A Christmas Present

For Christmas, I liquidated part of our emergency cushion to pay off my husband’s credit card debt.  (He’d run it up because the computer that lies at the heart of his enterprises died and there hadn’t been enough loose cash to pay for a new one.)

Clearing a couple thousand dollars out of savings feels like a tooth has been pulled.

But as the shock began to abate, it became clear that the pay off was a decluttering.

Darkly (and not what I mean) the cash itself is gone…

And so are the bindings of the debt freeing emotional space for new dreams to reach for the sun.

And what cash remains has no strings attached.  The cash I spent freed the rest of it.


They Came. Then Wente!

… Taking with them a six foot long side table, a vanity/bureau with mirror and a dozen boxes.

They’d read my blog.

So she set up the boxes in the back of her car and said, “Here. Take THIS picture.  Then you can write…”

And so I have.

It was a beautiful healing time.

And the Good News Is…

This is the sequel to yesterday’s post: Setting Limits https://americandeclutterer.com/2017/07/23/setting-limits/

Dear American Declutterer,

Your message, sensitivity and patience is much appreciated.  Knowing my brother-in-law has found such a loving supportive wife is comforting to us.

You two have done more than expected in a situation like this.  We should have taken care of things long ago.  I’m very sorry.

We will come pick up the items you still have.

We are looking forward to meeting you

Setting limits…

Dear Wife of my husband’s first wife’s brother,

Your erstwhile brother-in-law brought his new bride, me, to his home two years ago.

Since then, slowly but surely I have been respectfully emptying it of your deceased sister-in-law’s personal and professional effects, releasing them to friends and in venues where she is remembered and loved as the beautiful woman and skilled teacher she was.  I finally finished this dispersal a few months ago.

Finished, that is, except for a substantial stash of items and furniture.  These are mementoes from my husband’s deceased wife and her sister who predeceased her, as well as gleanings from their deceased antique dealer mother.

My husband feels these all rightfully belong to you and your husband.  At this point in time these items fill our storage areas; space we want to put to other uses than warehousing.

Several times these past couple of years my husband has asked when you folks plan to come to collect these items.  Your few answers signal to me that perhaps you folks aren’t particularly interested in reclaiming any of it.  I understand.  Lives move on and priorities change.  But, if you do want any of it we need to make a firm plan for you to come get it, otherwise…

We plan to disperse these things at two community rummage sale fundraisers before the end of the coming year.  The first benefits our public library while the second benefits our volunteer fire department.  Whatever remains that we cannot disperse through those events will be donated to area charities.

Please be sure to let your husband know of our plans to disperse the remainder of this legacy….

Decluttering: The Penultimate Step

A couple of days ago my husband and I visited a friend’s used bookstore.  Our fellow-boomer will retire in a few months; he’s marked down his inventory; it was no surprise we brought home books.


My own book collection reflects where my soul, my mind — rational intellect and emotional feelings, is at and where I think it wants to go.

A long time ago I would expand my bookshelves whenever my collection outgrew available space.  A less long time ago, having decided to implement more realistic constraints, I schooled myself to give away parts of my collection whenever I ran out of shelving.

I offered books to kids, to friends, to friends’ kids, to students, to the public library — when they would take them, to Goodwill; offered them for trade-in options at used book stores, to Amazon for credit; and more than once I just left a box by my office door:  Free Kittens (may God help them find good homes.)

During my longest cross country move, I ruthlessly and needfully culled two thirds of my books.  Even so, I moved sixteen boxes full of them.

I came to understand Decluttering as the last stage of grieving: acceptance of the loss of friends and the passing of relatives, or acceptance that an old dream had lost its fire, that old passions had given way to new infatuation.  I’ve learned to let go peacefully and with gratitude tools that supported me in the pursuit of goals, some I’ve now attained, or some I’ve set aside.

And there is no decluttering that so clearly demonstrates my acceptance of loss and change as the releasing of parts of my library!

But sometimes, when you let something go, it comes back to you.

Yesterday I brought home new copies of two books I’d let go years and years before.