What does clutter mean to you? Is it a few Knick knacks handed down from your great Aunt Mary gathering cobwebs in a forgotten corner of your living room? Is it papers seemingly multiplying on your dining room table? Is it your closet filled with clothes, some you haven’t worn in years, some still with the price tags? Is it accumulated Christmas, Halloween, other seasonal items, party or craft supplies? Projects you never seem to have time for? Spaces filled with stuff.? Stuff that’s gotten out of control. Stuff you keep moving around to make space for more stuff? Is it just plain unmanageable?
You all know my story. I like you had a lot of stuff! I had so much clothes I rarely wore the same thing twice to work yet when I was a home I wore the same favorite things over and over. When I was in roller derby I had a lot of skirts, shorts, leggings, tights, wheels, laces, skate tools, bearings, gadgets and ohhhhhh the skull and zombie socks! I was obsessed to say the least. Don’t even get me started on crystals, necklaces and the scarves!!! Oh my!
When going through the insurance process it was a huge eye opener of the money I spent on all this stuff! Having to list every single item we owned and accumulated over the years was not only excruciating and exhausting, it was sickening. It took months and months to list everything for our family of four. The Halloween stuff I didn’t mind as I made a lot of my own props. That was a hobby and MY Christmas.
Having lost everything in the wildfire except the little bit we could pack on that fateful day put a lot of things in perspective. I miss those sentimental items like the kid’s drawings, their baby pictures, ultrasound pictures, hospital bracelets, baby outfits, the precious gifts they made us each year, antiques, jewellery and Christmas ornaments handed down from relatives who passed away. The rest… I feel relieved that it is gone.
I remember all those weekends of precious time I had off from work cleaning, rearranging clothing, seasonal items, sorting papers and trying to find room for new stuff. Every week I would clean the fridge throwing out things the family didn’t eat or went bad before we could get to it. There was just too much to eat. We were a typical middle-class family by no means were we rich or could afford to waste things. We didn’t have fancy or expensive stuff but oh man did we have stuff. I won’t even talk about all the musical equipment my hubby had. He liked vintage, so he had quite the collection.
So fast forward to today. It’s about 27 months since the fire and we have accumulated more stuff than I would like. In the beginning days many people reached out to us with their hearts, donations of money and things that we could use while we eased into our new normal. We are ever so grateful and wish we could somehow repay each and everyone of these beautiful souls. We try our best to pay it forward to others in need.
During the transition and while we went through the rebuild and sale process, we bought essentials, but I rather enjoyed living a minimalistic lifestyle. Less to clean, less to shift. Friends and family could visit without me going around like the Tasmanian devil trying to tidy up. For example, we each had one towel and facecloth, a set of sheets for each bed, 4 plates, bowls, cups and 4 of each utensil. As time went on some well-meaning friends and family sent us stuff they no longer needed to help us, despite our assurances we had everything we need. Don’t get me wrong we are very grateful to our loving friends and family but we absolutely did not need anything. Sometimes it meant us having to spend lots of time going through things and finding others who may be really in need or absolutely needed these things. Some items are still in boxes, we will move them and hopefully be able to incorporate them into our new home.
Living a simpler lifestyle in a temporary home, we knew anything we bought would need to be moved into the new home. My hubby and I decided we would only buy the essentials. One of the musts…we absolutely must LOVE and NEED the item. One of my LOVES that was a must purchase: a piece of art entitled “Coyote Plagued by Little Ghosts” I stumbled across at a local art show. There’s a story as to why I had to have it that I will share someday.
Slowly days turned into months, a year, then 2 years before our home was rebuilt. This presented a bit of a problem when Halloween, Christmas, celebrations and family/friend’s gatherings would take place. We then needed to purchase more utensils, plates, mugs, glasses, seasonal items and party supplies. Also, sometimes a fork or spoon would go missing as we have teenage and young adult kids. Later getting back into hobbies, camping and kayaking required more purchases than we would like. With changing seasons, winter coats, boots, mitts and hats were needed. It had nothing to do with the money, we just didn’t want our STUFF to accumulate.
We have now purchased our forever home in Calgary with the closing date approaching fast (15 days OMG). We have quite a bit to move now, quite a bit to donate and quite a bit of larger items like furniture to purchase when we get settled. As you can imagine we have copious amounts of papers related to insurance, rebuild, home sale and purchase. The papers drive me crazy as for many months our dining room table served as a command post. Sometimes it was difficult to serve dinner or find room for my neighbour to sit while we chatted over coffee. For the most part these papers have their own homes now out of sight but will need to be held onto for a while longer.
Transitioning into our new home will be those things we absolutely NEED, LOVE and that make life easier. NOT things and stuff that will clutter up spaces, require moving around before family and friends visit or vast amounts of time to clean.
What are your thoughts and experiences with clutter? Any similar opinions or opposite? Please share your comments.