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My Quest to Clutter Free My Lifestyle as a Widow

Updated on September 3, 2016
Some things become over powering.
Some things become over powering. | Source

Digging out from clutter can be mind joggling.

Digging out from clutter can be mind joggling. You find yourself sorting and sorting only to move one junk pile from one room to the next. And yes I said it, “junk”; no other word describes the treasures of a collection of keepsakes that not even the collector knows what to do with it.

Clutter and more clutter moved from corner to corner just don’t make it easy to keep a neat house. I never was a neat freak and housekeeping has never been my favorite thing to do. I would like to try a little harder at getting rid of things I don’t need. Last year was a bad year for me. I was newly widowed, newly alone and new at being my own boss as to what I could do or could not do. At first, I thought my kids and grand kids would want some of this stuff, so one piece at a time, I was able to move some of it out of my sight.

There is so much stuff in my way of a clutter free life. With the feeling of being discouraged or depressed I let it all wait until I got around to it. I focused on work. I took a second job and learned some new skills. I was finally learning to be my own person. What does this have to do with digging out from clutter? It has everything to do with it. Positive energy helps free a cluttered mind from riff raff. It’s good for our well being. I know because I’m living it. Any negative force can throw you into a depressing state of mind. You don’t want to be there. I lived with a battle of low self esteem for years and years. I am on another chapter in my life now. I’m on my way to being me. Clutter is not coming with me if I can help it.

Free Yard Sales

Bill at a free yard sale.
Bill at a free yard sale. | Source

This year is time for me to dig out.

Feeling down on yourself because you think you are too weak to move big objects like furniture is nonsense thinking. If you can’t get help, find a way to do it, if it means ripping things down to your size. I found another approach to moving some stuff. I got mad enough to find the strength to move a heavy love-seat out of my living room. It’s amazing just what a little adrenaline rush can do for you. That was Bill’s chair and he died there. I looked at it long enough and I couldn’t look at it any longer. One night I was watching television alone in my living room. I keep thinking how much I wish I could get rid of that love-seat so I could stand to spend more time in that room. I open the back door and start pushing the love-seat out the door. It was heavy as it had a built in bed inside it. I’m weak, but I twisted and turned it enough to shove it out into the woodshed on the other side of the door and it was out of my sight. Since then my brother moved it out of there to a burning pile. First good rain storm and that thing is history. My Aunt Lila told my mom when she lost dad that the first thing she needed to do was to get rid of his chair in order to go forward with the rest of her life. She knew because that’s what she had to do when she lost her husband. I realize now how important a task it is.

This year is time for me to dig out. I have begun home improvements like painting and papering walls. It has been the inspiration I was looking for. No more excuses. No more feeling sorry for myself. No more stressful situations because I can’t get stuff moved out of my house. A clutter free environment means a clutter free mind and writers must have a clutter free mind in order to stay focused on whatever project they are working on, even when they are writing about clutter.

Some of my clutter is an avalanche of collections my mom left behind. We lost mom in 2006 to cancer. She lived in a big old farmhouse with plenty of room for keeping all kinds of things. I think she kept everything people gave her as though she thought it would hurt their feelings to get rid of it. I guess maybe I inherited some of that way of thinking along with some of her collections. I have been able to send some of this stuff to the next generation, but I don’t want to cause them to be overwhelmed with clutter because of my over flow. Chain reactions like this are seldom welcome.

Bill and his spoiled dog.
Bill and his spoiled dog. | Source

Organized collections can be handy.

My late husband, Bill was a great collector of what he assumed to be an investment. His theory was to buy things he found at a reasonable price and sell them or swap them later as he needed other things. It worked out well many times, but much too often at other times it did not work out at all. Paying a higher price for something than what you sell it for is hardly an investment. Bill liked to offer his friends and family deals even if it meant that he was absorbing the difference in the cost. Some of the stuff he collected was logical thinking on his part. Things like replacement windows, lumber supplies, plumbing supplies, auto parts, tools, and the things needed to make a household run smoothly without having to run out and buy it saved us time and money to boot. Bless his heart he was always thinking of ways to save a dollar. It usually was because of our tight budget and the desire to have money for the fun things we enjoyed doing. An organized collection of such things is handy, but when a certain tool or part is not where you thought you put it then your whole theory is blown.

Any collection needs some sort of organization. Bill put something on the coffee table or similar place and I would move it in order to attempt to clean house. Days go by and he wants to know where I put it. I can’t remember where I put it and I search every possible location, sometimes with success, but often not. It became the center of our disagreements. Both of us with poor memories not being able to tell the other what we did with things got to this point. Nothing got moved. So nothing got lost. Right, if only that had been so, everything would have eventually had a purpose for being there.

The bulging closets, the loaded down bookcase, the pile of clutter that finds itself top of the kitchen table, all of it is still a common sight. I’m working on changing my routine and I plan to start a regiment of keeping only what I need. I like to sew. I like to do arts and crafts. And I like to read and write. I must get my materials better organized in order to enjoy these activities. The things that make me happy will also keep me sane. If I organize my hobby supplies I will organize my lifestyle as well.

A reason to stock up.
A reason to stock up. | Source

Stocking up without keeping things to long can be tricky.

Bill was always worried about running out of things like food and firewood in the dead of winter. Living on this Pennsylvania mountain side isn’t like the convenience of running next door to a grocery store. Ice and snow can leave you stranded. Bill liked to stock up on a grand scale with boxes upon boxes of canned food he bought at discount stores. Some of it had already meant its expiring date and much that was still good past that date had to be used up quickly because can food will come unsealed after a period of time. Nothing is worse than finding cans with their contents dripping from your shelves. The smell alone is overwhelming. I managed to get my canned food organized. I had to trash some and I had to create my menus around what was in my cupboards just to use up what was still good. I saved money on groceries because I was well stocked. I keep better watch of expiration dates now with it being just me and the dog here to eat them. Stocking up without keeping things too long can be tricky.

Bill worked in a saw mill for over thirty seven years. He stock piled firewood as to have it cut ahead by a couple of years. I lost Bill in 2014. The last wood he brought home was from 2013. Much of what I have now was cut earlier than that. It will keep a few years. It won’t keep indefinitely. Without him here to tend the fire and my paranoia about the safety of the heating stove I had set up, I never burned wood last winter at all; neither did I burn much the year before. But I do plan to set up a better stove and burn wood this year as the cost of heating with propane last year was way more than I could afford. I’m thankful I still have a good size pile of wood all seasoned, thanks to Bill being thrifty. I can at least burn it when I am home. I will see how it goes and may decide on coal for another winter. I know one thing for sure if I am to be content with living here I got to be able to afford to heat it and I’ve got to get rid of the clutter. If I do decide to move in the future there will be far less to deal with.


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    • Diana Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana L Pierce 

      21 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thank you, MomsTreasureChest. I'm taking one day at a time. I'm still trying to rid the clutter, but am certainly not letting it get me down. Life is too short to worry about little things that really don't matter.

    • MomsTreasureChest profile image


      22 months ago

      I'm sorry for your loss, and hope this finds you doing well. Getting rid of the chair was a good idea to keep from feeling depressed looking at it every day. Good luck with your organizing and decluttering!

    • Diana Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana L Pierce 

      2 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thank you, Carolyn. It does help me to write about things giving me problems. Just a fresh coat of paint seemed to help spark interest in cleaning up the mess. It was a good first step.

    • Carolyn M Fields profile image

      Carolyn Fields 

      2 years ago from South Dakota, USA


      When I lost my first husband (Chuck), I spent a lot of time getting rid of things. He was also a "collector" - mainly of books, tools, and anything "handy" for fixing things. I'm a bit stronger than you describe, so moving furniture (yes, especially his chair) wasn't as difficult for me, but I needed to do it before it felt like he might walk back into the room at any moment. I also recognize the comment about "don't move anything" so it doesn't get "lost." Hence the clutter builds up. Wow . . . so many similarities. Just so you know, I did eventually clear the clutter (it has been nearly nine years since his passing), and I also remarried. I have a whole new, less cluttered life. You can do it too! Writing about it helps. Sending you my very best wishes for your continued progress!

    • Diana Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana L Pierce 

      2 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thank you, Faith Reaper. I appreciate your kind comment. Life throws us a curve ball every now and then. We just got to go with the flow and try to live with them. The old saying, "What don't hurt us will make us stronger." is very true.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      2 years ago from southern USA

      Good for you, dear Diana. I'm happy that you are thinking ahead for your own happiness and your determination to accomplish your goals. It is so true that clutter does bind us it seems.

      I'm sorry you've had such a hard year since losing your husband. I'm proud of you for wanting to take charge back over your life. You are brave and I know you will find the happiness you are seeking in taking these proactive steps.

      Stay warm this winter!


    • Diana Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana L Pierce 

      2 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thank you, sallybea. Four years ago when I made up my mind to stop smoking, I wrote about it and published what I wrote in a hub. I think it helped keep me focused on what I needed to do to quit. I hope this keeps me focused on getting rid of things.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      2 years ago from Norfolk

      I am sorry for your loss and I really do understand what it is like to live with too much clutter. Too much clutter shackles you and keeps you in one place. I have to say that the greatest freedom I have had in my life was when I found myself with only two suitcases to my name:) It was a great leveller. Things mean so little to me now, living life to the full means a lot more. If you have not used an item once in a year I reckon it is probably surplus to requirements. I wish you well in your quest to declutter.


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