Remember back in May of 2019 when I committed to a year-long decluttering experiment? Well, those twelve months have long since come and gone but what I learned will live with me forever.
Before I began this challenge, I considered myself already a devoted and skilled declutterer, so I'll admit I was a little bit cocky, thinking I had nothing new to gain in this endeavor.
Well. I was wrong.
What I learned, my friends, is that simply getting rid of stuff I didn't like or want is just the tip of the proverbial decluttering iceberg. And the easy part, to boot. What was hard was coming to the realization that even if my stashes are all good stuff, there is no point in storing things that I'm not actively using.
I'll say that again. There's no sense in keeping things that I'm not going to use.
I abbreviated that wisdom further to my new decluttering credo:
Use it or lose it.
Now to be fair, I'll clarify that sometimes in life, it's fine to hang on to stuff that you'll be able to use in the not-too-distant future. Saving up furniture for the day you move into a full-size house, or keeping childhood treasures for your future kids - those are fair and logical reasons to keep things that you aren't currently using.
But besides my giant LEGO hoard and a cupboard full of board games and puzzles saved for my adorable grandchildren waiting to be born, I am in the full bloom of my life. There's simply no reason for me to squirrel away treasures for the days to come - now, NOW is the time for me to enjoy the belongings I've got, or else pass them along to someone else who will enjoy them for me.
This summer, I've been challenging myself to put my new philosophy into practice. I'm cleaning out every nook and cranny of my garage - seriously, how many times will I clean my garage before it's actually empty enough to make me happy? - and pushing my creative self to find new ways to put my old things to use.
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Fun fact about me: I'm obsessed with any sort of cubby device. I love the visual geometry of anything with small-ish uniform compartments, and I have a deep passion for the sorting and display purposes that cubbies present.
So when innocently browsing through a thrift store last fall and stumbling upon a pair of wooden cubbies for less than ten bucks, I snatched 'em right up.
My husband was puttering around the garage when I got home, and I asked him if he could extract the wooden boxes from the weird assortment of hardware attached to them, which he promptly did.
And then I set my adorable little wooden cubbies aside.
Oh sure, I thought about the little darlings. I considered a dozen different places they might go around the house, and a hundred different ways I could use them. But thinking was all I did.
So the boxes sat in the garage all winter long.
And all spring too.
Last week, during yet another of my post-midnight garage cleaning sessions, my eyes fell upon the poor castoffs and my mantra rang through my head.
Use them or lose them.
So without another instant of design agony, I grabbed a paintbrush, dashed on three coats of weatherproof polyurethane, and convinced my husband to hang the little darlings on the house.
With sweet satisfaction, I gathered up a couple handfuls of the shells, driftwood, and pretty rocks that accumulate in the corners of my yard, and tucked them into my newly repurposed cubbies as the true treasures that they are.
And then I moved on to my next decluttering challenge.