Clutter is Relative

There’s a saying, One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I kept this in mind from time to time as I proceeded through my month-long activity of eliminating clutter in our home. I also had in mind a couple of other thoughts that sort of guided my process: I’m doing this for me and our family and clutter is relative! After an initial confrontation, I purposely blocked out a couple of thoughts: cost/origin of the item and other’s opinions/style. I kept in mind the goal of eliminating clutter, living in our new normal, gratitude for the past activities/needs/possessions, and keeping home home.

Guilt was the first giant I had to slay tackle. I didn’t realize how big this was! I felt very guilty (and have many times through the years) for getting rid of items that were no longer useful, no longer fit, or just weren’t right. (This is, in part, where my clutter is relative thought comes from.) Guilt was a giant for me. After a mental confrontation, a freeing thought came along — and it was in the form of a prayer of sorts. I said, Lord, thank You for this_____, for what it cost, how it’s been used and what was accomplished here. I would repeat that ‘prayer’ many times as items went out the back door. The giant, guilt, is a formidable foe, but must be seen for what it is. And the more I faced it, the easier it was to say: I no longer need this, use this, want this, or like this ITEM! Yes, there was a bit of regret, but no guilt, no shame in that.

I did have regrets — some regret that I hadn’t used items I’d bought — regret that they had become either obsolete, irrelevant to the next season or I never learned to incorporate them into our family activities/schooling/etc. All that, or I never even liked them. Other regrets were the time or money spent on items. To those regrets I answered with repentant thanksgiving — thanksgiving and reality. I’m thankful we had this or that item, yes, it cost a lot for us, but now it’s no longer needed, no longer necessary. And won’t be in the future. Whatever happened before this day must be a guide for my future purchases and acquisitions. Instruction gained: Do I need it? Will it be useful? Do I really like it? Am I doing this for someone else/some other reason?

This is where the clutter is relative thought kept coming to mind. I got rid of so much clutter, I reorganized/eliminated so many items, shelves, drawers, cabinets, etc. But our home didn’t even begin to start looking like a hotel room or an airB&B with few/no mementos or personalized style. My style did not become minimalist — even though there are areas with minimal items — there are areas that appear unretouched. On purpose. But! The clutter (for me!) is eliminated. An aside: I kept to a decorating standard – I reduced items on a table or shelf to groupings of three. Aesthetically, it is pleasing to me and curbs my (seemingly insatiable) need to fill space.

One more thought today… I came to a realization that there are a couple of areas I’m not going to address right now. Weeks ago, in the big closet reorg, I pulled out several large boxes of cards, letters, memorabilia… all over the floor, I began sorting. And then I decided: I’m not going to be bound by a set of arbitrary rules to go through every single space and eliminate every single thing I’m not using. I’m not ready to decide that quite yet. So, I put everything back in the boxes and neatly stacked them. When I look at them now, they aren’t clutter to me, they’re things I know I’ve loved a long time and have purposely decided I’ll go through them again another day. They’re not clutter – this is us, this isn’t someone else’s home, yes, I may die before I get to some of these other things, but for now I don’t have a specific timeline, there aren’t rules of clutter-engagement. One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. These are treasures to me. That, and clutter is relative.

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