The CSA box

Baby Steps to Decluttering


Probably the biggest obstacle to reducing the clutter in my life is how hard it is for me to refuse things.  This one really pains me.  The hoarder in me has such a hard time saying no to free stuff.  When someone says “do you want this?” I almost always want to say “Yes!!  I can give that lonely object a warm, loving home!” and often times, I do.  I don’t shop very much but somehow the amount of things I own continues to grow and this phenomenon thwarts my efforts to declutter and minimize my life.

You might be wondering how I find myself in so many situations where people are trying to give me stuff.  Well, I’m glad you asked!  One way is that I like to help friends move.  I am good and it and I love the sense of accomplishment of it all.  And of course I just like helping people I care about.  And maybe even it’s partly because my inner hoarder loves the fact that every time I help someone pack or move or unpack I walk away with three large boxes of their shit.  They offer and I usually say yes.  Even if it’s stuff I already have or have no use for, I have a hard time saying no to it.  It’s free!  And it’s useful… to someone!  I would say about 60% of the stuff I’ve taken from friends who I’ve helped move gets used, which isn’t terrible.  However, the other 40% sits downstairs in the garage collecting dust.  It’s out of sight, out of mind but knowing that it’s down there, you know, just in case, gives me comfort.  I’m kind of like Smaug but instead of gold I am living on top of a hoarded pile of old kitchen utensils, furniture, art work, doodads and knickknacks.  

L1060977 - Baby Steps to Decluttering

This is one of many boxes of stuff that resides in the garage downstairs. There are about 5 cake pans of varying sizes, muffin tins, extra pots and pans, extra bamboo skewers, and so much more. My boxes of kitchen treasures.

Another source of free stuff are the athletic activities I do.  I like to participate in swimming and cycling events and at these events there is almost always an expo filled with booths doling out free samples.  The races are set up so that you pretty much have to walk through this gauntlet of free stuff and it takes a lot for me to just walk on by and take nothing.  But I do it.  A “perk” of these races is that they almost always give participants a swag bag of crap (more free samples), a free t-shirt and a participation medal.  The swag bag would be easy enough to say no to (but I rarely do) however, the t-shirt and medal are much harder.  One of my favorite (and maybe most obnoxious) things to do after a race is wear my t-shirt and medal proudly around town for the rest of the day after the event so that everyone knows how I spent my morning.  I earned it dammit!!!  I was actually very frustrated when I did NOT get a medal at my last event.  All I got was a measly t-shirt but best believe I wore it proudly for the rest of the day.  However, it would have looked so much cooler with a medal draped over it.

L1060974 - Baby Steps to Decluttering

This is just a small sampling of my t-shirt collection. I pulled out the ones I’m most proud of and took a photo just for you!

Another source of stuff in my life is that I have some top notch A+ gift givers in my circle of family and friends.  These people just love to give gifts and they are very good at it.  They spend a lot of time, energy and effort picking out the perfect gift and I love and appreciate every ounce of thought and effort that goes into it.  Most of the gifts are important, useful stuff that I actually want (which is a lot of things) but there are also a good number of gifts that I have zero use for.  I’ve been told I can regift them, sell them, take them to Goodwill but… the act of giving the gift is an expression of their care, appreciation and love for me so how can I just give that away?!  Dramatic, I know, but these are the feelings I struggle with.  I mean, I have a hard time throwing out Christmas cards!  It has your beautiful face on it!!  And your beautiful children’s faces!!!  How can I just throw you and your children’s smiling faces in the fucking trash?!  I’m not a monster!!   

L1060953 - Baby Steps to Decluttering

This is an example of some keepers. The earrings were a gift from my mom and I love them! The thing that all the earrings are hanging off of is something that a friend gave me when I helped her move and it brings me joy every time I look at it and think of her. Yup, these are keepers.

Clearly I have a problem collecting and then giving meaning to things and stuff.  This is something I get to work through as I move forward with my 2017 resolution to declutter and minimize my life and I have a feeling it’s going to be a tough one.  Any tips, tricks or words of support from people who are similarly afflicted would be greatly appreciated.  In the meantime, I have “Clean Out Closet” on my calendar for later this month.  Baby steps.  Wish me luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Book Course