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Crap Attack or I Have Entirely Too Much Crap

I have entirely too much stuff.

There are lots of reasons for this state of affairs.

1) I am a child of a child of the depression so I learned not to throw anything away.

2) When my dad died, I inherited both his house packed to the brim with stuff as well as my grandmother’s house packed to the brim with stuff.

3) I like cool stuff. Especially if I think I might be able to use it/wear it someday.

But the situation has gotten out of control. I have clothes I haven’t worn in years (and am not likely to anytime in the near future. I have lamps, rugs and knick-knacks that don’t really suit my style. And I have more books than I will ever be able to read or re-read.

The weight of all of this stuff is starting to strangle me. And it keeps me from being nimble. I mean, how can I trap of mediocrity if I am trapped by stuff?

So, starting today – I am pitching out with a heavy hand.  Here are my criteria:

1) Do I love it?

2) Do I use it?

3) Do I want it?

4) Do I need it?

5) It is worth trading my lightness of foot for it?

Now in the interest is transparency, I’ve reached this place before. Sick to death of my stuff and vowing to get rid of it. But my attempts in the past have been measly really. And last night I hit on why that is.

For some reason giving stuff to the Salvation Army so that it can be re-sold just doesn’t do it for me. There are people in my city who don’t even have the cash or the wherewithall to shop there. And beside, I shop there – and I am not exactly in need. So collecting my donations have been half-hearted at best.

Then I remembered something. There is a place that people go, sometimes in the middle of the night, and arrive with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing. Women, children, even men come to this place and need the very basics immediately. The items that are weighing me down would be a godsend to them. Just the motivation I need.

What is this place, you might be wondering? My local domestic violence shelter.

And if the stuff I complain about, put off decisions about and generally feel encumbered by can give someone a boost toward freedom, I AM IN!

So, starting today, I am cleaning out with a vengeance. All it took was the right connection in my brain.

So, I have three questions for you:

1) Are you encumbered by too much stuff?

2) Are you willing to let go of any of it?

3) Is there someone who would could really USE the things that are just taking up space around you?

P.S. Martha Beck always talks about how our houses is a metaphor for our lives. GULP! I don’t want a life crammed with stuff that weighs me down!

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  • http://elizabethpottsweinstein.com ElizabethPW

    At the old house we used to put stuff on the “corner” — we lived on a busy enough street we could just put *anything* out there on a Saturday/Sunday morning and it would be gone in 10 minutes. And I mean *anything* – broken, random box of stuff, whatever. (yes, I always labeled stuff “broken” if it was) And, I loved that the person taking it was going to fix it to use or sell, like we were contributing to the circle of life.

    Have not found that magic corner in SF, but I’m sure it’s here somewhere. :)

    Elizabeth

    • http://www.nuwomb.com Scott Webb

      This reminds me of the “how I met your mother” episode and they could put anything out front of their apartment building and it would be gone in seconds. And finally they put something out that didn’t get taken – something that meant so much to the one guy. too funny

  • Guest

    Two things that endear me to this post: I like to “travel light”. Everything I have in the world (possession wise) fits into a one bedroom apartment, and I feel like I have too much. I subscribe to the adage that something you own should have value to you, if not, maybe it has value for someone else. The other things is that there are two causes that I believe in locally are the homeless (River City Food Bank, Sac Safe Ground, Loaves and Fishes) and domestic violence (WEAVE). Donating can be expressed through money, stuff, or time. Stuff is something that most people can do, well within our reach.

  • Anonymous

    I love getting rid of stuff! (blog post to come) I am a clothes whore- but I edit OFTEN. The more I get rid of, the easier it is to find something that I like to wear NOW. And all those bags that go out on a reg basis make me feel LIGHTER. I am not my stuff!

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  • Tami Morello

    I am in the same place of needing/wanting to get rid of lots of stuff. And, I also have been down this road many times, never seeming to reach the point of feeling free of the strangle-hold of too much stuff. All that unused, unloved build-up of life’s trappings stifles the flow of energy, both in my space and in my mind. Serious spring cleaning time.

    I love donating to our local shelters and often do. But also remember that non-profits like Salvation Army do a lot of good work, and you support that both by donating and shopping. So shop away, just be careful about what you bring home. It’s a vicious cycle sometimes!

    I wish there was an easier way to know what some community needs are. In our area, we’ve had lots of refugees resettled here by the state dept., and of course they arrive with absolutely nothing. But unless you’re plugged in to the right sources, how would you know that the crap stuffed in your basement or closets is exactly what is immediately needed? Just musing here…

    And I have to agree…GULP….if my house is a metaphor for my life, I need to step away from the computer, grab a few bags and boxes….

    • Anonymous

      yeah…the first time Martha said that to me, I kind of wanted to throw up. It’s an eye-opener, isn’t it!

      I did a google search and found the website of our local YWCA who runs several domestic violence shelters. They have a list of the items they are in most need of – which is extremely helpful. You might try and see if any of your local organizations have lists on their sites. :-)

  • http://www.randomshelly.com/blog/ Shelly

    I have actually been thinking about this recently.. My husband and I say twice a month that we need to go through the stuff in the garage and do something with it… and I have walked through my house and decided that I am going to tackle a room at a time and clear out all the clutter… I know there are people that could use a lot of this stuff.

    I love the metaphor of comparing the clutter in the garage to the clutter in my life. I know that every time I make a run to goodwill – or wherever, I feel lighter and better… and it helps me to get rid of some of the stuff ‘in my head’ or around me that is weighing me down!

    Need to find the local Domestic violence org! Great idea!

    • Anonymous

      See?! I think there really is a psychological connection between holding on to stuff/getting rid of stuff and how we feel. Maybe we should make this a Tribe Project?!

      • http://www.randomshelly.com/blog/ Shelly

        I completely agree! During your Change your game – I cluttered my desk, reorganized and man do I feel better! and more productive, and more energetic, and more creative :)

        I think it would be an awesome Tribe Project! :)

        • http://on-a-limb.com Claudia Hall Christian

          Yea Tribe project – can we please include some guru to help make all the paper disappear??

      • http://www.accessabundance.com/ Teresa Romain

        I’m IN for a tribe project – how about 30 Days for Traveling Light??? :-)

        The other thing for me to remember is that it’s not just about getting rid of the external clutter… but to learn the lessons (internal stuff) for me as I let go of it. To get and also release the underlying beliefs, justifications, illusions I have that had the clutter build up in the first place. Otherwise (as I now am realizing more than ever as I sit surrounded by clutter – especially paper) the clutter and stuff keeps coming back.

        So – bottom line – what is going on inside of me that I keep filling my life with “crap”?

        It’s at THAT level that I REALLY look forward to the “letting go” and the “lightness”!

      • http://katjaibur.posterous.com/ Kat Jaibur

        I love making this a Tribe project. What would be really fun (in a twisted way) is if some of us could be doing the clearing AT THE SAME TIME. Like, say, Monday from 1-4pm EDT. We could put on our favorite tunes, and have a quick kickoff call and then regroup at 4 for pats on the back. Just knowing that we’re doing it together… and accountable… feels exciting. What do you think?

        P.S. How did you get into my garage to take the pic? I love to say we have a finished basement and I know, because I have pictures of it. We haven’t seen the floor in years. Thanks for “coming clean” and inspiring me to do the same!

  • http://simplytrece.wordpress.com Trece

    What a great post!! You have given us a new and more needy spot to gift with our stuff. I’ll bet that if Tami Morello calls her local paper she could tap into the pipeline to help refugees.
    Like you, I’m not always pleased to donate to Sally’s, so I look for GoodWill drop boxes. At this point, so much of my “stuff” is books that I’m planning a massive drop to my local library’s Used Book Sale.
    Keep going – you’re defying gravity!

    • Tami Morello

      Great point about the local paper. Also, I’m glad you mentioned Goodwill – that’s actually where lots of my stuff goes. And definitely support you local library- those book sales are great. I wonder how many times some of those books have been bought, donated, bought, donated back…great recycling!

  • http://on-a-limb.com Claudia Hall Christian

    I struggle with paper. Paper has drowned me more than once. No matter how ahead I get with paper, the mail man arrives and I’m behind again. That’s not to mention old businesses, paper needing to be shredded and on and on and on…

    I wish I could figure a way to stay ahead or eliminate it all together.

  • Anonymous

    Two things I just love about this post. 1) Crap Attack! 2) “All it took was the right connection in my brain.”

    I knew immediately what you were talking about. This Spring I’m purging my clutter too. I also have gone down this road before. My difference this time is to not beat myself up for sliding and cluttering. Just, stop/pause and declutter what just got recluttered and keep on moving forward with the process. As I decluttered, I found I could breathe better. As one finds spaces to breathe, that is all the motivation one needs. That was the connection my brain needed.

    I also found most of what was cluttering my spaces, were things that no longer reflect who I am today. I am more who I am today, when I’m free of the old stuff. It subtly (& not so subtly) kept me back in that old place. Like quick sand. The new me is freer and lighter. And breathes freely.

    From now on, I’m crap attacking when I declutter/Spring clean. The family will love it! Thanks.

    • http://www.accessabundance.com/ Teresa Romain

      Thanks so much for this Elisabeth… “I also found most of what was cluttering my spaces, were things that no longer reflect who I am today. I am more who I am today, when I’m free of the old stuff. It subtly (& not so subtly) kept me back in that old place. Like quick sand. ”

      I really don’t have that much STUFF (other than paper)… but the STUFF I have is old and no longer reflects me. I think I’ve been waiting to get rid of it until I have something to take its place. Now I realize I have to begin to let it go and create the vacuum for what I do want and that does reflect me to come in!

  • Drew Feger

    Good call Sarah. My Mom used to bring all of our stuff like this to the women’s shelter or local children’s center. I just moved and have a bunch of stuff marked donation. I’ve already looked up a place to bring it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Anonymous

    Have i used it in the last 6 months?
    or will i be guaranteed to use it in the next 6?
    If not will my grandchildren want it?
    Keep pictures of past friends/squeezes.

    Everything else turf

    If it is too valuable to turf leave it on the curb for 48 hours
    Turf everything that is left.

    Do not bother trying to extract value on anything worth less than $500 used,
    It will not sell and you end up keeping it.

    S

  • http://elizabethpottsweinstein.com ElizabethPW

    At the old house we used to put stuff on the “corner” — we lived on a busy enough street we could just put *anything* out there on a Saturday/Sunday morning and it would be gone in 10 minutes. And I mean *anything* – broken, random box of stuff, whatever. (yes, I always labeled stuff “broken” if it was) And, I loved that the person taking it was going to fix it to use or sell, like we were contributing to the circle of life.

    Have not found that magic corner in SF, but I'm sure it's here somewhere. :)

    Elizabeth

    • Sarah Robinson

      Yes – contributing stuff to people who want it and can use it is pretty awesome. Creates forward energy where there was none!

  • http://twitter.com/FriskyBoy JohnnyFrisk

    Two things that endear me to this post: I like to “travel light”. Everything I have in the world (possession wise) fits into a one bedroom apartment, and I feel like I have too much. I subscribe to the adage that something you own should have value to you, if not, maybe it has value for someone else. The other things is that there are two causes that I believe in locally are the homeless (River City Food Bank, Sac Safe Ground, Loaves and Fishes) and domestic violence (WEAVE). Donating can be expressed through money, stuff, or time. Stuff is something that most people can do, well within our reach.

    • Sarah Robinson

      I remember when all my stuff would fit into my car (with the mattress strapped on top!). I can’t quite get there anymore, but I can certainly get it down to the essentials. And yes, most of us have way more “stuff” than we can ever use, so giving some of it away is absolutely within our reach. :-)

  • meganmatthieson

    I love getting rid of stuff! (blog post to come) I am a clothes whore- but I edit OFTEN. The more I get rid of, the easier it is to find something that I like to wear NOW. And all those bags that go out on a reg basis make me feel LIGHTER. I am not my stuff!

    • Sarah Robinson

      Can’t wait to read that blog post Megan!! And yes, sometimes I can’t see the clothes I like because of all the clothes that are just…well…there. Whittling it down to the clothes I want to wear and that I feel fab in. Everything else goes!

  • Tami Morello

    I am in the same place of needing/wanting to get rid of lots of stuff. And, I also have been down this road many times, never seeming to reach the point of feeling free of the strangle-hold of too much stuff. All that unused, unloved build-up of life's trappings stifles the flow of energy, both in my space and in my mind. Serious spring cleaning time.

    I love donating to our local shelters and often do. But also remember that non-profits like Salvation Army do a lot of good work, and you support that both by donating and shopping. So shop away, just be careful about what you bring home. It's a vicious cycle sometimes!

    I wish there was an easier way to know what some community needs are. In our area, we've had lots of refugees resettled here by the state dept., and of course they arrive with absolutely nothing. But unless you're plugged in to the right sources, how would you know that the crap stuffed in your basement or closets is exactly what is immediately needed? Just musing here…

    And I have to agree…GULP….if my house is a metaphor for my life, I need to step away from the computer, grab a few bags and boxes….

  • randomshelly

    I have actually been thinking about this recently.. My husband and I say twice a month that we need to go through the stuff in the garage and do something with it… and I have walked through my house and decided that I am going to tackle a room at a time and clear out all the clutter… I know there are people that could use a lot of this stuff.

    I love the metaphor of comparing the clutter in the garage to the clutter in my life. I know that every time I make a run to goodwill – or wherever, I feel lighter and better… and it helps me to get rid of some of the stuff 'in my head' or around me that is weighing me down!

    Need to find the local Domestic violence org! Great idea!

  • sarahrobinson

    yeah…the first time Martha said that to me, I kind of wanted to throw up. It's an eye-opener, isn't it!

    I did a google search and found the website of our local YWCA who runs several domestic violence shelters. They have a list of the items they are in most need of – which is extremely helpful. You might try and see if any of your local organizations have lists on their sites. :-)

  • sarahrobinson

    See?! I think there really is a psychological connection between holding on to stuff/getting rid of stuff and how we feel. Maybe we should make this a Tribe Project?!

  • randomshelly

    I completely agree! During your Change your game – I cluttered my desk, reorganized and man do I feel better! and more productive, and more energetic, and more creative :)

    I think it would be an awesome Tribe Project! :)

  • http://simplytrece.wordpress.com Trece

    What a great post!! You have given us a new and more needy spot to gift with our stuff. I'll bet that if Tami Morello calls her local paper she could tap into the pipeline to help refugees.
    Like you, I'm not always pleased to donate to Sally's, so I look for GoodWill drop boxes. At this point, so much of my “stuff” is books that I'm planning a massive drop to my local library's Used Book Sale.
    Keep going – you're defying gravity!

  • http://on-a-limb.com Claudia Hall Christian

    I struggle with paper. Paper has drowned me more than once. No matter how ahead I get with paper, the mail man arrives and I'm behind again. That's not to mention old businesses, paper needing to be shredded and on and on and on…

    I wish I could figure a way to stay ahead or eliminate it all together.

  • Tami Morello

    Great point about the local paper. Also, I'm glad you mentioned Goodwill – that's actually where lots of my stuff goes. And definitely support you local library- those book sales are great. I wonder how many times some of those books have been bought, donated, bought, donated back…great recycling!

  • http://on-a-limb.com Claudia Hall Christian

    Yea Tribe project – can we please include some guru to help make all the paper disappear??

  • ElisabethAL

    Two things I just love about this post. 1) Crap Attack! 2) “All it took was the right connection in my brain.”

    I knew immediately what you were talking about. This Spring I'm purging my clutter too. I also have gone down this road before. My difference this time is to not beat myself up for sliding and cluttering. Just, stop/pause and declutter what just got recluttered and keep on moving forward with the process. As I decluttered, I found I could breathe better. As one finds spaces to breathe, that is all the motivation one needs. That was the connection my brain needed.

    I also found most of what was cluttering my spaces, were things that no longer reflect who I am today. I am more who I am today, when I'm free of the old stuff. It subtly (& not so subtly) kept me back in that old place. Like quick sand. The new me is freer and lighter. And breathes freely.

    From now on, I'm crap attacking when I declutter/Spring clean. The family will love it! Thanks.

  • Drew Feger

    Good call Sarah. My Mom used to bring all of our stuff like this to the women's shelter or local children's center. I just moved and have a bunch of stuff marked donation. I've already looked up a place to bring it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • harpsound

    Have i used it in the last 6 months
    and will i be guaranteed to use it in the next 6?
    If not will my grandchildren want it?
    Keep pictures of past friends/squeezes.

    Everything else turf

    If it is too valuable to turf leave it on the curb for 48 hours
    Turf everything that is left.

    Do not bother trying to extract value on anything worth less than $500 used,
    It will not sell and you end up keeping it.

    S

  • Anonymous

    Sarah do you also have places like we do that take donation for the poor and disadvantaged. We have places like Doorstep, Salvation Army, and Let’s Help that take gently used items such as household items,and clothing as well as childrens toys for the economically disadvantaged.

    Call your local Social Services office to find out where places like these are at in your area.

  • http://www.accessabundance.com/ Teresa Romain

    I'm IN for a tribe project – how about 30 Days for Traveling Light??? :-)

    The other thing for me to remember is that it's not just about getting rid of the external clutter… but to learn the lessons (internal stuff) for me as I let go of it. To get and also release the underlying beliefs, justifications, illusions I have that had the clutter build up in the first place. Otherwise (as I now am realizing more than ever as I sit surrounded by clutter – especially paper) the clutter and stuff keeps coming back.

    So – bottom line – what is going on inside of me that I keep filling my life with “crap”?

    It's at THAT level that I REALLY look forward to the “letting go” and the “lightness”!

  • http://www.accessabundance.com/ Teresa Romain

    Thanks so much for this Elisabeth… “I also found most of what was cluttering my spaces, were things that no longer reflect who I am today. I am more who I am today, when I'm free of the old stuff. It subtly (& not so subtly) kept me back in that old place. Like quick sand. “

    I really don't have that much STUFF (other than paper)… but the STUFF I have is old and no longer reflects me. I think I've been waiting to get rid of it until I have something to take its place. Now I realize I have to begin to let it go and create the vacuum for what I do want and that does reflect me to come in!

  • joecheray

    Sarah do you also have places like we do that take donation for the poor and disadvantaged. We have places like Doorstep, Salvation Army, and Let's Help that take gently used items such as household items,and clothing as well as childrens toys for the economically disadvantaged.

    Call your local Social Services office to find out where places like these are at in your area.

  • http://www.intelligentproductivity.com John Soares

    I’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff over the last few months, nearly all of it donated to charities.

    I’ve also been very careful about what I purchase lately.

  • http://www.intelligentproductivity.com John Soares

    I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff over the last few months, nearly all of it donated to charities.

    I've also been very careful about what I purchase lately.

  • http://playitforward.posterous.com/ Kat Jaibur

    I love making this a Tribe project. What would be really fun (in a twisted way) is if some of us could be doing the clearing AT THE SAME TIME. Like, say, Monday from 1-4pm EDT. We could put on our favorite tunes, and have a quick kickoff call and then regroup at 4 for pats on the back. Just knowing that we're doing it together… and accountable… feels exciting. What do you think?

    P.S. How did you get into my garage to take the pic? I love to say we have a finished basement and I know, because I have pictures of it. We haven't seen the floor in years. Thanks for “coming clean” and inspiring me to do the same!

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  • http://www.mamasays.us Lynn Epstein

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • http://www.mamasays.us Lynn Epstein

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Saturday Update: I own pants that are too short that I keep “making do” with. Today, I am getting rid of them and adding them to the pile of clothes going to the Domestic Abuse Shelter. I’ve alos decided that I do not need SIX pairs of black heels. I will choose two to keep and the rest are going!

  • sarahrobinson

    Saturday Update: I own pants that are too short that I keep “making do” with. Today, I am getting rid of them and adding them to the pile of clothes going to the Domestic Abuse Shelter. I've alos decided that I do not need SIX pairs of black heels. I will choose two to keep and the rest are going!

  • http://kymleeisawesome.net Kymlee

    Good for you for starting your purge! Its hard but the pay off is worth it.

    I love to purge. When I moved, I got rid of furniture, clothing, books, toys, housewares…anything in a box that hadn’t been used in the last year…I’m a little obsessed about living a life free from the attachment of things I don’t need or use. This probably comes from being raised by a mother who kept everything and having to move all of her stuff after much of it had been stored in a garage for 15 years without any use. It was quite disgusting actually because not only did the stuff sit in the garage for over a decade, things got piled on and she actually wanted to move it ALL wherever she went. But since she couldn’t handle the process of packing, I ended up doing most of the moving (even though I hadn’t lived with her for at least 4 or 5 years). It was stressful and painful and since I took on the task of “helping” (I had a flexible schedule at the time), I ended up also being blamed when not everything was moved. That whole situation was rather traumatizing and since then, I’ve been a staunch believe in getting rid of things I don’t need or use. When I move again (in a month or so), I’ll go through what I have (which really isn’t much) and purge again. I do have a box of “memories”–old poems and journals, year books, old pictures, etc.–but I’m starting to wonder what I’m holding on to some of it for.

    The biggest thing I learned is that purging creates a vacuum through which new things are able to enter my life. In with the old and out with the new. Hording can become a prison and I’d rather be free than struggling and stressed out trying to move a decade’s worth of crap I’ll never use.

  • http://kymleeisawesome.net Kymlee

    Good for you for starting your purge! Its hard but the pay off is worth it.

    I love to purge. When I moved, I got rid of furniture, clothing, books, toys, housewares…anything in a box that hadn't been used in the last year…I'm a little obsessed about living a life free from the attachment of things I don't need or use. This probably comes from being raised by a mother who kept everything and having to move all of her stuff after much of it had been stored in a garage for 15 years without any use. It was quite disgusting actually because not only did the stuff sit in the garage for over a decade, things got piled on and she actually wanted to move it ALL wherever she went. But since she couldn't handle the process of packing, I ended up doing most of the moving (even though I hadn't lived with her for at least 4 or 5 years). It was stressful and painful and since I took on the task of “helping” (I had a flexible schedule at the time), I ended up also being blamed when not everything was moved. That whole situation was rather traumatizing and since then, I've been a staunch believe in getting rid of things I don't need or use. When I move again (in a month or so), I'll go through what I have (which really isn't much) and purge again. I do have a box of “memories”–old poems and journals, year books, old pictures, etc.–but I'm starting to wonder what I'm holding on to some of it for.

    The biggest thing I learned is that purging creates a vacuum through which new things are able to enter my life. In with the old and out with the new. Hording can become a prison and I'd rather be free than struggling and stressed out trying to move a decade's worth of crap I'll never use.

  • Anonymous

    HAHA! That looks like my garage. My business partner and parted ways, I got the entire office crammed in the garage! I’ve got that $1200 espresso machine with the broken $255 part, $900 Aeron chair with missing lumbar support, and vintage Plycraft chair with missing headrest and broken leg. So it’s time I start fresh, but DANG the clutter!!

  • TinBug

    HAHA! That looks like my garage. My business partner and parted ways, I got the entire office crammed in the garage! I've got that $1200 espresso machine with the broken $255 part, $900 Aeron chair with missing lumbar support, and vintage Plycraft chair with missing headrest and broken leg. So it's time I start fresh, but DANG the clutter!!

  • http://www.scottwebb.tv/ Scott Webb

    This reminds me of the “how I met your mother” episode and they could put anything out front of their apartment building and it would be gone in seconds. And finally they put something out that didn't get taken – something that meant so much to the one guy. too funny