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Jean McClelland: Learn to love the clutter, but also to let some things go

January 20, 2019

Does your clutter give you comfort even though family will walk through your domain and ask, “Why are you keeping this?”

If you are a keeper of things, you are in good company because most people do keep a little of this and that for sentimental reasons, to stock up on provisions or perhaps because they are going to use it in the future. This doesn’t mean you are a hoarder; it just suggests you like your “stuff.”

It’s not your fault you have 50 framed photos of grandchildren - after all, the family has blessed you with these special little people and given you photographs in case you forget them. Fat chance of that happening to the apples of your eye!

Even so, at some point, all of us need to take a look at all those much-loved photos and figure out a way to enjoy them without them taking up so much space. Perhaps it’s time to purchase a photo album or a digital photo frame that takes up very little space but includes all of our loved pictures.

Most people are not going to wear their wedding dress again, and most times a daughter or granddaughter will have different ideas as to what they would like to wear on their special day. We retain keepsakes like this because we feel guilty getting rid of them or it pulls on our heartstrings to let it go. Sometimes though we just have to get real and, after asking all the family if they would like to have Grandpa’s coffee grinder, Aunt Lucy’s quilt or your own wedding dress, we need to just let it go. Now is the time to be a bit hard-nosed when the family answers, “No I don’t want it, but you keep it for me for later,” and let them know your storage days are over.

Do you love a sale? After all, when toilet paper is on sale we should stock up, shouldn’t we? Folks think about it - just how expensive is toilet paper that we need to fill a shelf with it when it goes on sale. Now, if you like to stock up for convenience sake, ask yourself how far in advance a supply you will need. It usually quits snowing in April, so having several months’ supply in the winter is not unreasonable, but two years’ worth is a bit out the door. This is space we could use to store more important “stuff” we want to keep.

Sometimes we have an extra supply of things to implement a hobby we are going to take up or extra groceries for a dish we might prepare, or perhaps we are going to take up tennis with Aunt May’s tennis racket. The list goes on of what we might do with this or that. Perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves the hard question: “Are we really going to do that?”

On the other hand, perhaps we have tried out the new hobby and didn’t like it, but the accouterments of the pastime are still in residence. Give yourself some extra space for the next bright idea and cast out those things you just know you are not going to find enjoyable.

If you love your clutter, it’s daunting to have to clear out a space, so do it a bit at a time. Do the photos this week and the ski gear next week. Start new habits slowly and just buy what you will use in the next month or so. There is no time schedule for any of these changes unless you make one, and if you do so fit it into your own pace. Love your clutter, but every now and then update it and downsize it.

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