Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Gifting Guilt


Going through things I am always faced with the decision of what to do with what I no longer want in my possession.  I find it easier to say, "yup done with this, not going to need it" than deciding what should happen next. Once some version of that thought has been tied to an object it is classified as clutter, something taking up space and energy that is unnecessary.  The options seem to be:

1. Gifting to others via family, word of moth social media, free cycle, etc.

2.Selling on eBay, craigslist, offered, etc.

2. Donating to charities, churches, shelters, fundraisers, etc

3. Landfilling

4. Hoarding

Our excess tends to accumulate guilt.  Hopefully the object was something that you loved and was super useful when you bought it. Maybe it was not, and the guilt was there from the start, you knew it should not enter your home, or maybe the guilt was there, because although you loved it you knew that you could not afford it!  I have this guilt from the start with some things.  I also have guilt with things that I needed, loved and used, and was perhaps even a gift. Generally this guilt only sets in after the item is in disuse.  I will see it and feel guilty i can no longer use it, it is worn out or outgrown.  Then I feel guilty that it is still taking up my family space and energy and often the time spent cleaning and organizing all of this stuff.

My first thought, especially with nicer items is to gift them.  I like knowing the the item will be used by someone, that i might save them money, or make them happy.  There is some science that gifting is quite beneficial to the gifter as well.  Yet  perhaps, it brings more guilt at times too.  I had recently donated the nail polish my daughters no longer use.  They did a small research paper on the effects of nail polish and decided it was not for them.  They had an extensive collection, at first I thought that we might use it for crafts, but no we have not.  So I posted it on FB, and within a few minutes a friend responded enthusiastically, and i got a wonderful visit!  But I felt guilty, yet didn't want to be the friend spouting health info. obviously she knew that i was getting rid of all of our expensive polish because we didn't want to use it...she is smart and can make her own decisions....and already was buying her own polish, so still better to keep it out of landfill, and from more being produced.  It brought back a memory of getting some children craft things from a free cycler.  I was thrilled, she was cleaning out and just kept handing me more.  Her 15 y.o. daughter came out and started being upset with her mom, upset that her mom was foisting off all of her clutter on to me LOL!  She said I would end up in the same position as her mother. At the time I didn't see it at all.  Now I do, that 15 y.o. had more wisdom than either of us!  A week later I brought some of the supplies to a preschool.  But just 2 days ago i donated 15 pounds of those crayons, 10 years later!!!!!

Selling is a lovely thought.   A little money back to ease the pain of having wasted your precious hard earned dollar.  You will quickly find that stuff generally does not sell quickly at all.  There are a few exceptions, price things like bicycles or cars at half of used value and they will be gone super quick.  But the majority of what you are selling, will just find you spend a lot of time posting and storing.  Add to that the frustration of dealing with meeting up with strangers, and long back and forth, they will want it for even less than posted, and maybe they won't even show up...

Donating is most people's solid fall back option.  Beware, that just because you donate does not mean it will not end up in a landfill!  Go into a thriftshop, there are far more clothes than shoppers.  You are almost as likely to see workers removing clothes/goods that have been too long as putting out new.  More and more you will find that donation centers are handing goods back to you at the door, stuff they know will not sell, and they don't want to take on the liability of throwing it away. I know that the clothes are sold as rag bundles, but often these ultimately end up its the trash.

That brings us to Landfilling, yup tossing it in the bin!  For some items this is the only choice, unless it is made of recyclable materials. Then there is guilt if it has to be thrown away because honestly, if you donate that blender that would cost more to fix than replace, you should feel guilty that the charity will just have to pay to throw it away for you.  For some people this is the only way out.  Yes the item could be washed, but there is so much it won't happen, or they don't have the resources to get themselves to donation centers (some will collect if you are close enough!) And often the reason you stopped using it was because it could no longer be used.

Brings me back to gifting to someone you know will use it, the benefit is triple, you get a boost as a gifter, they get a free item, and they are not stoking the consumer market buying a new one!  A lot of what you no longer want no one else wants/needs either! Be a conscious consumer, it will simplify your life by not ever having to make all these decisions.  When you buy that tchotchke at the dollar store, will you feel guilty when it comes time to pass it on, even thought it only cost you $1? When you give that gift, be it something you are passing on or a new holiday gift, will you feel guilty every time you see it filling someone else's space?


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Positivity: Accomplishments


Today was another good day, but perhaps not spectacular...or maybe it was!  I may be on the 'not good enough' treadmill.  I really want to just be done! I want to succeed at my goal to live a clutter free life, with less time spent cleaning and organizing and more time doing the things that really matter.  I want to walk into my home and think, yes! I'm home, I can relax; rather than oh my gosh!  I have so much work to do.

At the end of the day I have not reached that goal.  In fact I am not even feeling like I'm half way there. And, so I think I have failed again.  But this mindset will not help anything.  And I have had a productive day.  I was reading, somewhere, that I need to take account of my accomplishments. Rather than worrying about what I did not get done, I need to give myself credit for what I did do.  In this way I can create a growing sense of success, that will spur even more success.  It certainly sounds better than dwelling on the negative lack, and letting that drag me down to giving up.

Each day I will challenge myself to write a post about what I did that day.  I will hopefully be able to use the practice to figure out how my actions can contribute to my overall goals.  Perhaps I will even be able to start appreciating that which simply makes me happy, and not feel guilty that it was not more.  After all, if the purpose of my end goal is to be happier because I have less clutter, then being happy on the journey is the ultimate success!!!

Soooo Today:
We collected all of the recycles and trash, and brought them to the transfer station.  This included the grill cover that was disintegrating in the sun (we are deciding on the grill, still serviceable but we have not really grilled since we went vegan, although I really love grilled veggies and want to try pizza on the grill especially in the heat).  Then we literally filled the dinette area in the camper with donations to take to the church my mother donates to, it was about 12 bags.  We dropped a kids desk off at my brothers for his daughter. Then we gave the laundry drawers to my mother, and dropped a laundry basket of clothing off at friends house for her daughter! 

After that the kids vacuumed my mothers van while my husband took my father, who recently had a heart attack, to buy some lumber.  An hour drive home, and we made some cookies and pizza while my son and I (I directed, while my son used his young muscles) weeded the back side of the house.  Last week we finally admitted we had not used the hot tub in 6 years and gave it away.  We turned it off when I had to have all of my surgeries and never turned it back on.

With the weeding half done my son noticed how dirty the back of the house had become.  He grabbed the hose and a broom and was trying to clean it.  It needed a little more help, especially higher up. So we purchased some mildew cleaner and they sprayed it down.  It looks new again! while at the Home Improvement store, I almost wanted to buy a power washer, fortunately they did not have a 'good' for a reasonable cost, and I think that in the end, while it may have done a better job, we got it 90% done without spending or having to store more equipment.

At the end of the night we sat in bed and started talking about what the house would need in order to sell.  Inspired and wanting to accomplish more I dumped my  bedside table drawer on the bed.  About half of what was there was removed, thrown away, put away or put to donate!  I found a mess of gift cards that I will make a point of actually using if purchases must be made :)

So the house is not zen, it's not even tidy.  We did have a good, productive  and meaningful day. We helped others and made our house a little better.  I am looking forward to doing more tomorrow.

Friday, June 16, 2017

How We Think About Money May Relate to How We First Earned Money

I was surfing the internet after a rainy Saturday that was only somewhat successful in reducing our excess.  I made great improvements, I just don't feel like we are making them fast enough.  So everyone is asleep, my mind is racing, so I'm cruising Youtube.  Because maybe someone out there has THE answer.  All right, I know that is not the case.  I do find inspiration, I can take notes on decisions I make while sitting here quietly.  Then tomorrow when i only have an hour before heading out for the day, I will not have to make decisions.  I will simply try to remove or list for sale whatever items i have decided will go!  Now I honestly don't end up following it exactly, but it sure helps!

Tonight, I came across this Ted Talk Unconventional Ways to Save Money by Kerry Taylor cross It really did address the idea of clutter in terms of the cost of buying all that stuff.  The best way to save money is not to waste it.   She goes on to say that as a farmer she looks at what it cost her  to earn the money to purchase it. Many hours do we have to work to earn our 10th pair of jeans, or our 3rd computer? I am watching this thinking doesn't everybody think in terms of how long it took to earn the money? Then I realize my first job was on a farm! And this is not the first thought my husband will have....he first thinks, how much will I be able to sell it for when I no longer need it LOL! His first job was in retail!

Thing is even if i can get $5 back on $10 purchase I still spent $5.  So we need to ask do we REALLY need or even want the item.  We have to ask:
1. Do we already have something that works?
  If so, does the old one still work?  IF we get the new one are we willing to let the old one go? if the answer is no, why? If it is because it cost a lot and the old one still works, can you continue to use it? If you really need a new one because the new version has features you need, can you sell the old one? If you cannot part with the old one, then perhaps that is a clear sign that you do not need a new one.

2. If you don't have one, then you have been living without it, can you continue to do so?
Do you already feel crowded in your space? Perhaps you think of something(s) that take up twice as much space as the new item to purge from your stewardship!  Yes, you have to look at it in terms of space, you cannot acquire a yoga ball (even a 'free one) and give up a marble.  In addition to the economics of space and money, you have to consider time.  This new item will take up some amount of time in your life.  Even if it is just a knickknack, it will take time for you to clean around and dust it, is it worth it? Are you already feeling overwhelmingly busy?  You have to assess how much time that new item will take to make it worth buying and then decide if you have that much free time to fill.  If you don't have free time, what other activities and their accouterments are you willing to part with to make the time to use the new item.  If you really want new golf clubs are you willing to quit racket ball to free the time to play, and get rid of that equipment to make space and free up funds to join a golf club?

3. Do I have the money to spend on this?  If so, is it worth it?  I am willing to work at my job for 30 hours to buy a new lap top when the old one still works?  Will I regret not having the money to spend on something I do need or really want?  In my case I have to ask, is it worth my husband spending 30 hours away from his family.  If my kids suddenly need medical attention will I feel like I made a mistake buying something I did not need.

If you don't think its worth going through the hassle of asking these questions, then it probably is not worth your time to earn the money, and the space it will take up in your life!


Friday, June 9, 2017

Today it is Gone!

I am on a purge kick again.  I realize I am yo-yo purging, I purge, then things accumulate and I need to purge again!  Like dieting I can see clearly now that I need to make lifestyle changes, that will make my house lean.

A classic rule is 1 in, 1 out.
I have started trying to do this.  But often there is a Holiday or Birthday, and these are times when we let this rule go.  Or if we are out shopping and find a great deal on a bunch of stuff.  Much easier when we are just buying what we need.  OK, I got a new scrub brush for the kitchen sink, i throw out the old one--I wonder if the plastic brushes can be recycled.  I don't buy them often, but i did just replace one and chose one that has the replaceable head so that at least I am not having to replace the hole thing every time.

BUY QUALITY-something that can handle being used repeatedly.  Even if it is an item that will be used short-term or outgrown, so that it can be either gifted or sold to someone else rather than being tossed in the waste stream.
Arriving home from a trip it was easy to spot things that we were no longer going to use!

I wrote the above words a few years ago, never finishing and publishing them.  Reading them now, I still agree.  I do think that  I have made progress.  For the most part I have only bought what we need when we need it.

 No more buying sale items for later.  Just yesterday I gave away 2 new with tags pairs of girls shoes.  To be fair I thought they were girls size 4, they were women's size 4, which means they were actually a kids 2 or 3, so by the time I had the kids try them on they had already outgrown them.  I put a sticky not in them with the kids size on them and gave to my niece to grow into.  I still have some things that we outgrew and put in the attic, but even that stash is dwindling. I am mostly just giving everything away.  The house is too full.  And these things should be getting some use by someone and the space and peace of mind of letting them go is so nice!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Marie Kondo Or Maybe Not... 105 Pairs of Shoes & I LOVE Them ALL

I have read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I am now on my second reading.  To be fair, while she touts that her methods yield no repeats, I did not finish the method.  I am sure this excludes my failure from her perfect record.

This time I went into the endeavor with full intentions to follow her method exactly.  Yesterday was  a snow day for my family, my husband even stayed home.  Aha, I thought we will pounce on this and make some real headway!

Knowing the place to start is clothes, and knowing that my last attempt did not go so well.  i decided that instead of starting with the bulk of hanging clothes, which was obviously overwhelming i would choose a sub-category. After all Marie says it is fine to break it up into sub-categories.  Also, the order that she chose is supposed to ease you into the disposal of items, starting with the easiest.

My theory is that there are far more readers of her book than there are tidy gurus who 'never have to tidy again'.  Part of this is that clothes are not necessarily the right place for everyone to start. She claims you start with your clothing because you have the least personal attachment.  She has this all wrong, at least for me, and some other people I know.  In fact I think that she may almost have it backwards!

Why wouldn't we be emotionally attached to our clothes?  Heck if we are going to be emotionally attached to anything it seems these would kind of come first.  For me I see it this way, I wear clothes all the time.  I spend a great deal of time picking what clothes to wear, factors being occasion, temperature, mood, and the list goes on.  I spent time to shop for clothes, or received them as a gift (and i have no problem ditching gifts i don't use ;).  I spent hard-earned money on them. I then spend an immense amount of time caring for them; I wash, dry, fold, hang, and repair them.  When I go on vacation or a away for a weekend  I pack my clothes, not my kitchen collection or the wall-hanging my gram made.  I can often pick up a piece of clothing and remember this is the piece I wore on Mt. Rainier,this is what i was wearing when I told my husband i was having a baby, or the dress I bought in Salt Lake City on our trip to the Grand Canyon.

I don't like to spend my time shopping, especially under pressure for an occasion.  I don't want to spend my money buying another semi-formal dress.  I care for my clothes, and if I know it wont get re-worn i take it out of circulation. I have kept a few items that I loved to use for material in a memory quilt, why pay for meaningless material when I have a superior option for my memories and the environment. The rest of the items get donated (my daughter is doing a great project on what happens to the byproducts of our gluttonous clothing habits, I hope to add a link soon). On that note, i need to say I hate waste, wasting money buying something because I donated everything, or the waste of knowing that a very small portion of donations Will be used to the fullest extent before ending up in a  landfill

That said, I know I have too much.  I have more than I need or have the desire to care for and store.  So it comes down to making the harder decisions. What do I really NEED, and that alone, as i have experiences is likely 7 pair of under and socks, 3 bras, 2 short sleeves, 2 long sleeves, 1 fleece,1 down sweater, 1 jacket,1 scarf,1 hat, 2 pairs of pants that are zip-off, bathing suit, and long johns that double as sleepwear.  For the majority of the year that is what I work with! with the  additional indulgence of a dress.

So there are choices to be made.  This is where I have been trying to use the "sparks joy" mentality.  BUT....yup I'm in trouble, what about those items you need that don't bring you joy? winter boots....OK so, if i stand in the snow without them for a few minutes, a good waterproof sure will bring some joy, or is that relief?  So I have to keep that, BUT just one pair or 2?  if one is wet I will need another, they take forever to dry. BUT what if I have 3 pairs?  They are all in serviceable condition, and we all know that one day one pair #1 will suddenly fall apart, then we have to go spend grocery money on another pair-all the while sloshing through the store wearing wet pair #2 because we threw out a perfectly good pair #3......

Now, assume you have worked through the topic of service items. You can keep the number of items that you foresee being in service at any one point in time throughout the year plus 1 backup. In the boots example, it would be 3 pairs, 2 in service and one backup. Of course then you have to move on to those things that you love, they all spark joy, you have used all of them in the past year, BUT you have TOO MANY.... and this is where my train derails....soo fashion winter boots....yes these are warm but not waterproof, no snow shoveling or snowshoeing, but l Love them and change to suit my mood and occasion and outfit, i have many of these 9-10 pairs..... and those are just the insulated boots.

And now we come back to my snow day. We started with my son and husbands shoes.  I did them at the same time because my son had 3 pairs of shoes he currently wore, and they are currently the same shoe size. No point in spending money on shoes when he might grow next week and we had over 40 pairs of shoes in his size in the house. my husband paired his down to 35 pairs. This is a lot, definitely more than he needs, but he likes them all, and he does wear shoes out so no point in throwing these out, just don't buy more ;)  His collection includes cold and warm weather motorcycle boots, work boots, work shoes, casual shoes, snow boot casual boots, sneakers, hikers, flip flops and house shoes. my Son ended up with about ten pairs and we donated about 8.

My daughters feet are very close in size and so we did them together as well unfortunately i got an important phone call and my husband 'helped' them finish up...so i have no count for them. i know they did not get rid of all they should have but at least 10 pairs left....

Mine were the worst. when my husband met me I was a nomadic student. I had 3 pairs of well-worn footwear. He has it seems showered me with footwear since.  I Counted 105 pairs.....all of these are in good condition.  I am not hard on my footwear, my husband always buys something for me when he buys something for himself.  I put 3 pairs of nice shoes that my older daughter Will fit in the next year in a box for her. Donated 25 pairs and am passing 7 pairs on to a cousin. I still have 'too many' though... Yet I became decision fatigued.

i think i could easily half my shoe closet by moving south permanently :)
Wonder if it woud be eaisier to start with kitchen appliances!  BUT I guess if people can get through the clothes, then younwill zip through all the stuff in the middle and have plently of momentum to finish up with the memoribilia at the end!!!



A New Year, A New Effort

I am once again amazed at how much we have in our home.  over the past 2 years I have to believe that while I walk into my home and wonder how it is that I have not made a difference in how much I have, that I have in fact made a difference.  However, the standards that I continue to set for myself are increasing just as quickly!

I believe that if i had a count on the number of items, it would indeed be fewer.  It is just that those numbers are so large that it is overwhelming. I have spent them majority of the last two years travelling.  Obviously that means that during those times most of our things are sitting unused. Each time I have returned home with a renewed effort to discard what is not needed.  Also, with very limited space in our vehicle we have been very conscientious about acquiring items.   Still, we have brought new items into our home that have reflected our wants and interests.  We have overindulged our children this Christmas....simply because we felt badly that they did not need anything.....??? I know!  I see my fault LOL!

I am always focussing on "what can i get rid of?!"  Today I am going to take just 15 minutes and first look at a room, I will ask myself "what is the purpose of this room?"  Then I will ask "what do i NEED in this room?" followed by "what do I LOVE in this room?"  and finally I will challenge myself to remove 10 items from the room.  What i do with those items makes all the difference.  If i simply move them to another place in my home I am doing myself, home and family no favors, just wasting time.  I will decide BEFORE  picking it up what I will do with it.  Discard or if it is something I LOVE or NEED I will put it in its proper place.

here goes.....
so thAT was not exacty a success.  It was not a failure though. I did look at the room objectively, our master bedroom, and actually wrote the rooms purpose and my goals down. I also remove 3 things from the room.  However much more is needed ;)