Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Guess I shouldn't have thrown that out...

 Right after I make this post bragging about how I did a facebook giveaway of one of my tote bags I go to look for it to pack it up -- and realize that it ended up in the pile of bags we discarded this weekend and is long gone. How could I have been so stupid? I promised my classmate and friend a Washington DC souvenier instead, but it's not the same. Gaahhhhh...

In all I'm still glad I'm decluttering. I may have made a couple mistakes but you know what? After decluttering so much, my home is cleaner. I'm less stressed. I spend my evenings playing my piano or my guitar now instead of cleaning piles of stuff off the piano. I can find my photo albums so that I can organize photos for them. It's worth a few mistakes.

But still...*bangs head against wall*

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Facebook giveaways

Ah, my alma mater. Almost everyone on campus had this bag so naturally I had to have it too! Except that it doesn't fit much so I never used it on campus. I don't use it now either. Surprise, surprise.

I didn't want to take it to the thrift store since it's got a school name on it. Not to mention that thrift shop trips require us to take the car and I'm tired of that. So if you don't want to go to the thrift shop and you don't want to sell things on amazon or ebay, what do you do?

Have a giveaway on Facebook!

I took a picture of the bag and posted it to my profile with a note: I would mail the bag to the first person to message me with their mailing address. For free. 

By 10 am the next morning I had one taker and a few others lining up! It will go to my classmate in the mail tomorrow and I know that it will have a new home with someone who appreciates it. 

If you're willing to spend a little money to ship things, online giveaways can be a great way to empty out your closet of the small and lightweight objects that will mean more to your friends than they do to you. 

The Reckoning

Item 58: A Bryn Mawr College tote bag. 

Cost: ~$15 at the college bookstore. 

Fate: One of my classmates' closets.

Amount of money I wasted on junk I never should've bought: $278. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shopping as my coping skill

I have two emotional crutches in life. When I feel sad, nervous, or otherwise upset, I do one of two things:

1.) Turn to the eating disorder I've had for ten years and been fighting for the last two. I either binge or try to starve myself (which always ends in a binge). When that fails, I resort to another option:

2.) I shop.

If you've been reading my blog in the last few weeks (thank you!) you'll know we bought a condo (yay!). We did everything right and proper, put 20% down, conforming, etc. But in an attempt to save money we went with the 15 year mortgage instead of the 30 year. Now that we crunch the numbers, the amount left over to save at the end of each month is definitely not what it was when we were renting.

For the first time in years I really, really have to cut down my expenses. In the long term.

Ordinarily I wouldn't say this was a huge problem. We have no credit card debt and have solid retirement savings. In graduate school I lived for 1.5 years on $1000 a month, paying $600 of that in rent. I used to know how to be frugal.

But as I recover more from my eating disorder I've found myself turning more to shopping as my 'coping skill' for handling the anxieties in my life. I go through the binge/restrict cycle maybe a couple times a month now and it used to be two or three times a week. So now what do I turn to two or three times a week? Let's see...amazon.com, target.com, macys.com, barnesandnoble.com...

Now is a bad time for my primary coping skill to be shopping. I feel like I can't be happy now without shopping. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all.

My mom coped with my dad's insults and lack of affection by acquiring and hoarding. Even though he's gotten treatment for his mental health difficulties, her hoarding hasn't improved. It's only gotten worse since my grandmother's death. It's her coping skill the way my eating disorder is my coping skill. There is one good thing about being a child of a hoarder and having hoarding tendencies myself: that I can see where my habits will lead me if I don't break them. Great incentive to change, huh?

I expected to be farther along on my path to living a simpler and more meaningful life before I had the shopping 'crutch' ripped out from under me. But it looks like it's time to dive in and swim. And this, dear readers, is why I'm thrilled to have found all of you. I know several of you have struggled with similar issues and your blogs are great sources of information and inspiration to me. In particular, Megyn at Minimalist Mommi has shown me that those of us who struggle with depression and other issues are not alone and that learning a minimalist lifestyle can help us escape the grasp of these happiness-devouring disorders. I will get there, one blog post at a time.

"The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” 
- Socrates

Thanks for listening to my rant, folks. I promise I'll be back to my normal chripy decluttering soon :o)


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Confession time: I was emotionally attached to a packet of cold medicine

Sorry for the long absence, folks. We're down to one laptop at home and competition with the hubs is rough!

expired in 2004!
I finally took a good look at my medicine cabinet today. It got an impromptu purge before we left the old place,  but the box needed a second look before it all disappeared into my medicine cabinet.

I discovered only two things that I hadn't gotten rid of in the earlier purge. One was a pile of antacids from freshman year of college.

The other was this packet of cold medicine I bought when I lived in Spain in 2004. It's completely desiccated. In fact, it was even opened. I remembered looking at it during the last purge and in spite of its condition I actively decided to keep it.

I was emotionally attached to this? You bet.
Why? Because this packet of useless cold medicine reminded me of my time in Spain. It reminded me of a friend from school who took care of me there when I got sick. I was emotionally attached to a packet of cold medicine. Throwing out the medicine would be throwing out the memories.

Wow, was that my mother the hoarder talking or was that me?

Good question. In fact, I think it's a great question for anyone who struggles with emotional attachment to useless stuff to ask. When we have that gut urge to keep something we need to ask ourselves which side of us is talking -- the hoarder, or the person who wants to be free of hoarding? 

If you can tell it's the hoarder side of  you talking, then you can realize that the thought in your head isn't a rational thought. Ask yourself what the person who wants to be free of the hoard would say.

I say, in the trash. It's old medicine and it could be dangerous for me or another if I keep it. If I really need to hang on to the memories, I can hang on to them in a memory book (or a blog!)

And now, what you've all been waiting for...

The Reckoning!

Items 56 and 57: One packet of expired cold medicine and my collection of ancient antacids.

Cost: No idea. I clearly bought the big box of antacids and ended up wasting most, so let's call it $2.

Fate: The trash can. Be careful -- some medicines shouldn't go in the trash or down the sink/toilet. If you live in the US, check out the FDA's webpage about safe medication disposal for information about a safe place near you to get rid of unwanted meds.

Total wasted on stuff this year: $264.00

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Grief and Clutter Series: would they have wanted you to keep this?

As we were packing up to move, I found a pair of Gram's shoe orthotics. These were the custom-made kind, meaning they had been molded from casts of her feet.

This also means they are completely useless to anyone but her. But they were made from her and that's why I kept them.

We all have an item or items we gravitate towards after someone we love dies. We want to keep the object. But, would they have wanted you to keep it?

As I've talked to people who have lost loved ones I've found that most people can still "hear" the voice of the deceased person. Not that they're hallucinating, but that they remember what the person's voice sounded like. They remember what that person likely would have said in a certain situation. Let the memory of their voice and their responses help you declutter.

Gram was a minimalist. She was very frugal. But she also knew when something was really not usable anymore. She would not have wanted me to keep something that couldn't help anyone and would just take up space. I can almost hear her telling me, "For heaven's sake, sweetheart, they're no good to anyone else. You should get rid of them."

Out they go. Item #56, Gram's orthotics.

I knew that Gram wanted me to get rid of these things. But what do you do if you feel that your relative would have wanted you to keep the item in question?

Hang on to it for the moment. There is no pressure to do this quickly. We'll take a look at this problem in an upcoming Grief and Clutter post. Like grieving itself, you will deal with grief clutter when you are ready to deal with it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Having a cold is good for an anti-hoarder

...because in one afternoon you can go through your entire stockpile of mini tissue packs.

I started with all of these (in my temporarily repurposed corningware)

and now the last one is gone! (unfortunately the cold is not.)

It's time to get out the handkerchiefs. I will not stockpile travel-sized tissues again. I will use ziplocs and regular tissues. Or better yet, a small makeup case a couple hankies.

One easy way to be frugal and get yourself some space in your bathroom cabinet is to make your own. A ziploc and some tissues, or a ziploc and a couple hankies work perfectly fine and for much less money.

If you're more of a DIY kind of person, take a look at the little blue pouch in the top picture. It's a tissue pouch a friend made out of some old discarded fabric. This will be my only travel tissue pack.

Have you made your own travel tissue packs? What works best for you?

So before I go running for the NyQuil, let's do

The Reckoning!

Item 55: My collection of mini packages of tissues.

Fate: My nose.

Cost: probably $4.

Total money wasted on stupid stuff this year: $262.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It sucks to be a hoarder when you move

We're finally moved in and mostly settled in our new place. But the anti-hoarding fun has just started!

Behold, the leaning towers of crap:

Don't forget the spare overstuffed queen-size mattress we squeezed into a 1-bedroom apartment in addition to our normal bed.

It's bigger than the oversized furniture!

The financial toll of my habit of hanging on to everything was almost $1000. It cost over $900 to move my junk three blocks away. Three blocks. $1000.

I've moved nine times in the last ten years and knowing that the next move always was coming soon helped get me through the emotional issues I have when I throw stuff out. But we bought this place so we're here for at least five years (hopefully longer!) The constant fear of having to pack and move on little notice is gone.

How do I motivate myself to stay decluttered now?