What the mice taught me…

Confession time: I struggle with clutter. This is a long story, so I broke it into two parts. Stay with me, it’s a good one!

A while ago I was sitting on my couch, comfortably watching TV, when I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. I thought to myself “it’s just a clump of dog hair I missed when sweeping.” But then, it moved across the wall, going the other direction. No, please, no. Not a mouse. I can handle almost anything, except mice and roaches. It was way too big for a roach.

I kept watching TV, hoping it had just been my imagination. It wasn’t. The mouse ran across the next wall, right into the kitchen. Rrrgh!

So, I sighed, turned off the TV and walked over to investigate. I didn’t see anything at first. After all, I had just cleaned the kitchen and nothing was out of sorts. But then, I looked closer. I saw dog food on the floor. I have three dogs that don’t let anything sit on the floor for very long. I pulled out the fridge and there was mouse poo all over the floor. It was disgusting. Then, in my OCD-ness of a clean kitchen, I opened a drawer. BIG mistake! Mouse poo. Another drawer, more poo. The utensil drawer. Oh, my goodness! I washed the items in that drawer in water so hot my hands were pink for hours.

Once I cleaned all the utensils, I moved back to the first drawer. It was my ‘junk’ drawer. I started to analyze all the items I had in that drawer and began to look at each one individually. What is it? Why did I have it? What was its purpose? Did I need to keep it? Did it belong in this drawer? Did it belong in the kitchen? And once I decided to keep it, and to keep it there, the obvious question. Could I drop it into a pail of hot, soapy water? When the drawers and cabinets were clean, I turned around to stare at the pantry.

I walked towards the door and visions of mice all over my food swept through my mind. But thankfully, mice are nocturnal creatures and my pantry was not infested. At the moment. Although, there were signs that the mouse, or mice, had been there. The shelves in the pantry are wire, so they couldn’t climb too far up. On the floor of the pantry I keep vinegar, lunch boxes, potatoes, and onions. They climbed all over the lunch boxes, using them to get to the lowest shelf where I kept a bowl of Kisses, baking supplies, and a basket of packaged chips. They didn’t touch the potatoes, onions, chips, flour, or other sundries. Those little stinkers had eaten my Kisses!! They would sneak them out of the bowl, take them behind the basket and eat through the foil to the chocolate underneath. I pulled out the basket and a collection of hollowed out Kiss foils were sitting neatly on the shelf.

Why so much stuff? Start clearing the clutter…

Purging and clearing the clutter
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Clearing the clutter

As I pulled out each lunch box and cleaned them, I realized that for a family of four, we had too many lunch boxes. Ten, to be exact. Then I went through the baking supplies. I had four bags of half used flour, an expired can of baking soda, an empty bag of chocolate chips, and three bags of almond slivers. Why so much waste? Why so much unused food?

It really got me to thinking. Why so much stuff? Why so much clutter? If I had a drawer of stuff in the kitchen I didn’t even know what half of it was, what else was I clinging to in this house? I opened drawers, cabinets, closets, looked under beds, sorted through shelves… and purged. I moved through the house over the following days. As each nook and cranny was cleaned and inspected, I ran through the list of questions. By the end of the month, I had cleaned and purged the entire house, top to bottom; throwing away numerous bags of trash, filled up boxes and boxes to donate, and one small box of items to sell. More important than any of the stuff that left the house, was an immeasurable sense of lightness.

That day I realized we had spent too many years collecting. But for me, it went so much deeper. As I worked my way through the house, I started to notice a pattern. The questions evolved from complex to simple. ‘What is it?’ became ‘Do I use it?’ ‘Why did I have it?’ became ‘Do I need it?’ ‘What was its purpose?’ became ‘Do I love it?’

The story continues, to read Part Two click here.

Your turn: Do you have too much clutter? What are you willing to get rid of? What’s in your junk drawer?

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