In a column last fall, I announced my intention to rid my home and myself of a half-century of accumulated “stuff” — everything from papers, books, clothing and shoes to packaging material and shopping bags. I’m happy to report significant progress.
Scores of old files, letters and mementos have been recycled. Bags of books, clothes, coats, shoes and linens have been donated to charities. New and hardly used kitchen equipment has been given to those who need it more than I do.
A decision to re-carpet three of the most cluttered rooms in my house forced me to move — and remove — hundreds of long-unused items. I replaced oversized and impractical furniture and containers with smaller, more useful items less likely to become reservoirs of dust and clutter.
My formidable yarn collection, for example, which had been stowed in five large opaque bins, is now housed in four all-glass cabinets, easy to see and easy to access. They occupy the space once held by the many file cabinets I’ve emptied, which were picked up by scrap metal collectors almost as soon as they hit the street.
Progress indeed. The task of decluttering has been helped greatly by “The Hoarder in You,” a very practical book by Dr. Robin Zasio, but it is far from over. I still have too many clothes and shoes and face what another author, Barry Dennis, calls “The Chotchky Challenge.”
Mr. Dennis, a motivational speaker, relies on an expanded definition (and Anglicized spelling) of the Yiddish word “tchotchke,” which refers to a trinket or knickknack; he uses it to mean “stuff that gets out of control.” In his view, a tchotchke can be almost anything that takes up space, both mental and physical, that might better be occupied by something else or nothing at all.