I think my biggest takeaway from my 2015 project was that having an organized life and home is a process. Getting excess stuff out of the house was definitely a big priority. Over the course of my year, I donated 42 boxes and 35 bags, along with a few random pieces of small furniture. Of everything I did that year, I think I was proudest of that accomplishment.
Moving forward, I knew I’d have to be mindful of stuff creep. My house, like many others probably, got filled slowly as items trickled in. But I hadn’t anticipated a deluge. Or three. In no particular order:
- Girl Scout books, supplies, miscellaneous stuff. In 2017, another Girl Scout leader and I took over the management of our town’s service unit. This position came with stuff that the prior manager was probably happy to unload. It began with one large plastic tote, which was manageable. But as troops have graduated, I’ve acquired even more stuff. Since I never designated a spot, I’ve been squirreling things all over. The start of a new school year is good motivation to centralize everything, because I will have the opportunity to hand out some of these supplies. But I have to figure out what I have first.
- My parents’ stuff. My mom passed away in 2018, and I’m still sorting through boxes. To say my parents kept everything is a little hyperbolic. But only a little. Every so often I go into the garage, open a box, look at the contents, and close the box without doing anything. Compared to what I once had, what’s left isn’t a lot. But I think it’s a lot of photos and documents and sentimental items. I need to sift though it carefully because I don’t anticipate tossing much, but I’ll need better storage.
- My new-ish hobby. I’ve been sewing for years, but until last summer I did it on an as-needed basis. When I wanted new curtains or throw pillows, I often preferred to make them, so the sewing machine only emerged once or twice a year. Last summer, while recovering from Lyme disease, I found myself in thrall to Etsy, tote bag patterns, and fabric. I sew almost every day now, which is how I justify the yards and yards of fabric I’ve bought. The cargo area of my car is currently serving as mobile fabric storage. I’m both pleased with myself for thinking of using my car for this purpose, and annoyed at myself because I have to store fabric in my car.
The months we lived under stay-at-home orders made decluttering and donating harder, because the area charities were understandably not taking items. So I took a long hiatus from gathering things to give away. Being quarantined also complicated any decluttering efforts because the common “what if I need this” justification became harder to fight off. Because if I gave something away I later needed, getting another might have been a challenge.
Earlier this week I had my first donation pickup since probably January or February. Emma filled two big bags with clothes she’d outgrown, which is always a little bittersweet. But knowing that people are more in need than usual helped me to let go of a lot. I’m sure there will be more to donate, but my current situation will call for more organizing.
So I didn’t have to look far to find a starting point.