This is a trilogy of doings. Doings, not thinkings. Large is first in line. That’s what happens when you’re the biggest. Medium is like the good middle child. And Small is little but not insignificant. Every step, every action, matters.
Meet Large, who speaks for himself.
“After 30 years of living in a home, raising three kids, leading busy lives - Sh#t accumulates! Drawers fill with junk, closets are loaded with children’s clothing of adult kids no longer living here, and file cabinets are filled with tax returns so old they will never be audited by the IRS. But worst of ALL are the dreaded attics- the “out of sight, out of mind” places. This is where junk goes to die! Everything from boxes of “sentimental” baby clothes and toys and cribs to notes from Sociology 101 with Professor “Whoever” were dying a slow death.
Over the years, we have helped clean out homes of parents who have passed away or moved to retirement homes and have transitioned kids from apartment A to let’s-start-again apartment B. Those projects were work and each case involved significant decluttering. But a lower priority has always been us. We’ve not moved for 30 years and having not one, but two attics, there has been no catalyst or urgency for throwing things away.
But through reading and embracing Robin’s Rules, we realized the longer we went without a “Big Purge” the harder it would be to tackle; and heaven forbid burdening our kids with our clutter. So, two weeks ago, my better half said, “Let’s do it! We are going to be here next weekend. Let’s get a dumpster and attack our junk BLOB!” I quickly said, “You’re on!!”
The “Bin There, Dump That” lime green dumpster arrived on schedule Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, after procrastinating for as long as possible, we headed to the attic knowing this was going to be our most challenging task. Before the purge began, we shook hands on an important deal – if either one of us wanted to save ANYTHING, they had to the count of 5 to come up with their critically important reason why. There were other things we needed to agree on too and we constantly found ourselves adjusting our “rules for engagement”. We pulled down the steps to our third floor attic with enthusiasm. But that enthusiasm was knocked right out of us by running into a wall of “decisions deferred”. I will confess to being in a complete state of shock upon seeing, for the first time in a decade, the accumulation of “stuff”. After a few “You’ve got to be ‘expletive’ kidding me” it was time for our second agreement – to the dumpster without complaint or bellyaching for it would only drain our energy and possibly bring us to blows. We needed to be a team.
Sunday evening, 16 hours of really hard work behind us, 20,000 steps/day on the Fitbit (who knows how many flights?), we collapsed into our chairs to watch the Eagles surprise the Vikings. Over take-out, some much deserved wine, and Foles’ many completions, we recounted our weekend, praised our accomplishments, and discussed lessons learned.
· “The purge delayed is the purge betrayed” – the longer you put it off the more painful it will be.
· Don’t save those baby clothes, cribs, bedroom curtains, or whatever – your kids are not going to want them and besides they will probably have dry rot or be out of fashion! The ones that have life left in them can be donated. The lifeless one- toss now!
· Don’t use the attic as a “burial ground” – the pain in the ‘back’ to get that stuff down from there is way worse than the forced decision to get rid of it to begin with.
· Less is More – if you remove the clutter as you go, it frees up both space and your mind.
We are not finished with our de-cluttering project, but we have made huge strides. Importantly, we are inspired to finish because we see how really good it feels with each clean and organized space we create. We’ll keep you posted”, says Large.
Say hello to Medium, who is patiently waiting her turn.
Some might consider pantry-purging to be a strange way to recover from the flu, but that’s how it happened. Ending a bad bout, my friend, woke up perkier and feeling more herself. Having already successfully edited her closet using Robin’s Rules, she set her sights on the pantry. The kitchen was going to be repainted, so everything would have to come out of the pantry, and rather than simply move it all to the dining room table and floor, in a flash, she decided to really deal with all the stuff that was lurking behind closed doors. And what was lurking was a surprise. Not the good kind either. Expired cake mixes, jars of jams and spreads from Christmases past, spices that she knew she’d never use, containers of white stuff that could have been baking soda or baking powder, sticky syrup and honey bottles… you get the drift. And in pretty short order, all of the things that had been skulking, were exposed and banished. It took a few hours, but it didn’t cause a flu relapse. Quite the contrary, it was a shot in the arm. She says she’s yet to miss a single thing that she let go and she’s actually using what remains. Bravo Medium!
And last, but certainly not least, greetings to Small.
This friend has been on the path of enough for quite a while. She is quick to thank me for inspiration, but it is really more a case of preaching to the choir. But I do love our shared encouragements. She decided to clean out her junk drawer after reading one of my comic strip essays. The nubby pencils, broken clips, stripped screws, old calendars and coupons, and tangled strings were not long for this world. She’d had it with fishing around in a messy drawer for something that should have been easy to find. She was tired of thinking about cleaning out that drawer rather than actually doing it. By her own account, she’d spent way more time procrastinating than she spent doing. The doing was measured in minutes (about 20 of them). Once all the unnecessary stuff was gone, there was plenty of room for the keepers. A drawer reassignment- junk to neat! Well done, Small.
Inspiration is a two way street. Embracing Rules paved the way and Writings inspired actions. And those actions inspired more writing. So to the threesome, grazie, grazie, grazie.
“The purge delayed is the purge betrayed.” Brilliant. I wish I’d coined it.