Perhaps it’s finally the warm breeze of springtime, the birds chirping, nesting on my wreath on my front door, the warm rays of sunshine peeking in through my curtains, or it could be the mountain of never-ending laundry, cupboards bursting with unused coffee mugs, books toppling off the shelves, and closets that explode like an avalanche that inspired me to declutter my home (and life).
I have a stressful job. The hours are chock full of requests, hardships, sometimes brutal commentary from the dying because they don’t know how else to dispel their frustrations with God. I’m on edge for nine, sometimes 10 hours, chugging back four to five caffeinated beverages, increasing my heart rate, counting down the clock until I’m home and I can unwind, relax with a glass of rose, a record and a bath, fizzing and bubbling with the bath bomb I bought but never used back in September.
But I get home and my house is a wreck because things aren’t put away, and not because they don’t want to be put away, but because there’s no room for anything to be stored. There’s always a chore that must be done first before I can get anywhere. My compulsion for snagging the best deal has overtaken me. Even worse, is that I still feel connected to all the things destroying my house – books I’ll never read, but bought thinking I would; clothes I’m now too fat for, crumpled up, shoved in drawers and closets hoping one day I’ll fit them; decorations for holidays I rarely celebrate; shoes I never wear, but hope I will; a can of Progresso Soup that’s been unopened, because it was my mother’s lunch she never got a chance to eat when I cleaned out her office, being hugged by co-workers who barely remembered my name; it’s her closet full of clothes that I took thinking that I’d wear them but instead grown dusty, never washed because they smell like her.
Decluttering your life starts at home. It starts with analyzing why each item is here and asking: Why does it still belong? The K-Cup holder that’s purple, standing tall like a mock tea kettle, with 15 holes, chipped and stored away beneath my kitchen sink, not having been used for the better part of five years; it stays because my mother bought me it for Christmas. I remember us walking around, my first Christmas home after my divorce, and my mother bought me this for when I’d eventually move out and start fresh. We displayed it in our kitchen before it grew too obnoxious.
Do I keep this because it’s practical, or because I feel like letting go of the item is like letting go of a piece of my life with her? So many items in my home hold that kind of severe and agonizing sentiment.
Not every item in your household deserves a spot on the shelf. Decluttering your life begins with the desire to let go, to invite freshness and new life into your home. It’s the act of wanting to have open room to breathe. Start room by room, and set a limit for yourself. Maybe start with a year. If you haven’t worn it in a year, it gets donated. Whittle it down until you’re at the three-month mark. If you haven’t used, drank out of it, played with it, worn it in three months’ time, then donate it. If it’s trash, let it go. Let go of birthday cards and instead keep handwritten notes. Let go of items you’re holding onto solely because of the memories associated with them. It clogs both your home and your mind – but your mind has endless storage for the memories that once made you happy.
Take a small step this weekend. Empty a cabinet, or make a list of 12 things in your home you can part with. I’ve only just begun and I can already feel the relief. Life isn’t about all your material possessions; it’s about making memories. Holding on to a chipped, purple K-Cup holder, stored in your kitchen isn’t bringing you the kind of freedom and happy memory you think it is. All it really is, is a nuisance.