Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Bad Case of the "What Ifs"

Do you ever feel like you own too much stuff? Today I do.....

After much conversation and debate our family has decided to rent our "town house" (where we have currently been residing the past two winters) and move back out to our "cabin house" full time. We had purchased our house in town thinking that it would make life easier and that we would enjoy being closer to everything during the school year. It has been convenient being able to walk to the University and the library and go to the gym/pool in the evenings. However after these two school years in town, we all agreed that we miss the nature, outdoor activities and peace and quiet of Brimley more than we enjoy the convenience of town. Plus, taking care of and living in two houses makes life more complicated in some ways. So, this decision means that we need to move all of our stuff (except the furniture) out by May 1st!

"This should be easy," I think..."since we don't have to move large items like the couch or our beds or dressers we'll have barely anything to pack, right?!" WRONG......

Yesterday I began the process of packing up many of our belongings in anticipation of this coming Saturday when we will hopefully be blessed with good weather and the time to do most of the move. During this process I am becoming more and more disgusted with how much stuff we own. What I imagined would be a small pile of boxes and bags in the corner is taking over the entire living room.

On the flip side, right now our "cabin house" is almost completely empty and every time we have spent the weekend out there it feels as if we are on a wonderful vacation because there is no clutter to constantly sort through and pick-up. I've been loving the feeling of the house being empty so much that I am dreading bringing all of this junk back to it. Of course, I know there is a solution to this problem....I can weed out what we don't actually need to move while I pack. However, I am finding this trickier than I first imagined. "Need," is a hard word to define when it comes to all of our belongings. What do we really use every day? I am discovering that I am having a hard time sorting through our belongings because I think I have a bad case of the "What If's...."

You know what I mean, the "what if we get rid of these baby clothes and then decide we want a larger family?" "What if I donate these 4 pairs of shoes that I don't like and haven't worn in a year, and then my current pair of shoes gets a hole in them and I wish I had a spare pair to wear and all of a sudden I realize that I would have loved to replace them with a pair of the shoes I just got rid of?" "What if I come up with an amazing invention idea and need to utilize that pair of broken skis that I picked up for free on the side of the road last winter, or that pile of scrap wood to build it?" "What if I all of a sudden need all these extra coats and gloves and hats and blankets and weird workout equipment and toys and games and puzzles and kitchen gadgets and clothes and nicknacks and outdated electronics and piles of VHS and DVD's and CDs and books and magazines and craft supplies and tools and sports equipment.... etc. etc. etc. that we don't ever currently use?" "What if I get rid of this and then find out it would have made the perfect gift for so and so..." "What if I see this item on the Antique Road Show ten years from now and it is worth ten thousand dollars?" "What if I get rid of the memory when I get rid of the item?"   "What if........."

I think the hardest stuff  to sort through are the items that feel like they represent who you were or what you accomplished in your past. Steve and I have quite a collection of trophies, medals, certificates,  plaques, ribbons, t-shirts, sweatshirts, personalized team jackets etc. from all of the sports we participated in  high school and college. They were great to receive at the time, but now they just feel like clutter. What do you do with stuff like that? Leave it in a box in your garage or basement for years until it eventually gets moldy and ruined? Store it in the shed, which is dryer, but takes up precious space? Take over even more precious real estate in your closet? Or, do the unthinkable and donate it? Donate it? But "what if the girls want to see all of the cool stuff Mommy and Daddy accomplished when they were younger?"

Yep, I've got a bad case of the "What Ifs..." It sounds so silly right? I know that I want to have a house that feels clean and uncluttered and is easy to take care of and yet I am letting 'fear' get in the way of accomplishing this goal. I guess it is like that with everything in life...we often don't go after and accomplish our dreams because we are fearful of the future and the unknown....."I would like to go skydiving.....but what if the parachute doesn't open?" "What if the plane crashes?" "What if it tastes bad, or its scary or it hurts or I embarrass myself or I fail?"

I guess the other reason I am finding it hard to let go of certain items that I now consider clutter is because it forces me to realize we wasted our money. The thing that we just HAD to have at the time is now considered a useless piece of junk. What a waste of money!Remembering how much we spent or how much it was worth at the time makes it harder to let go of. "But we can't get rid of that, it was $30 bucks!"

Well, for the next couple of days I will be doing battle with my "What Ifs."  I need as much encouragement as I can get. I would love to hear from you!  Answer one of the questions below or share a story of your own in the comment box!

Do you ever struggle with letting go of possessions?

Have you ever gotten rid of something and regretted it?

What tips do you have to share on ridding your house of clutter?

 What items in your house could you not live without?

 What is your biggest clutter problem?

P.S. I just read this blog and liked it a lot...check it  out:

The Opposite of Materialism Is Freedom


  1. I have a few years on you and we have a lot of "what ifs". We have all of girl's clothes in buckets because what if we have another girl. We have hundreds of dollars in clothes that are still good. Until we know for certain there will be no more kids (menopause ) we will hold on to them. Toys, more than they need but they hold sentimental value, "that was from Christmas, that was from your birthday ...." They are hard to let go. Back to clothes. Living up here in the north we need such eide range of clothes and the cold weather stuff can never really put away. So it takes up a lot of space.
    I wish I would have kept the old Cabin Fever t-shirts like the deer and the snow plow designed by Tom's roommate. A few years ago I thought it was ugly and decided I didn't need it anymore. I went through what you are going through know. I moved to Arizona and my life was going in a different direction. I wasn't coaching anymore and didn't think I would ever coach or run a lot again. So I got rid of race t-shirts that I held.on to as mementos but never wore. Training logs, coaching books, warm weather running clothes, and a wax bench. I am glad I kept all all my bike clothes. I will use them someday. I wish I woukd have kept my first road bike that I sold to Ben and my first bmx bike, that was made in the USA. I got rid of the because I didn't need them any more. It would have been cool to watch my kids ride my bmx bike.
    I'm with you what to keep and what to pass on to others. It is hard to put yourself in the future. If got the space, why not? You and Autumn going through yours when she is 18 would be pretty cool.
    You are not alone with your "what ifs".

  2. Typos are result if typing on a phone.

  3. Thanks for the comments D.J....I wonder if we still have that old Cabin Fever T-shirt. I will look. If we do, then its yours. Yeah, bikes hold so much sentimental value...definitely hard to get rid of one of those. You say "if you've got the space, then why not?" that is our big problem. We don't have the space!

    Are you coaching track? Did they find a female coach?



I would love to hear from you! Thanks for your comments!