“I’ve spent half my life collecting things and the other half getting rid of it” – My Mom
My son’s Eagle Scout Fundraiser, a rummage sale, was on Saturday; I am relieved it is over, grateful that the guestroom used as a temporary staging area for donated items, is uncluttered and back to normal.
The last time his Boy Scout troop held a rummage sale was two years ago. I helped plan and coordinate the logistics of the sale; it is a lot of work organizing and putting it all together.
This past May, my son got the green light to go ahead and start working on his Eagle Scout project and when his Eagle advisor asked how he would fund the project, my son dutifully replied “A rummage sale. It will give me the best return on my investment.” His plan was to get help from other scouts and split half of the proceeds with the Troop, the other half would go toward his project budget.
Since my son was coordinating the fundraiser, all the details of the rummage sale fell on him, which meant I could concentrate on scouring closets, cabinets, and the garage in search of donations for the sale.
Over the years, in my journey toward minimalism, when I start cleaning out, I approach the task at hand from a different perspective as I look for items to purge:
Sometimes my perspective is “We are moving, and I can only take what I love, what I use, and what I can’t live without.” This perspective can be a challenge because I always seem to find a way to justify or find a reason why I must hold on to something. The honeypot my Mom gave me: I love the bright yellow, I love the bees on the outside, yet I don’t use it for honey nor do I even like honey – but I won’t let it go because it just makes me happy. Another is my American Heritage Dictionary – I love the look and feel of the pages and while I use it occasionally, I can probably live without it, after all, I can look up words online – but I enjoy the sound of the pages fluttering as I turn them, looking up definitions, reading random sections, and learning new words.
Occasionally, my perspective is “I’ve just died, and someone has to go through all my stuff” – I have to laugh, last year I discovered there was actually a book called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning – which was proof that I wasn’t the only macabre person who took this route when cleaning and purging. Five years of directories and Board meeting notes from my women’s club. Three watches that need new batteries and straps. A mason jar of buttons (I don’t sew). I imagine my kids asking “Why on earth would Mom keep all of this?” as they cleaned out my office.
I’ve also tried the perspective of “I am moving and everything hast to fit in a U-Haul 4 x 8 Cargo Trailer” – which is a bit stressful, after all, how would I get my bed into it? The irony here is that I have a zillion tote bags – maybe subconsciously I am always thinking about running away? Each bag is designated for specific use: The Smith & Hawkin tote I used when the kids took swim lessons (lots of big pockets for goggles, fins, and lotion). The green jute tote bag with an embroidered “regal bee and laurel leaf” that hangs on the back of my office door; that bee makes me happy too. On the doorknob is a monogrammed tote: “Crafty Mom” I use at the pool. The kids no longer take swim lessons and I’m not crafty, so those are easy to let go. I have bags for shopping – grocery and non-grocery – bags, as well as whimsical totes: the Kate Spade waterproof shopping tote linked in bright orange and the Cath Kidston London View tote I picked up on my trip to London this past spring – both, are waterproof, practical and fun. The idea of trying to fit all my essentials into a 4-x cargo trailer makes purging excess anything – even tote bags – easier.
After the rummage sale was over, we packed up the leftover items into boxes and bags for donation to Goodwill, Pick of the Litter Thrift Shop, and to Innvision Shelter Network. Getting rid of all our stuff makes me feel good, but I am still amazed at how much we still have left, despite how hard I work to get rid of things.
“Bring in less!” pops into my mind. It’s funny, I can easily count the number of donation bags I dropped off last week, but I’ve never kept track of what is coming into the house.
Perhaps I will try keeping track of items that enter our home because the perspective of “Elves bringing stuff in when I’m not looking” just isn’t working for me and, there’s no way I’ll survive another rummage sale.