If you were to tell me the day I moved into the house we lived in for four years back in January 2011 that one day I would see the house empty, I would have laughed and not believed a single word you said. But it happened and I saw it on December 30, 2014, the day we moved out of it to come here to our new place in Arizona.
What a crazy "ride" it was though to come to that point where it was empty and not full of clutter. You guys all know the story of us moving into it, a house of hubby's parents where they had lived since 1978. It was cluttered and filled to the brim, so much so we just had a pathway from room to room when we first moved in.
We had decluttered a lot and I shared my woes about it at various places on my blog and how hard it was for me to live amongst so much clutter. After a time we sort of ran out of steam and stopped going through things and stopped getting rid of things. The house was pretty much 80% done, the garage and storage shed more cluttered, but I really didn't care about them because I never went into the storage shed and the times I did laundry in the garage, I just had tunnel vision and did the laundry, didn't look at anything else. I learned to live with clutter, though it was never a welcomed friend. God worked in my heart a lot over those years and I came to appreciate the house and be grateful that I had a roof over my head, especially when I would do work with the homeless and I knew they would be thrilled to have a roof over their head if they could.
Fast forward to November/December 2014 when hubby gets the offer of the job in Arizona and we plan to eventually rent out the house we were living in for those four years. The house had been paid off for years so all we had to do the time we lived there was pay taxes and home owners insurance.
But now we had to clear the house, garage, and storage shed completely in preparation for the next plans for it. It was easy for me to do the house, to ask hubby if he wanted to move this or that (china, furniture, glassware, etc.) A lot he didn't and I was happy about that. But I couldn't do anything with the garage because most of it was hubby's dad's tools and whatnot and I didn't know a screwdriver from a drill (exaggerating a bit here, but tools are not my expertise). The garage and storage shed were hubby's domain so to speak and it was up to him to clear those out.
We simply ran out of time to get it all done in addition to everything else that we had to do around that time. Two days before the packers were supposed to be there the garage was still in a shambles and the storage shed had not been even touched. We finally grouped together what hubby wanted from the garage so the packers could pack that when they came. He had determined he wanted nothing from the shed for various reasons (he was concerned mainly about what creatures could be out there, spiders and whatnot).
So how did the house, garage, and storage shed come to be empty two days later?
I called a service that basically comes and hauls away what you do not want. I found someone on Craigslist (I am very careful with dealings with Craigslist) who said they clean up garages and from hoarders. I'm thinking "okay, you ain't seen anything like this," although I'm sure they must have in their years of experience. I told the man what we had, the time constraints we were dealing with, and he said he would be by at 11 o'clock Monday morning, the day the packers were there, but we had already established what the packers would take and what was not going.
The man came as promised, looked at what we wanted to get rid of in the garage and the storage shed and quoted us a price to haul it all away, which was a reasonable price in my opinion. Honestly, at that point I just wanted it gone and I would have been willing to pay just about anything, but in reality it was less than $500, but not much less than $500.
We agreed, we paid him. He and his friend starting working, getting the biggest trash bags I've ever seen and just started filling the bags up and throwing them in the trailer they brought along. It took them two loads but they had everything cleared out in a span of four hours.
As we saw them work, we saw some items that could have been worth some money, but the deal is once you agree to them cleaning it out and you pay them, the stuff becomes theirs, so we couldn't say "wait......" I'm sure he made a pretty penny on some of the items and I'm sure he knew that looking around at things when he first gave us the figure of what it would cost for him to haul it away. He did give us some things, a ring he found, which wasn't worth anything from what we could tell, and cancelled checks from back in 1976 that I'm not sure how they ended up in the storage shed as they belonged to my brother in law's first wife before they were even married. How my in laws ended up with them, I'm not sure and we'll never know.
In the end, the house, garage, and storage shed were empty. Oh we left a couple of things. Hoses we wouldn't need. A rake, a shovel, that's about it.
But empty. Four long years. Probably close to 30,000 pounds of things disposed of, sold, or given away over that time.
That is clutter. That borders a bit on hoarding. I'm not going to fault hubby's parents for their desire to have things. I'm not sure why they couldn't part with things over the years.
This has taught me how to not let such a thing happen in our lives and not to have anyone we love go through what we had to do to declutter stuff that did not belong to us. Of course we won't have over 30,000 pounds of things to have someone declutter because we just moved a little over 5000 pounds of stuff and I can't see us ever getting to the point of buying, buying, buying stuff. I tend to want to live as simply as I can.
So my advice after this experience. Of course it is declutter and be aware that statistically one is not going to live forever this side of eternity. So wisely plan what will happen to your stuff once you aren't there. Come up with a plan and share that plan with those that matter. We have such a plan in place for son with our stuff.
I let the stuff we had to deal with consume me at times and affect the way I dealt in my relationship with hubby. That was my fault in doing so and I take that responsibility in it. I just had wished others took responsibility in their actions and had planned better for their final years. But all I can do is learn from this.
And I think this pretty much wraps up my writings about clutter, decluttering, etc. We basically started with a new slate here after we moved so I have no one to blame but myself if I allow clutter to take over. There may be a post there or there, perhaps in the A/Z challenge, but I think I've said pretty much everything I can on the subject; thanks for sticking with me over these four years as I commisserated about our adventures, and what an adventure it was!
My final words on the subject, for me it truly is freeing to have less stuff.