I’ve learned a lot this week, but the best thing so far – it’s ok to throw stuff away. Really, it’s ok. Even if that stuff is a gift from someone you love. It may be a wonderful gift that had great intentions, but over the years, that gift sat on a shelf and collected dust. It’s taken up a piece of real estate in your house and over the years you can’t seem to part with it since it was a gift.
You know what I’m talking about – that candle that you burned a few times and then you stuffed it in the very back of your kitchen cabinet because you got another one you liked better. Or, it’s the quilt that someone made you as a wedding present. While the quilt is lovely, it doesn’t match the decor of your house, or even of your guest room, so it’s been sitting in a box for 15 years. Or, maybe it’s that collection of items from your favorite sports team – the mugs, light-up beer steins (and you don’t even drink beer), hats, coasters, posters, soda can cozies, tickets from games you have attended, and on and on – while you love this sports team, you may not love all the gifts you are given year after year with their logo plastered on it.
I know how you feel though – being stuck with a gift and feeling like you have to keep it just because you love the person who gave it to you. In Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she says, “Too many people live surrounded by things they don’t need ‘just because.’” Most people have no idea how much space these things are taking up in their homes.
For me, I’ve seen this truth to be true – I can’t believe that in my already orderly (or so I thought) house I found 16 bags of things just taking up space that I didn’t want anymore, and I’m only just beginning. The question to ask yourself when sorting through gifts is “Does this spark joy?” Simple as that. You have to remember that gifts are just things that are used to convey someone’s feelings for you – and after they have given you the gift, the gift’s purpose has been fulfilled. Think about that. It’s so true and my mind is blown. This makes me think about gifts in a whole new light – both gifts I receive and gifts I give – honestly, it makes me want to try a lot harder when I’m giving a gift to someone.
While some gifts are hard to part with, others are easy to discard. You can part with that engraved china plate you got as a wedding gift that has sat in a box for your entire marriage. Yes, it was a gift, but do you even remember who gave it to you? This happened to me yesterday. We tackled our storage room. This room holds a giant pile of boxes that are old grade school papers, trophies from Awana, diplomas and awards from DECA and FBLA, Coca-Cola collections, M & M collections of everything you can dream of shaped, stuffed or imprinted with an M & M on it, wedding gifts, old cards and letters, etc. It was intense. I can’t believe how much we threw away! We had so many empty boxes that we had saved and intended to use for shipping gifts to people. Silliest thing ever, because we maybe ship 3-4 boxes a year! We had enough boxes and shipping materials to ship boxes for the next 20 years or more! Not only were these boxes taking up a ton of space, so were all the boxes of momentos.
We spent 5 hours working on this room and have made some great progress, but we still have a long way to go. The funny thing, I noticed my attitude change over the course of the day. I was super excited to get started on the room – I loved seeing all the things we were able to discard and haul to the trash. Once we started unpacking my M & M collection and my box of unexpected photos from college, I started to get really stressed. I didn’t know what to do with this stuff. I panicked. We kept going and I had to walk away for awhile. I was getting totally overwhelmed. There were boxes overflowing with packing peanuts, piles of sorted item we were going to donate, and piles of discarded items. Just walking from the storage room to the the stairs was like walking through a mine field. We cleared a path and I set aside all my momentos to deal with at a later time. The photos and special memory items are the items you sort through last. Thank goodness, because I like to take photos of everything!
I unpacked boxes that have been packed since I moved into my house 10 years ago. I had boxes of decor items that don’t match my current house and honestly I didn’t even remember I had them. I found a really cool set of metal lamps that I really like, but have no problem selling instead of keeping. In fact, I’m not only donating items, but finding a lot that I can sell on VarageSale. I have listed over 100 items since I’ve begun my tidying journey and I’m loving the extra money that I’m making.
I’m super proud of my husband as well, he loves to collect stuff and tends to have multiple collections of things, let’s see, there is the Coca-Cola collection, the Star Wars Lego collection, and the Broncos collection. I tend to look at these things as ways to collect dust, which drives him crazy. He thinks I’m boring because I don’t really collect anything. Yep, we are a perfect match! He did make some great decisions on things he was willing to part with and we have big plans for our storage room. We are going to add some shelves and I’m so excited! Our compromise, I have to find a place to display his Coke collection because he unpacked it all! I still have to figure this one out. :)
Needless to say, I survived the day, we still have a ton to do, but we made a huge dent in our stuff that I’m super proud and excited. As I work through the whole house, I’m finding that I have a ton of storage totes and bins that I no longer need – as I’ve discarded most of the items that used to be in them. I’m also loving reading Marie Kondo’s book because there are just times in your life when you just need someone to tell you it’s ok to throw stuff away. I also feel relieved that you really only need to keep stuff that you truly love. How is your tidying journey going?