I almost never remember to take "before and after" photos of projects I work on. But I have been working in almost all my spare time last week and weekend on decluttering - either in my home or my folks' (minus the part on Sunday where I got stoned with Cree for the first time in several years!!).
On Saturday Kaden and I got rid of SO MUCH STUFF. We had huge piles of "get rid of"s". I managed to stuff a TON of clothes into my backpacking backpack (I wish I'd taken a picture of the volume of clothes that I rolled up and fit in there!), and Kaden did the same, and we hiked (ha ha) down to Dumpster Values. Kaden got $26 in credit and I got $16. They didn't take all my stuff (but they did take a tye-dyed maxi dress, my mom's from the 60s, that I used to wear in 4th grade...) so I left a bunch of it in the Books for Prisoners charity donation pile. Earlier in the day I donated a big bag of clothes to St. Vincent de Paul. I also took a load to Goodwill in the evening.
My plan was to "reward" my wardrobe reduction with wooden hangers. I happened to go to Ikea (an hour away) a few days before I could complete the "getting rid of" phase of my closet clearing, so I purchased 48 wooden hangers based on a 45-item count. By the time I got to hanging them, I was down to 38 items in my closet, so the remaining 10 went into my coat closet (I live in Washington State. I need all manner of coats). Changing out all of my hangers allowed us to have enough remaining white plastic hangers that I got to change out all of Kaden's clothes AND coats onto white hangers! I got rid of - damn, I should have counted! - MANY UGLY UGLY PLASTIC HANGERS in nice 90s shades like hot pink, peach, mauve, turquoise...and the most revolting PURPLE ever. I organized them all by color before trucking them over to Goodwill, ha ha. Kaden walked by and said they were so gross. Which I agreed. They were kind of grossing me out. I fucking love our new closets and maybe I will remember to take & post photos this week!
We now have two huuuuuge stacks of books to take to Half Price Books this weekend. There are, like, empty spaces on our bookshelves (!!!). Unbelievable.
Another pretty amazing thing I did, unaided by any written guides, is declutter my keepsake box. I eliminated my night stand, which had a tiny drawer with keepsakes. In addition, I used to have two keepsake boxes, but reduced to one in the fall. I managed to get rid of a bunch more stuff...buttons I made at the fair when I was a kid, a teeny tiny plastic Cabbage Patch figurine, a "Barbie cat food" hahahaha, and, strangely - strangely as in I am probably the only person in the world to have something like this - two mini-jars of water, rain runoff from the roof of my house, that Cree & I caught in drinking cups, out of my bedroom window, on my 13th birthday. I had saved mini-jars of water FOR ALMOST 15 YEARS. I had taken them with me from my parents' house to my first apartment, my dorm, my second apartment, two houses I lived in with Kaden and James, Bellingham, Cree's house, and the house we are living in now. I dumped them down the bathroom sink, without ceremony. I threw out one jar because the lid was moldy. The other one was perfectly clean so I saved it to put bulk spices in.
Yesterday I did a bunch of organizing at my parents' house. I organized a huge mixed-up stack of paperwork, receipts, coupons, and requests for donations that was smothering a loaf of french bread on the kitchen counter. I organized the pantry ("If you can't find something, just look for something else similar to it"...) and then the DESK DRAWERS. Whoa. It was intense. But I have come to joyful terms with the fact that organizing is actually my faaaaaaavorite thing to do.
So I'm going to become a professional organizer. Although it would be a lot harder to help a stranger through their clutter than myself, my husband, or my family. Where I feel comfortable jokingly yelling at or nagging my mom and sister about stuff they couldn't possibly need, I would NOT be able to deal with a customer situation that way! Lots of exciting learning to be done.
The most amazing thing is the experience of realizing that you don't have an emotional attachment to items you previously assumed you did - or you used to. It's like, fuck it, man - it's funny that I've carried around a vial of rainwater for 15 years, but I feel nothing remotely similar to regret when I realize I don't have it any more! I feel great that I don't have it any more! But I do still consider it part of "my story" that I did keep it for almost 15 years.