a green disappointing muck. I used to pine over wasted money spent on frivolous things.
The sting of disappointment has gotten easier with time. Nowadays, I try to nudge disappointment into something closer to acceptance. I remind myself that I did the thing, but now I do a different thing.
Seventy years ago, people thought buying kids toys with uranium was just dandy. But, things change,
and kid-friendly radium is no longer a thing.
Change can be magical, just like decluttering.
Decluttering is magical because it releases a desire to buy more and instead allows my collection itch to scratch something else. I appreciate stuff. I do! It makes life easier, from cleaning up slimy messes to books containing safety tips.
I still buy things, but less frequently and of higher quality like my fancy new cot.
For years, I wanted a cot. Yes, years. Currently, we have one which Mr. BuLL purchased before there was a Mrs. BuLL. The cot has been handy when we have guests or go car camping. But, it’s only for a party of one.
I may have mentioned to Mr. BuLL, on multiple occasions, that I would like a cot for my birthday, Christmas, Spring Equinox, Pie Day – any day!
Mr. BuLL picked up on my cot-like feelings. He built up his REI rewards and had a coupon for 20%, which he gave me like the Keymaster of Cash. I took those savings, bundled them with gift card shenanigans, and managed to buy a lux, highly-rated cot listed for $159. I managed to whittle that down to $56.15.
Buying less but quality is how I vanquish the stuffy ghouls of clutter.
One carefully laid trap of persistence at a time.
Since my collection no longer includes the theme song to It’s A Small World, I have turned that laser beam of savings to enlarging my funds for life list expeditions. I am interested in squeezing money into a memory sinkhole. I want to tumble around in a giant plastic hamster ball, feel sandblasted at Burning Man, and wonder if ghosts are real as I lie wide awake in a, probably haunted, castle.
These are collections worth building.
Everything else is just clutter.
Where are you on the decluttering spectrum? All in, all out, or something else?