“Don’t just declutter, de-own.”
― Joshua Becker, Clutterfree with Kids
I have fully embraced my journey toward minimalism. There have been peaks and valleys along the way, some weeks I make great progress, some weeks not so much.
The latter seems to be true right now. Spring in our home means baseball practice, batting cage, and baseball games for my boys, tax preparation (oh joy!), and coaching clients; decluttering has not received my full attention for the past month.
Last week I made tremendous progress when I shared my “Why” – Why I want to own less – after I was interviewed by a reporter for the New York Times; she was writing an article for the Real Estate section and wanted to learn more about my experience and progress in decluttering and downsizing our home using a method of a well-known minimalist. I find that when I share my story, my “Why” about my desire to own less, I get a surge of energy and move beyond those really tough items that I can convince myself still spark joy.
This past Friday afternoon, I received an email requesting my availability over the weekend: the New York Times was sending out a photographer to take pictures of our home and the spaces I had decluttered, cleared out and organized. What?!
My mind started racing, excited energy coursed through my body. All the spaces that had been decluttered had been meticulously maintained after I had decluttered the area; even better: no new acquisitions had been added to those spaces, which meant they were still tidy and organized.
I thought about those spaces and how I hadn’t gone through them since my “first pass” at decluttering them; this was a great opportunity to look over these areas once more and see if there were things, I had been ambivalent about letting go.
I went into the pantry. As I perused the Mason jars and vases on the shelves, I couldn’t help but think about how people behave before the housecleaner comes: everyone I know always cleans house before the housecleaners arrive.
“I want them deep cleaning, not putting away my kid’s toys” or “I am paying them to clean, not tidy” are common reasons for this phenomenon. I too used to do the same.
I placed 12 Mason jars into a box and laughed out loud: here I was, putting things away before the photographer arrived, but instead of putting things into my pantry or closets, I was pulling things out and placing them into donation bags and boxes designated for my older son’s Eagle Scout fundraiser.
By the end of the afternoon, I had eliminated 14 Mason jars, three vases, and a mini Crock Pot from the pantry. I filled three bags with clothes I had been indecisive about and set them aside for the shelter. I removed a dozen books from the shelves in my office. I was finally able to let go of 9 pieces of jewelry that I never wore and felt guilty about not wearing but just couldn’t release.
Knowing the photographer would be coming in less than 48 hours was like an enema: I was able to let go of things that weren’t being used – and I would likely never use – but were for some reason, hard to let go of or it was just too overwhelming to think about what do with it – so those items just sat.
After letting go of these uncertain and overwhelming items, I felt lighter. The house felt lighter. The car was full of donations. Jason, the photographer arrived, shot the photos he needed and was out the door within an hour.
“Clean before the housecleaner” is no longer my mantra; “De-owning” is now the hymn that plays loudly in my heart and soul as I continue down the path of becoming minimalist.