Thoughts On Clutter

I’m not sure what your opinion of Bethanny Frankel is, but I like her. She, like all of us, can be her own worst enemy, but she is a brilliant businesswoman and a master of branding. I respect what she has accomplished and I do like many of her Skinnygirl products – in particular her low calorie salad dressings and organic stevia. I have also read her books. I would love to have cocktails with her sometime and gauge her mindset after having written a book on relationships while her and Jason Hoppey were together. How does she feel about that book now that they broke up? Is she embarrassed? I hope not. I still think it holds a lot of valuable, realistic advice – even if she made a mistake in marrying him.

But what I relate to most in her books is her feelings on clutter. She goes through these bursts of de-cluttering her apartment. She’ll rip through closets and cabinets and throw massive amounts of shit away. When my boyfriend and I put ourselves on the waiting list for a new apartment in January of last year, I began weeding through my things. I had been living in my last apartment for six years; I started with a small New York-sized 1-bedroom amount of things and then accumulated enough to fill a generous New Hampshire 2-bedroom with a walk-in closet that was bigger than my guest room. Then my BF moved in and there were even MORE things. I am so thankful for those few months while we were on the waiting list, and I am especially thankful that those months were in the winter.

What I discovered, like Bethanny Frankel, is how liberating it is to throw shit away. Of course I tried to donate or re-home most things (my BF’s sister was moving into her first apartment and she became the main benefactor of my purging), but a lot of shit went into the dumpster as well. I came up with a rule: if I don’t LOVE it, I’m not keeping it. No more hanging onto things out of a sense of obligation. Sure, I scored a good deal on that, or yes, this was given to me by this person – but do I love it? If not, then I probably don’t need it. And if I didn’t necessarily love it but I needed it (like some pots & pans that I had since college), I added that item to a list of gift ideas that I could share with my family. They are always asking me what I want at Christmas and I always struggle with what to say, but now I have a running list of suggestions that I feel comfortable with them spending their money on. And they get the satisfaction of seeing my new pots & pans in use when I make them Christmas dinner. (My Dad said that he could hear the satisfying crash of my old pots & pans hit the dumpster from a town thirty minutes away. Haha.)

Every single day, I take some time to de-clutter. My BF used to accuse me of not being sentimental, but he knows better now. I take pictures of all my apartments and have a record of things I’ve owned. And the true things that are sentimental to me – a Starbucks mug from San Diego, my small collection of ashtrays – I always find places for. But now when I travel, the souvenirs I bring home are always usable ones. I have this wooden tray from Honduras that I use to store my costume-jewelry rings. It was burned to create the design on it so it has this amazing charcoal-like coating. I remember the woman that sold it to me every time I look at it. Now when I travel, I buy mostly wearables so I am reminded of that trip every time I wear that item. And they don’t take up a lot of space!

But still, I am very focused on pairing down my wardrobe. Every day, I throw something into the donation pile. Now that I no longer have a walk-in closet, I simply don’t have the room for “just in case” pieces – everything I keep must be something that actually serves a purpose. And honestly, it’s been fun figuring out what my new “uniform” will be in my 40s. I am hyper aware of clothing now that does not feel age-appropriate. (Although I did just buy a pair of distressed jeans – after getting rid of eight other pairs, mind you – and that may have been a mistake. I will keep you posted.)

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