Category: decluttering

The Next Step

I thought getting rid of a worn out purse was a big step because it was a concrete step in overcoming the affection I attach to things. At least it was worn out though.

Last night I faced my next big hurdle in decluttering: letting go of items that are not yet worn out.

When Matt and I got married, a number of beautiful bathroom towels sets were given to us, and we also held on to our own towels from university life. These towels filled up a huge shelf in the closet of our guest room/office (“How grown up,” I thought, “to have a closet filled with towels”), and then they were crammed into the cupboard under our bathroom sink (“maybe we’ll use more towels if they’re closer at hand,” I thought).

A few weeks ago, our chronically slow-draining bathroom sink became completely clogged, and we piled all the towels in a laundry basket so Matt could be husbandly and take the pipes apart. He removed the clog, but then there seemed to be a leak, so we left a bucket under the pipe, and the mountain of towels stayed in our room, balanced against the bed.

The bucket has been dry for many days, but it took me time to get my head around cramming all those towels back under the sink. And then we decided to make more space.

So last night I laid our towels out on the bed in piles: two matching towels for Josh, and two for Esther; the two towels my Portuguese teacher embroidered for Matt and me in Brazil; and then I got stuck. The thing is, we hardly even use the really nice towels we got for our wedding because I want to “wear out” the towels we both brought to our marriage. Two and a half years later, it turns out towels don’t just wear out because you use them to dry your hair. Maybe if my hair was made of razor blades! Of course, then I’d have a million other problems. Like bleeding out on windy days. But I digress.

In addition to the towels I had laid out, we decided to keep four matching towels that were wedding gifts. One oversized towel we are keeping (in addition to actual beach towels) for beach trips this summer, and the rest (pictured above) we are giving to the local community services association for their shower program. It definitely wasn’t hard-core decluttering, but it was eye-opening to reflect on why it was so hard to let go of excess things. At least this is a starting point, and I really think that as we reduce the amount of stuff in our apartment, the things that just take up space will become more obvious and easier to let go.

Wow, I must also add HOW HAPPY the woman at the community centre was to receive these towels. Her enthusiasm totally made up for any doubts I had lingering about these towels being gone forever. And honestly, it feels great to know that instead of filling up a shelf in a closet, these towels will be used by people who need them.

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It all started with the somewhat-crazy plan to host my sister and her boyfriend in our 2-bedroom apartment this summer. I thought it was crazy, but when no other housing options looked likely to work out before they arrived, I realized it could actually be pretty great. In order to happen, though, we definitely need to make better use of our space, and this was the motivation behind what shall be known as our apartment purge of 2012.

After a few days of talking with Matt about how great this could be and reading some blog posts on minimalism, we finally got down to it and actually got rid of stuff we never wear/use instead of just organizing it.

This is some of the stuff we got rid of:All of these items have been in our drawers/closets for years but never used.

The greatest proof of my personal growth and determination in this process is parting with this purse.This purse was a find at Winners around Christmas 2007, and it has served me well for the last few years. In days gone by, I would have hoarded this purse for a few more years, maybe using it once or twice to validate keeping it, but never loving it like I used to.

The immediate payoff, which we are so happy about, is being able to create a prayer space in our storage closet. This is one thing we hope will help this summer with our house being full – having a room where someone can sit and think and be alone, all without hogging the bathroom!! Matt and I have talked about doing this for ages but just couldn’t figure out how to make the space. The answer turned out to be throwing out all those boxes we were hoarding for our next move. We may move as soon as this Fall, but whether we do or not, we’ll find boxes when we need them. In the meantime, we’ll continue sifting through our things so that when we do need to pack it all up, we’ll only be bringing things we use and/or love.

Here’s the closet before:In progress of being cleaned out:And after:There is a folding chair against the wall opposite the shelves and pictures to remind us of people/places to pray for. We’ll put more up as we go and might write the Prayer of St Francis on the left wall as well.

Do you have clutter lurking? Take an hour to get rid of the obvious stuff – it feels great!