Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Spring is coming . Start your engines.

Okay. The delicate flower pictured above is NOT me. I'm a shorts and t-shirt kind of cleaner. My bathrooms are pretty sanitary, my kitchen is fairly neat, there was seldom more than a few microns of dust on top of the furniture. But I do not lift furniture. So there are probably generations of dust bunnies underneath things in my house. Yikes, that's not the confession I was about to make!

This is suppose to be about my closet. That's the one place inside my house that chaos-meets-packrat and the result is kind of frightening. I take my life in my hands every morning when I step in to find something to wear. Occasionally I think how humiliating it would be for my family if the the newspaper had to report: "NYT Bestselling Author killed by Avalance of Used Handbags." I confess. I am Betina and I am a clothes hoarder.

I just can't seem to get rid of that green T-shirt or pink blouse with the tomato sauce stain from. . . a lot of years ago. I tell myself: I might need to wear it to paint the bedroom. Never mind that in eight years I have yet to paint the danged bedroom; I have a whole catalog of choices for painting couture when I finally do get around to it.

Shoes are a weakness of mine and I have waaaay too many cluttering up the racks and floor of my closet. And you can trace the last twenty years of my life in the purses stored, stacked, piled on the shelves above my head. In my defense, some of these I did not purchase myself. Some came as "gifts" and it's hard for me to give away something someone paid hard-earned money to give to me. . . no matter how odd or downright tacky they are.

So, I came home the other day from work to find two new packing boxes sitting at the door to my closet. . . open, empty, and ready to go. The Pool Boy is doing some spring cleaning and thought I should probably make a contribution. . . or thirty. . . to the process, starting with my closet. After a good, stiff drink, it took me 15 minutes to find 14 pairs of shoes that could go. Into the box, that is. It sat in the bedroom for a couple of days before I could get the nerve to really dispose of them. But they're gone and I can see the carpet in the middle of the closet and I'm feeling really adult and rational. At least for the moment.

The handbags may be different story. There will be big decisions to make. So I went online to get hints about how to decide about things you need to purge from your closet, house, or garage. This "Catherine Dibenedetto" chick from MSN Lifestyle has it all figured out:

"Toss it if…

1. You have twice as many as you need. Take inventory of your duplicate items. If you own enough spatulas and coffee mugs to supply a small diner, it's time to shed a few.

2. It's a gift you don't love. "Sometimes when we give away a present, we feel like we're giving away the person," says Elsa Jewett, a feng shui consultant based in Denver. Remind yourself it's just an object.

3. It's not worth repairing. Search for similar items on eBay; if your item's current value is less than the cost of repairing it (hello, broken printer from 2004), then toss and replace. Otherwise, give yourself a deadline. If you don't get around to fixing the thing within six months, you can probably let it go.

4. Your gut says lose it. Don't second-guess your instincts. "A lot of people worry they'll have regrets," says life coach Gail Blanke, author of Throw Out Fifty Things. "They're afraid that one day they'll need that exact thing. But 99 percent of the time you just don't."

5. You don't know what it is. UPOs (unidentified plastic objects) get 30 days. If they're still a mystery one month later, dump 'em.

Keep it if…

1. It's sentimental gold. "The more memorabilia you have, the less emotionally valuable each individual item becomes," says Emily Wilska, an organization consultant in San Francisco. Instead of saving every card your beloved uncle ever sent, pick the one that captures his spirit best.

2. It fits your life today. Your possessions should support who you are right now, not the person you were five years—or five pounds—ago. Your ten-year-old LBD that still looks great? It stays.

3. You think it's gorgeous (even if no one else does). Stuff that makes you smile—like the glittery clothespin reindeer your child made in third grade—doesn't count as "clutter."

4. You'd buy it again. It's tough to be objective about your own belongings. So ask yourself, What would I do if I saw this in a store?

5. You'll find a place for it. "Putting it back in a box is just predisposal," says Erin R. Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week!! Any item worth keeping is worth creating a space for. "

So, here you have it: my public service announcement for the year. It helped me just reading these tips. And now you don't have to feel guilty about spending time reading this blog instead of cleaning or something else godly and productive. Just consider it prep work for spring cleaning!

Any stories of collections gone awry in your house? And who's the bigger packrat-- you or your significant other? Sometimes a good look around the garage takes all the guilt away. . .


Helen Brenna said...

I'm a pretty good pack rat, but the dh is worse. I have the hardest time letting go of my kids' things. My son moved rooms and the closet in his old room is still full of all of his toys from when he was little. Yikes!

Good luck, Betina, and thanks for the tips!

Michele Hauf said...

Each time I watch HOARDERS I throw something out. And now that Betina has put up this fab post, I now have the courage to march into the bathroom, grab the bottle of bubble bath sitting at the back of the closet that I will never use...and toss it! (You do it too, Lois.) :-)

I'm not much of a saver. I think the hubby is the bigger hoarder. Don't have a lot of clothes, but I do have some very old dresses that used to fit me in my more slender days. I keep thinking they are there to inspire me to once again fit into them, but who am I fooling? :-)

Cindy Gerard said...

Since we are currently undergoing some major remodeling, I've had the dubious duty of cleaning closets and dresser drawers. Yikes. I could BE on Hoarders. It's not pretty. But even worse than me is the DH. he can't let go of ANYTHING!
In the meantime, i feel really cleansed having made several trips to Good Will and to the junk. :o)

lois greiman said...

Betina, I soooooo needed this.

But Michele, I cannnn't throw out the bubblebath. I can't. They're gifts and they're still full. And...anyone need a couple gallons of bubblebath???

catslady said...

My name is Catslady and I'm a packrat (sigh). Nothing works for me - I just can't seem to help it. My husband is the opposite. Unfortunately the way he deals with it is throwing things away on the sly which only makes me worse. There are many times when I relent and toss things (I try to give away if I can). My brain understands the process but I get attached quite easily (big sigh).
And of course books are one of my addictions lol.

KylieBrant said...

I'm a thrower...I always have a bag or box going that I fill then haul to Goodwill. That said, I am not one to clean closets and drawers. Annual spring cleaning bit the dust about the time I started writing in my 'free time'. Both my husband and I dread painting bedrooms, but my dread comes from having to clean closets.

I don't hang on to stained clothes but I do hang on to those that don't fit anymore in the hopes that they'll fit someday again. Lol, when someday arrives, I usually don't like them anymore or they're out of style!

Christie Ridgway said...

Like Kylie, I always have a bag going. But I still have too much stuff. Clothes, shoes. Kids' clothes, shoes.

Surfer Guy is just as bad (maybe worse) so no one is haranguing the other to get those closets in shape. Maybe after the next book goes in...

Betina Krahn said...

Ahhhh. I feel better already, just listening to you guys. So I'm not as demented as I feared.

It's hard getting rid of things. I find it easier to get rid of things when I'm giving them away to someone who may get some use or joy out of them. Unfortunately most people don't WANT the stuff that I don't! Good will, here it comes!

Catslady. . . you're in good company here.

Lois-- I have a few hundred bottles and half-used sample sized cosmetics arrayed on my bathroom vanity and stuffed into cute little bags and cases. So I can relate to the bubble bath thing.

Kylie and Christie, you're an inspiration. I'm starting a goodwill bag tonight.

Ooooo-- remodeling. Cindy I feel your pain. Just watching Holmes on Homes and Designed to Sell makes my hands hurt. But oh, the glory of a newly refurbished bath or kitchen! We did our kitchen a year ago, and I still pause when walking through the kitchen to gaze fondly at the glass tile backsplash. Sigh. I could so eaily turn from collecting shoes to collecting decorating and remodeling supplies. . .