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Change your life by consolidating

April 6, 2012

How much junk could a woman chuck if a woman could chuck junk? I’m about to find out.

I’ve been on a mission this week to create more open spaces in my home and my life. Supposedly, you can change your life by throwing away 50 things that have been living rent free in your closets and junk drawers.

Frankly, I could probably throw away 50 things for the next 50 days and still have junk to spare. And junk drawers? I have a junk room. It contains things that I plan to use someday, if I live long enough.  
There’s a dried up gallon of orange paint and instruction manuals to things I don’t remember owning. Is that my 1998 day timer? (You never know when you might want to remind yourself of what you were doing on July 23, 1998.)

There’s that itchy sweater that I wouldn’t wear to an ugly sweater party, and a seven year old bottle of raspberry vinaigrette that probably has botulism. Whoever gave it to me most likely had it for another seven years. There’s a bag of old bank statements waiting to be shredded, but I don’t have a shredder. There’s a diaper bag, and my children are grown men.
It’s time to let go. I chucked 10 items and felt such a rush, I chucked 10 more. Suddenly I was on a runner’s high without having to do any real form of exercise. I collected every diet book I’ve ever owned and carried them to the library. (It took two trips.)  

Out went my bright red tee shirt advertising the orthopedic clinic and the brown suede boots that gave me foot cramps. They can pinch someone else’s feet from now on. Ditto for the lamp which makes a funny popping sound when I turn it on, and a really, really ugly wreath featuring plastic roses for which I paid good money during a weak moment.

It took almost four hours, but I unloaded 152 items — if you count that box of rubber bands. Along with them went all the mental clutter than trips me up from time to time: the regrets, the guilt, and the fear of a nuclear melt down. Mental clutter is just as limiting as physical clutter and you can scratch them from your list of recyclables. 

The old saying that “less is more” is right on. I feel brave and free, and I got to see the floor of my guest room for the first time in 10 years.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. You may read her blog by logging on to

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