Generally speaking, I’m a hoarder. I like to keep things ‘just in case’ I might need them later, or run into somebody who might need them. Once in a while though, I would have a clear out, sorting, filling charity bags, recycling, dumping and generally filtering, filing and storing, trying to be sure of what is where. That is, until a few years ago, when decluttering began to take on a whole new persona, one that filled me with fear and trepidation; one that paralyzed my efforts each time I managed to gather some courage to start…

The pain persona
This persona wasn’t just an individual; it rather felt like an army, such that as soon as I tackled one problem, another popped up. For instance, I take out a box. As I cannot blindly toss everything into the paper and cardboard recycling bin, I go through the box, one item at a time, tossing junk and shredding outdated documents; keeping what is or potentially relevant and useful.   Usually within the first 10 minutes at the most, I’d have stumbled upon an item that brought memories rushing in that I felt unable to handle: sometimes a photo, sometimes a note from an erstwhile friend, sometimes it was handwriting on an envelope, sometimes a card – every single time, there was some memory that stopped me in my tracks.

Sometimes it was a diary, an insight into a life that once was, that is so different from what now is: the contacts, the communities, the activities, the networks, the engagements; other times it was a journal and/or a prayer journal which reminded me of a range of answered prayers and many desperately unhappy and unanswered ones; which reminded me of hopes and dreams that were not to be; which reminded me of the gravity of the losses I have endured and that have come to my awareness within this comparatively brief period in my life. Sometimes it brought tears, other times the tears couldn’t burst through the heaviness of heart, rather remaining simmering, brimming, lurking just beneath the surface. Every time though, I would put the stuff back in the box, push it back into its place and leave it for another day.

Finally the day came when I’ve had to push through those barriers. As a recently trained Slimming World Consultant, I needed some good space for my Slimming World stock and stuff. The thought of my space constraints was causing me too much stress, and I knew that the only way to tackle it was to cut through the opposing army and declutter my storage space in anticipation of receiving my parcels.

Pushing past the pain
I love receiving parcels. I love Slimming World. And I look forward to my role as a practising Slimming World Consultant. This must all have been what gave me that extra fortitude to push past the pain. For, yes, in this big decluttering campaign, there have been letters, notes and cards; there have been photos, loads of photos; there have been mementos of holidays gone, of times past when my dreams were different from my reality of today; indeed there have been a myriad reminder of my losses, more than enough to make me pack up the whole exercise.

However, I’ve had to keep going as I need the space for Slimming World. And without that physical space, I can’t have the space in my mind to plan and do all I need to do to effectively support my members. So, as difficult and painful as it’s been, I’ve had to practically (and hopefully, emotionally) clear out the old to make way for the new. That is not to say I will forget the past, I won’t, as my history is dear to me… What I am learning, even in this clearing out exercise, is that I need to learn to accept my past/present and make way for my future, whatever that might be.

Finding treasure
And it’s helped that I’ve found treasure in sorting through my trash. The first I stumbled on that brought be such joy was a bag and a half of sand.

treasure from trashThe Great British Summer

Apart from playing with sand on the beach, I don’t recall when else the sight of sand has brought me such great pleasure. What immediately came to mind was that I could bag these up in pound increments and use as visuals in my Slimming World groups, for us to have a feel for what we are losing and/or aiming to lose, as a tool to help keep us grounded in our weight loss campaign!

My next delight was a 20 Canadian Dollar note tucked amongst some papers in the pocket of a bag that I’ve used as a box file these many years. That trip to Canada was about 11 years ago. I don’t know when next I’ll visit but the sight, sounds and smell of the Niagara Falls still beckon. I don’t know the current real value or what it would be when next – if next – I go there, but that Canadian note did bring a smile to my face.

And then I stumbled on an unopened CD, a collection titled The Great British Summer. How apt for this season! In addition, I found other useful stuff I’d forgotten I had like disposable plates, table covers, cups and cutlery. Considering that the majority of my household have summer birthdays, should we wish to celebrate in a typically summer way, then there’s some savings right there! All we need buy is the food and drinks (Slimming World friendly of course)!

canadian dollars

Going forward
Coming to the end of my allocated time for this big clear out, it’s not all done. But it is very much under control and there is room for my Slimming World parcels as they begin to arrive. And I have pencilled in protected periods of time to keep whittling away at it till what is left from that era is all sorted, archived, recycled and dumped as appropriate.

Of course there will always be junk and clutter to deal with. That is just life. What I hope is that after this experience, decluttering  wouldn’t fill me with as much dread; and I would most likely have a little sneaky anticipation of what treasures I might find. Whether I actually find any treasures after now, only time will tell.

What has been your experience? Have you found any treasure in your trash?