One of my favorite, inspirational-to-decluttering books is "The Joy of Less" by Francine Jay (aka Miss Minimalist). I've borrowed it from the library more than once, and always feel energized to get things done. I read it again last week, and before I'd even read it all the way through, I was up and pawing through cupboards, looking for things to discard and give away.
My technically savvy husband occasionally reminds me to "defrag" my hard drive. The computer scans its components and gets rid of things that are no longer useful, and reorganizes files to better use the available space. Or at least, that's my layman's understanding! That's what decluttering and organizing feel like to me. When it's all done, things run faster, with fewer hangups.
This time, I started in the kitchen. Actually, I started with printing off a checklist of every drawer and zone in our house. Then got to work, going through every single drawer and cupboard, looking for unused items, throwing out the useless, cleaning as I went. It took parts of two days to finish the kitchen, including cleaning out the fridge. Several garbage bags of stale spices, sauces and extra packaging went out to the curb. A box was set aside for my soon-to-be-married younger sister. Another box will head to a thrift store and a smallish grocery bag of plastic lids went to the Reuse Centre. I was happy to have clear countertops and organized drawers once again.
A couple days passed but I didn't have the energy to proceed on to my next zone. Then someone messaged me saying that clothes and toiletries were needed for the evacuees from the Ft McMurray forest fires. Externally motivated, within an hour or two I had purged every clothes closet and the bins of too-big clothing from under the kids' beds. We were surprised to find how many things were either the wrong shape (ie. too short in the legs for the bigness of the waist) or simply excessive (like 8-10 hand me down swimming trunks).
All three kids were so excited to share what they could. Stuffies they had previously been unable to part with, coins from their wallets, craft supplies they had been saving for themselves...all went into bags for people that needed things more than they did. So proud of them for a generous spirit!
By the time we got to the drop off site around 2 pm, they were turning most clothing donations away since so much had already been received. We were able to leave kids' shoes, boys' suits, kids' books and crafts, and the new toiletries we had collected. Since we still had a van load of clothing, we stopped at Value Village on the way home to drop off the rest. They kindly gave me a full punch card for 30% off my next purchase, and a packet of wild flower seeds as a thank you.
The best part, though? A house that feels brighter and more peaceful, with space to spare! Onward and upward to the next page of my checklist!