Although my annual attempt at decluttering is nearly finished, there’s still more I could take to a thrift shop.
But I feel good about the effort. I don’t have to model Marie Kondo. I don’t have to purge as if a move were coming up.
Kondo’s book and TV program, along with decluttering advice from countless other folks, can make a person feel criminal about hanging on to any nonessentials. The usual guideline is to dispose of everything you haven’t used in the past year. If I got rid of every book not opened, every disc not listened to, every cup not drunk from, and every item of clothing not worn in the last year, I probably could live in a micro apartment.
For those who are able to follow the expert advice, more power to you. You can stop reading. This post is for people like me. You want to live in an organized home but not to part with everything that doesn’t spark joy.
Last year I felt discouraged that I didn’t take more to the thrift shop. This year I feel upbeat — not because I disposed of more than a dozen bags but because I reached a good level of organization. I know what I have and can find what I’m looking for.
During the monthlong project, I wrote pep talks in my journal. The following is encouragement I gave myself to keep going. It might be helpful to others who also feel browbeaten by the uncompromising tone of many decluttering advice-givers.
• Decluttering is not an all-or-nothing task. Something less than 100 percent is okay as long as there is space to keep stuff and I don’t feel anxious about clutter. Next time, I may be open to tossing more.
• Instead of looking into every box now, I can make a list of categories of stuff that might be further pared down. These include cleaning products, file folders of papers, genealogy notes, cassette tapes, and travel memorabilia. I can zero in on one of the categories whenever the urge to purge strikes. Another category can wait for the next time the urge strikes. I should not need to slog through the whole condo until I move. (Scout’s honor: It wasn’t until after I wrote this that I learned that Kondo recommends a category approach.)
• Another benefit of doing a little at a time: I’m likely to dispose of more. When I try to go through the whole place, my commitment flags, and I tend to move things around more than toss them.
• Organization goes a long way toward making a place feel uncluttered. Even with 15 categories of stuff on the pare-more list, I feel organized. Similar items are together. Boxes are labeled with their contents.
• Having a few empty spaces on shelves now reduces my anxiety. Any thoughts that maybe I should have bought a bigger condo are gone.
• The effort to declutter deserves a reward. I’m going to hire someone to deep clean the kitchen and bathroom. Maybe I’ll make a decorative change or two.
* Since I seldom shop, I can feel pretty confident that clutter won’t build up. I still might commit to the guideline that if something new comes in, something old goes out.
I agree with Kondo et al. that it feels good to not be overflowing your space. But we ought not stress ourselves to achieve clutter-free perfection. There are midway points that are achievable, one step at a time. I’ve paused at one of them and feel comfortable in my surroundings.
ON ELIZABETH WARREN’S COLLAPSE
As a Democratic favoring whoever is most likely to defeat Donald Trump, I probably would not have voted for Elizabeth Warren in the Illinois primary. Yet Warren impressed me: She is smart, energetic, tenacious, committed, a skillful debater with an awesome grasp of the issues and a plan for everything.
Warren was competing with Bernie Sanders in the so-called progressive lane. I don’t think the country is ready for as much change as Warren and Sanders propose, but it disturbs me that Warren did so poorly with primary voters that dropping out of the race was the only logical option.
Was it just that Bernie’s base held firm from four years ago? That’s likely part of the explanation for Warren’s poor showing, but I also think that sexism was at play. These two postmortems about what happened to Warren are worth reading:
ANTI-TRUMP QUOTATIONS: 103RD IN AN ONGOING SERIES
“A meeting between President Donald Trump and health officials that was meant to reassure the public about the coronavirus instead became a sideshow in which the president praised himself, asked about television ratings, and suggested sick passengers on a cruise ship stay there because he didn’t want to include them in US infection numbers.”
—Sebastian Murdock, Huffington Post