"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris
Between my grandmother passing away a year ago at the age of 95 and my parents deciding this summer to downsize, sell their home of 43 years and move across state. My house is starting to look like an episode of hoarders! Every time I visit my mom, there's another "bag" for me in the spare bedroom. Just the fact that I had to start returning bags, because they were cluttering up my house was crazy, and they were all shopping bags, not the fancy ones you buy, the fancy ones the stores hand out! Yes, my momma can shop!
Any who, granted, there have been some great scores, like hanging file folders for the office and a box of really nice hangers. (Mine seemed to disappear each time a boy moved out.) A treasured photo of my great grandmother that my grandmother kept on her dresser. But then there are things like an old Sucrets box full of needles, all shapes and sizes! So ok, they could come in handy some day… then there's things like the postmaster list for the state from 1973… WHY????!!!???? Oh and don't forget 1975 too!!! Don't let me put those on my bookcase just because!
Needless to say the whole process, as anyone who's gone through this will tell you it can be overwhelming. After all, they belonged to my grandmother, who I was incredibly close with. Or it was from my childhood home with my parents, right? So many emotions tied to so much, but you start to drown in "stuff." Ironically, this last weekend as I was going through some of my past research looking for something I stumbled across a quote from Suze Orman,
"Clear the path through the clutter and chaos in all aspects of your life, and you can see the way ahead and find the capacity for abundance in the clarity." - Suze Orman
And clarity hit me like a train! It was time to clean out and clear out! Our house is already full of our own jazz and "stuff". We merged our two households together along with our 5 boys into one abode 13 years ago. The boys have all moved out of the nest and are on their own, leaving behind little trinkets for mom & dad to store. Ugh! So, I created a plan, I was determined to go through the ENTIRE house, every closet, cupboard and drawer! As I tackled the first dresser, I found old useless Christmas gift receipts from five years ago, pretty sure those warranties are expired! ;0) A random pair of funky shoe laces… old clothes, some that were worn out, some that once they got home, never looked as good again as they did at the store, so I was happily clicking along sorting into keep, toss and give away. I used the old adage that goes something like this: Do I need this? Do I Love this? Does this mean something to me? Is it worth anything?
Quickly I processed 5 of the 6 drawers. I open the final drawer and there they were, those "trinkets" left behind by my youngest. What lovely gift did he leave his beloved mom? ROCKS. Yes, good old rocks. But they weren't your run of the mill rocks, oh no! As many of you know, we live in Colorado. Years ago when he was studying earth science, we took a trip focusing on geology. We started the day at the old marble mines in Marble, CO and ended up touring the Fairy Caves in Glenwood Springs. If you have ever seen Colorado marble, it is simply beautiful, pure sparkling white! That's why it so popular with sculptors.. Well, the canyon is littered with marble pieces from previous train accidents back in the day and he of course found a few "gems" for class, that he hoped to someday sculpt into his own masterpieces. Yep, those beautiful sparkling gems were in my office, stuffed in a bottom drawer. Along with two model cars. So now, instead of three piles, I had four. At the end of the day I had 7 piles. One for each son, along with the keep, toss and donate piles.
Do my kids want these boxes of things? Especially my daughter-in-laws? I have no idea, but I do know, they don't need to clutter up my house any longer! They can make the decision to keep or let them go. Then I realized, I am that kid too. Those endless shopping bags from my mom, filled with things from grandma and her are exactly the same thing. Which freed me of the guilt to keep those silly postmaster lists from the 70's and the other random "stuff" that have made the trek to my house in one of those bags.
After a week of cleaning, sorting, tossing and donating the house feels amazing! And the items we were able to donate will hopefully bring a smile to someone who can use them! Like those funky shoelaces maybe?
Design lesson of the week, goes back to William Morris's quote at the beginning, "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." Seriously, if it doesn't serve a purpose in your life either utilitarian or emotional or it's not beautiful, it's time to say, "Adios amigo!" I've walked into clients homes who said, "This has to stay, but the rest can go, I don't know why we even have it. I suppose it was to just fill space." Then I ask, do you have any collections or art stored away in closets or cabinets you would like to display? And you know what? EVERY time the answer is YES! So why stare at "stuff" that brings you no joy and pack away your treasures to only enjoy every now and then?
Do yourself a favor right now, go through your house and find 20 things to throw away, those broken items you've been meaning to fix for the last 10 years is a good place to start, or those worn out shoes in the back of the closet, or check out the expiration dates on your condiments in the fridge, (eww!) you get the idea. Then go through again and find 20 things to donate. Make room for what brings you joy. Now, if your house is anything like mine was, 40 items won't make a big dent. But if you dedicate a minimum of an hour a week to go through your home, drawers, closets, shelf by shelf, and do this exercise, before you know it, you too will have the beginnings of your true home, filled with your personal style, your own sanctuary and retreat from the world that brings you peace and happiness everyday. And if Suze is right, abundance as well!