One of the strange things I have anxiety about is letting things go. Perhaps it is because my grandmother grew up during the war, and always instilled in us the importance of making the most of every object. Maybe I am afraid that I will not have the material things I need and therefore be left unprepared, which can lead to being stressed out, embarrassed, and other nasty emotions. Maybe growing up fairly poor made me afraid that I won’t be able to purchase things I want in the future.
I am a packrat, and I cannot throw anything away if it is potentially useful. You can well imagine the state of my art room – art supplies, crafts, gifts, books, old sketches, every manner of knickknack under the sun – it is all taking up room to the point where I can barely work anymore.
Here is the interesting twist – I can easily give things away, stress free! As long as it is going to someone who might potentially use it, I have no problem with passing it along. If it’s not myself throwing stuff in the trash I can let it go.
This year, as always, I asked people for no birthday gifts, since I no longer have birthdays*. In the spirit of holiday giving, I brought two large shopping bags full of fabulous things to the party and invited everyone to take it all. Reverse birthday presents – that has to be healthy on many levels.
I gave away necklaces, bracelets, blank notebooks, a few small paintings I did many years ago, gardening and japanese fashion magazines, makeup, a wee radio, purses, and more. Giving my treasures to friends not only cleared out a pinch of space, it makes me happy to think that these things are being used and enjoyed instead of stuck in boxes and drawers. I set my things free into the world. Also, I have to admit, it was super fun sitting there saying, “I think Kelly would wear this necklace the most”, and “Kate has the best colouring for this lipgloss”, like some sort of cheeky Santa Claus.
Give It Away Now
Now I am completely inspired to find other things I can clear. I traded an old sewing machine I’ll never use for a few bottles of wine. I gave a bag of old clothing made from interesting materials to a friend who makes “Ugly Bunnehs” out of donated fabric. I am preparing to haul several more bags of old clothing to Value Village, but I am finally ready to toss out anything worn, dated, or that I know nobody would want to wear. I am ready to trade things to Bunz for nearly nothing if they pick the stuff up.
While going through the art supplies, I also found a giant colourful gift bag – perfect! Any art supplies that my friend’s children might enjoy went into that bag, and at the next available opportunity, out of my house.
I actually had two old Mac G4 computers stashed under the desk in my art room, which had been sitting there for at least eight years. I posted online to see if anyone would want them – suddenly I had a taker for those, and the CD burner, plus he will take away my giant old monitor for me because he has a truck. By promising to give these away, now I absolutely had to get cracking and clear the drives of any old files and wipe them to get them ready.
By making that promise, I had to follow through. The obligation was key to finally get the job done. Doing things for others is a stronger contract than doing something for myself. Life Lesson Noted!
It’s going to be a long process. Ten years of accumulating junk, I mean stuff, in this house will take some time to clear. One zone at a time, one day at a time.
(Have you ever noticed that your junk is stuff, but other people’s stuff is junk?)
I’m not quite ready for the total Zen clearing, minimalist house concept, but I am planning to do one zone per month or two until things are greatly improved.
What can you let yourself give away?
What can you never, ever get rid of?
* They say “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”. Therefore, when a few gals and I spent a weekend there on what would have been my birthday, it was trapped in Vegas. As long as I never go back, I have no birthdays and I am not aging. Logic!