Decluttering as a solo activity


My husband and I are at the age when we start to think about a future different from the present, one in which we might not spend the rest of our days in our two-story house, might not even live in a private residence. These thoughts are not appealing, which is why we only entertain them for a few minutes at a time. Even if we moved to a one-story house of our choosing and never had to leave it, the fact remains that we cannot take all our stuff with us. 

This is why I came up with the brilliant idea of discarding five items a day.  In five years, we could pare down enough of our possessions to cram what was left into a twelve hundred square foot house, like the one we lived in for thirty-two years, before our parents died leaving everything they owned to us.

I decided to start out small and not yet bother with big items, such as skis,  a set of grandmother’s china, or the cat.

Day one of my plan worked well. I exceeded my goal. I found a pair of shoes, ten sets of earrings, a bracelet, and a pin.  These went into a paper sack designated for giveaway that my husband kindly carried upstairs for me.  He considered that the equivalent of finding five items of his own.

Day two also was easy. I pawed through a drawer in the bathroom filled with dried-up mascara and four teensy makeup samples, gifts given by the clerks at the department store makeup counter that I’d never used.  My husband never answered when I asked him which five items he had chosen.

I opted to look for midsize items on the third day and found five books I could donate to the library bookshop, once it re-opens.  Meanwhile I’m keeping the books safe in a piece of furniture already stuffed with books I decided to donate earlier, though this doesn’t exactly count as a discard.

Next, I looked in my closet for clothing I’d never wear again.  Two ancient bathrobes –one for summer and the other for winter–jumped out as obvious choices. Two pairs of jeans winked at me from the closet, knowing I would never give them up despite the likelihood that the habit I developed during the quarantine of baking cookies once a week was one I’d established for life and the jeans would never fit again. Silence again about progress in decluttering from the other resident of the house.

A few days later, I recognized the error of getting rid of two bathrobes: I needed to replace them, which I did the day this occurred to me. 

Day six, I rested, the work of choosing which possessions to eliminate too exhausting to continue, especially since I was the only one working on this project.


About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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3 Responses to Decluttering as a solo activity

  1. Eleanor Owen says:

    Laughed all the way from beginning to end. You could be writing comic books. It seemed so familiar I felt right at home in terms of goals, process, and outcomes. Perhaps you would have more luck by starting with the biggest items. Beach house? Second car? Guest room sofa? Fold-up ping-pong table in garage? They leave a lot of bare space.

  2. travelnwrite says:

    A Summer of Slogging in 2017 still causes twitches when I think about the accumulation and clutter we had to go through. This summer in Greece, we’ve had a mini-version of the clean up and de clutter, trust me keep at the five items a day. . .

  3. Fred says:

    I admire your goal and your fervor to attain it. Your husband processes things differently from you. After meditating, collecting essential data and considering options, he may come up with a plan that exceeds all of your expectations.

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