Aspen Princess: The past is dead, long live the past
So the other day I was on the phone interviewing this woman, Amy, who helps people declutter their homes for a living for a real estate blog I was working on, and I just happened to notice that my office was filled with clutter.
When the babe took over our lives, he also took over my office. You would not believe the crap that suddenly fills up your space when you have a kid.
Amy started her company when she herself had kids and found her house was overflowing with stuff to the point where she felt like it was taking over her life. So she and her husband quit their jobs and spent a year traveling around Australia and New Zealand and living out of an RV.
“We had nothing, but we literally had everything we needed,” she said. “And it was the happiest we have ever been.”
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Amy realized that if her home was like that, other people’s homes were probably like that, too. She decided to give up her career in marketing and branding and start her own company to help other people better organize their homes and their lives.
“The idea is to get rid of the stuff that’s taking your time away from the things that are most important to you,” she said.
Amy starts by telling me how important it is to have a label maker. This is one of those items I always imagined belonged to anal-retentive types, women who knew how to sew and darn socks or whatever it’s called. The kind of person who might, like, iron their sheets or separate their whites when they do the laundry.
“What do you need that for?” I asked, doing nothing to hide my skeptical tone.
“So you know what’s in the boxes in your closet or what is going to the thrift store and what’s going to the consignment shop and so on.”
I glance into the closet by my desk and see a pile of plastic garbage bags on the floor, filled with god-knows-what. I have a vague idea, like maybe it’s Levi’s old baby clothes that I wanted to give away, or is it my baby-sized clothes I decided would never fit again and that I should probably bring to Heirlooms?
Amy said a lot of clutter comes from these emotional attachments we get to stuff we don’t need.
“Yeah, like the fact that I have a pair of Monolo Blahnik leopard print stilettos, but I live in a town where it would be acceptable to go to dinner in your flip-flops?”
She laughed. “I have a box of ticket stubs from all the Grateful Dead shows I ever went to and set lists of songs they played. What do I need that for? To show it to my kids?”
“Yeah, like I have a pair of gold paisley Free People bell bottoms that are, like, 6 inches too long, but of course I have a pair of platform clogs I bought to wear with them,” I retorted. “But you know as soon as I throw them away, I’ll get invited to a ’70s theme party!”
One of her rules of thumb is to ask yourself: “Have I worn this in the last year?” and “Is this something I can’t purchase again in the future if I need it?”
That was the biggest wake-up call. Like, I have saved all these tiny clothes I bought for the five minutes I weighed less than 120 pounds. You know, when I had time to workout three times a day (yoga/hike Smuggler/circuit training with Bernadette and Jean Robert’s Gym) and lived on a diet of coffee, cigarettes and Luna Bars. I should probably hold on to those size 26 jeans just to remind myself that I was that small once, even though I’ll likely never have the time or energy or desire to be that small ever again, as long as we both shall live.
God forbid I should part with the 16 different puffy coats I have, half of which don’t fit me anymore or the 12 pairs of snowboarding pants that take up most of the entryway closet just in case I want to wear the striped ones on closing day. And I’m sure there’s a reason I have boxes and boxes of old letters, posters, stickers, expired drivers licenses and season passes, just in case I decide to one day put together a shadow box to hang them on the wall. I can’t throw away those autographed posters of pro snowboarders I saved from my office at Transworld, even though I honestly don’t remember who half of those people are.
So I bought the damned label maker and there I was, perched over the kitchen counter with my reading glasses on the end of my nose trying to figure out how the hell to get the stupid adhesive to separate from the label. It almost felt like someone did this on purpose to make mothers everywhere go crazy.
I haven’t found the gumption to pawn my beloved designer-shoe collection that I’ll literally never wear again, but I did go through my office closet and managed to throw away six garbage bags of old crap. Can you believe I had a file box full of photo copies of all my old magazine clips from Powder, Skiing and Sports Illustrated, from Outside, Transworld Snowboarding. and a slew of other magazines that don’t even exist anymore? (Anyone out there remember Blue or Wahine or Sports & Fitness?) It was from back in the day when you would pitch magazine editors by mail, and send them a folder with a cover letter and photo copies of articles from your portfolio.
If there’s one thing I learned from all this, it’s damn, I’m old. And I guess I really did need a label maker after all.
The Princess is so happy she finally had time to get her Brazilian blowout. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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