Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stuff Be Gone

I don't usually make New Years Resolutions.  I find I'm in the majority when the survey says that most people break their resolutions within the first two weeks of the year.  I have no desire to announce to friends, family—why, the world—I intend to lose weight, only to fail fourteen days into the endeavor.  Instead, I set goals.  Or rather, goal.  One thing I'd like to change, improve upon, or try, during the next year.  It's saner.  I like sanity.

My goal for 2009 has been creeping up on me for months, maybe even years.  I've tried mini-versions of this goal that last a month or more, then slowly I fall out of it.  What is that goal?

To reduce my stuff.

You know what I'm talking about.  We all have stuff.  We love our stuff.  The act of acquiring stuff seems to grant highs and win appreciation.  Stuff gets old, we buy new stuff.  Friends visit our homes and say 'My, what nice stuff.'  You beam.  You gather more stuff.  Why?  Because it's there.  Because it was on sale.  Because you thought you needed six instead of just one.  Because you may need it someday, so why not buy it while it's on sale?

Stuff.  Ugg.  I'm so over my stuff.

[Note of clarification: Books are not stuff.  Books are treasures.]

I want to simplify my life.  I don't want to worry about the stuff on the walls, and that it needs dusting or arranging.  (I grew up in a home where my mother was a master at the wall 'arrangement'; one picture, one shelf, one statue thingie for the shelf, one cluster of silk floral something or other, all artfully arranged.)  Sure, I have things on my walls, but only things that please me.  No silk flowers in this house.  It's just stuff to me.  (No offense against those who like silk flowers; they're just not my style.)

Stuff multiplies.  It manages to get shifted into corners of rooms, back of closets, top shelves of cupboards, so we forget about it.  If we haven't touched something for six months do we really need it?  If I find something in the closet I didn't even know I owned—that leather coat in the hall closet that no one claims to own—does that mean I have to keep it?  I don't think so.

Time to get rid of the stuff.  And I'm going to be firm.  Every day I will try to locate an item of 'stuff' and do something with it.  Toss, recycle, give away, reuse in a new form.  I did this for a month last year, it worked swell.  I've actually started!  I cleaned out my hall closet a few days ago.  Ah!  That felt great!  I'm giving myself a whole year this time around.  I am determined.  I need only what I use.  I think I'm going to print that out and stick it on the fridge, my computer and the bathroom mirror.

I need only what I use.

What about you?  Tired of stuff?  Willing to undergo the de-stuffication process with me?  Any helpful suggestions to begin my quest?  Have you tried to destuff your life?  Tell me about your process and let's make 2009 a lot less stuffy!

Happy Holiday!


Jane said...

I need to destuff, but I have a hard time parting with my possessions. I still have all my books and papers from school. I probably won't be opening those text books, but I think it would be a waste to throw them away. I have managed to clean out my closet. I set aside some clothes for my aunt to take to the Salvation Army and threw the rest away.

AuthorM said...

I have lots of stuff. I'm a stocker upper of stuffs of the important sort like toilet paper and tissues and canned goods. Most other stuff I try to weed out on a rotating basis; at this I am often foiled by my husband, who likes to keep stuff. Just in case you need it later. Or never. My daughter is also a collector of stuff like empty tissue boxes in case she "wants to make a craft."


Of the expensive stuff variety, of like, "things" and stuff, I don't care much about that sort of thing, though. My house is decorated in a vast, eclectic array of stuff. A mannequin, a phone booth, a traffic light. Stuff like that.

But I hate clutter!!! And I do get rid of various and sundry stuff whenever I can, and then I hear the wail: "WHERE IS MY STUFFFFFFFF?"


Playground Monitor said...

I got rid of lots of stuff when we moved 3 years ago, but I still have plenty. I've tried to go with a minimalist decorating style in this house, but stuff appears. I asked for a milk steamer for Christmas (so I can make my own lattes) and the DH said "I guess it will go on the countertops along with the other stuff?" Of course, HE has two coffeemakers in the kitchen and his manly room upstairs is FILLED with tschotchkes, which is why I never dust up there. It'd take a week to move all that stuff and dust.

Have you heard of the Fly Lady? She has a program for de-cluttering.

And when you're de-stuffing, remember to give things away on Freecycle so they don't end up in the landfill. Of course, don't look at what other people are offering because you don't need their stuff.


Cindy said...

My DH is the stuff collector at our house although I must admit, every year when I get the Christmas decorations out I am amazed and wonder "Where did I get all this stuff?" I have made a hard and fast rule though that I cannot buy any more Christmas stuff and I've pretty much held the line. Well, except for my Pipka Santa collection. I'm always prowling ebay to find my Pipka's with animals. they are rare and hard to find so when one pops up - yup. I buy it and add it to my stuff.

lois greiman said...

I'm tired of stuff too. But my husband looooooovvvves stuff. Now what?

Betina Krahn said...

Great post, Michele! And something good to consider for the new year!

I've moved twice in the last ten years and both times did a major "de-stuffing." It was such a process, that I've made a conscious effort to refrain from accumulating more "stuff" in my new home. My dear friend Judy Duenow (w/a Judy Baer) comforted me through both moves. . . she called it a "ritual shedding" of possessions. And so it was.

But after seven years in this house, I'm feeling the need for shedding another layer.

And how long do I have to keep the old publicity stuff and ancient contracts and copies of old speeches and synopses? I think I have one or two writing-related file drawers that need emptying, too!

Helen Brenna said...

Count me in on the tired of stuff.

Marilyn, I've heard of Fly Lady too. A friend of mine swears by her, so I'm guessing she works.

I think the key is taking it slowly, room by room, closet by closet, over time. I would guess you'd be less likely to replace all that stuff you've just gotten rid of if de-stuffing has become a process.

Helen Brenna said...

Moving's got to be a big helper!

There you go, Michele, move! lol

Michele Hauf said...

Jane, oh dear. Toss the school papers! Just do it. Really, you can. Unless you plan to become a teacher...

M, that mournful cry for missing stuff. Heard it before. Got the kids over that one a while ago. Interesting though that you are a stuff stacker upper. Does it look less 'stuffy' when it's all neatly stacked?

Playground, I have it in my head that when I start my 'stuff reduction' I'm going to imagine I'm moving. Only pack (or leave on the shelves) what I need and really wanted to lug to another location. Anything else? It's gone! And points for you for spelling tchotkiee right!

Must go look up 'Pipka Santa'. Hmm...

Lois (and others who's hubbies collect stuff) there is obviously a solution. But you might not like it. ;-)

Yeah, Betina for de-stuffing! I imagine it must be harder to do if you wait until an actual move. Then do you almost feel forced to part with the stuff?

Helen, I'm so ready to move. BUt the biggest argument the hubby and I have? MN or ND. Where to move. I cannot fathom moving out of MN (unless it's FL).

Candace said...

Just FYI... moving doesn't really help with the de-stuffification process.

My DH and I have moved 18 times. Big moves. San Francisco to New York to Dallas to Minneapolis kind of moves. No matter how much I give away, trash, or sell before the move, we always seem to end up with just as much stuff at the other end.

I swear I don't know how that happens. Really. I don't.

Liza said...

Moving never really helped me get rid of stuff. I know I need to reduce the stuff in my house, but my biggest amount of stuff would be my books. I have 8 bookshelves over-flowing with books. I do give many away to the library each year.

I just need to de-clutter more than de-stuff. I have magazines to get thru to give to the hospitals, but haven't had the time to read them, so they are just sitting in a pile in next to my sofa.

Michele Hauf said...

YOu ladies are bursting my 'pretend to move' bubble. :-)

8 bookshelves! Wow. What I wouldn't give...

Playground Monitor said...

And points for you for spelling tchotkiee right!

Heck, I had to Google it to get it right. It's not a word I type often.

Kylie said...

There's stuff and there's stuff! I'm a collector. I have a Santa collection, an angel collection (just starting), a snowman collection, a Christmas village that keeps growing and I just started with a set of Christmas dishes. That stuff I need. I waited a long time to get stuff I actually like, LOL. Oh and jewelry...that's not stuff either.

The stuff I want to get rid of resides in closets and drawers and cupboards and multiplies every time I see it. The kids' notebooks from high school. Eight graduation gowns. Football cleats, basketball shoes, baseballs, gloves, volleyball shoes. . .this is stuff that needs to be cleared away. Problem is, the kids never think they have enough space to store their own stuff.

Oh and we have a full attic. Attics are not good if you don't want to collect stuff. It's time to do a thorough clean of that too and haul more stuff away. Like my husband's textbooks from college. The boxes of tax records from the last decade. And the five window air conditioners we don't need anymore since we put central air in the upstairs. Somehow my husband's stuff can't be touched though!

Debra Dixon said...

"destuff" - the art of unclutter

I like the idea of ONE thing per day. We don't have a ton o' stuff but it has crept back up on us since the purge of '05. We had to touch everything in the house for the remodel and when it was done we had a place for everything and everything in its place. Now we've slacked up. Well, mostly the husband has slacked. The slacker.

So, I think I'm going to steal the one thing a day idea. I like that.

terrio said...

So Deb, how's the dining room looking? :)

I destuffed back in September when I moved. When I moved into my old apartment in '05, I had almost nothing. By the time I moved three years later, I had more stuff than I knew what to do with. How does that happen? And I don't have a DH to blame!

I'm about to destuff my kiddos room. She's gone for the week and her room looks horrible. Everything is going that isn't nailed down. Well, that's a slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

Good luck with your destuffing. The great thing about finally doing it is how good it feels when things look so organized afterward.

Keri Ford said...

I need to destuff some more. A lot could go in my closet. I try to think that if I didn't wear it last winter, chances are against me wearing it this winter. So it goes.

I have learned to start clearing out a lot. The hubby is the sentimental one in terms of crap--er, stuff.

Estella said...

I also need to destuff. If you figure out how to do it, please, let me know.

catslady said...

I can't destuff either - I luv my stuff. My husband just said it was going to bury me one day lol. I have this one particular shelf of books next to my computer that is tilting under the weight! My one daughter had to move back in for about 3 months after being gone for 5 years and she demanded I destuff her room - I managed to at least partly destuff it but she's gone again and it's beginning to fill up again. There's two kinds of people in this world - people who like stuff and people who like neat hahaha.

flchen1 said...

I've been trying slowly to do this, and since my husband's the not-packrat in our family AND he's home for a couple weeks this season, he's dragging us into this de-stuffication process. I'm trying not to kick and scream too much, but I have to admit it's just overwhelming at times! It's hard to confront stuff that took ages to build up all at once! Anyway, best wishes to you in your process, Michele! May we all enjoy a less stuffy 2009! ;)

Debra Dixon said...

Terrio-- Hey, he has gotten his office official finished. :) He had to get it done so we could have the table for thanksgiving. And I have to say I'm jealous of all his guitars hanging on the wall. That looks cool. Great vibe for working.