Friday, December 13, 2013

86 the Junk!

This time of year, I start to feel the rumble of the Stuff Avalanche that Christmas brings. While there are things I'm happy to replace (like toys the kids are over) and grateful for gifts, I get a nervous twitch. 

It's coming. 

It's coming!!

Time to clear out. 

Last year I did a "get rid of 100 things" challenge from Courtney Carver around this time of year, but I hadn't planned to repeat it. I did make sure the kids had some room in their toy storage for new toys, but it didn't require getting rid of anything. We may do that after new toys eclipse old ones.

Then I read this post on Courtney's blog and got all jazzed. For those of you who haven't worked in the restaurant business, the chef will say, "86 the potatoes!" if they are out of potatoes. Well, that sounded ruthless and daring, so I grabbed my phone and decided to document what I found that I didn't think I needed. With this weeding out done, I feel lighter and more excited to face the influx of good things, because I'm not overwhelmed by what I already have. 

Wanna see?

I'll explain my findings starting with the picture at the top left. Sometimes, when you change the way you do something, you can store less. I use an Iphone app called, Mini Wallet to take pictures of my membership cards so I don't have to carry them around. And, half the places can look it up another way, so why would I dig it out at all? Still, I kept this stack in the dresser by the front door "just in case." When I realized there was no REAL scenario where I'd need them, I recycled them. 

The next picture shows what I found in my bathroom. The nail polishes didn't turn out to be what I expected (an opaque white and a milky glaze for french manicures), but when I first discovered that I didn't let them go. The third is a pile of swimsuits that are too small for the kids. The fourth is a very realistic Christmas garland I've loved, but don't use. I passed it on to a friend and kept the cat. The picture of me shows how I tried on the lipsticks I don't reach for. I reconsidered the one I'm wearing here, since it'll be nice for winter. Still in the bathroom, we see mouthwash I'd replaced, barrettes and toiletries we don't use. A random piece of jewelry chain. A nightgown that's too small for Cadence. 

I also recycled magazine clippings I no longer need to refer to for inspiration since I go to Pinterest for that. I was well over 86 items, though I don't think that was the goal. It just feels really good to look into rooms that are clean slates. No junk hiding anywhere. If it's there, it's because I've thought about it and think (at this point) it's a good idea. I took two evenings to do this and skipped the upstairs and storage totes. And Brian's closet. It's impressive to me that I covered so much ground in two evenings. When I started trying minimalism on for size, every area I covered took a while. Partly because there was more back then, but also because I was looking at everything with new, unfamiliar ideas. 

If it's your first time thinking about minimalism, 86ing may be fun or it might go so slow, you lose heart. I'd suggest starting where I did - with something small like your underwear drawer. It may seem like it wouldn't make a difference, but the freedom you experience in that small part of your life will inspire you to do it somewhere else. From there, it can grow into a happy thing you practice, rather than a huge project that failed. And who needs more of those? Very few of us have large amounts of time to devote to all-at-once overhauls, especially this time of year, but you'd be surprised how much joy there is in having one new area streamlined. 

If you try the 86 idea, get a shopping bag or box to put the stuff in as you're gathering. I had lots of little stuff that's not easy to carry around. Making trips to the place you stockpile for donating or selling will wear you out and slow you down. By the way, if you find a few things worth selling, they can pad your Christmas gift fund. Yea! But remember, this is a stress-reducing/spending-less-time-on-stuff venture. The goal isn't to make money, so maybe choose a few items to sell and donate the rest. If selling it's not actually going to happen, give yourself a break and just let it go!

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