Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Cluttered Life

I’m trying hard to de-clutter my house and my life. It’s equally hard to do both. I’m finding it hard to let go of the many ‘things’ I’ve collected over the years. A lot are just taking up space and collecting dust in various rooms around the house, and the rest are boxed and stored in both the attic and the basement. And I ask myself, “What good are they doing anybody sitting in boxes? Wouldn’t it be better for someone to get enjoyment out of them?” The answer is yes, but I keep thinking that I will one day unpack those boxes and I will be the one getting the enjoyment out of my things once again. Awhile ago a very smart blogger, Jerelene, had a list of rules to follow posted on her blog Jerelene’s Journal, and one of them was ‘Get rid of everything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful’. Excellent advice. But my problem is that every item I pick up when trying to make a decision if I should discard it, give it away to a family member, or donate it to charity, somehow every single item speaks to me, saying it is still useful, or it is still beautiful in my eyes, or in some way it will still give me joy.

I thought about my sister Diane and the time we were cleaning out my parents place to move them to live closer to us. Diane very systematically picked up an item and made a split second pass/fail decision on whether it would make the move with my parents or not. She didn’t consult anyone, she didn’t labor over the item, she didn’t bother to ‘ooh and aah’ over every single thing, and there was no time for reminiscing. Emotional attachments seemed to play no part here. She very matter-of-factly said, “This has served its purpose, it’s time for it to go.” Case closed. And then she quickly moved on to the next item.

I, on the other hand, belabor the point and dwell on every little item, thinking about how I first acquired it, the many uses I had for it, and if it happens to be a gift from someone, especially one of the kids, it’s near impossible for me to part with it. It doesn’t matter if I haven’t set eyes on it for years and years, it doesn’t matter if it’s been stored away collecting dust somewhere, it doesn’t matter if it was once forgotten altogether. Once seen again, it is like an old friend, bringing back a flood of memories, and a torrent of emotions. How do you expel something like that from your life? Can’t something useless be made useful? Can it not be repurposed? Isn’t everything that evokes a sweet memory beautiful? And doesn’t even a bittersweet memory hold a place in our hearts?
I can take hours pondering over one box of goods, and in the end, the box is repacked and stored away to go through another day. (Sigh)

I’m definitely going to have to summon a bit of my sister Diane's practical method into my thought process before I try to tackle the task of de-cluttering my home. Before I start this chore my mantra will be, “This has served its purpose, it’s time for it to go.” Over and over again I will repeat those words to myself. And when I finally really mean them, I will stay strong in my resolve as I take on this mission.
All winter long I told myself I would start going through things come spring. But I am still too weak, so now I am telling myself I will start this process in the Fall. (Big sigh here.)

De-cluttering my life is another matter. My head and my heart are cluttered with too many negatives, so I am willing myself to rid myself of old grudges, unpleasant memories, silly arguments, and anything that gives me that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. Wherever and whenever at all possible I am ridding my life of the negative. Not an easy feat for me as my first reaction at all times is to go into attack mode (you can’t get more negative than that), I get defensive at the least little offhand remark. I am teaching myself to take a breath before I go on the offense. I am apologizing for my rude behavior instead of ignoring it (or worse, trying to justify it). I am trying to give others the break I would want them to give me and I am trying not to be overly sensitive. It’s not easy to change a lifetime of bad habits and I’ve been failing miserably lately. I’m finding it just as hard (if not harder) to de-clutter my soul as it is to de-clutter my home.

So, please wish me luck, keep me in your prayers, and please everyone, keep writing and posting, because visiting you each day is a big help to me!


  1. I wish I could not be overly sensitive. How does one learn that. I think I've been that way most of my life. That one's a hard one for me, Eileen.
    As to 'clutter'....I'm wondering if everyone....I mean EVERYONE has the 'junk drawer' in the kitchen. I promised myself I wouldn't have one when we moved to this house. That was the first drawer that filled up. I put things in there that I just know I'll need....but they don't go in any particular other place. Thank you for making me feel better all over more than any place else. I'm not alone.....!!!!!

  2. Oh Eileen you are so hard on yourself. If you still have a strong emotion to each of your items then you are not ready to part with them, and that's okay. You don't have to be like your sister, your loved for being "Eileen." We all have our own personalities and you my friend, as one of my blogger friends are a wonderful human being.
    We are all sensitive Eileen, some more than others but again that's okay. We have to be confident, and secure in ourselves to be able to handle sensitivity.
    I hope you never change as I read how you comment to me as well as others and you are always helpful and caring. This is a good thing. You are in my prayers sweetie and I enjoy visiting you here each day. Take care and know that I care......:-) Hugs

  3. Eileen...You are a harsh critic of yourself...
    although it is always good to try to better ourselves...mostly our neagative reactions to others make us feel guilty...if someone hurts your feelings or makes you mad, feel sorry for them and their "Problem" not hurt or angry...try to keep that responce and you in turn will have peace of mind...

    Bernie is right...maybe you aren't can declutter a room maybe...switch things around and simplfy...but as for completely getting rid of things...someday your children and g/children might want them as a memento...My mother gave all of us some of her items that we now home contains many things handed down 3 generations...maybe it's just not the time yet to part with them...In my attic I have
    an old fashion black, heavy type writer that used ribbons...remember them?...of no use...but it's a memory of a time passed...

    We are who we are...just do what you long as it does no harm to others...a peaceful mind goes a long way in helping us be calm and accepting of others...taking time for being kind to ourselves...not always just doing for others helps with finding that peace of mind...

    I think of you as being very generous and kind in your thoughts and comments to your blogger friends!..So be just as kind to "Yourself" Eileen!

  4. Ahhh, Eileen, how I can empathize with you over not wanting to get rid of sentimental or possibly useful things, so I finally sent my DIL many of my son's grade school papers and drawings within the last several months. I just uncovered a box of things in the garage that have been there for four years, four years and now almost all of it is being reincorporated into the house!
    If you are like me, I do have random times when I can be fairly 'ruthless' and it is then that I can sort and give aay the best!
    I am so much still a 'work in progress' that I also want to get rid of junk in my mind or getting too sensitive to remarks...when I can manage to remember to say a quick prayer beforehand, wow, what a difference!
    You are such a sweetheart, Eileen and I feel a strong kinship with you. I LOVE visiting you and having your visits in return!!!

    blessings with hugs,


  5. Totally understood your precious comments and TOTALLY agree about these friendships...while I am sure there are some superficial ones out there, I do feel that these here are both true as well as sacred! And I am a better person because of them!

    Thank you for being you,


  6. Well Eileen I do believe that decluttering our souls is a constant work in progress. We are after all, sinful by nature. God understands this and accepts us with unconditional love. Any bad feelings or guilt that we have is our own way of punishing ourselves. God has already forgiven us.

    As for decluttering our homes, I am more like your sister Diane on that front. Jake and I go through everything at least once a year. Some of the sentimental things from the kids we keep. Some of coarse go as it would be impossible to keep it all. But the memories never leave. You can't get rid of them. But if you have the room to keep things, fine.
    Just try to envision your children going through your things after you die. Do you want them to think " Aww I can't believe mom saved this, she was so sweet!" OR " I can't believe mom saved this, the last few years must have been worse than we thought!".

  7. Now that you have a blog, you have all your memories in writing and you can take pictures of all your old stuff. Start chucking, Eileen.
    People have no idea what pack rats we are!

  8. Okay, D, but I think I'm going to need you right beside me to urge me on, or just grab everything out of my hands and say, "This has served it's purpose, it's time for it to go!", like you did with Mom & Dad's move!
    Seriously, I should just put everything out, invite the family over and tell them take whatever they want, and with the 'left-overs' you can work your magic!
    If the weather ever gets nice and we can start the pool parties, I can do that each weekend until everything is finally cleared out!

  9. Diana, again, you are too funny! I have to remember not to take a sip of anything before I start reading you or it's either spewed out all over my keyboard, or I am choking on it, or it's coming out my nose!
    I have got to channel a little of your spirit and my sister Diane's too!

    I just keep thinking of all the junk I pick out of other people's garbage saying "How could they part with this treasure?!" And, here, I'll be parting with my own!

    I don't just have my own junk anymore, now I have the whole neighborhood's junk adopted too! Guess I'll have to send all my treasures to an orphan asylum!

  10. Marcy, you are too sweet! Right back at ya, girl! I too feel a special bond.

    And I do get to a point sometimes where I know things have to go, but I really have to be in a mood to accomplish it!

    Diana, I have a lot to feel guilty about, so I guess I'm going to be punishing myself for a long, long time! But I understand what you are saying, my brother-in-law Donald says that all the time, about how the slate is wiped clean as far as God is concerned and how we then have to forgive ourselves.

  11. Wanda, thanks for everything you said.
    And I think you hit the nail on the head, we are who we are, and I either have to accept the fact that I'm a pack-rat and will never be an organized 'Martha Stewart' home-maker type person, or I have to drastically change my ways!
    I have to want to be that type of person more than I want to be a hoarder.
    I've always said that about dieting too, I have to want to be thin more than I want to eat chocolate. It's really that simple. And so far, I want to eat more than I want to be thin, and I want to hang on to my junk more than I want an organized house.
    It really is that simple.
    Thank you, Wanda!

  12. Bernie, you are always so kind and considerate! And you really do see the good in everyone and every situation. You really are Pollyanna! And I'm so glad you are my Pollyanna friend! Thank you!

    And, seriously, I would like to de-clutter the inside of myself more than the inside of my house. And all you good people here are helping me to do just that!

  13. Oh, Jackie, I wish it were a 'junk drawer' I was talking about. I'm talking about floor to ceiling 'junk basement' and TWO JUNK ROOMS in the attic! And since my parents passed away I have now added lots of their stuff to the mix, plus whatever things my Mom had saved from her parents and my Dad's parents!
    It's Mount Everest I have to tackle now.
    Oh well.

    Thanks for visiting, Jackie!
    Now come back and tell me you have more than just a junk drawer please!

    Oh, Jackie, you were first to visit and I'm answering you last, sorry, that was rude. I guess I started at the bottom and worked my way up. Apologies!

  14. Dear Eilleen, I had a certain amount of things that I treasured and and said I would never want to get rid of. Then about ten years ago I called a charity and de-cluttered my life. Now that I'm retired I wish I had some of it back so I can't give you any good advice here. I have really enjoyed getting to know you and I too think you are to hard on yourself. You are a lovely person.

  15. Eileen, I have to tell you..I still suffer with the clutter bug at my house too. And, it's usually on the kitchen table. It's usually homeschool stuff, or my quilting stuff. Our house just isn't big enough! Also, (I do have a junk drawer..maybe 2 :)
    All of the pictures of your home look absolutely beautiful so I don't think you need to worry..We all have a (little) clutter...Love, Jerelene