Project Eliminate: The Epiphany

First 8-week Home Cure shortly after we moved to Florida.

My decluttering efforts have been lifelong. Ditching toys as I grew "too old" for them. Weeding out the unwanteds at the end of each school year. Establishing my own home and continuous attempts at not being overtaken by the "stuff." I've never felt too successful in these endeavors. No matter how many times I've gone through it all or how much is sent away, it compounds. My experiences with Freecycle and Apartment Therapy's Home Cure have gotten me excited about the progress I'm capable of, but finding our home back in the same cluttered state within weeks (sometimes just days) is discouraging at best.

My 3-hour Barnes excursion reading the Fast and Furious 5 Step Organizing Solution got me to thinking again about the necessity of eliminating "stuff" from our life. Reevaluating what's really essential and sticking with it. My sister-in-law shared some minimalist links that fanned the sparks a little, and a friend shared a video of a zero waste family that really threw fuel on the fire. What an inspiration! And that is where, after 24 years of battling against clutter (well, probably less as I doubt I battled with it much in the early years), I finally and thankfully have landed on a diagnosis for the problem....

I never learned the 3 Rs that are meant to precede Reduce Reuse Recycle: Refuse Refuse Refuse.

And therein lies the heart of the matter--I am an accept-aholic. Gifts, hand-me-downs or give-aways--doesn't matter. If it's free, it's mine. Case in point: the carload (yes, it was an actual Vovlo V70 wagon full) of baby items handed down to us in the fall. Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful for such generosity and we definitely have gotten good use of some of it. I went through the items right away, trying to be particular in keeping only the items we would use. However, "items that could be used" is a little too broad and not at all the same as "items needed." Now, a few months later, baby is 3-months-old and already I am needing to reconsider everything to get the baby stuff under control.

The cycle started long ago and will not see an end until we end it. And that starts with refusing. Yes, I am an accept-aholic and this very simple concept is going to take some trial-and-error and major effort to become habit. Accepting what's given me is so engrained I am hardly able to recognize when it is happening. (The "refuse refuse refuse" link above gave me a good start.) The real hurdles will be 1) helping my husband recognize when this is happening and learn to refuse. (He brings home totes, pens, mugs, and other random give-aways from youth conferences and just recently an alumni golf event; of course, all of it should be put to use because it's now in our house. Note the sarcasm. I love you honey!) And 2) refusing on behalf of my kids. Whether it's from family, a neighbor or random person in the mall (who gave Brylee a kid's meal toy), kids are magnets for stuff. More stuff than can even be used in a day, and yet Brylee spends her days rolling on the floor in boredom. Go figure.

The "outbox"--a concept from Apartment Therapy--has become a semi-permanent addition to our home. Refusing would go a long way in making this hideous pile unnecessary.
All of this to say, the organizing book I read in Barnes got me motivated to eliminate some items before we move in six weeks. And the zero waste blog I've been looking into tonight has me inspired to up the ante on this elimination process--being skeptical of what I keep, purposeful of how I get rid of items, and intentional about what is allowed (and now allowed) in the house.

My name is Trina and I pledge to make refusing part of my lifestyle.