I hope Aunt Trixie will forgive me for not getting permission to use her photo on my blog, but really she wouldn't even know what a blog is and it would be too hard to explain. I value her privacy, but I just have to trust that there's no reason why I should worry about posting this photo of my husband's 97-year-old aunt coming at us with two slices of fried chocolate pie. That's about as happy as I've ever seen her.
I think the photo is cute, and it's also a good illustration of how tidy her apartment is, at an age when most people have let their places go to clutter.
While visiting my husband's family in Alabama and Tennessee, we noticed that a lot of people have A LOT of clutter. After just reading an article about an old man who was buried (and suffocated to death) under stacks of his own lifetime collection of crap, I've come to think that the clutter problem is a serious national disease. My 91-year-old grandfather is afflicted with it, and I think when someone has lived in one place for most of their lives they have trouble letting go of things because the STUFF reminds them of people and memories.
But we noticed that clutter littered the homes of many people, old and young. I hope my friends and relatives who read this blog will forgive me for saying this, I'm not trying to embarrass anyone. My point is that this problem affects many people to varying degrees, maybe almost all of us. I have a lot more stuff than I had 10 or 20 years ago, and certainly much more than I can use or need.
Aside from Aunt Trixie and a few other notable exceptions, many people's homes were cluttered, some of them to a dysfunctional degree. That affects their lives, not just whether or not they can invite guests into their home, but their state of mind every day. Whenever we're doing a project and things are cluttered, I feel on edge and uneasy. I like to roll with the punches and not let it affect me, and I'm not a neat freak, but I do feel calmer when things are generally neat and in their place.
The result of our "clutter visits" was that my husband and I returned home more determined than ever to continue our decluttering efforts and to get rid of anything we don't need or use.
My husband gets the award today for clearing off our perpetually cluttered coffee table and putting away all the DVDs that were piled up, ready to be watched. Some of them have been there for months, a few for years. He left out only 5 or 6 that are borrowed, and put the rest away. Our shelves are neat enough to find them when we want to watch them. He even has a print out of all the DVDs we own.
I'm beginning to realize that decluttering is a continuous effort. I haven't gotten rid of as much as I'd like during my Buy Nothing New year, but the good part is that at least I'm not adding anything new to the stashes of stuff. Anything coming in - via gifts, swag, or freebies - has to be carefully screened before it's put away so it doesn't end up being next year's clutter.
What about you? Is clutter an issue in your life? Please share your favorite decluttering stories and tips in the Comments section.