Thursday, May 20, 2010

One In, One Out

As I've been decluttering and slowly paring down my possessions, one maxim that I'm trying on for size is: For every item you bring home, get rid of another item. While I agree with the idea in a general sense, this month, I am trying that more literally.

So I brought home some new jeans and flannel pajama pants from a clothing exchange. And a sweater or two. Before I agree to move them into my clothing stash, I need to decide which of my existing clothes to get rid of. Am I ready to let go of the jeans that don't quite fit well any more? Are the newer jeans actually good enough to replace them? I ask myself. A couple of the "new" clothes are duds after all and I'm sending them back out immediately. Into the Goodwill pile for you! Likewise, I am trying to decide if the new sweater I got is "good enough" to replace another sweater. At least one of them has got to go. Maybe I'll get rid of that ugly, scratchy black oversized cardigan my cousin passed on to me in the '70s or that little plum colored sweater that's a little too short.

We rounded out our plate collection recently because there's a certain size of small plate that we use all the time. In fact, we never have enough of them. So in with four smaller plates, and out with... another four dishes of some sort. Maybe the hand-thrown bowls that are not actually much use. We never use them, have never used them, are not likely to ever grab them if we have the choice. Okay! That was easy enough. Usually I have to go look at what I have.

Sometimes I get a head start on giving things away.

I got rid of a strangely-patterned tablecloth and napkins last month. Of course, the week afterwards, my mother found another napkin that went with the set. Now isn't that funny! With no guilt, I told her that I honestly couldn't remember where I'd even gotten the thing, and that I'd passed it on. Gift from a relative? Oops! Oh, well. Out of the house, out of mind. I have another set of napkins + table cloth that I am also getting rid of. I've been "getting rid" of them for years. I got them at a great price, but I've never used them and the color is not strictly just right. Time to put that one on the Goodwill pile so it'll be out of the house, out of mind as well.

This week I had a chance to give away gobs of baby clothes (including all the preemie clothes that most babies won't fit into) to a mother-baby support organization. Once I started pulling things out of the closet, I started saying, "Here, you can have the pair of organic cotton swaddlers for the new mother of twins." Oh, and these leftover bags of new diapers (now too small for my daughter), and the other box of 0-3 months age clothing, and this spare blanket, AND my entire bag of flannel receiving blankets (which somehow multiply like rabbits when one has a new child). It was good feeling. I then started looking at my collection of baby bottles. Yup, I can pass pretty much all of that along. My decluttering karma is very happy.

Then I recently found a new Goodwill outlet near my sister's house. She had found some cute clothes for the little girl, so I went over there myself to see what could be had. I found more baby clothing items, including some very nice pajama sets (which we never seem to have enough of), a stuffed mouse for the baby ("Mis!" she calls the it), and several great new tops for myself in yummy colors. Men's shirts also looked promising, but I didn't have time to peruse them seriously.

So I have a few more baby clothes for the next year or so, and several great new long-sleeved tops... and therefor, I tell myself, I should get rid of the same number of existing tops!

This is a good excuse to go through my twenty-year old stash of long sleeved shirts and replace them with updated styles and colors. Maybe I'll get rid of that deep sea green shirt with the heavy cuffs. Or the spicy mustard-color shirt. Oy, when was the last time I wore that? Or the taupe thing with a tight collar. Gak!

But I'm being difficult.
I remind myself, All of the old shirts could be useful.
My decluttering self says, Sharrup! When have you worn that since you moved here? Get rid of it now!

I'm going to have to take them out and put them side by side with the new shirts and tell myself it'll be okay. Like a prisoners exchange.

I'll trade you one awful shirt for one nice shirt. Yes, they are awful shirts. You are so tired of earth tones, you've told me so. Now get them out of the house! Take my shirts, please.

But what if I don't have anything to wear when it gets cold? I whine.
You'll be forced to wear better and more attractive shirts! my decluttering self snorts.

Then we'll play sad music on tiny violins and solemnly bid the old shirts adieu and hide them in the thrift store box, and do a little dance of decluttering glee. Take no prisoners.

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