Joy and pain

Posted November 9th, 2009 by Penny Wise

Wow, what an exhausting few days it's been! Fiona's '100 item decluttering challenge' was just the motivation I needed to get my bum in gear and make some extra cash before Christmas. Knowing that you have to somehow remove 100 things from your home is great - you have to keep going until you get there! It took me all weekend but I did get there - and am still going! So far the tally is up to almost 200 items! I can't tell you exactly how many as I didn't bother to count all the Playdoh cookie cutters but there would easily be 50 of those alone. In the space of a couple of days, I have:

Emptied three cupboards

Emptied one bookshelf

Emptied one three-drawer toybox

Listed over 30 items on Trade Me

Taken 10 rubbish sacks to the dump

Taken 21 books to take to the second hand book store

Donated 10 boxes full of stuff to the op shop

Donated 10 pairs of smart shoes, two skirts and three necklaces to Dress for Success

And there's still so much more to do! The kitchen cupboard, the wall unit, the shed, my wardrobe, under the stairs... eek, will it ever end! The house was a total bombsite all weekend, every available surface was covered. I discovered things I have been looking for since we moved here almost seven years ago! I have a 78 litre plastic container full of stuff I still have to list on Trade Me and the aforementioned three-drawer toybox is now full of things the boys want to sell too. Listing and photographing all that stuff is going to be a huge mission in itself! I have been keeping track of all the things I have decluttered in a Word document and it's been very fulfilling watching it grow. I won't post the whole list here or it will bore you to death but if anyone REALLY wants to know what my 100 items consist of, email me and I'll be happy to share!

I'm finding the whole experience to be one of mixed emotions. It's a fantastic feeling to get rid of all this stuff, to make our home tidier and easier to clean. I'm feeling terrific about donating items to Dress for Success, so that they can be used to help other women feel great and look the part when they are trying to get back into the work force. And I'm also feeling happy that by donating heaps of stuff to our local church op shop, they will be able to make money from selling them at their Christmas Fair. The money they make from that goes into helping the needy in the community. So all in all, it is a really worthwhile experience.

Unfortunately it has also proved quite painful. Because almost every single item of clutter that is being sold or has been donated, every piece of rubbish that has been stuffed in a sack has been paid for at some time. By us. Or as Noel points out, me. 'You paid $30 for that bowl?' he gasped, pointing at the price sticker still attached to the bottom as it poked out of one of the boxes destined for the op shop. Er, yes. That's why I'm getting rid of it - it is too harsh a reminder of my Sad Sally days. That and several other posh bowls and dishes I spent megabucks on because they looked lovely and stylish and trendy but never made it out of the cupboard from the moment I got them home. On the positive side, almost all my 100+ items have been from my Sad Sally days, which means I must have learned my lesson during my few years as a Simple Saver!

One funny thing I found was the number of containers I was able to get rid of once I had decluttered. Plastic boxes, cane baskets in all shapes and sizes - all containers which I had bought to hold the clutter in the first place! Yes, there have certainly been a few 'What the heck was I thinking?' moments over the past few days. It makes me angry, sad and regretful all at the same time, to look at all this stuff which we paid for but has gone on to mean nothing to us. Imagine how much better off we would be if all the money we wasted on clutter had stayed safe in the bank instead. I try not to think about it too much, it's too depressing! Even after all my decluttering the house is still full; I doubt if anyone else would even notice the difference. But at least it makes me feel good to know everything we have now is here because it is used and needed. Well, it will be, once I have got through the kitchen cupboard, the shed, my wardrobe, under the stairs...

I had to chuckle the other day. I think I've mentioned that the boys are mad about skateboarding at the moment. Unfortunately for them, we are surrounded by kilometres of very lumpy gravel (us Kiwis call it 'metal' but I have no idea why, as it's made of broken up rocks, not metal!) Anyway, whatever it's called, you couldn't possibly ask for anything worse to try and skate on. Hence much of their time is spent grovelling to their dad and me to drive them into town and drop them off at the local skate park for an hour or two. The last time I agreed to do this was when I was decluttering at the weekend. They arrived excitedly at the skate park and then said 'Oh no! We've forgotten our wallets!' As you know, these days they have to buy pretty much everything they want themselves, so there was no chance of being able to buy lollies, ice creams or any treats while at the park. Liam was mortified - how was he going to survive? Ali on the other hand looked briefly inconvenienced, then reached into the back seat and pulled out a 1.5 litre bottle of water. 'This'll do me', he said. 'I'll have plenty 'til you come and pick us up, and it will save me some money too!' He's learning!

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