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Monday, January 21, 2019

It Only Took 23 years

I know everyone is heavy into getting organized right now.  A new year will give you that itch but so will hearing about Netflix's show "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo."  She's the author of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  (I was actually using her method to fold my shirts without realizing it was her when her book took off initially.)

For years, I've wanted to tackle the entire house.  I can't tell you how many times I've uttered the phrase "I just want to shake the house out and start over."  Since I saw so many other people talking about the show, it gave me the push to just get to the dreaded task of getting under our basement stairs without ever watching it.  It's an area that I stare at every day we workout which is 6x a week.  It was depressing and sure didn't take away stress after a workout.  We live in a shoebox, and that should force you to purge on a regular basis.  When you don't, you get to the stage we're at which is bursting at the seams.  We had two HUGE bins, one pretty big one and I think four small ones, one small cloth one, and my childhood toy box.  You read that right, there is a forty-year-old toy box that's been living under our stairs for our entire marriage because he was just too cute to get rid of.  I still loved him, and yes, my Barbies were still in it, but if I made room in other bins, they could go in those, and some other child of hipsters could enjoy my seventies, buddy.  He was selling for over $100 on eBay, and while that would be nice, the box to ship him alone would be over $50 plus the shipping plus the hassle of packing him up and I just wasn't up for it.  I started just with the idea of seeing what I could do with him and 9 hours later (in starts and stops due to dust kicking up) I had condensed down to one huge, one medium, and two small bins.  I got rid of one big honking one and three small ones.  I had an entire set of dishes I thought I already donated in there and some big platters for a massive Hawaiian feast I apparently thought I was going to throw.  (I actually did have every intention of doing that, but then I boxed them up, and you know, out of sight, out of mind.)

Here are some of the things I found in my journey.

I used to be obsessed with Wizard of Oz and Elvis respectively.  Like...O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D.  While I still love both, there are things I was keeping hold of that were never going to be displayed again.  When we first moved into our house, the guest room was all Wizard of Oz, and I had a series of plates my mom bought me from Bradford Exchange (remember them!?) that came every few months.  They cranked out a ton of them, and now you're lucky to sell them on eBay for $10 per plate when she paid like $30 for them at the time.  I did not have the energy to try to sell them as a lot and the plates don't have a very classic look to them (very 90's) so I just decided to donate them and a few Elvis items I came across.

I used to be one of those chicks with jean jackets covered in buttons.  I couldn't get rid of them, but they don't take up much room.

(whoops, double watermark.  Too lazy to fix it.)

The Mr came down to see my progress and let's just say we were at the "worse before it gets better" stage.

He had about 1 1/2 bins with his stuff in it, and he came across his old buddy from 1981.  His Darth Vader mask that I pretty much assumed he'd be buried in.  I never once suggested he get rid of it because I knew how much it meant to him.  He said all he did was put it on every 5 years or so when we'd go through the basement and do nothing with it.  He looked online, and it wasn't selling for much even in good condition, but Darth had his lenses glued back in so it was really only worth something to him.

He said it took up a lot of room and I told him he didn't have to get rid of it several times, and he said he wasn't even very sad about it, so that told him it was okay to get rid of it.  He took pics at every angle of it and put it on one last time.

That also lead him to another decision.  He's had this big wooden box in a bin for as long as I've known him.  His dad painted the mallard, and even though he isn't an outdoorsman, he felt obligated to keep it especially after his dad died almost 15 years ago.  He said he was ready to let it go and I took pics of it from every angle including in a way that he could have it printed as a picture if he ever wanted to.  I think because his mom is purging a bunch of stuff and tried pawning stuff off on us that he felt like it was okay to not hold onto it.

I think what might've planted the seed subconsciously for him with his stuff is when he came down and saw me with this stuff.  I had an entire bin of stuffed animals that I never parted with because I used to have a chain in my bedroom with stuffed animals hanging on it.  (This is actually a great idea for any of you mamas or grandmamas to tell mamas.  Attach a swag hook to the ceiling and white chain from ceiling to floor, then put curtain hooks in the back of the animal and hang them vertically on the chain.  It's a great way to display them without taking up precious real estate on the bed or floor.)

I had no real attachment to the ones above, especially ALF.  I don't remember who got that for me, but I HATED ALF.  (It might've been a grandparent I didn't want to offend by not keeping it or something, I can't imagine my mom getting it for me.)  But I was ready to pass them on.

I only kept the dolls that meant the most to me.

My Cabbage Patch Kids that my mom and Grandma got me back when they first came out (their original clothes are LONG gone).   My monchhichi (did anyone else sing the theme or am I the only one?) and my cookie monster from when I was a baby who is lookin' rough but can't let him go because he's not donate worthy.  Finally, a mouse my 4th grade teacher gave me in private when my parents were divorcing, but she's not pictured.

I also decided while these were pretty awesome and probably the only living relic of jams left in the world, I'll let some hipster have it from the "vintage" store for Halloween.

You know a blanket is old when it disintegrates in the washer.

I did finally watch that Marie Kondo show on Netflix and can I say how adorable she is!?  But she did give me a good blueprint on what to do when I get to clothes and the closet (which makes me twitch).  I know some people make fun of it but the whole "sparking joy" thing really does work when your mind is in the proper place.  I was already thanking things as I donated them especially if they were a little harder to let go of but practically, wouldn't make sense to keep.  (I think a big part of that is thinking of the money wasted but I have to move past that.)

My aunt gave me $50 in Target gift cards, and I've been hoarding them so when I decided to go clear like Marie suggests for bins, I was happy to get 4 big bins and 3 small bins for $.88 (well, $.43 after my cash back from Ebates.  Woot!) after using the gift cards.  I got the bins to replace these.

I used to think that having solid color bins were the jam because then if someone came into your space, they couldn't see your crap.  Well, no one visits period, and they certainly aren't going into my basement.  I can't count how many times I asked the Mr to get this or that from a bin, and he had to rifle through these bins because even though the outside was labeled years ago, it never got put back in the same spots year after year.  With clear ones, we can easily identify everything which makes life WAY easier.

I am nowhere near done and I get overwhelmed and panicky just thinking about how much more I have to do because let's face it, it's all on me.  The Mr can want to help but there's one person in the house that knows where EVERYTHING is, and it's typically that person that has to go through everything to purge.  He can go through some of his crap in and on the desk (that was a hint, hope he picked up on it) but everything else is on me.  So I will get to that when I can.

In the meantime, I will bask in what feels like a major victory of being able to finally get the Christmas tree box to be stored under the stairs instead of taking up a lot of space in front of shelves.

It only took 23 years.  😁

Have you started donating/cleaning your house this year?  Have you watched the Marie Kondo Netflix show/read her book?  

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  1. I'm in constant declutter mode. Having lots of stuff stresses me out. I read the book a few years ago and I love her folding method. This weekend I went through my bathroom closet and my vanity to declutter. Looks like you're doing a great job, keep it up! Have a great day

    1. Yes, having lots of stuff is stressful and sometimes you don't even realize it until you're like "how'd I get all of this!?" (Or you look at something and go "uh, why did I buy this?") The bathroom closet is always a good one to declutter and you feel so much better afterward!

  2. I read the book last summer, and have watched a couple of episodes. I'd love to have one of her consultants come to my house to make some suggestions. I don't think I need to be walked through the whole process, but a few pointers would be appreciated. I do like the idea of deciding what to keep instead of deciding what to get rid of. I know it's just word games, but it made a big difference for me. Every summer I do a major house-clean and the last few summers have including purging. I didn't do it her way, I did it by room, but that mental shift made worlds of difference. I don't have the dresser space to use her folding methods, but what I do works for me.

    1. Yeah, if you've watched the first few episodes, you won't get much more out of it watching the rest, honestly. It just kind of reiterates the same thing but with different people. Hey, word games or not, whatever gets the ball rolling and makes it click in your head is what matters.


    The method is valid, and I appreciate it, but this is still one of my favorites and makes me laugh every time.

  4. You are singing my song.

    And to make you feel better - Smaller space is huge advantage, in my opinion, because no matter how full you are, it is less stuff than you would have in double the square footage. It also helps decide what is most valuable.

    I have been sorting for a couple years now.

    I happened to watch Netflix series last week. I enjoyed it.

    One thing she said that I think is KEY - get all like things together and then go thru them.

    I also think it helps to totally empty something (closet, cupboard, drawer) and then decide what is worthy to go back in it. Or rethink how you are using the space.

    Gretchen Rubin is also very helpful. Books and podcasts.

    One of the things Gretchen says is leave something empty. Like one drawer or one shelf. I know. When you start cleaning out a very full space, leaving something empty seems impossible. But it actually isn’t. It is very helpful. Sometimes if it stays empty for a bit, a better use for it appears. I have a few things that have stayed empty.

    Use it or let it go. I have cleaned out the attic twice in the last six months. Good example - went thru holiday decorations before the garage sale (Had a massive garage sale last summer). Then after Thanksgiving, decorating for Christmas, I was conscious of what I really wanted to use. If I did not have a place for it, I sold or donated. Nothing stayed in the boxes.

    I totally agree with clear bins except for holiday stuff. I have Halloween in orange and Xmas in red/green. And I use all of what is in those bins (now).

    Another example -
    TEN boxes of china/dishwater/houseware in attic. Mine, my mother’s, my grandmother’s, my MIL. I unpacked all of it. It either went in my pantry or hutch and gets used OR it was sold/donated/regifted. I now have a punch bowl set in my pantry and I am using it. (My husband also added shelves to my pantry, there was a lot of wasted space).

    I have been using Facebook market place to get rid of things since my garage sale. I do porch pick up only. I do not meet people. Box out there for cash. Sometimes it is free, just come get it.

    1. I'll have to check out Gretchen Rubin, any extra tips to pick and choose what will work for me are certainly welcome. After having all of my holiday stuff in solid bins for 23 years, it is much less stressful for me personally to have it in clear ones now. I have a whole set of shelves that are holiday only and I can see right into it instead of playing "lift the lid." LOL

    2. Gretchen is a whole life type of writer/speaker. Not just cleaning/clutter. But years ago she is the one that got me going.

  5. I had not heard of her until you mentioned her and it sounds like she's quite a hit with a lot of people. I'm so glad you got an excellent start on reorganizing and purging stuff. Clear bins are wonderful and make it so much easier to identify things. I'll keep a list of what's in each bin and slide it down inside the bin so I can see it clearly through the clear plastic and that helps me to know what's in the middle that I can't see. LOL I just came back from Salvation Army delivering two bags of clothes and two boxes of household stuff, so your blog is perfect timing! =o)

    1. I need to consider lists for the middle stuff and then remember to put those things back in their place when we do put stuff back. I used to do that on the solid bins and what was listed was rarely what was in there. Whoops! Get your donate on, girl!

  6. My boyfriend just brought a lot of his stuff that had been in storage at his fathers place into ours. So, we are very slowly going through all of his bins and boxes to try to figure out what to keep and what to donate. We have already sent five bags of clothes out for donation. The next will be books and some of his son's toys. We have a lot to go through but we will get there eventually.


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