Not a Hoarder But

I definitely have too much stuff in my house.  Years ago I had a house fire and lost 95% of what I owned.  Now there are some things that I miss dearly, but to be honest, there are some things that it was a relief to lose.   Like my clarinet that I played in the fifth grade or the old fashion bonnet hair dryer or all my year books from seventh grade through high school and even some of my baby clothes.      

Now I feel overwhelmed again.  One reason is both my parents are dead and I kept a lot of their possessions, like my mother’s Christmas Department 56 Dickens’ houses and all the accessories.  I never put these out.  Each year I say that I am, but it doesn’t  happen.  I am just not a knick-knack person and I like simple decorations.

I have  two hope chests now – one my great-grandmother’s and one my mother’s.  I called my aunt tonight with the intention of asking her if my cousin would like our great- grandmother’s hope chest but I couldn’t get the words out.  My grandmother gave it to me, and that is special, even though I don’t really have room for it, and would never buy a cedar chest.  But I  feel like I can’t let go of my mother’s either.  I can be ruthless on some things but it is difficult for me to be that way with items my grandmother or mother loved.

I tend to buy duplicates of items. For example,  I have four or five lunch bags – you know the insulated bags.  One is small, one is large, and then my employer gave me one, and I just bought a Vera Bradley one to match my work bag so I look all organized and co-ordinated.  I also have three clock radios.  One by Sony that plays C.D.’s, one by iHome for my Nano and one that allowed me to play and charge  my iPhone.  Since I bought that one I upgraded my phone and the shape is different so now I just wake up to the ugly buzz in the morning. The radios don’t bother me because I have one in my spare bedroom for company, one in the kitchen and one in my bedroom.   So they almost can be considered necessities.

Wouldn’t you  love to be on a television show like Clean Sweep?  I would!

Although this week I am starting to address the clutter.  I threw out most of my Georgette Heyer’s books because they were so old and dusty.  I probably had many of them close to twenty five years.  I know, I can hear you gasp  but honestly they were an asthma attack waiting to happen.

And I am thinking long and hard about the cedar chest and the Dickens’ Christmas houses.

Do you have any hints about how to de-clutter?  Do you have items in your home that you don’t love but can’t get rid of because of sentimental value? How often do you go through your possessions and ruthlessly sell or give it away?


– Leigh AAR

5 thoughts on “Not a Hoarder But

  1. maggie b.

    Every de-cluttering book or show I have ever read/watched utilizes the one year rule in your video. That is one I follow too unless the item falls under memorabilia.

    I limit memorabilia to a few items that really speak to me about the past. So regarding your mom’s Christmas houses – why not keep 12 and sell the rest? or something like that?

    I also “revisit” – if I just can’t part with something then I move it to the side and part with something else. The next few months I revisit that item I couldn’t part with and see if I still can’t part with it.

    The cedar chests would be hard to part with. Not only are they memories but they are storage. They would probably get good money in a sale though. (I’m not recommending that, just saying :-)

    I also do a room in phases. Phase one eliminate the easy trash. Phase two eliminate the stuff I missed in the first round and so on. I set a goal for a room and become ruthless in enforcing it. IE, recently I went through my books. I made myself get down to 10 plastic bins. I kept getting rid of them waaaayyyyyy past when it hurt. But the truth is, I wasn’t re-reading those books. So this for the best. Sob! It still hurts.

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  2. LeeB.

    I agree that focusing on one room at a time is a good idea but if you live in an apartment with only a few rooms (like I do) then one particular area of your living space is easier to focus on. It is fun to look at all the stuff you have but then if you think “why the heck do I still have this?,” you know it can go.

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  3. Victoria S

    Leigh, first let me say how sorry I am about the fire. I lost my husband and sister 2 years ago and there are things I would not want to go up in flames. I think about that sometimes, wondering how I would possibly manage to save all the things that were theirs, AND myself, should a fire break out. I am kidding (I think)
    I am a ruthless non-clutter freak. Let me tell you what I did when faced with the keep/let go dilemma. I kept only things that ABSOLUTELY reminded me of my husband and sister. EVERYTHING else I gave away to a person or charity. For example, every year my husband took off a week from work to make Christmas cookies. He made dozens, and we gave them out on our jobs and at home. I took his almost new, bright red KitchenAid mixer and all the cookie recipe books, and gave them to a niece who bakes.
    My sister was the ultimate Michael Jackson fan, I gave all her clothes to charity, divided up ALL her other DVD’s and CD’s and gave them to her friends, so that they had a part of her, and kept ONLY her Michael Jackson memorabilia which is stored in a plastic bin in my attic.
    I am probably most ruthless with my own books…if I ain’t gonna re-read it, out it goes! No exceptions! I have been blessed using this method so far, I have never given away a book that I regretted. Being an avid re-reader, I know immediately whether or not a book falls into my keeper category. Even with my Kindle, if I don’t like a book, it gets deleted I don’t even want to see it :-)

    I am getting ready to do my garage. I am finally ready to get rid of some of the stuff that was my late husband’s that I know I am NEVER gonna use. EX; a battery recharger…really? Old weight plates, tools etc.

    Leigh, the only hint I have is not really a hint…BE RUTHLESS!

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  4. maggie b.

    Oh, I should add something about unfinsihed and half-finished. If you have un-finished projects about before you clean, finish them. That works wonders for de-cluttering a house. Just take a day (days) and finish up all those little pesky things like mending or finishing putting together a craft or whatever.

    Check out what you have in half-finished items and deal with them. For example, I recently pulled all my half full fragrance bottles out of the cabinet and have been using each one till it is done. With some, which were very old, I threw them out. (I love fragrances and have about 30 different kinds.)
    I am taking myself down to three.

    If you have been putting off dealing with important papers get them all filed. This protects them from being accidently tossed and also is another big step in decluttering.

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  5. LinnieGaylAAR

    Leigh, I am so sorry about the fire. I’ve had to relocate three times in just over five years and have become more ruthless about getting rid of clutter. I do have some collections (perfume bottles, art, etc.) that I won’t get rid of. I use them for decorations in my home. I use a few different strategies for keeping the clutter away. With clothes: any time I buy a new piece of clothing I have to put another piece into a bag for recycling. Then, I go through my closets and dressers each fall and each spring and if I haven’t worn something in the last two years it goes into a recycling bag.

    Papers I do try and keep filed away as much as possible. I usually take a day (around tax time, ugh) and quickly go through the files. If I no longer need the paper it gets shredded.

    When I really start getting overwhelmed by clutter but don’t have a lot of time I invoke my “one thing must go a day” rule. Each morning before I go to work I have to grab one thing that either gets tossed out or placed in a recycling or donation bag. I have no trouble sticking to the “one thing” rule, and actually generally toss out more than one thing. Yesterday I drove up to the Salvation Army drop off with five large bags filled with the results of my “one thing must go a day” rule from just the last couple weeks.

    Good luck!

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