We randomly wandered through our local Borders bookstore this past weekend, as we saw the sad, “Going Out of Business!” signs in the window, and were enticed by the clearance prices. There wasn’t much to be found – even the coffee shop was closed already! – but, I picked up a book when Chris commented, “I’ve heard that’s good.”
Throw Out Fifty Things, written by Gail Blanke, is not good. It’s actually nowhere near being close to good. It’s amazing. And, not just for my house. As Gail writes,
When we throw out the physical clutter, we clear our minds.
When we throw out the mental clutter, we clear our souls.
I’ve only tackled one bedroom, two bathrooms, and 4 closets thus far. And I decided I wouldn’t keep count of how many things I’ve thrown out – but it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of, “My poor husband is tired of running to the trash compactor every night when he returns home from work and sees the bags signifying everything else I’ve thrown out that day!” (Sorry, dear author, but if I kept count, I would stop at fifty, and I’ve already gone well over that count and want to keep on track!)
But, there’s this amazing other thing going on here, too. Which, of course, she warned her readers about – even encouraged! – but I basically blew off as, “Eh. I’ve tackled most of that mental stuff already.” Guess what? I hadn’t even come close.
Today was the first step of what I suspect will be a long list of “mental clutter” I have to clean. I was working on the hall closet. You know, THAT closet. The one where you keep the 13 hand towels and 21 wash clothes, none of which match each other nor have many threads left to them? Yeah, that one. But, in my “THAT closet”, I also keep a plastic storage bin of toothbrushes, bath soaps, t-shirts, flip flops, and any other little odds and ends. If you’re a non-custodial parent, you already know what I’m talking about. It’s the box full of stuff that is never provided to you when you have the kids in your home, so you’ve learned to hold on to it.
But, here’s the thing. I hold on to it for 52 weeks a year, several years at a time, and what does it do for me? It saves me $10 the next time they come visit, and that’s why I was keeping it. But, do you know what it does to me the 48+ weeks of the year that they aren’t in my house? It makes me feel guilty. It makes me feel like a failure. It reminds me of the most recent disastrous visitation we had. It makes me wish for something different – something that most likely will never change. It clutters my mind, it wounds my heart, and it takes the joy out of my steps.
So. It’s gone. I emptied the box. The toothbrushes and toothpaste were old anyway, and the soap wasn’t anything different than what I use for the youngest, so I know it will most assuredly be here when/if they visit again. The hardest part:
Flip flops. Ridiculous? Yeah, maybe. But, they owned flip flops before they came to visit me (at the BEACH in April), but weren’t allowed to bring them on the trip. Because. Uhm. The sand would ruin them? I don’t know. Anyway. I bought them flip flops while they were here (except the boy, because that’s not what he wanted), and then they wouldn’t take them home when they left. Because? Well. They believed Dad wouldn’t want to see something I had given them. So. They’ve sat. And sat. And taken up space. And created more mental clutter than physical clutter for me, obviously.
Today, they’re free to a good home, because somewhere they will help someone, which means they will stop harming me.