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A goal to de-clutter

POSTED February 7, 2018 2:00 p.m.

I have been on a cleaning binge. It’s not a dust and scrub binge. It’s a “get rid of clutter” attempt. This is the time of year to do it, when we are trapped inside.
Don’t be too impressed. I make more clutter when I try to reorganize. I make piles all over the floor. Fred sometimes peeks in the room that I am “cleaning” and he backs out very slowly before I ask him to do something.
I just attacked my office. I stayed with it about 4 hours and I can’t say it looks that much different. But I did haul out a full giant garbage bag of paper for the re-cycling plant.
My attempt involved digging through files, drawers, and book shelves. As you know, one cannot easily and efficiently throw things away. One has to go through each piece of paraphernalia, and decide what has to stay and what has to go.
I discovered old report cards of my kids, family pictures that I had misplaced, recipes copied off of the internet that I never made, army records and discharge papers of an uncle who died 25 years ago, instruction books for appliances that I no longer own, and loads of CD’s with labels on them.
I found receipts for donations that never got deducted, a few floppy discs that will never see the computer again, several books that need to be returned to their owners, and a pile of Christmas cards that I will save until next year.
Why do we keep all this stuff?
Our kids shouldn’t have to wade through all of this material when we are gone. In fact, I know what they will do with it. Wanna make a guess?
That’s right. They won’t have the time to sort, and will throw most of the stuff away.
We have our excuses for keeping things, don’t we? We rationalize. 1. It’s sentimental. 2. I might need it someday. 3. It was a gift. 4. It’s still good.
Fred has a closet full of old sport coats. Guess what? They are outdated, but they are “still good.” He also thinks he “might need them” some day.
None of these excuses are reasons for hanging onto our “stuff.”
We have ended up with family items that I never liked from the first glance, but somehow told myself that it is my duty to keep these things. Someone has to care, after all! I think I thought these items were sentimental. But they were not “my” sentimental.
I experienced an awakening. I finally caught on that most of the vases, glassware, and old objects that we ended up with were not useful, nor attractive, and I definitely didn’t need to worry about those relatives being offended. They have been deceased for years.
Of course, there are some pieces that I treasure and enjoy. Those are good reasons to keep such items.
But, I was no doubt only hanging on to the other things because they belonged to Uncle Fester, who was barefoot and carried them over the Appalachian mountains on his back!
We have a chair. It is an old chair. It is in good condition. It belonged to someone and it is about 125 years old, I would guess.
One day, out of the clear blue, I looked at that chair.
Why am I keeping it? I thought. I guess I thought I HAD to keep it.
So, whether to keep or purge, that is the problem. I ask myself these questions as I go through different de-cluttering phases.
1. Do you honestly need this item?
2. Do you love it?
3. Does this item have some sort of significance in your life? Are you sentimental about it?
4. Does it serve a purpose?
If this project overwhelms you, then ponder one item at a time. Find it a home, donate it, or toss it.
I’ll let you know if this works for me!

Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at bluegrasses@gmail.com. Visit her website juditabler.com or follower her on Twitter @Bluegrasses1.

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