Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Simplifying and Clearing the Clutter

I have written about having a stroke before here. It is amazing how being reminded of your mortality causes you to evaluate your life. For weeks after, all I could think about is what I would leave behind for my family to have to deal with. The summer after the stroke, as soon as I could get back on my feet, I began cleaning and clearing through the clutter of a lifetime. I can't imagine how many pounds of clothes we took to Goodwill or how much I contributed to the local landfill that summer.

Since that time, we have begun recycling and reusing as much as possible. I stop and think before I buy. I've started operating on the one-in, one-out theory. (Since my laptop purchase, I'm trying to figure out how to get everything off of the old computer so I can give it away.) That theory works well for shoes and clothes, but it works for small appliances and almost anything else, too. I don't need trinkets or things. In fact, I am getting rid of a few more of those things this weekend at our community garage sale. (Whatever is left is going to Goodwill, the recycling center, and the landfill.) And as much as I cleared out the summer after the stroke, I am surprised how much more there is to shed.

Someday I would like to downsize to a smaller house. (Preferably on a lake!) The thought of doing that is overwhelming. That means some major pieces of furniture will have to go, too. So as much clutter as I have cleared, there is still a lot that could stand to go. It really is true that our possessions expand to fit the size of our house. In a country of excess, we all could be poster children for greed and extravagance.


margie said...

i wandered over here from planet m. i too had a stroke, ideopathic they called it. no good reason for a healthy non smoking 52 year old to have a stroke. four years later, we are selling the house, downsizing, moving to a condo and planning three to four months at the lake each year. i have had a total of three strokes now, all of which have left minimal damage compared to what could have been. be well!!!

Relyn said...

First, your story is amazing. Congratulations on your recovery from such a life-altering event. I admire that you now approach your life with renewed energy and purpose.

I also love that you have decided to declutter and live more responsibly. I try to do that as well. Why is it that I always seem to bring things into the house faster than I can get them out? Paper, especially, seems to multiply at an amazing rate. To make it worse, I really do love paper.

My whole summer is about organizing, sorting, clearing out. And, somehow, please God, let me find a way to live in a less harried manner. Once school begins, everything seems to go nuts. You know. You know exactly.

Well, this summer, I hope to put some systems in place to keep that from happening next school year. We'll see. Wish me luck.

And, good luck to you, too as you clear out. Happy summer.

Relyn said...

OH MY GOSH!! My comment approval word was "progress". I'm not kidding. I guess we have someones approval. Yes?

Mrs. E said...

Relyn-- that is so bizarre!! Thanks for sharing! Isn't it true that when school starts, everything gets put aside. I have great plans for organizing this summer, too. I'll be thinking of you doing likewise! : )

Margie- I'm always as glad to hear of another healthy nonsmoker who knows what it is like to go through this. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but it helps to know that there are others who have been there. I don't feel like such a freak. I hope to stay in touch with you.

Gayle said...

After my mom died, and I cleaned out her belongings, I started thinking quite seriously about the accumulated stuff I had and how little it means. She really didn't even have much because she was never a saver. But it did change my views on having "things", for the better.

Mrs. E said...

Gayle, I know just what you mean. The saddest thing to me are estate sales, when that those few possesions are all that is left of a lifetime. Things don't mean much.

Shawna said...

Dear Mrs. E,

Thank goodness you are alive & kicking! I went back to read the post on what an impact having a stroke had on your perspective, & it must have been such a terrifying yet positive (if you can see it that way) wake up call.

I've been reminded of my mortality several times, through the unfortunate passings of several of my classmates thoughout the years & my own little breast cancer scare.

In any case, I won't pretend or put on any airs. Vintage shopping is one of my favorite things to do, especially when it comes to furnishing college apartments. So, if it helps you get rid of those extra pieces of furniture so you can downsize your home, imagine you're giving the furniture not only to raise money for people in need, but you're giving students living room sets, etc.

My apartment has a beat-up wooden dining table set, a beautiful bamboo shelving structure, an oddly shaped light gold colored couch that we call the cashew couch...

Shawna's Study Abroad

Smalltown Girl said...

I know that most would consider me young (being in my 30's and all), but I am a huge pack rat, and thus have amassed an amazing amount of junk. I have small bursts of energy sometimes that are focused on clearing out a closet or a specific set of cabinets, but never the whole house. I just hope it doesn't take something tragic like a stroke to get me motivated!

Mrs. E said...

Shawna- I think you are right that the stroke was a positive wake-up call. And how lucky I was to have that warning! Thanks for reminding me that someone else may really need what I am getting rid of! : )

SG- Part of what I am holding onto are the things my daughters had. It is hard to get rid of their childhood memorabilia! (I don't feel as guilty about leaving that for them to clean out some day!) Aren't you glad to have summer to get a few extra things done? : )