on decluttering with joy and regret

It’s New Year’s Day and for most of us that means a fresh start, a new beginning, another chance to get things right. We exercise more, drink less, whatever fits our interpretation of the Big Reset.

One common practice in a new calendar year is decluttering. We reassess a lifetime of acquisitions. There’s a lot of “out with the old,” except it’s generally followed by a lot of “in with the new,” and then we’re back to square one.

Coming from a military family, I’m a bit of a professional discarder. Every time we moved, I tossed items I didn’t “need” anymore: Barbie dolls, Beatles records, tchotchkes my parents brought me from their international travels. It’s all gone, in essence, the tangible memories of my childhood becoming fewer and fewer with every transfer. I don’t want it all back, but then, I do. I want it tucked away in some attic or basement or garage or closet, not on display but nevertheless accessible just so I can look at it from time to time. There is likely some dark, disturbing psychosis there. I don’t want to explore that one too thoroughly.

In the past few years, I’ve done a couple of big decluttering projects and I have regrets. The biggest one was clearing out my mom’s house too quickly after her passing. On some level, I wanted to snap my fingers and make it all disappear because it was hard enough to lose her, let alone clean up and sell her house. I took what I could, but 11 years later I still rue my decision to leave behind a mid-century modern china cabinet, a room filled to the rafters with craft supplies, and drawerfuls of pretty scarves.

I was equally brutal a few years ago when I Marie Kondo-ed my place. Marie Kondo is the queen of “tidying.” Her philosophy is to keep only the things that “spark joy.” The problem is I’m a relatively joyless individual. Sure, I like my stuff, or most of it anyway, but does it spark joy? I’d have to go with a no on that one. So, I did a pretty thorough purge in my Marie Kondo phase, although, as “stuff” tends to do, it’s creeping back and again taking control of my small place.

In part it’s coming back because of four full-sized dollhouses, one large room box, and cartloads of dollhouse building tools and accessories. All of this is bringing me to the gist of this post, which is my dollhouse collection. As I’ve said many times, I chose a hobby for which I don’t have room during the construction phase, nor space to store or display the finished products. In my defense, I never intended to build more than one house. Maybe it’s like that person who only intends to get one cat, but then…

So here I am at the point where I need to declutter and the houses are a logical starting point. Then it hit me. My dollhouses are probably the one thing in the living room that really do spark joy. No, I don’t have space to build them, but I love building them. No, I don’t have the square footage to display them, at least not all of them properly and simultaneously, but I love catching glances at them as I go through my day.

Maybe the place is getting a little tight, and maybe I am adding where I should be subtracting. I’d love to reclaim a chunk of the living room. But the dollhouses are not going anywhere.

Now the couch…

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