Cleaning out the basement

Changes are coming soon. My son is starting a new school in September in a new neighbourhood. I’ll be making changes when it comes to my work life. My partner and I are living together for quite some time now and have many discussions around purchasing a house together. I’m excited for the changes as I’m generally a person who loves variety and doesn’t like to let life to pass me by…

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Our garage sale happened today at the local community centre

One priority before these changes happen: I want to clean the basement. Downsize. It is no small task as I’ve amassed quite the collection of books, children’s clothing (my son’s outgrown clothes), children’s artwork (my son’s masterpieces over the past 11 years), bikes, CDs, my own editing and writing projects, photo albums, and clothes that I’ve somehow outgrown (or perhaps my sense of style just changed).

Like many, I connect memories and emotions to certain objects. To other people, a sweater is simply a sweater. To someone like me, who can have hoarding tendencies, my yellow cashmere cardigan might be stained and ripped but it might also remind me of the time when I was still breastfeeding my baby and went on a long walk down Queen Street West in Toronto during a beautiful spring evening more than 10 years ago! The milk stain might remind me of the close bond I felt when feeding my son his first food.

YIKES!

I’m trying to divorce myself from the strong feelings I attach to objects. They are simply THINGS and shouldn’t hold enough importance for me to carry around with me for 10 years after they have outgrown their usefulness.

In recent months I worked with a woman who has a spotless, very minimalist house. She also has two children, ages 10 and 12. I noticed that her children don’t seem to have any artwork on the walls, fridge, etc. In fact, I couldn’t see any trace of her children in the house at all! I asked my colleague about this and she says, “I look at their artwork and then recycle it.”

“Do you think that upsets them?” I asked.

“Yes, but they will need something to talk about during their future therapy sessions,” she laughed.

I found that to be a funny, yet perhaps extreme, perspective.

My partner inspires me with his own minimalism. He moved to Manitoba from overseas almost four years ago. He travels lightly. When we moved in together, we were able to fit almost everything he owned into my tiny blue Chevy. I want to be more like him, in so many ways, so today we held our LAST garage sale.

Why was it our last? I’ll tell you why; I wanted to help my son make a bit of spending cash by selling his nice wooden toys and Nerf guns (those things are expensive!). However, I also have made a couple of decisions (or perhaps I’ve simply set intentions) as I go through the motions of cleaning the basement AND the storage shed in our backyard.

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My son did a great job organizing all of his Nerf guns for the sale

My intentions:

  1. I’m going to think carefully before I purchase more objects. Do I really need this? How will this truly improve my life? I’ll think about these questions carefully.
  2. I’m going to value experience over things. My son is growing quickly and life is passing by. We’ve only travelled to a limited number of places. Since I never travelled ANYWHERE with my own mother, I’m hoping to travel and make special memories that will last far longer than any Nerf gun.
  3. When we outgrow our objects, I will pass them onto other families who can use them. I’ll try to think of people in the local community who will be happy to get more use out of some of our gently-used objects.
  4. One day, I hope to pack up and leave my current city. I hope that a wonderful opportunity for work or school comes to my son, my partner, or myself. When that offer comes, I want us to be ready to pack a few suitcases and JET!
  5. My final intention is to try to NOT be like my mother when it comes to objects. I’m not sure why, but my mom is/was definitely a hoarder. That’s a story (or several) for another time, but I can tell you I grew up around hoarding and it definitely has impacted my desire to NOT amass too many things.

We didn’t sell everything that I had hoped to sell at today’s garage sale, but we only had to make one trip with our car in the end (as opposed to the TWO trips we made to set up last night). We sold tons of things very cheaply, we donated a bunch of clothing to charity, we donated all the books we didn’t sell to the reading program at our local community centre, and we’ll sell our remaining big ticket items (bikes) on Kijiji.

In the end, my son is pretty pleased that he pocketed $147 after all was said and done.

When I ask what he is hoping to do with his money, he says with a shrug, “Save it.”

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