31 Dec

Sometimes when I go down to the basement and see the 30 deep file drawers, only a couple of which are empty, the shelves brimming with boxes, and the cartons of records still not disposed of, I get discouraged. Have I made any dent into this daunting project? Is my nostalgia and sentimentality keeping me from making substantial progress? So, what exactly have I accomplished in this past year towards my ultimate goal of preserving the best and chucking the rest?

It’s important to acknowledge one’s successes on this difficult journey. So here is the public declaration of mine for 2017.

  • Organized my basement file drawers into a more logical arrangement.
  • Cleared the guest bedroom of most of the personal belongings that were there so that it could be rented as a furnished room. (Disclaimer: Did keep some clothes in the drawers under the bed.)
  • Created the “My Life in T-Shirts” project so that I could give away t-shirts, which represented parts of my life while still preserving some of the memories. Took photos of all the t-shirts. Still have them, but will donate them to Goodwill when the weather is a little warmer. (Will write an entry about this project at some future date.)
  • Almost completed clearing of my things out of the attic, including bringing down a couple of large boxes of letters, which I partially sorted. Only items left are one hanging wardrobe of vintage clothes from my mother and sister, my guitar, and a doll’s clothes closet and chest of drawers made by my grandfather and designated for the daughter of a friend for her next birthday when she is old enough to appreciate them.
  • Remade my office into a studio, eliminating supplies, documents, reports, and most books that pertained to my old business. Some of these I shredded, some I threw away or recycled, some I have put aside to give away (such as unwanted office supplies), and some I have filed in the basement.
  • Sold a camera and couple of lenses, and in exchange got one new lens for my camera; donated the rest of my old cameras (and those from my mother) to a local high school.
  • Sorted through contents of an unsorted file drawer in the basement and threw away items.
  • Cleared the back room of the basement (a topic from an early blog) of EVERYTHING), along with two sets of shelves in the basement, so that plumbing work could be done. Nothing of mine has returned to those spaces! The two empty trunks are currently in the garage waiting to be given away.
  • Looked at a number (forgot to document actual number) of boxes of color slides, threw away about half.
  • Donated two loads of items to Big Brothers, Big Sisters. First lot was all clothes. Second lot included a lot of kitchen and decorative items, including a silver-plated coffee service that was my parents. (No one wants silver-plate anymore, I discovered.) Donated another lot of clothes to Second Chances.
  • Went through, catalogued, and packed up four boxes of books waiting for my husband to take to More than Words. These included ancient paperback novels, work related texts, out of date reference books, and a lot of more recently read novels that I am not going to read again.
  • Took 73lbs worth of papers to be shredded to Staples.
  • Downsized from a desktop to my laptop only, as the desktop was dying anyway. Fortunately, got the data backed up while it was still working and left the old computer at the tech shop for their disposal.
  • Sold for cash five big pieces of mid-century modern furniture, and made a valuable contact with the dealer who bought them.
  • Donated several pieces of less valuable furniture to Boomerangs, which picked them up. Several pieces they didn’t want went out with the trash and were picked up by someone passing by.
  • Prepared three lots of clothes, many of which were designs my sister (high emotional value!), for consignment. Took photos of each item first. Donated most of the items that didn’t sell. Decided to wear a few myself. Was thrilled when my consigner created a special window with these clothes and also posted a number of them on their Instagram page. Have made a little cash from these sales so that I can buy myself some new items when I need them.
  • Hardly bought any clothes this year, but decided to make better use of what I have, resurrecting things I haven’t worn in years. (Not exactly downsizing, but at least doesn’t add to the problem.)
  • Took some of my mother’s unframed, and unmatted silk screen prints out of storage and sold a half dozen at a craft fair.
  • Attended a session on decluttering and got some great insights about how to assess one’s possessions.
  • Continued with making records from a couple of years’ worth of theater, music, and other cultural events for which I had saved the brochures and catalogs. Recycled catalogs after documenting. (Subject of a future post.) Documented my vinyl records in preparation for later sale.
  • Set up this blog site and wrote/posted x entries this year!

One acknowledged failure: Tried to give away my collection of Ms. Magazines from 1972 to 1982. No takers, so decided to keep them for the time being. 

You can’t win them all, but it’s not for want of trying. Overall, I have fulfilled my goal of regularly tackling my downsizing. What’s up for 2018?

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