Decluttering the House but Cluttering the Mind?

This post is part of the #Purge365 series about a midlife journey through a year of purging a house – and a life – of unnecessary things. Click here to see all previous posts.

These have been my accomplishments in the week since my last #Purge365 post:

  1. I tackled the donation pile in my basement. Technically, it’s the act of purging that counts, not the act of bringing it to goodwill. But since this pile was already here, I allowed it. Even better, I got each of my children to contribute to it by doing a quick purge of their closets. Which actually accomplished another goal for the new year: delegate better. If you have teenagers in the house, or children of any kind, you will know that it isn’t exactly easy to delegate anything to them. I wonder if Marie Kondo has a chapter about family members in her book? About disagreeable, eye-rolling teenagers? Somehow I can’t quite imagine it.
  2. I took down the Christmas lights. Over the years – and having lived in both Kansas and Wisconsin, states where you can always count on a blizzard on both ends of the light-hanging venture – I have learned that if the sun is out, you gotta take down the lights, whether you feel like it that day or not. Here I also debated whether the lights would count. You see, in our neighborhood most people don’t put up (or down) their own lights. They hire someone else. And I’m pretty sure that “someone else” does not neatly fold up the lights and store them in a bin for next year like I do. So how would this be purging? Well, never fear – there are always at least a half dozen light chains that stop working just from the act of looking at them. Or, rather, half the chain stops working. Of anyone has ever figured out how to use that spare bulb you always get and use it to exchange the one faulty one that prevents the second half of the chain from working, I’d love to know. In any case, I was thankful for the broken chains because they counted toward Project #Purge365.
  3. I cleaned up the kitchen cupboard that holds the oil, the vinegar, and it turns out in my case, 3 large boxes of salt. I also found a large can of mulling spices from an impulse buy years ago that had made two ocean voyages since then and was still not depleted even a little bit. Out with the mulling spices!
  4. I took an entire trunkful of old paint cans to the special recycling center handling hazardous materials. I also remembered to bring the Tupperware of batteries I’d collected over the course of a year. Do you know what? It turns out you can’t recycle batteries. Or at least not the regular AA ones that we mostly use. Here goes another myth where I was feeling good about myself, recycling diligently every day, and in the end I was doing nothing for the environment. The guy just looked at me and tossed them in the trash, and I wanted to cry. How do I know this is not the case for everything else we recycle? I recently read China no longer takes the bulk of our recycling as it has in the past. It was news to me that our recycling ever went to China in the first place. I’m in hindsight very skeptical that they didn’t just burn it with all the other trash, regardless. My disillusionment hurt a little bit less as I got to chuck the paint cans into the designated container, as instructed by the attendant. It turns out swinging heavy paint cans and hurling them into the void, over and over again, is intensely gratifying.
  5. I gave two bathrobes to goodwill. In my closet there were four of them, two each for my husband and myself. Who needs two bathrobes? You will never wear the second one. In fact, I can tell you that I never even wear the first one. Bathrobes make no sense to me. But for now I kept the one. Perhaps it can be my last resort for December 31 2019 when I can no longer find anything in my house to purge.
  6. I threw away an entire bin full of balls. Basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, all in various states of deflation and used by no one in years. We are also, at any point in time, in possession of hundreds of golf balls, all picked up in our own yard as proof that most golf players, and certainly the ones on our course, possess a slice rather than hook shot. These I regularly take to Play it Again Sports to barter for a few cans of tennis balls. A win win situation all around.
  7. I deleted a bunch of apps from my phone. And don’t even try to protest that apps don’t count. They so do count! They are on my phone, which is in my house. They clutter my house and my mind, and therefore are purge-worthy. Plus, I make the rules, remember? Anyway, somehow my setting was automatically copying all family downloads to my phone, so I had a bunch of games I certainly didn’t want. It was incredibly gratifying to go from five pages of apps down to three. But wait! What’s that, Wordscapes? Oh, I love words! I’ll just play a little before I delete it… Just one more level. And another. I take it to the bathroom with me. I don’t emerge for another hour, when my thighs have gone completely numb. I brush my teeth while continuing to play with one hand. It takes a huge effort to force myself away and go to bed, where I continue to let words swirl around my head for what feels like another hour. I am completely hooked!

I had set out to declutter and simplify my life. Instead, I have invited a time-wasting piece of more clutter into my mind. I still have a long way to go!

Paint cans to recycle #Purge365
On my way to the recycling center with all the paint cans from our basement
bin full of balls #Purge365
Balls, balls, balls. They had their moment in time, but now they need to go.


    • I did keep it and it does bring joy, but it’s also highly addictive. Like, you never get to bed if you think you’ll just play a few more rounds. And then you get to bed and mull over all these letters in your brain. I guess it beats counting sheep:)

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