The Better Me Project—Day 14 (Throw it out!)
There’s just something about spring (if it would ever get here…). Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, people are shedding their winter coats and getting outside. (Pollen everywhere, watery eyes, people sneezing, kids falling off bikes—the joys of school nursing.) Despite the allergies running rampant, it’s a great time to engage in a little game called THROW IT OUT!
Ah, Spring Cleaning! It’s good for the soul. It’s a way to start anew after a long winter of being trapped in a smelly and cluttered house. This is an activity that my hubby and kids absolutely hate, mainly because I tear around the house on a cleaning and organizing rampage. I vacuum and dust and sterilize beyond recognition. I organize closets and rearrange furniture (hubby hates when he comes home from work he never knows where everything will be). And I find myself filling garbage bags full of…garbage.
A caveat, of course…
Now, I don’t go around just tossing things willy-nilly, but I have been known to throw a lot of things out over the course of my spring cleaning. Shoes, outgrown clothes, condiments that have grown fuzzy and sticky in the fridge, ripped pillows, baseball trophies. I’m not a sentimentalist. I’m not an ogre, either. I mean, I keep mementos from the kids’ childhoods like the onesie my daughter came home from the hospital in and the the ball from my son’s first homerun. I keep report cards and favorite stuffed animals. But I draw the line at every single program that mentions their name, every certificate (Best Color-er??? Really, that’s a thing???), and all those art projects with excess glitter, glue, and Cheerios.
Yet, something is stopping me…
My general rule has always been…Not using it? Throw it out! Well, that’s how it always was in the past. Lately, though, I’m starting to notice that I’m holding onto more and more things that I would have just chucked to the curb in years prior. Those pants that haven’t fit me in nearly five years are still floating around in the back of my closet since I’m convinced that at some point in time I WILL FIT INTO THEM. The iPhone that I had for years before I broke down and got a new one? Yeah, that’s still in a drawer somewhere in case I need the notes on it or I discover I didn’t download a picture or something. All those college brochures coming for my son that can easily be downloaded off the net. Coupons I just might use, despite the fact that they expire in two days. A paper my daughter got an A on, even though she’s gotten many of those. The leftovers from dinner the other night that someone (mainly me) might eat. I’m suddenly afraid of throwing out something that might be useful in the future.
And I really don’t want to waste. You know how bad I feel wasting food? I can’t ever remember wasting anything as a kid. There were four kids and everything gotten eat or reused a thousand times before we even thought of tossing anything. We were not “poor” by any stretch of the imagination, but we didn’t have anything to waste, either. I guess that mindset has followed me throughout my life.
Stop the madness!
Slowly but surely, I’m letting things pile up on me. What’s wrong with me? Am I becoming one of those hoarders? (If one thing makes me shudder, it’s those shows where people pile up crap in their house until they can’t even walk.) In fact, watching those shows is often what inspires me to resurrect the throw it out game to begin with.
No! There’s no way I’m hoarding. But I have noticed that when I feel like I’m losing control over things, or a lot of negative events are in the forefront of my mind, I tend to hold on to more stuff that I don’t need. I am less likely to throw things that are rotting in the fridge out or clean off the table. Maybe it’s simply because I’m overwhelmed by the situation. (I guess that’s what happens to hoarders, too.) When the going gets tough, sometimes I just want to pull the covers over my head and not worry about keeping the house neat and clutter-free.
I’ve got to get myself out of this funk
So what would make me feel better? Getting rid of things that I don’t need! Seriously, there’s hardly any rush like picking up something that’s been sitting around the house for years and deciding to throw it out. There’s a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I never read it, but it was referenced on Gilmore Girls so that’s pretty much the same thing as reading it. Anyhoo, the point is, according to this book, you’re supposed to hold something in your hand and if it doesn’t bring you joy, you’re supposed to get rid of it.
So basically, Throw it out?
I guess in theory this works most of the time. Obviously those boneless spare ribs in the back of the fridge and the expired oatmeal in the cabinet are not bringing me any joy. Neither are those pants that aren’t ever going to fit me again, no matter how much I dream that I’m 31 and running 5 miles a day again. (Damn, I’m lucky if I get my 10,000 steps in anymore.) But the computer that’s running slow isn’t bringing me joy, either. And the couch that’s lumpy from the dog using it as a bed? Joyless. I can’t throw it out, though. I need a couch and a computer and I can’t just buy a new item every time something isn’t performing its function properly (I would have tossed hubby long ago if that was the case…hehe).
Yet I can’t deny that getting rid of items is not only helpful for de-cluttering and reorganizing your life, it’s cathartic as well. When my house is clean and organized I feel like I can accomplish anything. So, what to do?
Hence, Spring Cleaning
So this spring cleaning thing had to happen. I tried over break to get into it. I woke up one morning and decided to clean out the fridge (that’s a good place to start, right?). There was food in there from God knows when. Jars of sauce with fuzzy mold growing on it, green cheese, salad dressings with expiration dates from when Obama was president (the first term). Leftovers that had become attached to the containers they were in (I just chucked the whole thing). What was I doing holding onto this stuff?
I cleaned with Lysol and put everything back in its place. And then I looked at the nearly empty fridge and started to panic. We had no food! We needed food! So I made a list and went to the store and came back and restocked the fridge. I sighed with relief. But then I realized I was so exhausted from the whole ordeal that I had no energy to do anything else in the “de-cluttering” project. I would do it tomorrow.
Except, I didn’t
Maybe it was the abysmal weather that stopped me from cleaning and throwing things out. Perhaps it was because I peeked into my daughter’s room and had heart palpitations from the pre-hoarder state of the place. Or maybe I’m just tired of being neurotically organized all the time and I’m letting myself go. Or more likely, letting it go has overwhelmed me and I don’t know where to start. At any rate, I KNOW I need to get with the program again…even just a little bit.
Today is a new day
So it’s Saturday. A perfect day to tackle that front closet…the one where bags and shoes hit me in the head when I open it. If I haven’t used it, I’m going to throw it out. Then the other closet with the ripped towels and sheets that I saved “just in case. And then my drawers and clothes closet…I don’t need half the stuff I have. I’m going to simplify my life and throw things out. Or box things up to donate. At any rate, I’m not keeping all this stuff I don’t need. I can’t hold onto everything. And the good news is, I don’t have to do it all today (as much as I tell myself I must—that’s how I get burnt out). One day at a time…one closet at a time.