What Stuff to Keep and What Stuff to Let Go

People have lots of reasons for keeping things around they no longer need, use or even like.  If we learn the origins of our packrat tendencies and really decide to move on and  clean out, how do we decide what stays and what goes?

Lets look at clothes first.  I know a person who has a walk in closet, triple dresser and chest of drawers all full of clothes and has an additional seven bags and four boxes of clothes.  Most of these haven’t been worn in years, and some no longer look good.  To save the time of trying on every single item, I would ask the question “Have I worn this in the last two years?”  If I haven’t worn it in that long, there’s probably a reason I haven’t, and I should let it go.  The only exception I would make to that is formal wear.  Since thats worn so seldom and its so expensive, if its still in style and good shape, its probably reasonable to keep it.  I would ask the same question of shoes, and probably get rid of all the ones I haven’t worn in two years.  Again, the exception might be specialized shoes if I think I might use them again.

Now lets look at trinkets.  Do I use it?  Do I love it?  Does it look good in the house, or is it hid away?  If it isn’t part of my decor and I love it, I should take it out and show it.  Otherwise, its in a box or closet where no one can enjoy it.  What if someone I love gave it to me?  Well, chances are if they haven’t seen it out in your house, they probably think you already got rid of it.  What if there’s some wonderful memory attached to it?  I can take a picture of the item, and then give it away.  What if I made it?  Well, if I want to show off my talent, I should display the item.  If I’m embarrassed to do that, I should get rid of it.  Beauty is in the eye of the holder and someone else may enjoy it.

What about books?  I know someone who pays rent on a storage facility because she has too many books to keep in the house.  Trouble is, she had to move and now lives too far from the facility to even “check out” her own books.  Where books are concerned, I would keep a few favorites I go back to all the time, books that inspire me.  The rest I can get from the library if I really want to read them again.  Reference books nowadays get outdated way too fast, and I find I can get more up to date information on the internet.

What about CDs?  Most people have dozens to hundreds, and never listen to them.  You can make a couple CDs of just your favorite songs and get rid of the rest. 

What about magazines?  If you’ve been keeping it around till you get time to read it, you’ll never read it.  Leaf through for that article you just have to keep and recycle the rest.  Don’t even be a great keeper of articles–only keep the ones with information you’re not likely to find elsewhere.

One thought I’ve always kept is a thought from my mother.  “Its wrong to hang onto stuff you don’t need if someone else who needs it could be using it.”  When I donate, I give to the Salvation Army, because not only does someone else get to use the things, it supports the programs of a very worthy charity.

It is truly liberating to have a simple, uncluttered, organized house, where everything is used, or is beautiful, or is loved.  What if I share my house with a packrat?  Well, thats a post for another day.

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