Adele’s Two Cents: Purge, Discard & Toss

NaBloPoMo DAY 10:

(Why should I have the fun of posting everyday when my cousin, Adele, can have at it, too? Read on!)


Purge, purge and purge again!

No, I am not referring to the latest supermodel diet.

My sister and I recently moved our 87-year-old mother into an assisted living residence. With declining mobility and cognitive skills, it was the right and necessary move for her. The brand new facility boasts a hair salon, a movie theater and more daily activities than a Carnival cruise ship! My mother seems more engaged and delighted than she’s been in years._NIC6165

But getting her ready to make the move meant we had to sort through the incredible volume of flotsam and jetsam she’d accumulated in her 28 years of living in my sister’s house. Based on the volume of clothes, books, papers and miscellaneous junk, you’d have thought her living quarters were the size of Versailles instead of a space barely larger than a Chevy Suburban!

We filled eleven trash bags with rubbish! Eight more with clothes to donate and two with items for the thrift store. Not surprisingly, my mother was resistant to this purging at first. But I kept reminding her that getting rid of the object (like the program for the 1965 Mother’s Day church recital) didn’t mean discarding her memory of the event–the one where I forgot my lines to the featured poem and instead muttered, “Jesus Christ!” to the stunned congregation!

I tried to remember this advice when I returned to my own home and took a look around. Suddenly I just saw “stuff” everywhere and wondered how it got there and why I was holding onto all of it. Growing up, my family of four shared a small New York City apartment, yet everything we needed somehow fit somewhere within its tiny rooms and closets. But now our need to have more and more stuff fuels a whole self-storage industry! Why stop purchasing, or stop to sort through and edit what we already own, when we can pay to store it offsite and make our family wade through it once we’re gone?

Personally, I don’t mind annoying the heck out of my kids while I’m still alive and able to enjoy their exasperation, but even I think it’s unfair for them to inherit the job of sifting through my possessions post mortem to somehow decide which had meaning and value, and which should have visited the giant trash bag long ago. So I am going to make a concerted effort to stop adding to the weight of things and start purging just a drawer, or desk or room, on a regular basis. Starting right after the upcoming holiday sales season!

So, when it comes to your stuff, are you a purger or a keeper?


(Note: I’m taking part in NaBloPoMo, better known as National Blog Posting Month. Thirty days, 30 posts.  And I have EXCITING NEWS! 

I’ve decided to give a prize to the one person who has commented on the most posts. If there’s a tie, I’ll do a drawing.  So if you want to win, make sure to comment often!

And thank you to all of you who have been stopping by and offering your two cents.  If it wasn’t for you, I’d be screaming like a banshee from writing all these posts!)

24 thoughts on “Adele’s Two Cents: Purge, Discard & Toss

  1. I am both a purger and a keeper. I am very attached to many sentimental objects and it is hard for me to give them away! After my grandmother passed away I took many of her things too keep for memory.

    • Ahhh, the sentimental save; we all fall prey to the “but this reminds me of this person, or that event or…” After sifting through my mom’s things, I came home with several brooches that I remember her wearing during my childhood. Will I ever wear them? Doesn’t matter. Their value is in the memories they carry. Those items get a free pass from the “Purge Patrol”!

  2. Can I be both? I purge some things on a regular basis, some things simply have no real meaning and I get rid of them, clothing, shoes, linens. Other things I keep as if they are gold; books, photos, jewelry.

    • I’m a selective purger as well. Like you, clothes don’t particularly speak to me (except for those size 10 jeans I keep as a reminder that I once got my ass into them!). But letters, pieces of paper I once jotted down an essay idea or lovely turn of words, books with my annotations in the margins…these things I won’t ever toss into the trash!

  3. I purge, then purge some more. It’s like a disease. In fact, I’m constantly looking around to donate, trash or recycle. That being said, If went around my house and looked under a certain bed( an imp with curls) I would find broken toys, hair bands and tea cups. I try to de- clutter seasonally and then in between. Somehow though, we seem to accumulate more than we need. I wish I could give up some of my shoes!

  4. For everything that comes into the house, something must go! So if I shop or receive stuff by any means, I try to be mindful of getting rid of/ donating/ garage sailing/or gifting perfectly good stuff, etc. It’s hard I know, but there’s satisfaction in whittling Mt. Trashmore to the minimalist line of a sand dune. Life’s a beach, n’est-ce pas?

    • How very practical of you, Georgette. I try to do that too, but it doesn’t always work. I myself could use a little de-cluttering. Got rid of a bunch of stuff this past summer, but to look at my place you’d never know it. Sigh.

  5. I’ve moved a lot, so I’ve been forced to purge, but it’s never easy. I always think that a certain doo dad might come in handy one day. They never do, though. Time for another round of sorting. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Confession: despite moving five times since grad school, I still cart around my law books, in unopened boxes, afraid somehow that if I toss them I’ll somehow forget everything I ever learned about Torts, or Civil Procedure. But maybe you’ll inspire me to finally get around to it. Maybe.

  6. Oh, dear, I must confess—I am definitely a keeper. My partner Sara says I’m a hoarder. She says it’s a sickness–maybe even a curse. But, seriously, I’m not THAT bad. But I’m a keeper, for sure. Great post, Adele!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Hmmm, I guess there’s a fine line between “keeping” and “hoarding”! Or maybe it’s not that fine at all. Good thing you have Sara to keep you in check!

  7. Awesome advice!! We save stuff, I think, because of various reasons. Some of the stuff carries memories; some of it is out of fear that, as soon as we purge it, we’ll need it.

    Regardless, ALL of us have far too much stuff. And you’re so right — forcing our kids to do what we should’ve done (purging) is downright mean! Perhaps we need to set aside a day (or a week??), pencil it in on our calendars, and have a Purging Party!

    • Of course we’ll need whatever it was as soon as we toss it! That’s the unwritten rule of the universe. The “experts” suggest we get in the habit of purging just ten minutes every day, but “they” also recommend we exercise 30 minutes a day, cut out the sugar, meditate, get a weekly colonoscopy…….Oy!

  8. I am glad to see that I am not alone when it comes to gathering and purging. I went through this process myself 4 years ago and now every year make sure to purge my own home of collected stuff, which reminds me it’s time to do it again. Thx.

    • Hey Barbara, no one likes an overachiever! So you purge on a regular basis?! You are like the mythical unicorn of home organizers! Now knock it off before I start to feel bad about the pile of papers on my kitchen table…..

  9. We did exactly the same at the start of the year with my mother who is the same age 87. She is now in an assisted living apartment and loving it.

    The amount of stuff we had to dispose of was amazing, we had a box of wallpaper all odd rolls she had kept for over 20 years just in case it was useful.

    We filled a lorry with stuff…….

    Funny thing is she has missed none of it!!!! Mind you she still has my first pair of shoes and I am 58 now!!!!!

    • But if you told your mom you’d disposed of those first pair of shoes, she’d suddenly miss them and be crushed! After a few bags, we stopped telling my mom what was going in the trash and just told her we would find a good home for everything. Heavy sigh…

  10. I am desperately in need of a purge, but then I come by it honestly. My parents moved to a smaller space when they retired. They sold the house to the city expecting it to be demolished to accommodate road construction. I swear they left both the garage and the basement entirely full (floor to ceiling horders full) of junk! My poor sister is now trying to “thin the clutter” in the space they’ve been in for the last 15 years. Some of it is still in boxes from the move.

    • I hate to admit it, but I am guilty of the same! (Maybe it’s genetic?) When I moved from my much larger house to my current digs, I rented a roll off (the type of dumpster usually used for construction debris) thinking “There’s no way I’m going to fill this.” I filled it TWICE!! Good luck to your sister in her efforts to “thin the clutter.” It’s a pain, but definitely necessary.

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