Monday, October 12, 2009

The Geological Dig

Just look at that clean counter!!

Getting our house ready for the market has been quite the experience. Stressful, yes, but also incredibly eye-opening to our habits, priorities and memories. Several weeks ago, we made the final decision to sell our house and began the geological dig through the stuff we have lived with for years and years.

I was scared most of the basement, so we began there. Not only was it filled with the most disgusting yuck from years of a wet, sopping experience down there, it was also the space that would show the most improvement over the smallest span of time. I wish we had a dumpster to toss it all into, but we found ways to decrease the mass of trash bags and got it all out with the evening trash. We were pretty proud of the accomplishment after the first day of digging. We were also saddened that we had let so many of our possessions, once special and memorable, disintegrate down there.

By the time we moved our dig up stairs to the main rooms of the house, we were beginning to get familiar with this strange sensation. We were digging through all these boxes, bags and shelves of things we apparently felt we needed at one time or another. We began to wonder why we needed all this stuff - especially stuff that we hadn't even looked at in a long time. We started asking ourselves, and each other, what does this box of mementoes hold for us? If we trash them, do the memories still exist? What was so important that we needed to hold on to all of this? Why put it in a box in some closet or shelf when we really need to let it go?

Once we got started letting go, it became tough to stop. Only getting back to work after the weekend off took us out of the trashing mentality - but honestly, I kept going in the evenings after work, just at a slower pace. After we attacked each and every room (including the boys' rooms!!), we began looking at the bookshelves, the cupboards, the drawers. If we weren't careful, one of us would put something down and someone else would snatch it up to get tossed!

What we were afraid of happening - finding the love for our house once again - did happen. We love living in a clean and organized space. We love it so much that we are finding new habits to keep it somewhat tidy and presentable. Of course, leading realtors through helps us stay focused on that. But I find that I have been able to let go of the fear that someone would drop by unannounced - mostly because now I want someone to see how beautiful our home has become - but also because we were able to get things cleaned out enough to know what's behind every closet door, under every bed and behind every cabinet. Although we discovered how much we love living in a clean house, we still understand how important it is to sell our home and move on.

Within all this, we made 4 trips to the second-hand store, with the van stuffed with donations. We have made one trip to the bookseller, but only unloaded 7 books. The library will receive the rest. We have made use of our local trash and recycling center with what felt and looked like tons of junk. Living without all of this has brought on a feeling of lightness of being. No longer stepping over things to get into bed, I can navigate to the bathroom and back in the middle of the night without fear of a catastrophe. My kids can find their clothes in the morning without needing a pickax to get through the piles of junk. We are truly a family transformed.

What piles are you hiding behind (or under)? Do you put off sorting through loads of junk as a way to put off cleaning out your life? Or do you have everything in neat order to keep control of things? Have you experienced a clean-out as we have? What did you find out about yourself? Share your thoughts here!


Barbara Bechtel said...

ack! I'm the worst packrat ever! I waffle between the two poles of: throw it all out!


keep that! I MIGHT need it!

good for you! that's some encouragement for me as I've been cleaning and sorting since I've returned from keep pile is larger than my give pile...still working on that. hmph.

Jill said...

Hurray for you, Barbara! I do believe in that technique of put it away for a period of time, then toss it if you didn't go get it out within that period of time (a year or so). But it's easier said than done! I applaud your efforts - keep going, it feels soooooo good!


Angela said...

Congrats! What a great feeling.

My packrat side lives in the basement. There are boxes down there that I go through every few years and whittle down. From my childhood and early adulthood, I have about 12-14 boxes. that's too many, but at least they're out of the living space. We keep our home relatively clutter-free, except for books because we're both voracious readers.

I love our bedroom because it is absolutely clutter-free and always stays that way (again, except the stack of books on each nightstand).

By the way, your kitchen looks beautiful and you have the same refrigerator as we do.

kyndale said...

I live in a house that's completely disorganized and cluttered. It's horrible. I want to do what you did, but I only have that push when I let someone come to my house. Then I usually pile the stuff in one room or the garage, where it re-surfaces again later. I am so glad you were able to get rid of stuff. It really does feel good.

Hugs, Kyndale

Dogwood said...

I am proud of all the organizing and purging that you have been doing these past few weeks. Sounds like you are moving ahead with a positive and satisfied attitude. Prayers for you sissy.

Rachel said...

Hi Jill,
This was a really eye-opening story. I am not a packrack; however, I do know that there are boxes in our basement that have never been unpacked through 5 moves. Mostly they contain mementos - wedding cards and such - that are hard to part with but certainly not necessary to keep.

Good for you and your family for sorting through it all! What a wonderful feeling to have disposed of the things you no longer need or love. I'm sure your donations were appreciated and that someone will make use of what you've discarded.

Take care,

Dogwood said...

Hope all is going well with you. Prayers for your sissy. UCSF is a wonderful place for cancer patients.

Love your Back To School ATC. Thanks! Very creative. Did you make the button on the lovely card?

Have a nice weekend.

goldenbird said...

Your kitchen looks beautiful, Jill. It's so shiny! Congrats on all the cleaning out and purging of stuff~ doesn't it feel good? I have a low tolerence for "stuff" and don't have much clutter in my home. The only areas that are starting to get junky are the closets.

I received your ATC today-- thank you. It's VERY cute and I like it so much. Are you enjoying the snow? I love to be at home, too. Hope you have a great weekend.

Erin Wallace said...

I am in the process of decluttering as we speak. Spent the last two days on our bedroom (which I previously called The Storage Closet), working on the bathroom today, then the living room. Was ruthless with the decluttering, trying to be less sentimental knowing that we'd ahve a bedroom again!

Great job on your declutter. How amazing to see counters! Great blog!