“What are you hanging on to entirely too long, and Why?”

declutter-2“What are you hanging on to entirely too long, and Why?” A thought-provoking Facebook friend, Rebecca, asked us all this week. “I’ve had it with all this stuff. I’m going minimalist. Empty cupboards is my new vision”, another friend, Joy, tells me as she unpacks her storage after living for a year out of suitcases. At our house, we returned from a 3+ week trip, living a simpler life out of a single suitcase, inspired to cull out closets, old files, clothes, etc. etc.

It’s a theme this week. Makes you think about What you keep and Why. We have so much stuff, that it took two containers to move us on our last corporate relocation. Embarrassing, really. Contrast all that stuff with the happy single suitcase existence of our road trip last month. Where is the disconnect? Lack of know-how, or incentive is not the problem here. I’m an organizer extraordinaire and always delight at the lightness of an existence out of a suitcase. There is something much deeper underlying the attachment to all this stuff.

If I break it down logically, it seems that there are two main categories of stuff. It’s simple. There’s the stuff you use (let’s say at least once a year, so you can include your Christmas decorations) and the stuff you don’t use. A wild guess tells me that this might divide the pile into approximate equals halves. Each half elicits a different response:

The stuff I use is mostly functional, replaceable, non-emotional. Couch, pots & pans, tables & chairs, computers & printers, etc. I’m very rational and clinical in dealing with this half. This is the stuff I should keep and of course do keep, but from which I could actually easily separate myself.

The stuff I don’t use is the sticky stuff of life. Grandma’s college poetry book, baby christening gowns, old letters & cards, past calendars, mother’s cookbooks, my first Beatles album, etc. I’m decidedly irrational and inconsistent in dealing with this half. This is the stuff I theoretically could get rid of, but never do. It feels like some part of me would be lost forever, even though nobody will want to keep most of these things after I’m gone.

Moving forward, I tip toe back an,d forth between the rational and irrational fields of operation, making faster and slower progress as I switch lanes. The key thing is not to stop working the problem. Continuously chip away at it. Ask tough questions about Why. Best case you might be able to loosen the grip on some old items, or even pass them on down the family tree, and worse case you put them aside to be revisited another day.

I have a vision of a lighter load unleashing new energy and creativity! Loosen the grip of the old to make way for the new.


“Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.”
Henry David Thoreau


About lynnmorstead

Writing about the small things that shape our lives
This entry was posted in Aging, Family, Life Coaching, Life Stories, Personal Effectiveness, psychology, Society, Spiritual and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “What are you hanging on to entirely too long, and Why?”

  1. Rhonda says:

    Thank you for the impetus to simplify and declutter. As soon as we return from Hawaii, I will start small, with one drawer, one room, and enlarge the project as I finish one thing, Think big, start small, and begin with the end in mind.

  2. Freda says:

    Paperwork used to be my downfall. I could never decide which paintings, drawings, art projects, or crafts from my children I should keep or let go. I always thought it would be fun for them to look through when they were older. They are teenagers now and while sorting through stuff in the attic they looked at the tub and said, “why on earth are you keeping this stuff?”. Time to sort it down to shoebox size for myself.

  3. suzetteharrel says:

    Lynn — all you need is another MOVE!

  4. celia says:

    this is a constant theme in my life – as I drive into my garage every day, I think ‘Why is this stuff here, do I really need it?’ I don’t know! It’s still there and I’m still struggling with the question.

  5. Leah says:

    You are an organizer extraordinaire ! 🙂 I have boxes in my garage from a move five years ago. Haha. Guess it’s time to start chipping away at it. It was a good question !!

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