Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thoughts On Purging: From a Cluttered Home to a Comfortable Home

It's that time of year when many think about organizing and cleaning out the clutter.  It might surprise many that this is one of my favorite things to do ever!  More than any of my other hobbies, I delight in going through stuff and designating them to the trash pile, the donation pile, or the organization/put away pile. I like rooms to be clean and organized and well-maintained. Does that mean it is always so in my home? Sadly no, mostly due to busy-ness and other commitments, which might explain why I get frustrated...because I can't tackle "the stuff." This is happening now due to my slow recovery. I am doing better day by day, but it is slow and being too active demands rest time and naps. However I'm starting to tackle piles bit by bit, even in a few minutes each day.

One time one of  my roommates declared that she was going to organize all the piles in her space. I got quite excited and assumed she was inviting  me to help! What could possibly be more fun? She soon realized what was happening, and very carefully took my hands and very carefully said, oh so gently, that she wanted to do this herself. Oh the sadness! 

What is it that makes the task of organization so charming? Is it the lure of possibly finding hidden treasure? I confess that is part of it with me. However I somehow more practically find great delight in dumping stuff in the trash that has sat around unused, unnoticed, unwanted for far too long. Time to clear it out so we can actually see and enjoy the things we do use, but haven't quite seen due to all the clutter!  Mostly though, there's just something about reducing dust collecting "stuff" to fresh! It's like opening a window in the springtime!          

Furthermore, I often have the words of financial economist, Larry Burkett, ringing in my head.  He basically encouraged getting rid of excess.  In fact, he brutally called it hoarding.  (gasp)  That was a shock to me when I first heard it.  I've thought about it quite a bit over the years, and the idea of my hoarding things that I never use, taking up space we really did not have, well, it wasn't doing any of us any good!  But it could do someone else some good, especially someone who didn't have us much as we did.  How much better to take "stuff" that is sitting around collecting dust going to someone who actually would want it or importantly might need it.

When we moved from our Texas house to Virginia, I particularly kept this thought of bequeathing to others, or blessing the garbage man to heart. Anything I cleared out would help the packers do their job more efficiently, which would make my unpacking in Virginia more efficient. Also we had a weight limit on the moving truck. Furthermore we had limited storage in the house so we also needed "stuff" cleared out so we could stage the house to sell (which it did in 24 hours for asking price!)

What do we really use? What goes unnoticed? What did we forget about? Perhaps it wasn't so important after all? Is it in stellar condition? Then donate it to charity or a thrift store for someone else.  If it's something I would not feel right gift wrapping for someone else, it's ready for the garbage. It's tacky donating yucky items.    

I had a favorite charity when we lived in San Antonio, Medina Children's Home, and it was for them that I started purging.  I strongly encouraged the kids to do the same.  Actually, I did it for my daughter and my son took note and pretty much did it for himself.  I showed them that trash was trash and things unused but in good shape were given away.  When they saw what was left, they were quite surprised.  They saw that things that mattered little to them were hiding important stuff! They also learned that things that didn't matter so much to them would be really special for kids that didn't have as much.  

We also went through our book collections. As much as we enjoy books, we only have so much room in the bookcase. What have we outgrown? Did we really enjoy *that* book? We made choices, then I took those books to sell to Half Price Books. That made the kids feel great, to earn money for stuff they no longer needed.

There are so many options for better things to do with "stuff" than to let it sit and collect dust. Instead tis the season to be generous and rethink what we use v, what others need or might make better use of. The result will be a more comfortable home for all.    

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