1. Why have you chosen to join the “Reduce Clutter: Create Space” challenge for 2010?
It took several months, but I managed to consolidate all our belongings under one roof. I have donated about 30 boxes of clothes and household goods to charity. Don’t open my closets, though. I have several of them stuffed with items that will one day end up on ebay and Craigslist. Financially, I closed bank accounts and canceled credit cards. Timewise…. ugh, don’t ask.
4. Have you noticed any new space being created as you let things physically, mentally and emotionally go?
I can’t really say that I’ve created physical space. I had to use every space in my home that I had. For instance, I had no space for all my CDs, so I re-purposed drawers in a rarely-used bathroom for my CD collection. Not the most elegant display, but it works. The space I’ve created from all the reducing has been within me. I feel like I can breathe more freely, and that I have more control over my domain. Letting things go has been a shedding of emotional burden of sorts.
When we were living in Tokyo, many of our things were in storage for two years. Although I felt sad at having to box away the things I loved, I found that I didn’t really miss anything at all. All of it was just…stuff. I could make do without, and I was even freed to discover new interests, new things. I even convinced myself that if my moving truck somehow vanished, it would be okay and it would, in fact, solve my problem of having to consolidate so much junk. So for me, it was relatively easy to just let go of material things.
6. How about the hardest?
I said the easiest part was letting go of material possessions, and now I’m going to contradict myself by saying the hardest part was letting go of material possessions. Specifically, I found it very difficult to let go of the gifts that my late husband had given me over the years, even if I never used them or they were not my color or style or if I secretly disliked them. So they are with me still, up in a closet.
You know, I was surprised to find that it’s harder to get rid of stuff than I thought. In Tokyo, forget about it. You have to pay to throw large things away. Here in the US, I tried to sell a large collection of books to a used book store and was surprised to find that they do not accept hardbacks after the paperbacks versions have come out. Electronics have to be recycled to specific sites. Even old medicines have to be specially disposed. Of course, the simple answer to that is to just donate all the usable items to charity.
8. What are your intentions for joining other “explorers” on this journey?
My intention is not to lose steam. Seeing someone else clean up and reduce motivates me to do the same.
9. Any tips, thoughts or suggestions you might want to share with others who are interested in starting to “reduce clutter” so they can “create more space” in their lives?
Living in Japan where space is at a premium and discarding things can end up being a headache, I learned to control my buying impulses. If there is something I really like, I usually put it on my wish list and sit on it for a while to see if I really want or need the item later. Ultimately, what’s really important is not all the material stuff. What really matters is that you have love and good health and laughter, and that’s the stuff you can’t buy off the shelf.