Hoarders - Diary of a Collector

I'm not a hoarder. Maybe not even a pack rat. I'm more of a stasher. Or a collector. Yeah, a collector. I collect stuff. Lots of stuff. I don't mean to, but I've had this thing in me since I was a kid - I have to have multiples of everything, and I rarely use the things that I really love. It's like I'm afraid to run out of something, or have a favorite item not be available anymore. Sounds crazy? Probably is.

I don't necessarily like to collect lots of things. I don't do it on purpose. In fact, I really love a home or office/studio that is spacious, clutter free and totally organized. In my mind I am Type A. In practice, I'm........Type Q, or something.

So what's on my New Year's Resolution List for 2011? Numero Uno - Get rid of STUFF! Numero Dos - Appreciate, enjoy and USE the things that I have (as opposed to storing it away somewhere to keep it safe in case I never find something else that I like as much.).

Years ago, I was at a memorial service. A family member of the deceased spoke kindly of this woman who had passed away and of how she enjoyed the little things in life. However, it wasn't always so. Much of her life was spent stashing away and "saving" things for "later". When she learned that she was sick and dying, she realized that "later" is right now! She pulled out her favorite linens; dusted off her special occasion china; sent letters using her favorite stationary; and finally burned that lovely "just for show" candle she'd had for decades.

Well, that story has stuck with me these fifteen years or so, and every year I think about it and try my best to enjoy what I have and not stash it away for a rainy day. Of course it's good to be frugal and have food storage and extra linens and such, but do I really need a storage bin full of stationary? No. Not only does it take up large amounts of space in my small townhome, but it will take me years to use up that many 'thank you' cards and stickers. Plus, think of the money I could have saved or spent elsewhere instead of having multiples of that gorgeous stationary that I had to have three sets of so I wouldn't run out. Which, of course, I've hardly used and, since it was purchased years ago, don't really even love that much anymore. It's a vicious cycle my friends. So, as I've mentioned, I've put together a little list I've named "The 5 D's". Hopefully, using this list you and I can effectively purge, organize and stylize our homes for 2011.

The first is: DECLUTTER. Here's how my decluttering is going: I've decided to begin with my clothes because I think that's where the majority of my family's excess lies. Honestly, it's an overwhelming undertaking for me simply because we have so much! I keep sending stuff to the local D.I. (Deseret Industries donation center) and yet, the piles never seem to go down. I'm still holding on to things that I don't really love or need anymore, but am keeping because they still have tags, or were designer, or were only worn a couple times, etc.. It's been difficult to just toss or donate clothes, bags, or shoes knowing they're worth solid cash. I've had the good intention of selling them at yard sales or on ebay but just never find the time (I've only managed two yard sales in five years). Hence, I have bins and bags in my closet and garage that I haven't parted with yet. So, in honor of my resolution to become more organized and aware, and to be willing to part with more things that may be worth money in return for a clean, uncluttered and functional home, I have made a pact with myself: As I search room by room to declutter and purge unnecessary items from my little townhome, I vow to set aside all the bags and bins of things I'd like to sell, take photos, and list them on ebay. If they don't sell within two weeks, off to the local donation center they go (I may give my younger sister-in-laws first dibs).

Meanwhile, I'll continue to restrain myself when making purchases, and truly ask myself if it's something I need. No? Then do I love it? And I mean L-O-V-E, shouting from the rooftops love, it. No? Don't buy. Yes? Fine then, buy it...but Self, you are not allowed to bring it home unless you know exactly where it will "live" and you must promise to toss something else out in it's place.

This is my plan and quest for a more spacious, clutter-free home. Plus, take a peek at this post from Defying Gravity (my mom's brand new site on conquering the world one elephant bite at a time) for her fun "Toss Ten" idea. Totally easy. Totally doable. Totally works! Really. Ten may sound like a lot, but it's amazing what really is toss-able, giveaway-able or just plain trash-able!

{images courtesy of Pottery Barn, UK Design, Flickr}