Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lesson #2: Discarding

After committing to getting rid of stuff, I decided to go through one box, one piece of furniture, one bin at a time.

In some ways, the furniture was the easiest; a piece of furniture will either fit in my new house, or it won't. I told my closest friends that I needed to get rid of some furniture, and before long, all the chairs, chests, trunks, and tables had found new homes.

Things that belonged to my son were also easy; I asked him to go through the things I had saved over the years, and to select anything he wanted to keep.

I had several boxes of things that had belonged to my mother; the boxes had been in my attic for so long, I didn't know what was in them anymore. I was a worried that going through them would be emotionally overwhelming, but as I started to comb through the boxes I realized that these things had been important to my mother but not to me, and after fifteen years, I was able to part with them.

Finally, there were my boxes of mementos--letters, photos, ephemera. How did I decide what to keep and what to discard? I simply asked myself did I want someone else to have to through them someday, the same way I had to go through my mother's belongings?

So, after months of sorting and discarding, one hundred twelve boxes are down to five.


  1. Wow, that is a drastic downsizing! I like your idea of having your son select what was important to him. I will keep that in mind!

  2. I can't even fit my books in 5 boxes!

  3. I so admire your discipline.

  4. I went through these kinds of decisions when clearing through my mother's house after her death several years ago. You are right. There were several things it was nice to see again, but very few things I felt the need to hang onto forever. Which was fortunate, because a couple of years after that Hurricane Katrina made my downsizing decisions for me. As I rebuilt my life, I learned that you can get by with surprisingly little as long as what you have is good quality. But now 5 years later, stuff has quietly crept back into my life. Time for another purge. Hopefully, this time I'll be the one calling the shots again. Your posts have been inspiring.

  5. My mom passed away almost 19 years ago and there is still stuff I need to get rid of it. As a single woman with no children, I have no one to leave a lot of this stuff too. It is time for my stuff. 112 boxes down to 5? That is awesome!