The Ugly Underbelly of Decluttering

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Living a smaller life in a smaller house is something I’ve idealized in my mind. We worked hard for months preparing our large house for sale, and we knew, once we moved to our current smaller house, it would be necessary to pare down our stuff.

We cut our home’s square footage in half—from a little over 2,000 square feet to just under 1,000 square feet. So it would stand to reason that we had to get rid of half our stuff.

It’s easy to say those words, isn’t it? “We’re going to get rid of half our stuff.” Doing it, however, is a dirty, ugly job. There is no easy way around it than to dig in and start pitching.

We practically wore a groove in the road between our house and some of the Goodwill and other thrift shops in our area. Stores in our area received boxes of books, dishes, clothing and shoes from our family. Furniture was carefully loaded into the back of the car and dropped off for donation.

My husband did the bulk of this job. He rolled up his sleeves and dug in. He had the sore muscles to prove it.

“I think I’m going to rent a dumpster,” my husband told me late last Fall. Our house was already on the market. By that time, we had decluttered our house significantly, and “staged” it to appeal to potential buyers. Although our house was the least cluttered it looked in years, sadly, most of the extras had landed in our garage.

I was against a dumpster from the start. We didn’t have that much junk, did we?

Um, yes. We did. The dumpster was delivered to our driveway, a few feet from our garage. Within three hours, it was filled.

A few months later, just a week before our move to our little cottage, we got a second dumpster.

I am not proud of this fact one bit. I’m not proud that I was storing so many non-essential items in our home and garage. It was hard work, not only the physical lifting and dealing with every item, but also the emotional burden of opening boxes and finding old letters, painful memories, or items that held an emotional burden.

I took a photo of the second dumpster as it was hauled away:

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The feeling of weight being lifted from my shoulders was indescribable! I hope this is the only time in my life I need a dumpster. I hope from now on, I will not keep things that are no longer bringing me joy. Better yet, I hope I don’t acquire them in the first place. From here on out, I will try my best to acquire things that don’t need to be dusted or stored: things like experiences, memories and friendships.

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