Writer’s Block: Shedding our winter coats

Instead of complaining about the weather over the past month, I’ve been putting the extended winter to good use indoors.

Mandy Moran Froemming
Mandy Moran Froemming

It was time to clean out the clutter.

I was inspired not by choice, but necessity. Two weeks ago our newsroom was reconfigured.

This meant we had to muck out our cubicles before moving day.

So I was faced with all of this stuff I had been saving, just in case I might need it someday.

Judging by the coating of dust on much of it, that day never came.

Goodbye city council packets from two years ago and notebooks filled with my scribbles from interviews long written about. Hello recycling bin.

I come from a long line of keepers who have a hard time parting with things because of that “just in case” mentality.

Fortunately, I’ve done so much moving that the stuff never really got a chance to pile up.

My cubicle at work is easy enough to get a handle on.

And when I walked into our newsroom that is now open, spacious and a little better organized it made the efforts so rewarding.

But an entire house, garage and yard is a little bit more daunting.

Now having stayed put for six years, the longest time in my life, the clutter is starting to pile up.

Adding a child to the family also brings with it an ever expanding amount of things that seem desperately needed only to be quickly outgrown.

So as the housing market started to show some rebound with sold signs cropping up in our neighborhood I started to get the bug.

Maybe we should move, so we have more room for all of our stuff.

I imagined how much easier my life would be with just a few more kitchen cabinets and a playroom where we could stash the toys.

After spending an embarrassing amount of time scanning through what’s for sale in our area and dropping by an open house it was pretty clear.

In order to gain that square footage it was going to cost us – not just in cash every month but in the things we would have to give up in order to have the luxury of things like a three-car garage or master en suite.

My husband – who is rightly far more concerned with mortgage payments that closet organization – asked just how much space do three people need?

The truth is, not that much.

The same goes for just how much stuff is necessary for that same trio.

So the alternative to moving is to do a better job living with what we’ve got. That’s our game plan.

As I go through closets, dresser drawers and Rubbermaid totes it makes me just a little bit nauseous to see all of the things have piled up at an alarming pace.

I just try not to think too much while I’m sifting, bagging up stuff to go to Goodwill or Bridging.

I save my sentimentality and indecision for the important items, instead of the sweaters and unused kitchen gadgets.

I’m playing by the unwritten parenting rule of paying it forward and sharing our baby paraphernalia with a coworker who is expecting twins this summer and the other people in my life soon expecting.

While I’ll never be a minimalist and there will always be a teetering pile of books, magazines and catalogs on my end tables, it does feel good to know the closets’ drawers are a little lighter these days.

The other side of cleaning out the clutter is being a lot more selective about the stuff you acquire in the first place.

I’m slowly learning to buy or accept only what I really want – not just because something is a good deal or it might be useful someday.

Adopting a less is more philosophy of living is tough in the disposable world we live in, but I’m working on it.

  • Tim Hennagir

    The dumpster is coming to our house. Excellent column.