Monday, July 18, 2011

Decluttering Catharsis

It's hard to throw stuff out, especially if you're a pack rat. Though I come by my packratitis honestly (I swear it's genetic - just visit my parents' place and you'll know), the thinking/reasoning part of me recognizes the need to purge every so often, particularly when space is at a premium, which it is at our place.

Hubbs, thank God, is quite the opposite of a pack rat, and has no need for sentimental things like wedding guestbooks and Christmas trees and childhood picture books. He is quite ready to throw everything out and just buy again when and if something is needed. The other part of my thinking/reasoning brain also recognizes the wastefulness of such a strategy, so together we balance each other out quite nicely.

The other day, we decided it was time for some belated "spring cleaning" on our storage room, a room that had become so cluttered that it was impossible to actually enter. It was sort of our receptacle for all things seasonal or homeless, from sugary US-bought cereal and lawn chairs to luggage and gift wrap. It was getting to the point that to peek inside the room caused Hubbs and I great anxiety, sort of like when we watch Hoarders and see the stacks of crap that these people have amassed over time.

We had to tackle the room in multiple steps, and then we had to sort through the boxes and items one by one. Some of the things we ended up "finding" and keeping were:

* more Transformer toys!
* my "How to Travel" tips to Hubbs from when he flew to HK to see me
* our framed pictures (I have no idea why these weren't unpacked for 3 years but we're now getting to it)
* old pictures that had been printed out but needed to be sorted and placed in albums (which we did)
* old children's books that we both love and wish to share with our children one day
* our Christmas decorations and tree (I had to negotiate for these!)

Note, however, that we purged much, even though some of the things we tossed are items I'm still not sure if I'll need again one day (though Hubbs tells me it's highly unlikely since I haven't used them in 3 years). Such items include:

* university texts and notes (including education ones)
* old pictures
* well-used, ancient children's books that are so obscure and outdated that no self-respecting 21st century child would be caught dead reading them
* paperback books that the library wouldn't want
* old "memorabilia" like the menu from our engagement dinner
* finished old journals (I shredded these)
* paperwork from forever ago
* random souvenirs
* old computers
* empty boxes (not sure why we kept them around)
* craft supplies that will be donated to my classroom for class use

We're still negotiating on the two back-pack lawn chairs, but I suspect I might be fighting a losing battle over this one.

Anyway, our purge ended up reducing our box count by at least 5 and we were finally able to fit our movable electric fireplace into the storage room (to make room in the living room). Hubbs also managed to rearrange the stored items such that we can now actually walk into the storage room and take several steps to access items in the far corner.

Best of all, we now feel as though a great weight has been lifted from our shoulders; the decluttering has led to great catharsis and relief. It has also freed us up to purchase some much-needed new furniture. All in all, it was a great and productive way to spend a Saturday!