This blog post was originally posted on the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog on Tuesday, March 29, 2011.
Collections, Hobbies and Clutter. Oh CRAP!
My son has always called my craft room, the crap room. Maybe it’s because that’s the term my husband uses. Or maybe because the room is always full of various half started craft projects scattered from one corner to the other. Of course, I never thought my stuff was crap; until recently.
This year my family decided to take a long hard look at our life and everything we’ve accomplished. Because I’m a firm believer of looking at both sides of a situation, I also felt we needed to focus on areas where we have not been successful as well. With this in mind, we dubbed 2011 our Year of Reevaluation and took a critical look at every aspect of our lives together.
In January I blogged about making the decision to downsize our home. I still feel strongly about this choice and we are well on our way to making it a reality.
In last month’s post, I gave a little insight into our revamped family budget and how a detailed spreadsheet has kept us on a fairly straight path to paying down our debt. We still have not been able to keep from dipping into those luxury columns every now and then, but I think given a little time we will get there.
This month, I want to share one of the toughest decisions we’ve had to make thus far - cleaning out the “clutter” that has filled our home. By clutter, I don’t mean just the pile of quilting scraps stacked on a shelf next to my sewing machine. I don’t mean just the mountain of half used sheets of colored paper that I use with my scrapbooking projects. I also don’t mean just the shelves of handmade clay figures I’ve received over the years from The Kid. No. Those items would be far too easy to target alone.
What I do mean is that we also evaluated the various collections we’ve accumulated because they might be worth something one day; the antique items inherited from relatives as they’ve cleaned out their cluttered homes; the books, the clothes, the shoes, the videos, the games, the sports equipment, the toys. I could really go on and on here… This stuff can really add up.
One of the items I had to take a hard look at is my collection of more than 150 Barbie Dolls. All are in their original boxes, unopened and sitting in Rubbermaid tubs in the corner of my craft room. I don’t look at them or display them because I fear damaging the boxes, which would drop their value tremendously. I had originally thought to pass them onto a daughter or even a granddaughter (I only had the one boy), but they take up a LOT of space. With the home downsize, that space is going to be limited.
My husband inherited an old amber glass lamp from a great aunt after she passed away. To be perfectly honest, it matches NOTHING in our house and we fear breaking it every time we move (and we do move more than the average family). He also has a fairly large shop back in Wyoming that was too full of “his crap” to move when we headed southeast eight years ago.
I inherited an old Victrola record player and a heavy upright piano from my family. Those items are sitting in my in-laws garage back in Wyoming because (like hubby’s shop items) they are just too big and bulky to keep moving.
The Kid has saved every Lego piece we bought him, every Bionicle he put together, every Tonka truck he bought with his own allowance. These items alone don’t even make a dent in the boxes and tubs we have in storage for when he “grows up and has a family of his own.”
Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah. What is the point I’m trying to make here?
Simply that we’ve been extremely greedy over the years and become tied down and limited because of it. In eight years, we’ve moved six times. That’s just in the last eight years. Don’t get me started on the others. One of our “hobbies” is to build or remodel houses. Not only do we usually make a decent profit, but we’ve created a family bond that has literally been the glue to some of the tough economic times we’ve had to face.
So, as we reevaluated life, we realized that there are far more things we would like to be doing and all this stuff was just one of the obstacles keeping us from doing them. Most of the items I mentioned have already found new homes (still trying to talk hubby into parting with that lamp….) and the others will also vacate the premises before the end of the year.
Ironically after accepting this change, we had an epiphany. Instead of feeling sad or lost without our “stuff,” we’ve felt somewhat freer. I have a lot less to dust. I’m not constantly worried about damaging my collection of dolls. I’m not feeling guilty about all the projects I have in progress that I honestly will never complete. Hubby and The Kid have also expressed similar feelings about their sacrifices. If we had known just how good this would feel, we might have done it a long time ago. Maybe.