‘Spring Cleaning’, we all do it, or some form of it. Some people do the ‘deep clean’, others the pack-up and hide in the basement or attic, for others it’s the re-arranging of ‘stuff’ so that things look neater, more organized. Rooms are emptied but closets, attics, basements, and ‘junk rooms’ are filled. Oh, the collective ‘junk room’, you say you don’t know what that is. Ah…it’s that room you always shut the door to when guests are coming. It might be the spare bedroom or your office, laundry or mud room. Yeah, THAT room. How many of us do our same version of ‘spring cleaning’ year after year with the same results. We may try to change it up. We drop one box and the goodwill. We give some clothes away to a shelter. But all in all, our ‘stuff’ is still here. Just moved, replaced or hidden. How can we make this act more meaningful?
I just re-read this article http://www.becomingminimalist.com/dont-just-declutter-de-own/ on Joshua Becker’s blog, becoming minimalist. It is wonderfully full of tips on how to not just ‘declutter, but de-own’. Oh, no, you say, get rid of my possessions! What?! Yes. You can do it, and it can be freeing. Believe me. Last year I tried it for the first time. Which I will get to in a bit.
I grew up in a house with lots and lots of stuff. My parents called this stuff stories, history and memories. But it was mostly stuff. Yes, much of it was beautiful. Antiques that did have a historical story to share. But a lot of it was just stuff. Clutter. But we were a ‘out of sight, out of mind’ family. Our attic was full. And we had a room full of boxes. The rest of the house was lovely. It was included in home tours of historical homes in our area. The Christmas house one year complete with live music and carolers. A 1891 Victorian beauty. With a junk room. And yes, That door was closed. Marked with a sign. Do Not Enter.
Both my parents had careers. We were busy, and I have to admit my sister and I were not always the most helpful. We wanted to keep everything. It was all needed and important. It was this idea of the stuff containing the memory or value. I felt guilty if I even wanted to get rid of the ‘very special picture’ from my grandma, or the doll I begged for but then wasn’t really all I had hoped. Guilt and fear that once the thing was gone I would forget. That I would hurt someones feelings or that I would regret it. My parents loved history, stories and collected lots of them. In the form of stuff. We held onto it all.
So back to the article. Joshua Becker and his blog is an excellent intro into minimalism. I stumbled across it when I friend of mine posted a link on Facebook. Minimalism is a freeing and fresh way to look at our beliefs in owning ‘stuff’. It gave me positive, beneficial ideas and ways to change my thinking from guilt and loss when letting go of possessions to the freedom of putting value and meaning where it matters most. Which for me is on memories made with my family instead of memories bought.
Minimalism is not stark bare walls and no possessions as some may vision. It is just the ideal of having less, having some, better quality, saving for what you really need instead of impulse buying what is the latest graze being thrust at you by advertising. It’s making a conscious effort to look for value and meaning behind everything. It really is wonderful. You can read more about the minimalist view here. http://www.becomingminimalist.com/becoming-minimalist-start-here/
But back to ‘Spring cleaning’. So after I read the article about no just de-cluttering but de-owning I decided to take another look at this cleaning business. What I was doing was not cleaning. It wasn’t even helping. I usually created more mess, more piles, just more to do. This time I got some boxes and bags. I started in he living room. I didn’t think I just walked around box in hand and pulled. This from here, that from there. I did not evaluate it any deeper han a split second decision to stick it in the box. Then I closed the lid and wrote ‘donate’. Taped it shut and put it in my car. Yes, I completed the whole process for that box. Then I did it again. I took a box to my bedroom. I pulled clothes that I hadn’t even seen in years and I set them in the box. I didn’t try them on the see if they ‘may fit’ at some future date, or if they still fit,or if they could be ‘camping clothes’ or for a special occasion. It was just a reaction of eye, to hand, to box. I then closed the lid and wrote Woman’s shelter on the lid and put it in my car. Yep again, all the way through. Right out to the car. Why? Well, if I didn’t I knew I would start to second guess it. I would open that box and re-evauate what was in there. I would begin to put false meaning into those items. I went down stairs, the kids toys, the office, the kitchen. Boxes filled, labeled and put in the car. Then I drove to the drop off points. At the woman’s shelter I could see from the smiles that my clothes would do more good there than in my closet. at the goodwill I was handed my tax donation receipt and I drove away knowing I helped the man there have a skill building job. The books went to my local second-hand book store, a small business owner trying to make a living. Toys to the low-income childcare center in my community. I found somewhere better for my stuff. I felt full. Not empty like I thought I might.
Now back at home my house felt lighter, the rooms bigger, more room to breathe and as my good friend says, room to twirl. Now I could really clean. I dusted, wiped the baseboards, set out to make my appliances look brand new. I had traded my spring rearranging, hiding, guilt ridden false memory attaching stressful non-cleaning, to a no-guilt, how can this benefit someone else, do I really need it, what purpose will it have, get right in there and actually clean something spring cleaning. A more meaningful and healthier outlook for sure.
For more minimalism checkout my posts: