Anca Tiurean

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How have you re-edited your life/space?

I invite you to contribute with ideas as to how be practical in reducing the "stuff" we own and to how we can fill the void they leave with something that money can't buy.

  • Oct 10 2011: The thing I did recently to declutter my home was to get a divorce, she took half. That was a joke. In seriousness it forced me to actually open and look inside those boxes and most of what I found was either thrown away, donated or is getting put into a garage sale. I still have my 2500 square foot house, and while I'm not finished decluttering, I have made a very large dent in it and I'm happier than I've been in years.
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      Oct 10 2011: Perhaps the divorce adds to your happiness or/and perhaps the change in itself feels like a fresh start. I guess your house does not look emptier - I guess it looks like full of possibilities (?) :)
      • Oct 10 2011: I agree a certain level of happiness goes along with the divorce and it is a fresh beginning. It also forced me out of my comfort zone and I had to adapt. I discovered an inner confidence that I didn't know I had which gave me the strength to make the necessary changes to better my life. I now want to live a simpler life and eliminate the clutter.
    • Oct 11 2011: I had a similar editing experience - going from a three-bedroom house, two vehicles, an attic full of who knows what, a garage full of who knows why and walls of "stuff" from floor to ceiling. That got reduced down to 4 medium sized boxes and my guitar. The fact that it was motivated by a divorce is incidental, the important thing is that having cleared all the accumutated rubbish that seemed so important at the time I feel so much better. Sure, 3 years on I can't still claim to be able to fit all my posessions into 4 medium sized boxes but at least now I think before I accumulate each new item - Do I really need it, or just want it? If I just want it, will I still want it in a week or a month when the initial "consumer buzz" has worn off (I force myself to hold off and see). I also have a rule that if something comes in, something goes out - and I don't cheat by buying something like a flat-screen TV and giving away a pencil either :)
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    Oct 10 2011: A couple years ago I sold all my stuff and started hitch hiking. I've settled here and there, but it's kind of been my lifestyle ever since. I've slept on sidewalks, lived in the woods, slept on a beach in Hawaii for quite a while. Right now I'm sleeping on a friend's couch. I do my best to keep up with freelance work and odd jobs, but I have to admit I'm pretty lazy.

    I do watch a lot of TED Talks.
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    Nov 8 2011: The thing I can't dispose of are actually people! Not that this is bad or anything but I realised that editing the people in my life makes me much less of a person myself. They brought me back home after a long stay abroad and kept on motivating me to be my better self.
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    Oct 21 2011: I used to watch a U.S. TV program in which host(s) help de-clutter & re-organize people's homes. One episode the host was trying to convince this woman to let go of a ratty old recliner that she had used during recovery from a terrible accident. She was very emotional about the chair. The host pointed out that it wasn't the chair she wanted to hold on to, but the comfort and security that it represented. He pointed out that she would not lose the memories or the healing, just the ratty chair. This was an "AHA" moment for me and helped me let go of some things I was holding on to for purely emotional reasons. I have since cleared many boxes of clutter from my growing collection of keep-ables.

    I am an artist and love to upcycle. It is very difficult to let go of materials, as I see everything as a possible something else. Periodically I have to council myself that even though something CAN become something else wonderful, I will probably not get around to utilizing this item or that so I might as well relinquish the item to another possibility and create a bit of space for myself in the process.
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    Oct 9 2011: I am a teacher and a therapist. And it's really hard for me to through anything away because anything can be transformed in a resource as didactic material or play material. And getting creative about class or session preparation is my favorite part of it all. Old clothes turn to puppets, paper gets reused as balls and paper robots, pencils and pens are carefully stored for a life-time of writing, tools that are no longer useful for fixing anything turned into toys, etc.
    If you ask me, I cannot throw anything away.
    Either way, I am not burdened by them, precisely because one can find that kind of useful garbage anywhere.
    • Oct 11 2011: Personally I feel that the "stuff" that fosters creativity or allows creativity to be realised is in a different category. As you say, that sort of stuff is not a burden but an inspiration.
  • Oct 23 2011: Has anyone figured out how to make decisions on editing items such as pictures and/or things passed along through inheritance. For example, my uncle died recently and he collected and saved items from my great-grandmother who had kept items from I don't know how long before her. I have them sitting in a box in my basement and gave away some items as gifts. I know the rest of my family doesn't really want to hold on to them but I maybe don't either. I feel the emotional weight of carrying the person associated with the item. I guess what someone said above about letting go of the object doesn't mean you have let go of the person/feeling/memory, but sometimes my memory is terrible. My mother died when I was born and I have no possessions from her nor memories shared. I think it is difficult to separate meaning from things when there is so much symbolism and stories our items represent. Anyway, also struggle with getting rid of clothes due to body size fluctuations- I don't want to buy all new items as that seems more wasteful but it certainly weighs me down to keep it all (pun unintended.)
    • Oct 25 2011: One thing that helped me let go of things left to me was reminding myself that my loved ones wouldn't have wanted me to feel burdened. They would want me to remember them as they were as people, not as a lamp or a piece of furniture. Sometimes it is hard to let things go, but if it makes you feel bad to keep it, then you just have to let it go. Giving useful things to other people who want them helps a bit. Other tips I've heard are to take pictures of the items before getting rid of them. You could even make a little scrapbook showcasing the items. One tip I've heard for getting control of lots of pictures is to choose only a few per person per special event. (For example, a maximum of three pictures of your child's first birthday, three more of his second birthday, etc.) This may be difficult for some people to do, but it's an idea. If you are artistic (or have a friend who is), you can make a collage of the best pictures and put them in a large picture frame under glass to hang on the wall. The rest of the pictures can go to family--or in the dustbin.
  • Oct 19 2011: Great book based on a BBC TV series called 'How to De-Junc Your Life'. Find it on Amazon - it explains just how to let go of things and reasons why to. For example, have a home where the items in it represent who you are now and not who you were in the past.
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    Oct 10 2011: I tend to think that re-editing our lifestyle and lifespace is as good as any change. I wouldn't stay in the same place too much, nor in the same lifestyle. Perhaps for a person who goes to the same office for 20 years and to the same house with the same furniture and same design, the mind and the heart start behaving in a pattern and they get narrow-minded. But when things change for us from time to time, we are force d to adapt, think outside the box, consider alternatives and possibilities and so on. So for a person who's been traveling a lot and moving from one place to another, it could be interesting to experience settling down for a while. Not as a way of staying that way, just as a way of experiencing stability and enjoy the inside of one box in its depth :)
  • Oct 9 2011: I have no excuses for my inability to get rid of what I no longer need, except one. I inherited this packrat gene from my father. I live in a very small apt, about 400 square feet, 36 sq meters. I looked for a new bed frame after my old one broke several years ago. I had a total space that was 197 cm long, so even though I looked at every single bed that IKEA sold, I couldn't buy one, they were all 200 cm long.
    The one significant step I have taken to save space is to buy a Kindle. There are other reading machines out there, too, and I don't think it really matters which one you get. But in a device that is the size of a Burda monthly magazine, or two issues of the Economist, I can hold literally thousands of books. Many of the ones I have are free -- all of Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and Homer. I also have The Help, March, and dozens of others that I bought. So if you are a book worm, try a reading machine. Then the only problem is to actually toss out all those books you have become so attached to!
  • Oct 9 2011: Great talk. My one area to declutter is my home recording studio. I commit to throwing out the junk that fiinds it's way there. This will give me more room to create and record my music.