Carolyn L. Braun (

Life can be better with less …

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A tragedy gets us thinking

Just a few days after Christmas 2016, our son’s house was severely damaged by fire. It can be rebuilt – after gutting and completely redoing the inside. The most important thing is that everyone – except beloved pets (a dog and a cat) survived. Most of their belongings were destroyed by fire or smoke. As it turns out, the toxic smoke is just as bad – or maybe more so – than the actual fire. But it is the loss of their belongings that prompted this blog.

fire and smoke.jpg
(Not the actual fire.)

Weeks later, my son’s family has been able to find temporary living space and enough furnishings to manage until the home is remodeled. Because they are limited in space, they are being very careful and thoughtful about what they acquire. Once they are ready to move back into their remodeled home, they will add furnishings. But the loss of their furnishings has them — and us — thinking differently about what they really need. A lot of their belongings – as would be in the case of many of us – was just accumulated stuff – stuff that really didn’t play a purpose in their life. It was just there – saved from years before. As they rebuild and replace, they are determined to take a more minimalist view of what they need.

Starting easy

I’ve been on a decluttering bent for a couple years. Being semi-retired, (working half-time plus), I thought I would have it done within a year. Well, that did not happen. After fifty years of marriage, we have accumulated a lot of STUFF. The fire, however, has made me even more determined to keep at it. I use the OLD PEOPLE CLEANING method — OPC. With OPC, we work for 15 minutes and rest for 45 minutes (or so). It also works great when you are doing yard work. But, of course, it is not a quick process.

I’m finding it easier to make progess by starting with items that are easy to discard — paper!! I have draft documents from my work, accumulated over the past twenty plus years. Most often now, however, I use electronic copies or search online. This makes it very easy to take those stacks and file drawers of paper and simply transfer them to the trash can. The hard part  however, is that a trash can of paper can weigh a lot – so we have to be careful not to fill it too full.

Do you still have cancelled checks and receipts from years ago? When we cleaned out our folks house, we found receipts and checks from 40-50 years ago. You do not need them. It is suggested that you keep them for one year – or for up to seven years for tax purposes. But you don’t need to keep century old receipts.

Another item that is easy to discard is magazines. I seldom find time to read them; there are so many other choices for things to do. You can either donate them to a local nursing home or other such organization or throw them away. I keep the craft magazines because the projects are timeless – but you can only store so many of them. From time to time, I just tear out the pages of projects I am currently interested and throw the rest. I’ve also stopped subscribing to magazines. If you really want to find an article on something, you can go online or just buy a single issue.

And what about those empty boxes? Unless you are planning to move, throw them away. They are potential fuel for a fire. And they take up precious space.

If you don’t feel like doing a big decluttering project, start with a cabinet or drawer – one a day or once a week. You’ll be surprised at how easy it becomes.

TIP: As you consider whether to throw something away, ask yourself – does it bring you joy? Does it remind you of someone or something dear? Is it reminiscent of an important event in your life? Is it important enough to give up something else in order to keep it? Does it make you happy?

There’s more to be done …

I have much decluttering left to do. My goal is to declutter in every area – our offices, clothes, kitchen items, bedrooms, bathrooms, decor, the stuff in sheds and garages, and more. It will take a long time. In the meantime, I will keep working at it, little by little.But how do you decide what should stay and what should go? Stay tuned  – my next blog will highlight more tips to help you declutter.

Thanks for reading! I hope you return. 


2 replies to “Life can be better with less …

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