The scrumptious smell of leather lured me into the store. When I admired the black leather vest the sales person was wearing, she took it off right then and there and handed it over. What? That was 25 years ago, and it’s been hanging in my closet ever since, waiting for just the right occasion. Worn once!!! The day of setting it free is fast approaching. Sorting through the clothes I’ve amassed (thrifting is my hobby!) is so dreaded that I’ve been bumping it down the list for months. I’m stupidly attached to some of these finds but, still, I am determined.

So began my household sweep. Dusting off a piece of clothing that’s been niched in the back corner of the closet finally spurred me into de-cluttering action. Looking into every nook and cranny gave me a chance to re-evaluate my possessions. Every corner and drawer has been examined with the questions “Do I need it?” and “Do I love it?”

The trouble is the word “need” is up for interpretation. I’m quite sure I need it at the time, but if it sits or hangs gathering dust for two years, guess I don’t need it after all. But what about the future. Better keep it just in case. Garages, storage sheds and closets everywhere are filled with “just in cases”, but there comes a time when you just can’t find your own stuff because it’s buried in your other stuff.

Then there’s the word “love”. Should I lovingly use it, set it on the shelf and admire it, or store it in a memento box for occasional bouts of nostalgia?


How long can an empty shelf last?

Between the de-cluttering and rearranging, I ended up with something unbelievable — an empty shelf. The final arrangement is working well: favorite books on the top shelf, books yet to read on the second, baskets of gloves and scarves for early morning walks on the third. Electronic gizmos come next and on the last shelf are books we frequently reference, like for gardening or outwitting squirrels. Resisting the impulse to put something —anything— on that bottom shelf has been challenging. It looks so naked.

The overwhelming urge to clean up my act came on the heals of a little kitchen remodel. I wanted to brighten it up with a mellow yellow. It sounded like a fine idea at the time but little did I know what it would lead to. Once you start vacating corners and emptying drawers in one place, the momentum pushes you to the next space until, four months later, the house is unbelievably organized. The bonus is I now know where everything is.

That dusty leather vest and the small kitchen redo put me on a clutter alert that’s been hard to stop. And I know one person who wishes it would. Don’t worry, honey, I’ll never touch YOUR stuff!

I bet a million bucks there’s never been an empty shelf in your house. Please accept my Empty Shelf Challenge.

Weeded out this week: The mental weight of too much stuff and a back seat filled with “treasures” for the thrift store. Finally getting rid of a hand held vacuum that could barely suck up a fly.