Monday, February 14, 2011

Ruthless de-cluttering

Have you ever gone through decluttering, downsizing or whatever you wish to call it and wondering if the end is ever going to be in sight?

Seldom can you clean one drawer, closet, collection or room without other drawers, rooms, etc being affected.  I thought downsizing books would be easier because my books are limited to two rooms and I was only going to tackle one subject among all my books. Ha! I heard a noise the other night and couldn't identify the source. I thought it might have been ice falling off of our neighbor's garage. The following day I discovered that a shelf of books, the type of shelf held in place by two small brackets on each end, had fallen on one side as the wood bowed under the weight of too many books. Books on the shelf below were holding all of this in place, putting that next shelf in jeopardy.
I love books. But it is time to lighten my load. Do many of you re-read a novel? I don't. There isn't enough time to read all that I would like to read, so why am I saving books I've read and have loaned to my reading friends and relatives? Whole collections of authors I like... Jan Karon, Janet Evanovich, Ann B. Ross, Joanne Fluke, Earlene Fowler (I could go on and on)...are now on their way to friends who haven't read these authors yet, or to my city's library and some to the Salvation Army.
The novels aren't the books that I started culling. The first books were mainly quilting books with a few knitting and general sewing volumes mixed in. I have friends that teach these subjects and hopefully they or their students will find use and enjoyment in them. I've saved many for reference or for patterns that I might get around to using in the next few decades.
Like most readers, it isn't just books that accumulate in my house, magazines multiply also. I began a new habit a few years ago with general magazines (BH&G, Good Housekeeping, etc), tossing old ones at least every 3 months. My problem was cooking, knitting or craft magazines. There were patterns, recipes, ideas that I wanted to save. Keeping the entire magazine takes up too much space and how to remember which issue has the recipe you're looking for? Time to rip those articles out and file them in binders.

I've been at this for almost a week now. The discard pile is done, now I am reorganizing items returning to shelves. De-cluttering makes me feel better about myself. I start out aggravated for letting things get out of hand, but gradually my mood lightens as order returns.

I don't think of myself as a controlling person, but we all like to have control of some things, some times. One of my sons is having surgery this week to repair a shoulder injury. A good friend is having surgery next week. Both surgeries are considered common to those in the medical field, but surgery never feels common to the patient or their loved ones. I truly do have faith that all will go well with both procedures, but I know that recuperation will take time and present challenges to the daily lives of both these men. Bill and I are going to be as helpful as much as possible in both cases, but we don't know what exactly we're facing or how long we'll be on call. This isn't a complaint, but an acknowledgment that we are not in control. Cleaning the shelves is one little area that IS controllable and probably why this feels so good right now.

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