Notes on Decluttering

I’ve been getting the house ready for the realtor’s visit tomorrow. I’m excited about this new journey. However, I’ve procrastinated about going through granny’s belongings to see what needs to be donated and what I will keep. Thus far, I have only managed to set aside one bag of granny’s clothing and have designated more of her things for the “to-keep” pile than the “donate” pile. During this decluttering process, I realized that granny wasn’t the only pack rat in this house. I’ve got clothes, papers, books, and other things I had long forgotten about. All of this talk of moving and starting life anew has forced me to finally go through all of our stuff.  And it has also reminded me of why it’s important to periodically declutter and get rid of things: because you’ll collapse from exhaustion at the thought of moving these things to another house. Although I’ve already set aside 140 books to donate, I’m starting to rethink my decision to keep all of my law school text books. And then there are some of my books that the Salvation Army doesn’t even want. Aside from avoiding the monumental task of moving everything you’ve ever owned since you were born, decluttering also allows you to weed through all of the extraneous things and get to the things that matter most. Today, I discovered that granny kept every bill, check, or bank statement she had ever received.  Those will be headed for the shredder. But, I also found my grandmother’s original birth certificate, letters between her and her siblings, a reference letter her pastor had written on her behalf, a notebook my granny took notes in while caring for her sick mother in 1977, certificates she had been awarded, and a delicately embroidered purse with matching silver gloves. I also found several of her Bibles, in which she had scribbled interesting notes. As I looked through the copy of Iyanla Vanzant’s Acts of Faith that I gave her in 1995, I re-read her notes and passages she had underlined, checked or circled. These items, more precious than her bank statements from 1982, tell a story about who my grandmother was and what she thought. Reading her words gives me a front row view of her feelings, vulnerabilities, hurts, and humanity. I look forward to continuing my treasure hunt for the things I will take with me when we travel to our new home.

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