Friday, January 8, 2010

What to keep?

To start on a bright note--just days after I put the 4 years of magazines out, they are all gone to good homes.  Some to friends, and some to students making collages.  So now I feel much less guilty and have forgotten the sense of loss.  That was quick.  And--I'm actually reading the CURRENT month of Real Simple. Whoa.

Nothing got organized at work yesterday--it was a busy day.  But after work, even though I was exhausted, I was inspired by my friend, Melissa, to go to pilates.  I haven't done pilates in about six months and I had forgotten how HARD it is, but also how invigorating it is.  It was a herculean feat to get myself motivated to go, and afterward I felt a  bit like I had been in a car accident...but I also felt ready to organize something.  I started running a hot bath, to address the car-accident-feeling bit, and in the time it took to fill, I de-cluttered my toiletries drawer.

I should explain. I used to travel for up to 8 weeks at a time for my old job, and along the way I would collect roughly 168 miniature bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc.  At the end of each admissions travel season, I'd collect the toiletries from each of our 7 counselors and donate them to a local woman's shelter.  Now that I don't travel as much, it takes longer to collect enough to make donating worthwhile, really.  But I always have a rather deep drawer overflowing with these tiny toiletries.

So I thought it would be an easy task to get rid of them, right...just quickly scoop them out and put them in a bag. Done and done! But, as I start pulling them out, I notice this one is rosemary lavender scented...ooh...I should keep that as a travel pick-me-up one day.  And this one here is from that amazing hotel in Barcelona and the bottle itself is a work of art.  I set it aside to keep it, thinking how one day I will put it in a guest bathroom and my visiting friend will think how thoughtful I am and be grateful for the luxury.

Is this not normal? Seriously, I need to know. I currently don't have a guest bedroom (or a pantry, linen closet, clothes closet, etc).  But it is a nice idea, isn't it?

In any case, I winnowed it down a great deal (and will donate what I didn't keep) but there are still some things in that drawer.  For some reason, I am committed to keeping extra toothbrushes around (for guests that forget their own) even though we use electric ourselves. And a travel-sized toothpaste to save room packing (even though we usually bring our full size with us).  And some conditioners, because some hotels only offer up shampoo, which doesn't do much in the way of wrangling my curls.  And some pretty-scented bath fizzy things.  And everything Crabtree & Evelyn, because I love the way it smells.

Progress, but not as satisfying, as say, the refrigerator.  It did bring a level of awareness about the reasons I keep things though, and I'm starting to question the merit behind some of them.

I might need to find some rules to guide my de-cluttering efforts.  I once read some rules for clearing out closets that suggested in order to keep something it had to fit your current life and body, and you had to have worn it in the last year. Oprah asks herself Do I love this? Is it flattering? Is this the image I want to portray?

So maybe I'll try something like:
  • Is it currently useful/does it currently fit? Have I used it in the past 6 months or will I use it in the coming 6 months?
  • If I had to move next week, would it be worth packing and unpacking and finding a place for in my new home?
If the answer to either of these is no, it has to go.  What do you think? Any other suggested guidelines?

A tricky thing, I've come to realize, is that I keep a lot of "souvenirs" from my past trips, relationships, etc etc and I haven't found a way to let go of that stuff yet. It's not that I'm likely to forget these events and people.  I'll have to attack that in the coming month in some way. Please send along any tips you have.

Does anyone else have any weird reasons for keeping things???


runningwiththejig said...

I just cleaned off my desk! Thanks for the motivation!

Melisa K. said...

yay! thanks for sharing--that made my day...and I'm proud of you!

Jennifer said...

I have video game tokens (yes, those little gold not-worth-anything tokens) from when I lived in California and played at the Reagan Years retro arcade.

I cannot bring myself to throw away a John Mellencamp CD that a friend of mine lost at a party when I was 18. What if we get back in touch? He might want it back.

I still have that little pink and blue striped baby hat that the hospital gave me when I brought my now two-year-old daughter home.

I've had a bottle of perfume for well over five years now (does perfume go bad?), because that bottle has lasted me through so much. I don't want to run out and throw it away.

Long story short, YES.

Melisa K. said...

oooh. good ones, J. You didn't ask for advice, but I say keep the hat and get rid of the rest...he's not getting back in touch, the tokens are taking up space, and perfume does go bad. =)

A Little Irish Girl said...

For the clothing organizing, I've got 2 suggestions. The first is to do what I did which was fine a friend who i really trust (sorry you need a girl for this one so Michael won't count). Then try on everything (i mean everything) and they decide. I was allowed to save 5 items from the donate pile.

Other idea that my mom told me about once was hang all the stuff in your closet backwards (so the opening of the hook faces forward). After you wear something, hang it up normally. Give yourself a set amount of time and then get rid of the stuff you didn't wear.

Ok that's all i can offer :)

Melisa K. said...

Those are really good tips. I'm going to include them in my end of month wrap up!