What are you holding on to even though you know you should let it go?
I think everyone has something like this. Maybe it’s a collection of something you’ve had for a long time or something that belonged to someone you miss. Maybe it’s an old shirt that’s falling apart but you keep it anyway? Equipment for a hobby or sport you haven’t participated in for several years?
For me, it’s all my stuff from my time in the Army.
I still have everything:
I deployed to Iraq 12 years ago and left the Army Reserve 10 years ago. You would think I could have gotten rid of some of this stuff by now. The BDUs have been used as Halloween costumes a few times and I chose the most tattered set as painting clothes. I do wear the boots but really don’t need 4 pairs.
For some reason, I just can’t seem to get myself to get rid of these things even though I can list all sorts of reasons I should. I’m not getting back in the Army and they probably wouldn’t take me at my age anyway. Most of the uniforms I have are not in service anymore. I don’t even hunt or play paintball. Most of this sits around collecting dust and filling up closet space.
Why then, do I hold on to it all?
I did contact a friend from the Army who opened an Army surplus store after returning home from Iraq. Check out Battle Boy Surplus if you need anything and support a Veteran-owned small business. He offered to take some of it and asked me to send him some pictures. Even for him, I still can’t get myself to gather it all up.
I guess the real reason is that I still look back on my time in the Army as one of the best parts of my life. Being away from home for a year sucked but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I often wish I would have stayed in but I didn’t want to deploy again. I was so busy with grad school and my family that I couldn’t do everything to the level that I felt I should have. I couldn’t be a good student, good officer, good husband, and good dad all at the same time.
As long as I see those uniforms hanging in my closet every day and I can wear my old combat boots, I can still pretend that the Army is part of my life. Every time I look at them, I think of those I served with and especially those that didn’t come home. I know it is crazy to hold on to all of it though so I will start getting rid of some things.
Where to start though?
There are a few recommended strategies for getting rid of sentimental items. First, I need to gather it ALL together in one spot. For anything, just looking at the sheer volume will help you realize how much you have and therefore make it easier to eliminate some of it. Next, take pictures. I have a few pictures of me in uniform, but I could take a few pictures of me in each type of uniform. Then, get rid of the uniforms.
The challenging part will be the trunk full of newspapers, magazines, and pictures that friends and relatives sent me while I was deployed. I know that if I don’t do something with it, the paper will just decay in my basement. I need to start going through it and scanning anything I want to keep. It’s likely I won’t even remember why I kept a lot it.
It won’t be easy but as I’ve said before, I need to fully purge my own stuff before I hound my family to get rid of their own things. I’ll keep you posted of my progress and let you know what other tips I come up with along the way. Keep an eye on my Facebook page for updates and feel free to share some of your own suggestions for how you let go of sentimental items. Thanks.
The problem with having a blog about decluttering is that people give me a hard time when I buy something.
Then I feel I need to justify the purchase to them and myself. I guess I’m not like most guys and I actually have always kind of liked to shop. It’s probably from growing up on a farm a hundred miles from the nearest shopping mall. Making a trip to Fargo to go shopping was a treat that usually happened only a few times over the summer.
Back then, I could spend hours walking around the mall and looking. Later in the day, we would go to my aunt and uncle’s house and have dinner which usually consisted of a large bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. How else do you feed a bunch of kids on a budget?
We had such a big family that sometimes there weren’t enough seats for everyone. I remember many trips just sitting on the floor in the back end of the Suburban or whatever we drove. On the way home from shopping I would be surrounded by the day’s purchases.
I still don’t mind shopping. I just don’t want to take my kids with.
Most of our shopping is done online now because it’s tough to find time to actually go to a store. Recently, I wanted to replace my stereo and DVD player. Of course my wife rolled her eyes until I pointed out that our stereo was about 15 years old and had no modern connections like HDMI or USB.
In the end, I bought a new stereo and Blu-ray player and was able to reduce the number of things I had connected since the Blu-ray can stream Netflix and Amazon. The old stuff will be sold or donated.
I guess you could call it the turtle technique to decluttering. Don’t buy extra and as you replace things be sure to get rid of the old. If you can reduce what you have, you’ll come out ahead. Slowly, as you send more things out the door than you bring in, you will see progress. I still think a large purge now and then is good.
Minimalism for me isn’t about living without things I love or never buying anything fun like a new stereo. With my new setup I can listen to a CD in the living room and stream Pandora out on the patio - and control it all with my phone. That makes me happy.
That and watching my teenage son try to figure out how to open and play a cassette.
I’ll try to write this without complaining.
A week before Easter our six-month old dishwasher broke. Typically when an appliance breaks in my house I attempt to fix it myself but since this was so new I called in for warranty repair. Unfortunately it took a couple days before someone could look at it and then another week and a half to get the part. I know there are people with a lot bigger problems but not having a dishwasher for our family of five was kind of a pain in the neck.
Our evenings are busy enough without spending time washing dishes by hand. My wife and I each pack a lunch for work everyday and the kids usually pack a lunch about once a week. The kids added to the problem by continuing to use dishes as if they didn’t care that we were hand washing everything. That’s probably because they really didn’t care.
The whole traumatic ordeal has forced us to think more about how many dishes we use on a regular basis. It’s a lot. I’m not sure the kids learned much since we didn’t make them help out with the dishes as much as we probably should have. It seemed like by the time we finished with all the craziness of each evening, they were going to bed late. Then my wife and I would end up doing the dishes later.
After two weeks of hand-washing, our dishwasher is repaired and we appreciate the convenience more. We used to get lazy sometimes and leave anything that couldn’t go in the dishwasher until we felt like washing by hand. Sometimes things would sit there for a couple days before we got around to hand washing.
I’m trying not to do that anymore by accepting the fact that the hand-wash items are just part of the evening clean-up routine. After I take care of anything that can go into the dishwasher, I just quickly wash anything that’s left. I love being able to go to bed without dirty dishes sitting around.
Now if I could just figure out what to do with all the papers and stuff my kids put on our kitchen island.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2017