Thursday, August 23, 2012

Did I Chuck the Chucking?

How much stuff could an Em-Chuck chuck if an Em-Chuck could chuck stuff?  I did not keep up my daily blogs, but I am here now to tell you that is a GOOD thing, because the decluttering took on a life of its own.

It started off as a minimum of one item per day, and after about 4 days, it had gathered momentum.  One night I'm chucking before bed and then I find myself chucking again before I leave for work in the morning.  The whole family started chucking.  My husband was a gleeful chucking fool (he's been wanting to clear out for awhile-- I'm the packrat). 

Letting go and creating space became so satisfying that it even became more appealing than sitting on my butt blogging.  In fact, the only reason I'm blogging right now is because I am stuck at a computer away from home (where I could be chucking).

But wait!  There's more!  A free set of ginsu knives!  (that's the mindset that got me into this mess) There is more, though.  My 9-year-old was my fashion consultant and helped me go through all of my clothes.  She handed me the next item to try on and recorded flung items on  She received, from me, a skirt that I bought in Provence half my life ago.  It's way too big for her, but it's colorful and it flares and it blesses her.  When it was mine, everytime I saw it, I thought
  1. I wish I were slender enough to wear this
  2. I was happy then and I'm not now (not necessarily true, but comparing my daily life now to a summer in France can throw your perspective off)
  3. I should make this into something I can use (obligation- the dreaded SHOULD)
  4. I have to learn some sewing skills for #3 (tasking myself, downplaying the skills I do have) 
  5. I don't have time for #4 (scarcity mentality)
  6. I should get rid of this
  7. I can't get rid of this because I would be throwing away happiness associated with it
I know what you're thinking.  Seriously?  You thought all of this every time you saw this skirt?  YES.  Pretty much.  Every time.  I think fast and my brain is used to running these same grooves over and over again.  Multiply that times every unused object and unfinished project in my house.  It is abusive.  That is what I am finally chucking!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just Do It

Maybe it was the trip to the Nike store yesterday, but when I realized I hadn't yet chucked and blogged today, my solution was, "Just do it."

No, not immediately.  If I were that good, I would never have gotten myself into this mess. 

First, I panicked.  It went something like this:
  • Oh, no!  I'll never get to bed!
  • I'll be up all night because I told my family I would get this pile of junk out of the dining room tonight.
  • I've failed.
  • Wait, I only have to get rid of one thing.
  • That thing could be a piece of paper.  Surely, I can find a piece of paper to get rid of.
  • That's dumb.  I can't blog that.  I recycle paper every day.
  • OK, I'll just clean up this pile of children's books.
  • Darn.  Half of them are French so I can't let go of them yet, and half of them are English so they are going to my nephews.  It doesn't really count if I can only get them as far as the front hall closet to await my next trip to see them.
  • The front hall closet!  It's full of stuff I've been trying to find homes for!  All I have to do is pick one thing, decide where it's going, and PUT IT IN MY CAR so it has a reasonable chance of getting there!
That's when I finally got to, just do it.  Just get rid of one thing.  Doing turned into more doing and I recorded several items on to drop off tomorrow.  They didn't get to my car, but they are at the front door. 

Every one of those items is something I already decided some time ago to get rid of, and didn't.  Why?  Because I seem to want all of my things to have a "soft landing."  I feel like it needs to go to a good home, or I need to get money for it, or something purposeful.  I don't want to put myself down here-- it is absolutely my intention to love myself through this-- but seriously?!  I'm not putting babies up for adoption. 

Speaking of babies, one of the items that is FINALLY leaving the house is a diaper bag.  My "babies" are starting the 4th and 7th grades!  I feel like I just smacked myself upside the head for holding on to that so long.  Wait, my feelings are hurt.  Now I have to hug me a few times and tell me I was just teasing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Honoring the Process

Problem #1:
Lost my mind over getting rid of French books.  Entire declutter session derailed.

Solution:  Picked a hormonal fight with my husband.  Went on a date.  Slept on it.  The next day, write a blog instead.  Brought a box of books to Goodwill (chuck), none of them in French (keep).

Clutter Warning!  Brought 2 items home from Goodwill.  A shirt for the daughter (needed now) and a brand-spanking new pair of Converse tennies (which will fit probably within a year).

Problem #2:
Plastic bag of old tennis shoes hanging on the inside of the door to the front hall closet.  Why is it a problem?
  • They are stinky
  • They are so BIG that you can hardly shut the door
  • I won't throw them away because I know they can be recycled 
  • The oldest pair has been there for two years
Solution:  Used bag of shoes as an excuse to get out of the house, combining a trip to Goodwill with a trip to the Mall of America to drop shoes off at the Nike store.  Dropoff site is a little garbage can in the wall, clear to the ground so I can feel the satisfaction of seeing my old shoes pile onto other old shoes.  They will be turned into athletic surfaces.  (there is a nifty video)

Clutter Warning!  Because I can't stand to get rid of something that might be useful, we pulled all the shoelaces out.  They are in a pile on the couch waiting for me to find a home.  On the bright side, we walked out of MOA empty-handed.

The shoelaces are still stinky.

Problem #3:
"Your art with the clay and the yarn and the pastels is still here."  They gave it to me to take home after art therapy.  It was from my first session.  It represented an important process at the time, but it was ugly.  There were holes in the paper with torn cloth stuck in them and an orange Sculpey umbilical cord stuck to the paper.  I couldn't even show it to my artist mother because (a) it wasn't art, and (b) hello, umbilical cord!  It was mine.  I thought I had to walk out with it.  I wondered what I would do.  Were parts of it salvageable?  If I didn't take it, did that mean I was still in denial about the issues that came up while I worked on it?

Solution:  Fortunately, I was able to build on my previous successes.  I realized it belonged in the garbage before I even left the building.   I shoved it down the the paper towels in the bathroom.  I only have to keep the art I love.  And even that is not a "have-to."

Clutter Warning!  I will be creating a lot more art.  I am likely to love a lot of it.  Furthermore, my favorite art to do is collage.  So guess what kind of stuff collects, waiting to become collage?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Setting My Intention

There is something about declaring my intention publicly that makes me *think* I will be more likely to follow through.  I don't know if that's true.  I started what I meant to be my main blog over a year ago, but I sure haven't done much with it.  I think that is because it is an absolutely authentic reflection of where I am in my journey; it doesn't just display where I want to be.

It is, though, kind of like buying a gym membership to make myself exercise.  I am starting a blog of the things I fling (declutter) in order to make myself do it.  That's only part of the reason: I also want to tell me story.  Yesterday I tried to get rid of a whole bunch of books, including children's books in French, and I got so bogged down in my feelings about:
  • leaving the classroom a few years ago (I taught French)
  • dropping the ball on raising my kids bilingual (the eldest was bilingual until he was 3, then English shot ahead, and I got tired)
  • the very little attention French gets from me anymore (or the very little French attention I give myself?)
  • millions of teaching ideas that pop up as I look at the pages but I don't know when to create them, since I've got a day job that I like (that does not involve French)
In other words:
  • fear of failure
  • perfectionism
  • guilt
  • scarcity mentality
  • and so on
If your first thought is "Get over it and get rid of your clutter," you may want to go on to another blog.  Unless, of course, your second thought is "I want to examine why I am judging this woman for her attachment to objects," or perhaps, "This could be fascinating, like Hoarders."  I have never watched Hoarders, by the way, because I am afraid I will relate too much to the people on it.  I admit it might make me feel better, in an "at least I'm not that bad" sort of way, but I just don't want to go there.

The blog gets its name from an evening in 2003 when my husband had moved already, and I was getting ready to move right behind him, with the three-year-old and the newborn.  The movers were coming the next day and I was not done packing.  I was sleep-deprived, had postpartum depression and anxiety, and found myself completely unable to make decisions.  I asked a friend (my son's daycare provider at the time) to help me, and for hours she stayed with me and held up objects, saying for each one, "Keep it or chuck it?"  I would try to reason whether I needed/wanted/loved it, or I would tell its story, and she would gently interrupt me and say, "Keep or chuck?"  It was painful, but the persistence is what I needed (and why I broke down and called her in the first place).

I usually use the FlyLady term "fling" when I'm getting rid of things.  FlyLady's question is, "Does it bless this house?"  When I am helping my kids clean up, I say, "Keep or fling?"  But something about the urgency of my current flinging decisions (one, to fling freely, and two, to do so in a blog) brings me back to the immediacy of my decision-making that night.  Keep or chuck.  "Chuck" has a sense of power and finality.

That said, even my helper of that night, Michelle (of ReMiks Jewelry), might agree that this wouldn't be much of a blog if each entry had only a list of items marked "kept" or "chucked."  My intention is to fling at least one item every day, and tell the story that needs telling.