My decluttering update and lessons I've learned from tossing "stuff" and preserving memories
Around about this time last year, I wrote a post called 11 questions to a meaningful declutter in which I came up with a suggested process for decluttering. I've been plodding along with my own decluttering project ever since and even though I've moved a lot of stuff on, there is still plenty which still needs to be shifted so decluttering remains a topic which is very much near and dear to my heart. I therefore decided to try buying a book on decluttering by a professional organizer to see if it could give me any tips. Now, to be honest, I didn't think much of this book, which is why I'm not going to review it here, I'm not into naming and shaming. I have put a review on Amazon, so if you see the book there, then you'll see my opinion of it, but I'm only mentioning it here to explain why I decided to revisit my original blog and also why I'm not reviewing a non-fiction book this weekend as originally planned, but moving on to another work of fiction.
My decluttering update
So I now have my list of decluttering questions down to (a lucky) 7.
Probably the biggest change is that I have removed the question about whether or not the item was a gift. Frankly I have now come to the conclusion that I'm not going to bother about that, as long as I'm happy I have a good reason for moving on the item, which I can explain, tactfully, if need be, then I'm going to work on the basis of "it's easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission". If I'm really honest I have moved on a lot of gifts and precisely nobody has noticed. For the record, I'd also be quite happy to discover someone had moved on something I gave them, in fact I know they have. Generally speaking this is because the recipient has moved on in their life, sometimes it's because I've just got it wrong and if that's the case, for myself, I'd rather know so I don't make the same mistake again.
Lessons I've learned
I need to accept the fact that for me in particular decluttering is going to be a slow process because I live in an area which is organized around the theory that everyone has a car and I don't. It's therefore more challenging for me to take stuff for recycling/to charity shops etc so realistically there's going to be long periods where I have stuff to move on cluttering up the house until I have enough to justify a organizing a trip to wherever they need to go (in a taxi or with help from someone who has a car). That's just how it is and there's no point in beating myself up about it.
When you live with other people, decluttering can involve a lot of negotiation and patience.
Digital keepsakes might not be quite as compelling as real-world ones, but they're a whole lot easier to access and store. I'll be you were wondering what the photo at the top of this blog was all about. Well that was a pair of jeans I turned into a theatrical costume for myself about 25 years ago. I wore them for the run of the show (about a week) and I'd been keeping them ever since. For the sake of completeness, here's the other side.
In case you're wondering, the show was Godspell.
Anyway, for the time being I still have the jeans, because as I say, I need to build up enough stuff to justify heading to the recycling centre and charity shops, but they are now deconstructed back to being just fabric (and so recyclable). The badges, however, I kept, in fact I've kept them all together and plan to put them onto fabric and frame them as art I can enjoy every day and that, is probably the single, biggest lesson I've learned so far.
As I go on with my decluttering process (however slowly) more and more stuff becomes visible and more and more memories are triggered and actually come alive. I've realized that my decluttering process needs to run in parallel with two other processes. One is the process of stopping unwanted "stuff" from being brought into my life and I'm taking a broad view of his here and including, for example, the numerous gifts of junk food I receive and the other is working to curate what really matters for my future and for the benefit of anyone who wants to look at it after me. All three mater and as each day passes, that fact is becoming clearer.