This time of year makes me want to free myself from clutter and stuff. I can’t wait to put the Christmas stuff back into the attic and to reclaim my space. An upcoming January resolution for me (although I’m not a big resolution person) is going to be to try to live with less, and to thin out and organize what I do have.

My friend, Melissa (Drop the Baby Weight), recently shared with me how she was looking forward to a restful, peaceful Christmas season. But it wasn’t always that way. She shared with me that by reading Reluctant Entertainer this past year, it actually helped her to get over her shyness and learn to reach out more.

And it also challenged her when it came to stuff

Your site has helped me get over my shyness. I used to entertain happily, but recent events got me sidetracked and buried under sheer stuff at home (new baby and 2 toddlers). I realized that my home and life reflected about 5% of what I really wanted it to, and decided that it needed changing right away! It’s amazing how getting rid of so much physical stuff lifted my spirits and helped change how available I was to my kids, husband and even myself.

I should add that I have been a compulsive reader of organizing-type books, but what I needed wasn’t organizing as much as letting go emotionally of my stuff. Really, I had to let go of what it represented to me — e.g., having a ton of books everywhere meant I was a real reader. But who cares what I read or don’t read? Why did I feel I had to prove not just that I read but that I read “real” or “cool” books? I kept a few books that I actually re-read every year, gave away the rest, and started utilizing my local library (which had just undergone a lovely redesign and was a pleasure to visit). As I went through my house, drawer by drawer and closet by closet, I jettisoned silverplate I never seemed to get around to polishing (I figure when I need some in a few years, I’ll find it at a yard sale or shop for cheap without a problem). Special toys I had purchased for my kids but that they never played with — my sentimentality wasn’t worth the kids’ indifference and the storage space the toys took up. Etc, etc, etc! Some stuff went to Goodwill, a lot went to kids of friends at church, and my babysitter took the silver. Every load that went out the door felt like a weight dropping away.

Now that I have space in my house, I can put things away where they go — they actually have a place to go! A quick pickup of a room takes a few minutes, not a few (gulp) hours, or days. It’s really freeing. I can sit down with a book for a few minutes without feeling guilty about it. Play with the kids and not feel that I really ought to be clearing out a pile over there in a corner (I only have one small pile, for my sanity).

Things aren’t perfect but they are manageable for the first time in years! :-) Hooray for us, is all I can say.

I feel that Melissa is no different than the average person, including myself!

Here are some helpful tips that have helped guide and given me a plan:

1. Acknowledge that you have a problem with stuff.
2. Decide that you are ready to make a change.
3. De-clutter, drawer by drawer, closet by closet – haul it away.
4. Find a place or individual that will benefit from your stuff this holiday season (Good Will, Salvation Army, your church, etc.)

Today I plan to take a carload to Good Will because the last few days we’ve gone through our garage and closets. A few weeks ago we went through our coats and gave some to a worthy cause. I sorted through my Christmas “stuff” and gave some decorations away to a Mom with young kids. A perfect idea!

I’d love to hear if you have a problem with stuff, or some of your ideas on how to pare it down during this New Year?

(Thank you, Melissa, for being so authentic and allowing me to share your story with my readers!)

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