Monday, January 30, 2012

Mind of a Minimalist, Heart of a Hoarder

I like watching "Hoarders" because it makes me feel like I don't have "stuff issues" - even though I do, a little bit. It's like when you watch "Intervention" and are content in the knowledge that your alcohol consumption is totally normal (if I start stashing airplane bottles in the toilet tank or downing mouthwash with the intent of catching a buzz rather than freshening my breath, feel free to call Dr. Drew). But I've always been a very sentimental person...I get attached to things and don't always let go.

 If Barbie was a hoarder  - the Dreamhouse overfloweth...

When my parents were downsizing about six years ago and moving out of the house I'd grown up in, my mom called me one day to ask if I knew anything about all of the random pieces of pine trees and scraps of paper she was finding in various pieces of pottery and pewter in her china hutch. Well of course I did - those were pieces of the our Christmas trees I'd saved when I was a little kid! It still makes me sad to see Christmas trees on the curb after the holidays but I've stopped short of trying to save them all. There were also notes to pets who had went to that big dog park in the sky. I didn't even bother telling them about the things I'd squirreled away under the built-in beds in my old bedroom - let the new owners (or their kids) scratch their heads at that collection.

In theory, I like minimalism. I like clean lines, uncluttered surfaces, and mid-century modern design. The reality is a liiiitle more complicated...  Look in my house and you'll see that Mr. Snarky and I do pretty  well when it comes to keeping things superficially clutter-free. But take a gander behind closed doors (basement, pantry, closet,  whatever - any closed door will do) and the facade is shattered: it's just a big mess up in there.

I realized when I was adding tatty t-shirts to the "bag of rags I'll use someday to clean some unforeseeable dirty object" that it might be time to just start tossing some of them in the trash. I'm not good at throwing things out or determining - with finality - that something has come to the end of it's useful life.


Not here yet, thankfully - once it goes in the trash, it stays in the trash. Almost always. OK, fine - I have gotten some really cool stuff on the curb. I ADMIT IT!

I mean, I have nail polish older than KStew, and that's not a brag. My pantry could use a massive overhaul, and while I'm at it, I might want to empty the contents of the freezer and get rid of anything unidentifiable (the fridge portion was cleaned out of necessity - top to bottom - a month or so ago during what I call "The Great Pickle Juice Disaster").

Someone had labeled this random not-my-refrigerator pic "astonishingly messy" - er, maybe I do have problems???

So while I've stopped making New Year's resolutions for the most part, I think that this will be the year that I get de-cluttered. I've been inspired by things I have seen online, in magazines, and at friend's houses... I know it won't be easy, and I'll definitely will have to change the way I accumulate things (or don't...). Like not stocking up on random items I don't need at the grocery store, only to find myself  putting them all away into my pantry like I am playing a game of high-stakes Jenga - one false move and that third can of tomatoes is going to break a toe! I don't want it to take renting a dumpster one day to come and rid my house of three tons of antiquated Twilight gear and 1,267 random mostly-full bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotions that I used a couple of times before deciding I didn't like them and stashing them away for an "emergency."

 Not my pantry but this looks familiar and will give you the general gist...

What are your decluttering tips??? Any websites or books that you found particularly motivating or inspiring? Either mail them to me so that I can add them to the other piles of paper and magazines and clippings that I have stuffed everywhere or leave them in the comments!

29 comments:

  1. It's sooooo hard to do! I usually part with my stuff using the gradual "put it slowly further and further into the depths of the basement" method, then if I don't go frantically crawling around, desparately searching through all the drawers, boxes or shelves for the item within a year (ok, or two), I give it to Goodwill; win-win, tax ded & declutter! Twilight obsessing has actually sped up the process as I need more room all the time for my Twistuff...never to be stashed in the basement, though, natch!

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    1. Agreed - NO Twi stuff is headed for the basement... I just need more plastic bins, that's all - more bins!!! Bigger bins - yes!

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  2. I wish my hoarding was limited to the 3000+ pictures of RPatz I've saved to my smutty hard drive, but it's not to be. You begin to trip over clutter as soon as you walk inside the door! It's an illness and it must be passed on genetically because I come from a long line of hoarders.

    I have so much useless stuff, I can't find it when I need it! But I swear, every time I get the guts to throw something away because I haven't needed/used it in 10 years, less than a week goes by before I need it!

    I did find a helpful web site. I downloaded the calendar & read the chore for each day. I think to myself, "I could do that!" But, then, a year from now, I would have to start over and do it again! Check it out

    http://www.mysimplerlife.com/

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    1. Welp, I didn't want to throw my mom under the bus here, but I didn't exactly learn this all on my own - lol... My mom's pantry in the old house would make mine look sane! and I don't have an extra fridge and freezer, either. Yet. : ) Thanks for the tip on the website - baby steps sounds about right!

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  3. My home is clutter free. I think everything is messy, I don't like pics on the wall, throw pillows on the sofa. I walk around every moring with plastic grocery bags collecting whatnots and returning them to their rightful place or the trash.
    But I have a confession, I hoard storage totes. Yes, that's right, I have them in all colors and sizes stacked neatly on shelves in my basement, most are empty in the event that there is something out there I must save! So far nothing, not even the kid's artwork have been deemed "tote worthy".

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    1. Wait...you have empty totes in your basement??? Can I come over???

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  4. I think you really have to commit to the idea of not acquiring anything new until you get rid of one thing that's old. That's how I keep my closet in line. I don't buy something new until I've given away a few items. This is partly by necessity: I live in a limited amount of space in NYC.

    I also live by the 6 month rule. If I haven't used it in 6 months, I'm not going to. Also, try and keep one key momento, not four or five. For example, I used to save a whole bunch of stuff from trips I took (ticket stubs, brochures, maps, whatever). Now I tell myself I can keep just one thing.

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    1. Iiiinteresting way to do it... (I can actually feel myself getting angsty about the thought of throwing away any of the 186 pieces of stuff that came back with me from Forks). OK maybe I do need help lol...

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  5. Last year I moved from Boston to LA, and it turned out to be cheaper to sell all my stuff than to move it. I got rid of everything except clothes, books/movies/CDs, art, and a few sundry items of sentimental value. If it didn't fit in my car, it didn't go. Obviously some things were harder to part with (miss you, area rug!) than others (adios, cookie sheet), but the whole ordeal was a lot easier than one might guess. I'm not advocating everyone abandon their possessions for an ascetic lifestyle, but the great purge really put my relationship to my stuff in perspective. There's nothing wrong with being attached to stuff (Molly Bear, you're my best friend), but as soon as we let it go, we pretty quickly realize we don't care that much about it being gone.

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    1. There have been times when I KNEW that if I just took a random box of stuff and tossed it in the the trash - sight unseen - that the chances of anything being missed would be slim to none. I find that having a glass of wine before doing something like a closet-clean-out goes a long way in helping me fill those bags I'll be donating! A wee nip for courage & all that... : )

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  6. I think you're either born with the hoarder gene or not. My parents were divorced by the time I was 3. My mom is the dirty hoarder and my dad is the one lining up the cans in the pantry and using a white glove on the window sills. I'm somewhere in between, but there are very few things I tolerate hoarding and they are all in the "someday I'll put this in a scrapbook" variety.

    I'm big on tote boxes too, but I try really hard to limit them to the shelf space on hand and I label them and try to keep like items with like items per the label. I can take pictures of my closets, post them online and not be embarrased.

    One thing I do is that I always have a bag or box in the garage that I'm always putting things in to go to charity. Then I actually TAKE the box to charity every few months or when it gets exceptionally full.

    If there is something big I don't want to haul I post it on the free section of Craigs List. You can get rid of almost ANYTHING if you live in a decently populated area and post it for free on Criag's List. Here in San Diego I can usually get rid of it within a few HOURS!

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    1. I DO have a charity pile (well, a bag in my car that I drop off at a local church thrift store whenever I remember) - go, me!

      I am definitely more like my mom than my dad - when my mom passed away, my father spent months and months going through all the kitchen cabinets, pantries, drawers, cabinets and various storage areas - and storage units! - until he'd pared it all down (and yes all his cans are lined up in the cupboard and all the labels face the same way, AND he probably doesn't have anything expired in there lol). I think he must have had garage sales every three months and stocked the shelves of the local food pantry for the better part of a year.

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  7. Oh STY, I could have written this post myself! Especially the part about the nail polish and the Christmas trees. It breaks my heart to see the tree abandoned at the curb, after it spent its whole life growing just to spend one glorious month being adored in our living room and then thrown away like trash. I should probably get a fake tree for this reason but I had one growing up and now I'm making up for lost time. One thing I have done is to buy empty, clear glass ornaments at the craft store, and the first year we were married, I cut little branches off our tree, stuffed them into one of the ornaments, and wrote "our first Christmas tree" and the year on it. I did the same thing this year for Renesmo's first tree. Then I'm not *really* parting with the tree, right??

    I also keep a bag in the closet for donations, and I dump literally everything that isn't trash (old phone chargers, floss samples from the dentist - let's be honest, I don't need those) into it, and as soon as it gets full, off to Goodwill it goes.

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    1. I LOVE the idea of saving a snippet of your Christmas tree that way! It's much more appealing than trying to teach myself to stop being such an overly-sentimental sap - lol! It makes me happy to know it's not just me - whew! I HAVE gotten much better about getting rid of things; now I need to work on my timing and not wait a year before I realize I have no use for whatever it is and tossing it in the "donate" pile.

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  8. I am the *exact* same way. My house is clean and neat, if you don't open any drawers.

    An organizational 'expert' once told me to start small. One drawer at a time. Of course she was a soul-sucking demon of Martha Stewart. =)

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    1. I've been telling myself I need to take on one little area or pile every day - it would start to add up eventually! I need to get on that, even if it's just one dresser drawer at a time (I definitely could add to the "donate" pile if I started ransacking my dresser. OK, "dressers" - I have two. {{{sigh}}}

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  9. Sorry, can't idenify. High five @Lila! I'm a minimalist and it's very freeing. Look in any of my cupboards or drawers, no embarrassment. Spices are in alphabetical order with the date opened written on them, etc. Yep, a lot OCD, but it works for me. I'm sentimental about things and memories in my heart and head and don't need a 'thing' (a ticket stub, etc.) to remind me. Hubby is neat, but does keep more things than I do. He already knows that if he goes first, I'm backing up a dump truck the next day and it all goes! Would rather look forward than back.

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  10. ML is the hoarder, not me. I'll let shit pile up but then I'll become totally fed up with the clutter, lose my shit and throw everything out. Doesn't matter what it is, if it's in my way when I'm on a rampage, it's going in the trash or goodwill.

    The only thing I do hang onto is clothes. Not all of them, only the really pretty or really expensive ones. I know there isn't a chance in hell I'm ever squeezing into a four again but... I just can't get rid of 'em.

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  11. I try to go through an purge two to three times a year. I do tend to let paperwork pile up and then spend a weekend or so saving, shredding, tossing, sometimes even a pit fire.

    The kids clothes, we do a "fashion show" about every season to see what still fits and what needs to go and help me decide what they NEED. Toys are sorted and purged just before birthdays or christmas to make room for the new.

    The paperwork I save for the kids, I have a copy box in the closet (one for each) and put stuff in until the end of the year. After school is over, I go through all that was in there and decide what to keep/toss.

    Im not one to have seasonal household goods so I dont trade out my throw pillow, towels and stuff for the season. My MIL could redecorate her house with all different things monthly. Shes a hoarder and I worry about my husband when he will be left with the job to clean out her houses full of stuff.

    I use things until Im sick and tired of them or wear them out before I replace them.

    Now, the garage we have bins and milk crates with things sorted. If I left it to the man, he would shove everything in a bin and then wouldnt be able to find anything. We installed a shelf system when we first bought the house and we tend to keep what we need on the shelves, if it doesnt fit, we get rid of it.

    There is stuff in the attic and there are about 6 boxes of books that I packed on the move and never unpacked them. We have been in this house almost 8 years, I plan on getting to them this summer. I come from a family of readers and we tend to keep books and my husband doesn't understand that. His believe you have read it why keep it?

    But I can tell you that up in the attic I have a copy of the Madonna sex book.

    I find it easier to sort and purge for others then myself. I do it for my Aunt every couple of years. If we lived closer I would help you.

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  12. I hate throwing away perfectly good things but I can't stand clutter either. I found a great group called recycle and reuse. You can post anything you want to get rid of on there for free and guaranteed someone will want your stuff. It's a great way to get rid of the things you don't need but not feel bad about it ended up in a landfill. You can go to the website to find a group near you. Reuseitnetwork.org

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  13. Oh Snarky, my sister, I am in the same boat. I talk a good game about being a Type A personality but you wouldn't guess it from my home. I think I have become like my hubby instead of him becoming like me. While I always saved sentimental things - he saves EVERYTHING! Let's switch houses and purge for each other. That couldn't be interesting.

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  14. I love the advice from Peter Walsh. Did anyone watch "Clean Sweep"? LOVED that show. It always got me motivated to tackle a closet or section of the house.
    And my confession is that I actually hired an organizer. Best money I ever spent. I could actually walk through my basement storage area. Having someone non-judgmental help you is key.
    With the organizer, I could keep anything I wanted, but she had a way of making me think of what it would "cost" me (space for my kids to play, space to relax, $ for a storage unit). I found it easier to let go of things with her help.
    Did I mention I am a former teacher? We either save everything, or are super organized. Let's just say I still have files of lesson plans from the 90s...

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  17. We just had friends lose their entire house and vehicles in a tornado yesterday. Thankfully the kids weren't home! I don't have girls clothes but I have enough clothes toys dishes furniture etc... That I need a truck to take stuff to them. It will help all of us out in the long run. What ever they don't decide to keep I'm sure will be needed by someone else in their area.

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