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May 9, 201912:22 PMThe Gray Area

with Donna Gray

The hardest part of letting go of 'stuff'

Like many others, I recently spent a recent cold, rainy weekend binge-watching a television program, only instead of a drama or comedy, I binge-watched American Pickers. I was totally awestruck by the sheer amount of “stuff” being picked through — and the value of the pickings. In fact, I began to associate the stuff in our basement and garage to the large masses of stuff being shown on TV; only our stuff was neither antique nor valuable. It’s just stuff.

When we recently moved our business to a new space next door, we had to downsize certain things and upsize others. It showed me that keeping things “just because,” or for lots of made-up reasons, doesn’t work for today’s minimalist society. Not to mention, going through all the things that had been saved or “stored” for various made-up reasons showed me that it’s very easy to veer into hoarder territory.

The excuse that “you never know when you’re going to need this again” doesn’t hold a lot of water when it’s easy to replace things quickly today. There’s an old saying: “If you let go a little you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace.” After watching the pickers work their way through tons of other people’s stuff to find special valuables, I’m sure that it’s time to go through and let go of our stuff. Along with inspiration from Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’m looking forward to taking spring cleaning to a new level both at work and home. I should find a lot of peace!

My mother died almost 15 years ago and I still have some of the stuff we brought from her home. For the past 15 years I’ve preached to my husband, Dave, that I’m going to let it all go. I’ve found this to be much easier said than done, folks. Just like the seashells and sand memories we collect in a bottle on a beach, the special memories that go along with things from our childhood or things that remind us of someone special, whether valuable or not, make it hard to let go. Chicago-based professional organizer Amy Trager suggests asking yourself if you can remember the occasion or the person without the stuff attached, and if you can say “yes,” then the stuff can be donated or sold. Instead of keeping the stuff for nostalgia’s sake, take a picture of it and write a bit about the memory.

An expert suggests that we can ask the following questions when decluttering and purging our stuff:

  • Does it serve its purpose — to serve my purpose?
  • Can this be useful to someone else?
  • Would I leave this as someone else’s responsibility?
  • How do you want to live your life?
  • What do you want to own?

Marie Kondo says, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

I want to live mine free of the stuff that’s weighing me down.

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