Friday, May 30, 2008

Not the Friday Five

SLOTH

I'm up -- I'm on vacation (sort of) -- and the Friday Five is up, too -- but it's about garage sales, which are definitely not my thing. In fact, my thing this summer is the opposite (sort of) and I'd love some help. Herewith, then, my own Friday Five:

You've lived in your house for 24+ years and you suffer from Packrat Syndrome, no doubt due to deeply rooted fears of loss, dislocation, and turmoil, as well as the equally well-established deadly sin of Sloth. Your first mistake was purchasing a home with a basement and three (!) attics as well as a library (not to mention the aforedescribed rotting soffits and dangling gutters, which have now been repaired at a cost equal to all Third World Debt). Your storage space houses children's materials ranging from the artwork of three-year-olds to the college acceptances of eighteen-year-olds, books and magazines on virtually every topic under the sun, clothing in enough sizes to restock an entire boutique featuring styles of the past two decades, the debris of a lifelong addiction to photography, and numerous items of indeterminate origin and classification. And you are by nature, sadly, a piler and not a filer.

It's a good thing you hate garage sales because they would be toxic for you.

You have three months, with maybe an hour a day available to tackle the challenge of liberating your home and yourself from your unfortunate tendency to accumulate and preserve. You know that you need an underlying methodological approach, you would like to keep those things which have true meaning and/or use for you, and you would also like to be able to move into your dream house -- a 1200 square foot bungalow -- at a moment's notice.

Suggestions welcome!

18 comments:

Songbird said...

Start at the top and work your way out? I think that could be very freeing. Whichever is the furthest point from the exit, begin there. By the time you're finished, you'll be ready to move through the door, too.

Pink Shoes said...

Find old episodes of "Clean Sweep."
Enlist a trusted friend or several to walk with you through the journey -- someone who can be tough with you, but whom you'll still love in the end, who knows when to push you, and when to let you keep something.
When we helped my in-laws move from one place to another, I cringed every time something would get moved when its only intended purpose was to sit in storage, again.
Good luck!

Quotidian Grace said...

I so sympathize with you, GG, being in very much the same place. Here's my plan-- I'm clearing out one closet or cabinet per week. And as for the overflowing bookcases, I'm taking three or four bags of books to sell at Half Price every two weeks. Except for El Jefe's HUGE Civil War collection which I've told him he needs to cull and he's told me he'll do that when he retires. Sigh.

I don't do garage sales either. Good luck with the project!

mompriest said...

I've moved many times - which is a true incentive for undoing the packrat tendency...It's exhausting and encourages me to move as little as possible...that said...

Clean sweep does offer some great techniques...and I agree get someone to help you, if only to be strong in saying "Out!"...then call the Salvation Army or some other recycling source and schedule a pick up date - that will help you get rid of some stuff (not papers, maybe not even clothes, but furniture if you have any of that stuff)...We have a local resale shop that takes most anything so we take our stuff over there. All of their sales go to charities...so, it's good.

I spent last summer doing what you are. It is very satisfying when it's done!

Mark Smith said...

1. The kids get to keep whatever they want. Make them come and claim it, or at least put it on a list.

2. If you haven't touched it in 2 years, you don't need it.

3. Some mementos should be kept. Pictures, wedding stuff, all of that is important.

mid-life rookie said...

Start with the area that will make the most obvious difference with the least effort. That's incentive to keep going. Starting with some area you never spend time in is a trap of discouragement waiting to happen. You don't need every outfit the kids wore, just a couple that you really liked seeing them in. You don't need every piece of artwork they did, but you must keep everything made just for mother's day. Sometimes it's easier to lay out several things and decide what to keep rather than deciding what goes. Hope its a great summer.

LawAndGospel said...

I would start with the area you will feel best about sorting. Enlist a friend. Ask hard questions like when is the last time this was used, when is the next time it will be? We are slowly doing this ourselves so that when I graduate and in all likelihood we move, it is not all still here. Not sure it will happen though.

Presbyterian Gal said...

What Songbird said!

And invite friends over to "shop" before you haul to the Goodwill or wherever.

peripateticpolarbear said...

4 piles (best with 4 actual huge boxes in front of you--piles just multiply and then get too heavy to move):

keep
donate
throw away/recycle
purgatory

The purgatory box is where you put the stuff you can't decide on. Then you seal it shut with duct tape, and put a date on it. One year from the date you take the whole box to goodwill--WITHOUT OPENING IT. If you don't open it during the course of the year, you don't need it.

Second hint--take things to goodwill every day or two---don't wait for a big huge truckload--because then it will overwhelm you and you'll start digging in piles, or your kids will. Decide and deliver--boom, boom, gone.

Third hint: My mom got HUGE rubbermaid containers for each child. In them she put school papers, etc. etc. --anything sentimental that she personally didn't want. That rubbermaid is the only place in our childhood home where we can store crap. If we want to put in a wedding dress, we have to take to our house, or throw out a bunch of other stuff. They stay in the basement. My sister goes through hers with her kids from tiem to time and then she takes some of the stuff home. I haven't touched mine--but I haven't added to it either.

Auntie Knickers said...

All the ideas are good, what works best for you you will find. However I think it will take longer than one hour a day! I wish I could send my daughter to you (the younger one), she is great at this.

Carol said...

Lots of good suggestions here. While I like the idea of a supportive friend to help, this project might be large enough for a professional to at least help you set the process. I agree about getting the kids home to go through their own stuff. Or, put it in big Rubbermaid boxes and have them go through it each time they're at your house. And clothes are easy--GONE. You'll never wear them again. I heard something this week on the Today Show about keeping a special sentimental item or 2 but that's it. I kept my rehearsal dinner dress until about 2 weeks ago. IT took nearly 25 years to get rid of it but I was finally ready. (That and the fact that I wanted to vomit each time I realized how tiny I was back then!)

Rev Dr Mom said...

If I ever lived in the same house for 24 years I'd be in the same fix. But I've never lived anywhere longer than 8 years, and most places less than that.

Even with that, I've managed to save a lot of stuff. It's hard to let of things that hold memories. You've gotten good suggestions here; I'd only add, figure how much stuff you're willing to deal with and select what you want to keep with care--what is meaningful to you might not be to someone else, but that's okay.

Lisa :-] said...

I totally agree with the simplest approach: If you haven't touched it in two years, you don't need it.

Think of your poor kids who will have to sort through all this stuff when you go, if you hang on to it that long...

The Swandive said...

I am really struggling with the same feelings, about new stuff and old stuff. So I am so glad you have written, and can only offer solidarity and prayers, no advice other than what others have said. Taking all of your words to heart. Blessings.

Stratoz said...

I agree with the folks that say donate what is not needed in your house for it may truly be needed elsewhere.

Expose yourself to getting rid of something. Exposure is the only was to face some things.

the daughter post after this one was amazing.

Stratoz said...

if you are stuck you may have to take one huge breath, have a hand to hold, and donate something you are not using. some things that block us will stay that way unless we can expose ourselves to it.

RevDrKate said...

I am in purge mode, and even then it is hard. Gaive yourself permission for it to be hard. Then all these suggestions here are fabulous, I have been doing some of each. I am starting in one place and moving through the house (basement last as its the worst and if I started there I'd quit!) Pretty much PPB's method, frequent hauling, having a "purgatory box, etc. It's all good....do what works for you, the important thing is to know that it's hard but you can do it. And it feels good to have some done!

Kathryn J said...

I resemble this whole post so I'm sure I can be of no help whatsoever.