As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a very strange reaction to any drama in my life. Some people drink. Other people cry. Even some other people shop. I have what I call “chuck fests.” I start throwing shit out, donating it, all together getting rid of it. It’s a reaction. It’s an odd one.
I could be in the middle of an argument, in the middle of some emotional or financial drama, and all I can think about is all the crap in my house I could get rid of. My BFF has told me that makes sense to her: A sudden need to eliminate things out of my house as a metaphor for eliminating things out of my life, including the current drama. Ok. I’ll buy that for a dollar. I also have random chuck fest itches when nothing is going on. Just…out of the blue.
I do hate clutter. It breeds. It also means shopping. No one gets clutter without shopping. Shopping in this country, consumerism as a whole, has gotten WAY out of hand. WAY out of hand. Let’s go buy some cheap (or expensive crap) that we “need” because we don’t know what “need” means and because it will somehow fulfill my life (it won’t). I’m not judging, I’ve done the same thing myself.
But now in my 30’s, I’ve grown to HATE shopping. I HATE IT HATE HATE IT! Truth be told I never really “liked” it, but now I despise it. The only time I really like shopping is if I’m at a farmer’s market or a natural food place because I’m a foodie. It’s also depressing cause who the hell can afford $21 a pound steak.
Yet people continue to buy and buy and buy. Then they complain about their debt, their clutter, their mess, their unhappiness. When you are surrounded by crap, packed into your own house like a rat, you aren’t going to be a happy person. Everything is going to take longer to do and it eventually takes a toll on the psyche. We are animals, make no mistake, and most likely meant to live most of our lives outdoors in the open, not surrounded by dollar store junk from Ikea.
The toll it takes on the pocketbook, on the environment, on the psyche, on the workers who have to produce this stuff has all but made me not go shopping unless I have to and always check thrift stores before I head to a mass retailer. That’s not the only reason. I too have a lot of clutter.
I went through a “I could use that” phase several years back. Tag that on with all the stuff I inherited from my mother when she passed, a love of all things crafting and cooking and a weekly trip to the thrift store, a coupon addiction AND a business at home…well, you get the idea. Not pretty.
I started giving in to my chucking instinct. Give this away, toss that, get rid of that. I don’t need it. And I don’t miss it either. Feels good to have the negative space, the room in the cabinets and drawers. It’s easy to clean and organize. I’ve still got chucking to do. I will always have chucking to do.
Mr. B thinks I’m insane when I do this. He keeps telling me that the house does NOT have clutter. The Texan tries to explain over and over that the less stuff in the house, the easier it is to take care of. BINGO! There it is. I’ll admit, the holidays are NOT the best time to have a chuck fest itch with everything else going on. But I’ve learned chuck fests need not take long.
The following tips are just that, tips. Maybe they will help you. Maybe not. What I WON’T do is push some sun shiny happy slappy self help bubble gum psychology you’re ok I’m ok rainbows up your ass. That stuff never helps, all is does is sell books and make people feel bad for not being a shiny happy person. I live in reality. I am not a shiny happy person. I am not a miserable person. I am pretty damn happy, actually. I don’t need to look in the mirror and tell myself that I’m beautiful and that I’m “worth it.” Worth what?! I know I’m awesome. And you should know you are awesome too (provided that you are…just kidding). Screw all the shit in between. I don’t think giving someone tips on decluttering their house has anything to do with teaching them how to have confidence. SO many organizing sites I’ve been to have the M.O. “Throw it out cause you are worth it!” WORTH WHAT?! WHAT THE &#(@ ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ME HAVING TOO MANY #*$&@* BATH TOWELS?
I have faith in humanity enough to say that I don’t think MOST people need someone to take them by the hand and whisper sweet ego boosting bullshit in their ear to get them to throw away a fallen apart make up case they’ve had since 1989. I don’t know, guess it just doesn’t jive in my head or something. If someone is a hoarder and truly has a psychological issue (which I think happens more than we think) ok, I can see getting some real help in there. But blowing sunshine up someone’s butt isn’t helping, it’s just being cheesy. Most likely for a buck.
There is a SERIOUS lack of sites out there for what I call “people like me.” I can’t stand Oprah. I have nothing against the woman as a person, but ok really. “Aha moment?” I kept hearing that every time her show got flipped on. She had an “AHA” moment. So?! It’s called an epiphany, which I’m guessing the networks think is too long a word to use for us stupid Americans? But one cannot POSSIBLY have a GRAND life changing epiphany every 5 seconds like this woman. Even if you did, would they stick? I’ve gotten those before, and they are all grand and beautiful in the moment, and then 2 days later you’ve forgotten cause either it wasn’t as important as you thought or it was too damn hard to keep up with.
How about just telling it like it is. I’m going to give you tips on how to declutter your living space. Period. That’s it. I’m NOT going to tell you while you do this you are going to lose tons of weight, be more attractive, be absolutely happy, and it will get you on the road to the life you want. Maybe you have the damn life you want, have they ever thought of that? Or maybe you don’t want somebody giving you stupid ass promises they can’t keep and you just want some real life tips on HOW TO DECLUTTER YOUR DAMN LIVING SPACE. Really? When did pop psychology become so pervasive. ANYWAY.
I shall teach you, dear reader, how to have a chuck fest that doesn’t take up all your time.
Rules for a chuck fest
1. You don’t HAVE to be in the mood. If you have things that need chucked, get to chuckin’, it won’t take long.
2. Decide on a time frame. Do you have ten minutes? Twenty? An hour? Grab your cell phone and set an alarm because you aren’t doing it for longer than that alarm. If you do you will get tired, eventually burn yourself out and not want to do it ever again. Trust me on this.
3. Don’t pick a project that’s going to take longer than your time limit. If you set your time for ten minutes it’s probably NOT a good idea to go through your closet. Maybe part of your closet.Pick something small like a shelf or a drawer. Don’t start just pulling shit out willy nilly because you’ll just overstimulate yourself. You can even go room to room with trash bag and pick stuff up randomly without ever having to “take something apart.”
4. Do not be afraid to chuck. Donate. Throw away. Whatever. No excuses. No, no one on ebay is going to want your mustard green hair dryer from 1981. You are having a psychological response to reason with yourself as to why you would keep such a thing and then giving yourself desperate excuses to keep it, because we all know you’ll never sell it on ebay. Even if you did, you wouldn’t get anything for it by the time they take out their seller’s fees, paypal fees, listing fees and shipping. Get rid of it. You’ll like the empty space it creates. If it is not truly beautiful or useful, toss it. You don’t need it.
5. You don’t owe your stuff anything. So you bought 5 bottles of conditioner on sale and you realized half way through the first one that you don’t like it. Get rid of it. I would tell you to give it to a friend but it’s too easy to leave it sit there until the friend comes to pick it up (a friend who probably doesn’t want your crap anyway), so just toss it. Either throw it out or give it to a thrift shop (they will take personal care items). You don’t owe your conditioner anything. You made a mistake. You wasted money, ok, granted, but now you know now to do it again. The “I can use this” mentality is dangerous because you also never DO use it, no matter how much you promise yourself. You can’t USE everything you claim to be able to use. Deal with it.
6. Do not attempt to organize anything right now. “Organize” is a fancy excuse for most people to go buy more shit they don’t need like dollar store plastic bins and BS like that. Just put things back neatly for now. Wipe a shelf or two. Then once you get that whole area properly chucked (NOT IN ONE DAY!) you can go back and decide if there is something you can do to make it a little more palatable to you, if it needs it.
7. Go take all the crap you just got rid of and either put it in your car to donate or put it in the trash. Do it. Now. Because you won’t do it later.
8. Be satisfied in the knowledge that you really didn’t get rid of anything you are going to cry over and absolutely need one day. You have more sense than that. You aren’t going to get rid of your mother’s wedding ring or your kids first pair of shoes or your fridge or anything. I wager that you are smarter than that.
That’s it. That’s the start at least. Do this a little everyday. Every other day. When you can fit it in. It’ll get done, just pace yourself.
Please, for the love of god and everything holy, don’t use this as an excuse to go buy or download organizers and worksheets and nonsense of the like. I mean, if you do need an organizer, yay for you. You can get one on your phone. If you need an organizer and actually USE one, you likely already have one and are using it. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t have one but would like to be one of those people who DOES use one.
I’ve always been in love with the idea of having an organizer for everything. I’ve even tried that. Scheduling and organizing everything from my business to my home life to my cleaning to my crafts. Quite a bit of money and a lot of guilt later I figured out: I am so not that type of person and I was using creating that little organizer as a way to procrastinate thinking about the house I had to clean, the work I had to do and the thought that maybe I didn’t WANT everything in my life scheduled that way. I kinda like doing what I feel, and as long as my house isn’t trashed, my closets aren’t brimming over, my finances are in order, I’m healthy and happy, well, that’s good enough for me. My life really isn’t in chaos. My life is pretty normal and has a natural organization to it actually. But MAN will those life organizing sites make you feel like you are living in total chaos! Like you’re a dirty, dirty person if you don’t have everything from your dishes to your daily shower gripped by the balls and written on the dotted line. What if life throws you a curve ball? Where’s your damn organizer now? What if you LIKE the curveball? Are you gonna feel guilty because you didn’t check off everything on your list or are you going to exhaust yourself doing it instead of taking that extra half hour to lay in bed and veg out to Mythbusters?
GEEZ Whatever happened to helpful tips, not complete Nazi style overhauls of other people’s lives. I’m not appealing to hoarders here, and I doubt those sites are either. Those people need real help. They live in a dangerous situation. But how about some friendly, down to earth, reality based tips that makes reading these things fun and informative, not overloads of guilt inducing information?
Maybe after reading all those sites you find this particular post boring. It’s possible. Hell, it’s likely. But I’m sincerely trying to keep it simple. I don’t want a window into your life. I don’t want to tell you how to be, what to think, what to create, or how many times a day you should schedule cleaning your toilet.
Just a simple post (well NOW it’s not, thank you very much. NOW it’s a rant!) with a couple tips. Hope you can enjoy the simplicity of that.
If not…well, who the #&$( asked your anyway :P