Collection collectors

CD collection
Photo by Daveybot

Yesterday’s post about my book collections got me thinking about all the collections David and I have.  As I mentioned, I collect books:

  • Books by and about Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Books by L.M. Montgomery
  • Hardcover editions of Little Women
  • Newbery Award and Newbery Honor books
  • Books about Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery
  • Books about the Civil War
  • Antique schoolbooks (primers, readers, spellers, etc.)

David collects books, too:

  • Books about Germany (he was a German Studies major and a German teacher)
  • Art history books, especially German expressionism
  • Books about the Holocaust
  • Books about bands
  • Music reference books (about bands, albums, music charts, etc.)

David has many other collections:

  • 80s and 90s alternative record albums (and 12″ and 7″ singles, too!)
  • 80s-00s Alternative CDs
  • European-style strategy board games

There is such a fine line between a collection and a stockpile.  I have stockpiles of all kinds of things:

  • Scrapbook supplies
  • Sewing/needlework supplies
  • Greeting cards
  • Books about health, about fitness, about parenting, about organizing, about clutter, about travel, about religion, about writing, about scrapbooking, about various and sundry science and social studies topics… this list could go on and on.  I own a lot of books, and most are non-fiction.
  • Toiletries (yes, a stockpile of ’em)
  • Candles (which I rarely burn)
  • Office supplies
  • Organizing containers

It is the stockpiles that I need to get rid of.  I have been trying to use up the consumable ones, but I can only use up so much in my lifetime, I know!  I need to make some decisions:

  1. How often am I going to use this stuff?
  2. How much of this stuff can I use in one sitting?
  3. How much, then, do I need to keep?

Then I need to get rid of the excess.  Wish me luck!

  • {Clutter} released: Three pairs of black shoes, a red tote bag, and a zillion ball point pens.

Memories… – Sentimental Clutter

Photo of David’s great-great great (far left) and great-great (middle) grandfathers

We have come to the last of the kinds of clutter that Colleen at 365 Less Things discusses that are difficult to disassociate from:  Sentimental Clutter.

Sentimental clutter, the final post in the Disassociation Series. Last but not least that is, because this one can be the most insidious of all of the categories of clutter. It sneaks up on you and binds itself to you like a barnacle to a rock. It can be a beautiful thing and a ball and chain all at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that all sentimental items are clutter. I own sentimental items that I have no intentions of ever parting with and I don’t consider them clutter. I have also decluttered many items that had sentimental value that I wasn’t compelled to keep once I decided what was more important to me, the item or the space. There were also sentimental items that never saw the light of day and under those conditions one has to ask the question ~ How much sentimental value does it have if…

  • I never look at it.
  • I don’t care to put it out on display.
  • I still recall the event, person or place without ever viewing the item.
  • it is more trouble to care for it than I care about it.

Colleen has some excellent tips for clearing out Sentimental Clutter, and a few really resonated with me.  Keep only the pieces that mean the most to you and discard the rest.  Ease into it by picking an item you can live without and releasing it; after you see how you respond to that, let go of another one.  Only eliminate when you are sure and ready.

This quote was really enlightening: “We hold allegiances to these items for what they represent while at the same time realise that we want to live a life with less clutter. That trick is to determine which way the scales fall for each individual item and make your choice.”

I am swamped with Sentimental Clutter.  I have boxes of photos, boxes of memorabilia, boxes of clothes from our pasts, boxes of things that I rarely look at but can’t seem to part with.  In some cases, delaying making choices is counterproductive: by not getting my photos into scrapbooks, I am forgetting the details that made the stories special.  In other cases, I realize that my lack of action is keeping people who could really use these items from benefiting now.  (I should follow Flylady’s advice and Bless the World.)  Mostly, though, I am burying myself under the past, ruining my present by having to worry about it, and not leaving space in my future for the peace I need so much more than stuff.

  • {Clutter} released:  A big stack of catalogs, two big shakers (the kind you would use for Parmesan cheese or red pepper flakes) that were still unused since our wedding 19.5 years ago, and 11 more cookbooks.  (Those darn cookbooks are going to be spread out on the dining room table until this job is done.  There are still 44 cookbooks left to go through.  Did I mention I rarely cook?  That’s some serious Aspirational Clutter.)

Making peace with minimalism

Photo by christopher.woo

I spent my lunch break today reading blogs on minimalism.  I am impressed and depressed by the entire concept.

Impressed by:

  • the freedom and detachment that minimalists seem to get from living with only the bare necessities of life.
  • the look of vast expanses of cleared space.
  • the savings in time, money and stress.
  • the courage it takes to give things up.

Depressed by:

  • how far I have to go.
  • how cluttered my life and my time are right now.
  • how much time and money I have spent on acquiring all of this.
  • the fear that keeps me clinging to things that I know are just things.

I need to remind myself that everyone comes to minimalizing / downsizing / decluttering with their own set of issues and at their own stage in life.  Joshua at The Minimalists gave away 90% of his belongings in a two-year period; Colleen at 365 Less Things decluttered one thing per day; Benita at Chez Larsson has always been streamlined – it’s just her style.  I have made a huge amount of progress over time by getting rid of things in fits and starts and trying to buy and acquire less.  Now I have made a commitment to release something from my life each day, and in less than a month, it has become enough of a habit that I will leap out of bed and go find something to get rid of if I haven’t remembered to do so before then. That’s progress.

I just need to remind myself that progress is all I need right now.

  • {Clutter} released: A big sign that says “CAUTION – Children at Play” and a pill sorter.
  • {Perfectionism} released: I bit my tongue as David pruned the bushes in a way that I would not have chosen to prune them.  (How’s that for a diplomatically-worded sentence?)