I spent the past several weeks hanging out with my mom in the house she and I used to share in Arkansas before I met Jack and moved to Oregon. It’s been eight years since Jack and I left, sort of on a whim, on a steamy summer day — our Chesapeake Bay retriever and newly adopted barn kitten in tow. We had packed whatever we could fit into a 24-foot Dutchmen trailer and then road-tripped ourselves to Central Oregon (by way of the Grand Canyon) without a real long-term plan in hand.
It never occurred to me that years would elapse before I would reunite with the bulk of my possessions, but it did. So, there we were, a few days after Christmas, loading as much of my pre-Jack belongings as we could fit, into his 31-foot horse trailer.
Deciding what to take back to Oregon and what to leave (and, subsequently, what to keep in the Little Rock house and what to discard altogether) was even more exhausting, and time-consuming, than I had anticipated. In the end, though, it was invigorating. By banishing some of that old stuff (even the good stuff) and organizing the remaining stuff — 30 years of books, clothes, photos, journals, Christmas cards, press clips, tchotchkes and wearable mementoes accumulated during my years as a fashion journalist (Todd Oldham shirt, anyone?) –- I feel like my actual life is now in order. Or at least a little more in order.
So when I stumbled upon “25 Things to Throw Out Today,” a blog post on Wise Bread written by senior writer Paul Michael, I was eager to see another person’s perspective on the subject. Just how well had I fared with Michael’s to-do list? (Here’s the complete post, in case you’d like to see how you fared.)
Actually, I did pretty darn good. I tackled 19 of the 25 categories Michael mentioned –- including the obvious (books, magazines, clothing and shoes, dated receipts and such, old medicine, outdated tech gadgets) and the not as obvious (coat hangers, socks, jewelry, makeup and food).
I also sorted through a few categories that didn’t make Michael’s list. The first is one that I don’t necessarily recommend doing in conjunction with anything else. (No, I didn’t exactly think this thing through. Nevertheless.) Two weeks before I made the trip to Arkansas, I bought a new computer. It was a Mac; the computer I’ve used for the past several years is a PC. Making that switch from XP to OSX required me to, like it or not, rethink many of my information-storage decisions. So, as I was purging my living space, I was also purging my cyber-space. Talk about de-cluttering! (Actually, I’m still dealing with that one, but that’s another story….)
The second additional category I addressed is one I realize won’t apply to everyone: art. But as a print journalist who covered the fine arts for much of the ‘80s and ‘90s, I managed to assemble quite a stash of paintings (primarily folk art), prints, fine crafts (especially ceramics) and random oddities (don’t ask).
The truth is, as much as I still love much of my collection, I no longer have the room nor the proclivity to display some of it. In fact, when pressed to admit it, there are some pieces I would probably never hang again — at least as long as I’m living a rural vs. urban life.
I did realize that, although I no longer wanted these artworks to grace my walls and tabletops, I didn’t want to simply discard them, either. So, while much of my cast-off stuff did make its way to the neighborhood Goodwill donation center, I found a more personally satisfying fate for my “old” arts and crafts: I gave several things to a friend I thought might enjoy them. Doing so not only brought a smile to my face but a sense of relief that those once-cherished possessions had found a good home. My friend (who used to own an art gallery) then agreed to see if she might find a buyer among her circle of art-loving friends for a few of the pricier artworks. Talk about a win-win.
So I’m tired today. Relieved and less encumbered by stuff, but tired. I still have a lot of unpacking to do.
About the Author:
Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE s a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Redmond and Bend.