I’m grateful for a lot of things, including having a house to clear out, a family with whom to clear it, and the ability to carve out the time necessary to complete the task.
That said, you know what sucks? Spending an entire month, including every weekend day, cleaning out your house. I’m sure everyone has their own reasons why they hate sorting through and clearing out their stuff, but a few that come to mind are: (1) it’s boring; (2) it makes you face things in yourself you’d rather ignore; (3) it makes you realize that YOU are the reason the earth is choking on garbage; (4) it causes extreme grumpiness; (5) it causes frustration that can result in a lot of yelling. But allowing the task to take longer than a month would have been worse. Not only would it have prolonged all this unpleasantness, but it would have allowed cleared areas to decay into clutter before we actually finished the job. (Woe.)
Do you know what is amazing, though? Living in your house when you are done clearing. Every time you open a drawer, the linen closet, or a bin in any space (because we now have bins! and some are labeled!), it’s a moment of “WOW! I see where everything is and this space looks neat and so inviting. What amazing person lives here? OH RIGHT, IT’S ME.” And if something is out of place, it’s totally obvious and you can use Gretchen Rubin’s “1 minute rule” and fix it. (See her other great rules in that list, too.) When things are organized, you know what you have, where it is, and if it’s out of place, where it lives. All this sounds so obvious, and it is, but it’s still a profoundly great lived experience. And, once everyone knows where things live and is on Team Tidy, there’s a lot less of “I CAN’T FIND MY . . .” or “WHERE IS MY . . .” and you feel just a little bit more free.
We cleared out a horrifyingly impressive 1,340 pounds of weighed stuff. That figure doesn’t count the large donations of clothing and other things I made separately and didn’t weigh. I tried to find an eye-popping animal equivalent to our pounds of stuff, but “One Female Giraffe (1,600 lbs)” doesn’t sound that impressive to me. Maybe it’s simply enough that we spring clean every year, and still, we got rid of more than a half a ton of stuff. I mean, I was at Recology so often that the cashier told me I was a good customer and started showing me photos of his family. One day, half joking, I asked him, “How’s business?” He laughed and replied, “Business is always great. Everything we own will eventually become garbage!” I am still letting that reality sink in.
Old habits are so hard to break. But I’ve got three wish-intentions I’d like to make real: May we make responsible buying decisions (and push companies to give us better, less plasticky packaging options), may we store less, and please, please may we maintain our space so we don’t have to do this again next year.