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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Tossing vs. Hoarding

By Suzanne O'Connor

When I was a little girl, I remember my grandmother saving everything. Having lived through the great depression, she valued thriftiness and resourcefulness.

A woman of means by the time I was 12, I remember my grandmothers closets, shelves, drawers and bedrooms being packed with stuff. She always had extra buttons, fabric, boxes in a huge variety of sizes. She saved jelly jars, mason jars, magazines, worn out shoes & laces, stacks of recipes, burnt beyond usefulness pots & pans, keys of every sort, old chairs & chests. She always said she might have a use of them. I never saw her re-use anything except old button and a few jars. But I also don’t remember her buying a lot of stuff either.

I, on the other hand have a penchant for tossing everything.  If it isn’t being used, get rid of it. I once wanted to discard an old L & JG Stickley rocker cause it needed re-upholstery. That nearly caused a divorce. I’ve thrown out electrical cords & tools that I needed again, jars and buttons, designer and vintage clothing I still miss. I have had to learn to temper my penchant to de-clutter with my instinct for frugality.

That happy place is probably somewhere in-between the two extremes. Where you keep enough so you have it when you need it. But also discard or donate items that can be more useful to someone else and are cluttering things up.

I tend to fluctuate between the two. Hoarding items for awhile and then tossing.

This Spring I’ve been tossing… or shall I say donating. I’ve cleared out clothing, sheets, quilts, paint samples, plants, fabric, jars, books and magazines. An old blanket was tossed in the trash bin after being re-used a zillion times. Some folk art was donated cause I just didn’t have any place for it and a Mid Century teak desk was sold.

Every time I want to toss something, I ask myself if there is some use or need I have for the item. Is it collectible or of value? How much do I love it? Does it have a family history? Will I need it in the near future? Is it worth saving? Is it re-usable?

During the process, I didn’t throw out some fabric that I just happened to use on some pillows this week. And I kept an old folding table and shoe laces…. Cause you just never know. Some old towels were repurposed as rags and the beloved Kitty mug was saved…. Just because.

I always have to think about how much stuff does anyone really need.  Not as much as you think. But if it’s usable, is a part from something else you may need, can be refurbish or has value, it’s worth a second look and perhaps shouldn’t be tossed. May have to tape down my arms to stop me.

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