If I’m going to keep an old pair of tennis shoes because “they’ll be great for working in the yard,” I should probably work in the yard.
I mean, it makes sense.
For years, I saved old shoes for gardening, without actually gardening.
Thankfully, my decluttering experience helped me to finally get to the point where I didn’t keep every single pair of old shoes that could, maybe, possibly be used for gardening. I made myself stick to one(ish) pair, and would (usually) get rid of the old yard shoes (that hadn’t been used for yard work) when I got a new pair of tennis shoes.
But as long as yardwork was hypothetical, I felt a strange need to keep them all.
This made decluttering the unchosen shoes harder than it needed to be.
I didn’t know what I needed, because I didn’t have experience doing the thing I was keeping them to do.
Getting rid of any old shoes felt risky. What if the shoes I declutter are actually better for the job than the pair I keep??
When I have no experience with the thing I’m hoping to do, I have no confidence about what I actually need to do it.
So it feels like I should keep everything. Just in case.
But as y’all know, I’ve been working in my yard more than I ever have before. Physical activity outside has been my sanity saver.
Now that my shoes are actually muddy, my brain has cleared on this subject.
The angst is gone.
I’m using these shoes for the purpose I had in mind when I kept them, so I know, for a fact, that they’re perfect. They’re comfortable and supportive, but can get dirty because they’re old and ugly.
They aren’t good for eight hour days at Disney (I learned this the hard way last December), but they’re perfect for a few hours of yard work.
Now, yard shoes aren’t an idea. They aren’t a what if.
I know what I’m looking for and I know what I need. I have experience.
Using It = Decluttering
I’ve talked before about using something as a way to declutter it. If something sits unused on a shelf, it is a what if. It’s an idea. An idea that’s taking up physical space in my home and has to be managed.
It’s an idea that falls out of an overstuffed cabinet and makes it harder to get to things I definitely use.
Once I use something, it’s no longer an idea. It’s real. And once I know what I really need in real life, I’m able to let go of the other possibilities.
Yay for that.
Oh my gosh, yes! Thanks for articulating this!
Old sneakers become “camp out” shoes because we have Scouts, or “lawn mowing” shoes, well, because we have a lawn and teens to mow it. Also, the teeny tiny baby shoes I can’t part with, have become my cute little doorstops for when the air conditioning wants to slam a door shut during the day. They don’t get torn up by the door, and they are a gentle reminder that these teens moving through my house were once littles. Makes me smile every time I use them.
Thanks, Dana, for sharing your way of thinking with us, it explains so much of my thinking in ways I was never able to articulate!
I have a ton of hypotheticals too! Exactly right!
I especially have been loving the “candles are meant to be burned” thing I heard when you interviewed Myquillyn Smith! I have several candles I bought for “decorative objects” when we were preparing to sell our townhouse last spring (buying a single-family home, then promptly turning around and prepping a townhouse to sell right at the beginning of everything shutting down for the pandemic was an experience!).
Because of your podcast (and the changing season!), I’ve been much more intentional about actually burning these candles, and enjoying the ambience in our new home.
Susan McVicker says
Those were excellent points. And THAT’S why it is the MOMS (GRANDMAS) who always seem to be the ones that say, “Do you really think you need this? No, don’t bother saving it- it’s not worth the trouble.” Because THEY are the ones with the years of experience under their belt, and we aren’t. Makes sense, Dana. Thanks!
I laughed until tears ran, and read it to my husband and laughed some more.
You are a funny woman, Mrs. Dana.
You speak truth so palatably; it is a gift to those of us in your world.