Posted by: drrozkaplan | January 3, 2011

The Decluttering Project- Day 3

I am so far going through with my resolution to remove clutter from my life.  I know, it’s only January 2nd, so if I’d already given up, it would be pretty pathetic.  But I’ve actually gotten quite a bit done, since I’ve been home and had time on my hands.   I’m trying not to do this in a super-compulsive, manic way.  Sometimes I can get like that- I start cleaning and then have to clean EVERY closet RIGHT NOW and I exhaust myself, but I end up just rearranging the clutter, and not thinking through what stays and what goes and why.  I want this to be a longer-term process, one that is more thoughtful and useful, and one that perhaps allows me to clear my head while I’m clearing space.

I’m controlling myself pretty well.  For instance, today, we grocery shopped, so before we shopped, Larry cleaned out the refrigerator, and when we were unpacking, I rearranged cabinets that had become messy, and I threw out a few things that were stale.  I cooked, and used spices, so I straightened out the spice cabinet.  No crazy stuff.

Yesterday, I cleaned out our main coat closet.  That closet is a constant source of agita for me.  I’ve straightened it out a hundred times, but it always ends up a mess.  This time, I sorted through all the coats and jackets.  There were a few things that hadn’t been worn in years.  Into the give-away pile.  Then came the big purge of the hats.  Somehow, over the last 20 years, the family had collected several dozen baseball caps, souvenirs from trips and games and college visits, gifts from relatives from different towns, emergency sun protection purchased on the fly.  These hats have cluttered this closet and tortured me for years, but in the past,  I’ve simply found different ways to store them- at one point a special ‘system’ for hats composed of a rope and clips, another time a big box to stuff them in.  Somehow, they always ended up scattered all over the closet, no matter what I did.  And the truth is, the only one who regularly wears baseball caps is Larry, and he has a few favorites.  I occasionally don one in the spring if we are riding in the convertible or I need sun protection on a walk, but there are only two or three that I like to wear- one acquired when we had to visit medical clinic in Yellowstone Park (an adventure all its own), a black one with a tiny red Mickey Mouse head embroidered on it,  and occasionally a tan one from a rafting trip.

I took all of the dozens of hats and laid them out on the kitchen table.  I gave all family members an opportunity to choose any they wanted to keep.  I took my three.  Larry chose six or seven he didn’t want to part with, including a couple of hockey team hats.  The kids rejected them all.  Any not chosen went in the give-away bag.

There’s still a lot of stuff in the coat closet:  shells, fleeces, wool coats, down jackets, rain gear, boots, winter hats, sun hats, dog leashes, back packs, gloves, scarves….but now there are only 10 baseball caps.  A manageable number.  Still more that one family would ever need.  Right now, you could find whatever you were looking for in there, too.  We’ll see how long that lasts.

The most interesting project was the decluttering of one of the bureaus in our spare bedroom.  This bureau has, over the years, become a receptacle for items of clothing from everyone in the family, things that aren’t needed right now, but that we feel we will need at some point.  For the most part, these items have to do with sports or other activities requiring specific clothing.  And nobody has looked in it carefully for years until now.  Here’s what I found:

1.  All of the family’s long underwear, ski sweaters, and ski socks.  We haven’t skied in several years, due to a combination of factors.  Larry had both knees reconstructed due to ski injuries, which took us out of the yearly ski trips we used to go on a few years back, but also our daughter stopped enjoying the sport, finding it more alarming than exhilarating as she got older, and our son was too busy and then went off to college and we just never had the ‘family time’ during ski season.  But I loved skiing, and seeing all those things reminded me what we’ve been missing.

2.  My ballet slippers and leotards and leggings and practice skirts.  I feel nostalgia for my days at the barre. Do I want to go back to ballet lessons?  Probably not.  But dance in some form?  Ballet exercises as part of my fitness routine?  Maybe.  And…

3.   My ballroom dance shoes.  That’s something I really miss. Larry and I still use our skills at Bar Mitzvahs and weddings, but why did we stop taking lessons and going to practice parties?  Was that because of his knees, too?  I asked him if he’d think about taking a class- maybe Argentine Tango, or just review of Latin dances.  He was all for it. Now let’s see if we follow through.

4.  My tennis clothes.  I really sucked at tennis.  And my right arm and shoulder are permanently damaged. I can do most things, but tennis would take that shoulder over the edge.  Not going back to that.  But somehow I’m not ready to give the tennis clothes away yet.  I should.  I really should. But my denial is strong on this one.   I put the tennis clothes separately in a small drawer.  I will have to work on admitting my limitations. Another thing to check back in on later.

There is still lots and lots of clutter to tackle.  The basement is a frightening part of this project, one that I’m not ready for yet.  I might look through unfinished writing projects next and see what I want to save and work on and what I want to trash.  In any case, this project is definitely producing more than clean drawers and cabinets.




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