Monday, May 19, 2014

Control your clutter--don't let it control you

Control your clutter before it overruns your life.
Is your life overrun with too much stuff? Are you overwhelmed with trying to unburden yourself?

Do you hold onto stuff with emotional ties? Clothes that are three sizes too small--or too big? Gifts you've never used but might someday?

Do you have bulging closets? Is your garage so stuffed with junk that you can't park a car in there?

Do you own so much stuff that you also pay rent on a storage unit? If so, you're not alone. Did you know that 8.96 percent of all American households currently rent a self storage unit? That's a whopping 10.85 million of the 113.3 million U.S. households in 2012, according to the Self Storage Association.

For six months, I've been plagued with the overwhelming task of downsizing my storage unit from a 10 x 20 unit to a 10 x 10 unit. Slowly but surely, I've been getting rid of stuff I no longer needed.

Every month when I paid my storage bill, I felt guilty. I felt I was wasting money renting a storage unit larger than I needed. But could I really squeeze it down to 10 x 10 feet?

Today, thanks to my friend and neighbor Bruce who pitched in to help me, we did just that. The impetus behind me finally doing this task is that my storage rent is increasing next month. After just a little more than two hours of work, the task was completed.

Most of the remaining stuff is stored in neatly stacked plastic storage bins with lids. I already had all these storage bins, but today I consolidated my stuff so it takes up less space.

As I swept the concrete floor of the empty storage unit, I looked at the cavernous space and hoped I'd never need to store such an enormous amount of stuff again.

We took a load of empty boxes to a nearby U-Haul storefront. Someone who is moving can use those boxes. I don't intend to move anytime soon. Last year, I moved three times in three months. In the past two years, I'd moved five times.

I have a few things to donate, including two throw pillows to a couch I donated three months ago. In December 2011 when I was laid off and had to sell my three story, 2,400-square-foot house, I started a practice of keeping a cardboard "donate" box near the front door or even in the car. It makes it easier to toss in things I no longer need and drop them off to my favorite thrift shop before I talk myself into keeping them.

Now everything I own fits into my 600-square foot apartment or my 10 x 10 storage unit. Even so, I still have too much stuff and will continue to lighten my load.

If I were still carrying the weight of so much stuff I no longer need, would I have found space in my life to reach out and become a new woman unafraid to paddle a dragon boat with the Mighty Women, beat an African drum, swing dance in a crowded pub, belly dance in front of a wall of mirrors and so many other adventures?

Before I pulled down the door on the smaller storage unit, I smiled. That bear of a task is done and no longer can haunt my dreams. Thanks, Bruce!

Simple Gifts

A Shaker song

'Tis the gift to be simple,
'Tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right.


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