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What should stay and what should go

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

Among New Year's resolutions, are there any more popular than getting rid of excess pounds and getting rid of excess stuff?

No, according to my social media feed.

Like most women, I've been through new years dominated by losing weight. You know the drill: This is the year we're going to become the smaller body that is currently hidden by the cumulative effect of that:

  • extra slab of pizza (who can resist thick, chewy Detroit-style),

  • towering chocolate cake (which we really deserved, anyway),

  • and that uncorked bottle of wine that kept calling us (don't want it to go bad).

So I've moved on to the excess-stuff phase of my self-improvement agenda. (First thing I notice is that it's a lot easier for me to see what my partner needs to get rid of than what I need to get rid of. But that's likely another blog...)

The other thing I notice is the tug-of-war between what the “experts” say about accumulating stuff, aka, clutter. I alternate between Marie Kondo's method to minimize possessions, and articles with titles like, “I Love My Clutter, Thank You Very Much.”

But I'm determined to go with Marie, for now. Here's why, according to Joseph R. Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University:

  • The average American household has $7,000 worth of stuff that no one ever uses;

  • Having all that unused stuff creates stress, because the average house has only so much space;

  • And that stress is compounded if the person who acquires the goods lives with someone who really doesn't like stuff everywhere.

I don't so much fall into the clutter category of accumulating stuff – I like my counters cleared. I'm more of a how-do-I-decide-what-to-throw-out type. I don't want to be endlessly beholden to the memories contained in the things I own, but I don't necessarily want to pitch them all, either.

Last month I got rid of a massive purple sofa that I loved but which had outlived its original beauty. It was hard because it was connected to my late mom (who died the same year I got the sofa) and to my late daughter (who loved the color purple and thought the sofa was selected with her in mind.)

Currently I'm curating the various drinking glasses – I adore glassware! – in my cupboard (top photo), having culled 23 basic wine glasses from the collection (bottom photo).

Do I feel good about it? Not exactly. My good friend, M., asked if I didn't want to reconsider. “You never know when you might have 23 wine drinkers over.”

But, thinking it over, I realized I was unlikely to have another big party. Those days are over. And if I did, plastic would work fine.

The sofa and the wine glasses are just the beginning, course. I'm determined to examine everything I own and decide whether it's a keeper.

Good thing I'll have the whole year.


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3 commentaires

30 déc. 2022

I feel your pain, Sharon. And I'm (obviously!) not nearly so advanced as you are in this journey. (I put three pairs of Christmas socks in the Goodwill bag today.) But it will be necessary for me over the next few years so we'll stick together with encouragement. (Do you want an extra Christmas tree or two?) ~ jeanie


30 déc. 2022

This topic really resonates with me, Sharon. Especially because I live in the family home and have by default become the keeper of things. It’s so hard knowing what to keep and what to toss. Maybe we can form a support group. I’ll be following your progress. Best, Kelly


30 déc. 2022

Love your column, Sharon. I have read your husband's columns (and now his blog) for many years. I enjoy both of you. Thanks for your observations.

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