The Quest for Clean

Friends, I have a confession: I struggle with clutter. I am, by nature, a bit of a packrat. I always have been. Typically, this happens for two reason:

  1. I get sentimentally attached to something – that shirt that someone bought me, that fabric that I got on a particularly memorably thrifting adventure, or that giant box of stuffed animals from my childhood. Oftentimes, even when I know I should get rid of something, it takes me a few years to let go of the attachment enough so that I can actually get rid of the thing.
  2. I hate waste. I hate paying money for something and then two months later thinking about the fact that I paid money for it and now don’t like it and really should get rid of it. I hate making something and investing my time in it, only to have it turn out sub-par and not do what it was intended to do. I hate tossing clothes that I know I could use for fabric scraps if I was just “ambitious” or “creative” enough. I feel weird just putting stuff in a bag for the thrift store when I wonder if my sister or my niece or a friend would maybe want to look at it first.

Now, having been through ten moves since turning 19 (that’s more than 1 move a year, on average!) I have at least been able to identify my packrat tendencies and attempt to keep them under control.  I’ve learned to identify certain types of clothing that I like wearing and always want in my closet. I’ve learned the basic types and colors of shoes that I like. I’ve learned what fabrics and yarns and other craft supplies I just don’t need to keep on hand. This has helped us maintain a fairly neat and uncluttered home. But I’ve always sort of been in “maintenance mode”, i.e. do a quick purge when things seem to be getting overwhelming. I’ve never taken a very pro-active stance on things – not buying what I don’t need in the first place, having regularly scheduled purges, etc.

Besides, clutter scares me after a certain point. It makes me really, really anxious. Something in my personality likes to be able to look at the space around me and evaluate what’s in it, why is it there, where did it come from, etc. And when there’s too much stuff for me to be able to do this, I get nervous and overwhelmed and want to start throwing things away.

As we are entering into the cooler months of the year, I am feeling a new desire to trim down the clutter. I mean, I will be mostly stuck inside for four months…why not use that time to make our indoor space more enjoyable and organized?

I’ve always been terrified by some of the more die-hard minimalists. They get sort of fanatical about it – kind of like people who suddenly get really into fitness. Or some new vein of theology. That being said, while I would like to share part of this resolve on the blog, I will do my best to be calm and gentle about it and not make you feel like a bad person if you choose to keep that one dress “just in case”.

So, here we go. The next few posts will be about tackling various areas around the house and how I intend to declutter or organize them. Feel free to follow along!


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