More Clutter-busting

I worry about what I will do when I get rid of all the clutter and extra stuff such as arts and crafts supplies and sewing stuff. And home decorations. Undone projects. Extra potted plants. Excess home keeping gear.  Superfluous books and printed materials. Cumbersome furniture items.  Costume jewelry. Scarves. Yes, even scarves.

I will do more or less what I do now. Read, watch television, web surf. And I will still have coloring and embroidery to do.  I was coloring for stress relief long before it became vogue.  I have a Disneyland coloring book at least 20 years old I have been working my way through.  I pick it up from time to time and do another page.

What will I not have to do when I get everything cleared out?  I won’t have to move this to get to that. I won’t have overloaded cabinets, pantries and drawers.  I will easily see what I have and what I need to replenish and so avoid buying something of which I already have a good supply.  I won’t expend energy shuffling boxes of stuff around.  I won’t waste valuable square footage of real estate holding onto “Made in China” junk, “got it for a dollar” junk, “Walmart” junk, “Dollar Store” junk.  What didn’t get unloaded onto me at the passing of a loved one probably came from one of those sources.  Even most of the inherited things came from similarly mass produced lines of goods.

I don’t own much that is rare. I have a few things that are very special to me personally, but certainly not valuable antiques.  I practice an exercise periodically.  I imagine a wildfire is approaching and I only have three hours to load all I can in my little car and perhaps the back of his truck.  What would I load up to haul to safety?  Of what was left behind, on what would I spend the money to replace?  Items not making either of these lists become good candidates for the charity shop donation box.  The things that would not get loaded and would likely not get replaced can certainly be removed from my housekeeping ménage.

The major problem I face is the selection of items that belonged to ancestors. Some are not practical.  Some I do not have the courage to unload.  With grandchildren on the way, I am increasing my consideration of those things.  I don’t want my descendants to have the same kind of problem I have.  I worry about the challenges he or our children would face after I am gone.  If I were to not see today’s sunset, what am I leaving for them to clean up and disperse?  I would rather not have very much for the charity shop to haul away after an estate sale.  A few useful or sentimental things for them to take home and some things I need now to keep house that they won’t need are all I really want to keep.

When I read about decluttering, some much of the lists are simply trash. Broken this and piles of rusted that. I don’t have that problem. Occasionally, I keep a lamp in need of repair a little longer than usual before I give up and get rid of it.  If an article of clothing gets into the mending pile, it is doomed unless our daughter rescues it and does her magic trick to repair it.  I try to get around to it.  I just don’t make it. Magazines and billing statements can sometimes get a little much.  Candles, nail polish and lipstick are problem areas for me. They are still good items.  But, I have more than I will use in a reasonable timeframe.

My trouble is more that the excess is useful and usable stuff. Not necessarily useful for me.  Each time I come home from a shopping trip, I evaluate what non-essential items I have purchased.  These days, even food is reviewed for non-essentials (chips, ice cream, cookies). I ask myself if I have bought more fresh produce than the two of us will consume before it loses its freshness.  Cooking for two is still a major challenge.  What about toiletries and kitchen gadgets? Magazines? Cup towels? Rugs? Storage boxes? I would rather not face my purse, shoe, book and coffee addiction just yet.  But, it will come.  Sooner or later, I will deal with those things, too.

I used to watch Clean Sweep and Hoarders.  Don Aslett’s books about clutter are on my bookshelf. I have read through them several times.  I saw a small portion of Oprah’s trip to India.  A woman, her husband and their three daughters lived without despair in an eight by eight room.  Water and latrines were down the hall in a communal area.  All of these sources have helped me work through to what is essential for well-being.

Each person has a well-being setting. Mine happens to be clear, open and streamlined.  Lots of sunlight and bright spots of colors are in the plan.  Looking at the space around me in this room, I have more work to do. However, I will not berate myself for not being finished.  I will commend myself for all I have done for the past couple of weeks and over the past 25 years.

My little nieces have helped me see things more clearly, too. The time they spend here helps me see how better to make things for them and the ones coming after them.  They show me that snuggles under the covers watching Scooby Doo after a Barbie Doll bubble bath are the best!

I want to have a minimal house so I can have maximum time, energy and money to spend with them, with him and with the Dreams coming true. In the day to day, I want time and energy to spend on my true career, housekeeping. Housekeeping is not shuffling clutter around.  It is cooking and cleaning, dusting and sweeping, washing and folding. Polishing the place we gather to live together.  I want time and energy and love to spend on him.  With him. Twirling around to a song on the radio across a clean wide open floor. Or bouncing along in the buggy down a wildflower trail…………..

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Washing the cat out with Dash

Now don’t get yourself worked up about animal cruelty. It is only an expression. Granny Sally and Mother used to call a certain kind of house cleaning washing the cat out with dash. There was a washing detergent called Dash. I don’t know if it is still made or not.
To wash the cat out with dash means to really deep clean the house. Not spring cleaning exactly, but still very thorough. It seems I used to be able to do it in half a day. The entire house would be dusted, vacuumed, mopped. The bathrooms scoured, the kitchen shiny, the washing done up.
Today(Saturday), I got some cleaning done. The house looks good. The floors and kitchen are done. The wash is clean. But, I have more to do.
Even when the children were small, it didn’t seem to take so long. Of course, I was home full time and twenty-something years old. Many things got taken care of as I went along. I could get busy and get the shine on pretty quickly.
Also, I had a room separate from the rest of the house that held projects and stored sewing and crafting supplies and equipment. I had a small shed to house a lot of boxes of stuff as well.
In this house, I have eight closets, generous pantry shelves, large bathroom cabinets. I also have an attic that holds quite a bit. I fret over them having things in them that may not need to be there. What if I have too many Christmas decorations? What if I have too many purses in storage? What if I have too many never to be used arts and crafts supplies and tools? As I look around my home, I wonder do I have too many decorative items? Too much furniture? I don’t even want to think about my overflowing bookcase. Books are precious to me. I love books. Nook can’t replace the tactile experience of paper and ink books.
I am trying to break the thought process that leads to the fretting. Whose business is it anyway? As long as he doesn’t mind, and I like the way it is, who else matters? What hovers in the dark memory of my past that makes my mind go off on that path? I think I know what it is. When I was young, not yet a teenager, an elderly man made a comment to me that hurt my feelings in a way that I still stings sometimes. He criticized me for allowing my room to be a mess. My mother was never one to force the room cleaning issue. She might mention it and then just close my door so she didn’t see the mess when she went past.
When I became a homemaker, the nagging feeling of shame haunted me. I think that is why I have never allowed personal things to sit on tables. Books, notebooks, nail file, a bottle of polish, pens, markers, lotion, those types of things, I don’t allow myself to leave sitting in the public areas of my home. The bathroom counter is always free of bottles, combs, hair bands. A soap dispenser or dish with soap is all that I allow. Kitchen counters are as clear as I can make them without too much inconvenience. No canister sets, toaster, bread box, etc. sit on the counters. Even in my bedroom there are no collections of toiletries or stacks of magazines. Our bedroom has a lot of furniture and most of my treasures, relics and trinkets. Even those are boxed up and put away when I feel suffocated by them.
Less is more for me. Less stuff to clean and clean around means more time and energy to play and to laze around daydreaming. Two of my favorite things to do. Although, I do love to get busy and wash the cat out with dash some days. That freshness of a washed up house is wonderfully relaxing. That sense of accomplishment silences a ghost voice I am still trying to banish. I like doing it just for the joy it gives me.
A huge almost empty room. Natural light illuminating everything. Sumptuous bed. Beautiful plant or flower. Great book to read. Cup of steaming black coffee. Sounds like paradise to me. How do I get there?