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Elaine and I have a converstaion.

September 20, 2011

“Reduce the clutter in your life,” says Elaine.

“A great idea,” say I, “as long as you are not sentimental.”

“If you haven’t used it in a year or more, get rid of it,” asserts Elaine.

“What about things you only use once every five or ten years?” I question.

Sadly, since Elaine only wrote a book and is not carrying on a personal conversation with me, I find that she has nothing to say on this point.

I totally agree with the fact that almost all of us, and not just women I might add, have “stuff” that we are hanging on to for absolutely no good reason. I discovered this fact as a sophomore in college when I was rooming with three other girls and realized that my “stuff” took up half of the room. I went on a trashcan spree and found that I greatly enjoyed it! Goodbye nursing papers! Goodbye class notes that I never even looked at while taking the class let alone after taking the class! Goodbye makeup that I thought looked great on me when I was eighteen! However, as it turns out, I wish that I had saved at least a sampling of my papers. I would have been very interested to see what I had to say when I was twenty and taking a social ethics class.

I tend to go through all of my cupboards and closets about once a year and I always find things that I haven’t used in ages and that I know that I will never miss.

But I know that many things cannot be put into the category of “If You Haven’t Used It in a Year, Chuck It in the Trash.” For example, what about that wedding dress that probably some of you carefully preserved? Do you try it on and wear it somewhere every year just so that you don’t have to toss it? What about pictures and notes from loved ones? What about a favorite book from your childhood?

I think that there is a very happy middle ground that includes getting rid of things that have no sentimental value, that you will never miss and that you don’t even remember owning in the first place. The more that you get rid of things that you don’t need, use or want, the easier it will be to continue on this process.

“You can complete the initial stage of an unclutter program in a couple of Saturday afternoons,” counsels Elaine.

“Thank you Elaine, but have you seen how many closets and boxes that I have?”

“Remember,” reassures Elaine, “the idea is not to deny yourself the things you want, but to free yourself from the things you don’t want.”

“Whew, then I can keep my wedding dress after my wedding day,” I breathe in relief.

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