Saturday, February 2, 2008

800 Pounds

That is how much clutter I logged here that we have gotten rid of in January in the form of donations, garbage and recyling. Ok, not all of it is out of the door yet, but most of it has a destination (I'm giving most of our baby stuff that's left to a woman in need :D . We never used most of it to begin with. Some things I have to freecycle or save for a community swap or wait for Spring Cleanup). 800 pounds of junk...wow. Probably a good 100 pounds of that was just paper we had hoarded. Ya think we have a problem? LOL!

I have been coming to terms with the fact that we have a problem. I don't know where it originated, probably from my depression and inability to deal with so much stuff and Mark's inability to let things go, but it has definitely snowballed since having kids and the quadrupling of stuff that seemed to happen when we went from about a shoe box apartment to a house with a huge basement. Whooo! A basement? Fill 'er up!

Sad thing is, there is so much more that we can, and will, get rid of. The problem is we have allowed ourselves to fall into squalor. Oh my gosh, I hate that term, it sounds so gross and disgusting, but when I read the definition, it's like, oh yeah, that's us (other than the fact I have never been a tidy person):
First degree squalor
You are getting behind in tasks that you would normally manage, like laundry and dishes. You are not the tidy person you once were. Little piles are starting to emerge and your disorganization is starting to affect your life and inconvenience you. Things are just starting to get out of hand and become unmanageable. A sign of first degree squalor could be that you might be embarrassed for other people to see your mess...but you would still let them in the house.
Second degree squalor
Now things are really starting to get out of hand. Signs that you have reached second degree would include losing the use of normal household items like your bed, table, television or telephone, because the piles have expanded to cover the items up. You start to develop new methods of moving around your house, as normal movement is impeded by your piles of stuff. You might start making excuses to discourage people from entering your house.

This is taken from http://www.squalorsurvivors.com by the way, which has helped me see it's not a matter of laziness but what happens when one lets things get out of control.
There are 3rd and 4th degrees but fortunately we've never gone there. Those are the kinds I think of when I think of squalor, you know, animal droppings on the floor, walls peeling, filth everywhere, ect... We are kind of in between 1st and 2nd. I think I get so overwhelmed dealing with all the stuff it gets easier not to deal with it. I am so embarrassed when people come over. I have been doing FlyLady for a while, but I cannot keep up with things, even cleaning and organizing several hours a day. We have so much clutter and you can't clean clutter.

Some examples: I decided a while back we would keep most of the toys in Shaylee's room. Right now her room is 95% toys, 5% clothes, 0% room to walk (her clothes have been seriously decluttered as it was neck and neck for a while). You cannot walk down the hall to get to her room as the hall is lined with toys and baskets of clothes. The kids can't enjoy their toys. I've tried organizing them, but it doesn't work. They don't play with 95% of them. There just isn't room for them to play. But I feel too guilty to get rid of them. Boxing them up for later use has never worked. I've tried. Plus it's more clutter in another part of the house. So, with their consent and help, we will be getting rid of most of them. Toys are supposed to be for fun and enjoyment, not frustration and dust collectors.

Books are another huge problem. We are book fanatics. For a while, I couldn't go a month without making a huge book order. When that got too expensive, I turned to second hand stores where I could get a big bag of books for a couple of bucks. I haven' t bought any books in months and months and in turn have donated about 20 bags so far, which have not put a dent in them. Thing is the kids have so many books and they get lost on the book cases because kids books are so thin they vanish. Even in baskets, they don't get taken out much. They mostly read stuff from the library.

So yeah, I've been seriously decluttering. I do it every day now. I have several garbage bags plus 6 bags of books ready to go out the door asap. Mark actually got rid of a garbage bag of clothes. I am so proud of him, especially since I've been after him so long....years in fact..... to do it, lol! I've gotten rid of about 30 garbage bags of clothes from me and the kids since summer (to be fair people are always giving us clothes but I have to go through them all the time and constantly declutter or it becomes overwhelming and we have no space).

We are going to try embarking on a new journey called The Compact.

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of North American consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)


I think it's pretty ironic that as green and environmentally friendly as we try to be in our household, we are basically living in a landfill. So we are changing our lives to more suit our beliefs. Many who compact buy nothing new except food and health/hygiene needs. I'm trying to figure out how to make the portable dishwasher fit in there that we've been saving for, lol! (well, it cleans what we have our food on, it saves my mental health since I DESPISE dishes and dishes are torture on my hands, it cleans dishes better than I could plus I would be supporting a local business by buying it at Rogers instead of a big box store. I have been looking for a couple of years for one second hand, unsuccessfully.)

Another thing compacters do is try to eat local. We would starve on this principle, lol! So I am trying to stick with Canadian food when possible, but it is harder to do than one would think.

I don't really know where to fit this in but I highly recommend watching: The Story Of Stuff . It's a website with a 20 minute video that while it is rather simplified, it gets the point across the dangers of too much stuff, especially in a world of dwindling resources.

So those are my rambling thoughts which were keeping me up all night. Now that it's morning I should get ready for a new day :)

4 comments:

Ande said...

Oh Carla, I am SO proud of you! You know from the pictures I posted some time back that my house doesn't have any piles of clutter (well, except for the room I didn't post pictures of, and the barn, LOL) but what you don't know is that it didn't start out that way. It took me three YES THREE years to get to a place where my home welcomes and loves me instead of scaring the bejeezus out of me when I walk through the door. For one solid year I had a note to myself on the front of my daytimer that said "Go home! You are not allowed to go shopping for more things, just to avoid the things you already have to deal with!" I used to call it retail therapy - but it wasn't! There was no therapy involved - it was just allowing myself to sink into the mire of all the wants that never really met any of my needs. Life is too short to live that way.

I am so proud of you for starting this journey, for the hard work you have been doing, and I am proud of Mark for decluttering that garbage bag of clothes - it is a beautiful thing when a man respects his wife enough to get it and actually do something about it. I can't express how worth it it will be for you botth and your children when you wake up one day and realize that you actually have very little to do - and you have more time to go make beautiful memories as a family rather than spending time and energy (I like to refer to this as making rent payments) on STUFF! What a feeling of peace you have on store for you, and I am so proud of you for taking the taste of the free life by decluttering.

McVeinot said...

Thank you, Ande! I do know if it were not for the help of my FLYing buddies, I would not, could not have gotten to this point. You are an inspiration to me and how you continue to work at the things you need to do to make your life better. Thank you for reminding me it takes time :). Patience is a hard thing for me, but I need to learn it...daily, lol!!

Frances said...

Carla, any journey worth taking begins with a long hard look inwards! You are very honest with yourself, and at times that is painful, but in the long term it wil serve you well!

I'm very proud of you! You are doing something about a situation which you do not like... you are working and growing and you ARE SUCCEEDING!

Keep up what you are doing. Somedays will feel more successful than others. But you can do it!

Frances

Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

I too used to be a book hoarder. Now, thanks to a lot of hard emotional work, while I do still own a lot of books, I have many fewer than 2 yrs ago AND, I rarely buy new ones.

Now, the first thought when I see or hear of a book I am interested in is to put it on hold at the library. I do often have 50+ items checked out, but those all eventually go back to the library, they don't clutter up my home.

congrats on joining the decluttering journey!