Quite a while ago, I received a quick note from one of you sharing your success cleaning out your closet. I had every intention of posting it as a reader story, but I’m glad (for once) that I didn’t get it done right away. I received another message recently, with details of an even bigger decluttering success story.
This is a great example of how decluttering momentum works.
Declutter non-emotional stuff first. Deal with the things that obviously need to be dealt with but don’t cause emotional pain. Experiencing this success and the joy of living with less gives momentum and will eventually bring you to the point where you can tackle overwhelming, emotionally difficult clutter.
The first email:
I want to share my closet. I am super proud!! I have recently lost some weight, and much of what I have doesn’t fit. Or fits oddly. I saw a 40 hanger challenge on another blogger’s page, and after some thought, decided to give it a whirl. I used much of what I learned here, and started yanking stuff out. My husband came in, looked at what I was doing and started to say something. I made the sound you make when the dog is getting ready to pee on the rug. He turned around and quickly left! Lol! After my purge, I had used TWENTY FOUR HANGERS!!
Granted, I have folded stuff, but it *all* fits. I can *see* it, I will wear it without fear of ruining it. If I don’t wear it, it will hang there till it won’t fit, or is out of style!! I honestly couldn’t be more happy right now!!
Much love and thank you for all the inspiration!! I am deslobbing myself!!
BTW, I purged over 150 items of clothing!! And more than 10 pairs of shoes!
The second email, months later:
Hello again! I wanted to share another breakthrough for me that YOU are responsible for.
I have started to tackle a corner of my basement that has boxes I have had since I was 19 years old. I will be turning 40 in February, so I have moved this crap from house to house more times than I can count.
I would open a box and throw a few items away, get overwhelmed because it was a box of papers and photos. I forced myself to go through them. I found stuff I didn’t even know I had.
I looked at my parents’ nasty custody papers over me, and the memories flooded over me.
I cried. A lot.
I then gathered all those papers, and took them to the wood stove, and burned them. A million pounds were lifted off my shoulders. I released all the old anger and hurt in that fire. It was good. I reminded myself, I’m not other people’s memory keepers.
I also burned some old photos of past relationships (friends and lovers). I did break a rule you have suggested… I went out and got 4 plastic totes. I have my family memorabilia in probably 6 totes that stack together to form a dangerous teetering tower of plastic and paper.I am giving each person ONE new tote. After that new tote is filled, that’s it. No more. The emptied totes will house something else… or be turned into recycling bins…. but the goal is to get all those little things into that smaller space.
I am reclaiming my house, one step at a time, and you have helped me along the way… in more ways than you know <smile>
And her P.S. . . .
Of all those boxes that I cleaned out so far? I took an entire mini van of crap to the dump. I even told my husband if he sees something he thinks I didn’t mean to throw away, to just throw it away. I know what’s in the boxes that’s going, and I promise it’s supposed to be there. He gave me a pat on the back, and cheered me on.
I love this so much. All of it. Gaining Decluttering Momentum (starting with non-emotional stuff like clothes and later tackling the tough stuff like custody papers) is possible.
Linda P. says
And I love the interaction between her and her husband. So Sweet! She had a cheerleader and maybe didn’t even know it until she started working on the project. What a help to have that kind of support. That is love.
Dana White says
Wow — Congratulations…good job!! I know I don’t know you….but I feel so proud of you!
This weekend, I finally got some decluttering done at the dining table (AKA: the drop zone) and the countertop! Also, did some cabinet re-arranging as well, to better access some items and kid cups and plates! It felt so good to see a clean table and countertop!
I’m super proud of her for tackling the tough stuff. I’m still living with my small step (the counter has been tidy for 3 weeks now) and my living room is actually livable.Todays task is to tackle my dresser if it doesn’t fit or I haven’t worn it, out it goes. thanks for being a inspiration and sounding board.
Melody – Thank you for sharing. What an inspiration. I am so happy you were able to let go of the things that we weighing you down. It sounds like you have a fresh attitude to go with all of that newly reclaimed square footage!
This was awesome to see and read!! Thank you for sharing. This is definitely inspiration for me to finish up my basement decluttering. The emotional stuff can be so hard!! Kudos for clearing it out!!
I dont’ know you and I’m proud of you! Great job.
I recently purged my closet, too. Unfortunately, my weight went the opposite way. But there were so many clothes that didn’t fit or I didn’t like anymore. (I used to wear a lot of mock turtlenecks but I hit premenopause and the hot flashes nixed that idea ….) I pulled everything out, sorted it, had my daughter see if she wanted anything I was getting rid of, boxed up a few clothes that I’d love to wear again when they fit, and donated two garbage bags full to Goodwill!
I organized school supplies and desk stuff, but then I ran out of steam. Lots more stuff to do in my bedroom, but I’ll get there. Eventually. 🙂
Love this story, and I love that you give names to things I’m feeling and don’t have a name for, like decluttering momentum. I’m feeling that now. There is a bit of a leap of faith at first — am I really going to be OK if I get rid of this and this and this and that? — and then it’s OK and it’s so much easier to keep on letting go of things.
Donna L. says
@ Melody S. —
I don’t know you either, but I am also proud of you and what you have accomplished! I’m going to tackle my closet this weekend. I hope to do as well as you did.
I am realizing that I need more storage space like a new dresser. That doesn’t always mean it’s time to get rid of things, right? I did toss a ton out but the issue is that I have fancy and non fancy clothes. Work and “stay at home” day clothes. Winter and summer clothes. Pregnancy and non pregnancy clothes. (I have in the past been able to wear pre pregnancy clothes soon after giving birth… Within a month or so. So I am not getting rid of either).
Where I live, the weather can be 40 degrees one day this winter and the next 70. So it’s not like I can box the wrong weather stuff things up. Plus I have a tiny apartment with no space to put boxes (no garage). So except for the one drawer of pregnancy clothes I could box when not needing it, I actually do think I need a bigger container.
I already tossed the pitted, pulled, worn out, and “I’m never fitting into this again” clothes.
There can be a time to add storage but do you have more than a weeks worth in any of the categories or whatever fequency you do laundry is a good way to start. For me I like to keep it around 4. 4 maternity tops. 4 shorts/Capris 4 short sleeve mild weather 4 tank to for hot and 4 long sleve and 4 sweats sometimes I have more or less. I do laundry every few days if you really don’t have space than you don’t. But when I got married I went from having my own closet to sharing one half the size plus a few draws under my bed. It took me two months of decluter in every time I did laundry. I had white and non white hangers I had the amount of white hangers that fit in the closet and when I wore something and washed it and put it away I would put it on a white hanger and when I went to get dressed I tried to pick from the other colored hangers if I didn’t want to because of the weather no big deal if I didn’t want to because of a felling I got like it’s uncomfortable took bad is a bad color or doesn’t fit right as soon as it was easy for me it would go in the donate pile I still had to be very careful with space but I did get down to the number I set. Best of luck
I don’t think you broke the rule. The rule is not buying new containers before you decluter. After is fine. You used the one in one out rule and the container consent. It was due for an up date after 20 years. Way to go.
Hollie O says
And here we are 6 yrs later and I’m just reading this and BAM “not people’s memory keeper”… and the custody papers. My mom had saved all of my dad’s bounced child support checks when I moved her to the nursing home. I have it all in a bin. And I will start today. Love this and my fellow slobs, empaths, baggage holders. Thank you!