I came to the kitchen one afternoon to discover that Molly had awarded me this honor.  Yeah, I earned it this month!

So far I have emptied out one of my attics, a huge loft full of decades of stored paperwork/fabric/memorabilia, and half my basement.

I have sent dozens of bags to charity — outgrown kids’ clothes, adult clothes that are now too big (happy dance), household gadgets that I can suddenly admit I will never use, and craft supplies that I wouldn’t get around to if I lived to be 107.

I have large trash bags full of shredded paper, and more being generated every day — old files, old bills, kid art (ouch ouch ouch but I had to edit… I had several large boxes per kid of every precious crayon scribble) and outdated stuff from teaching at the U.  Shredded paper goes from here to the henhouse for bedding, and then to the compost, and finally to the garden.

I have thrown away a TON of stuff.

The front room is full of sorting boxes: camping gear, sewing stuff, tools, a box for every room in the house, plus donation, garage sale and trash.

The hall is lined with still more boxes of paperwork to sort.

Some folks would say that if you haven’t opened a box of assorted stuff for five years you could pitch it and never miss it, but I find that — like cracker jacks — there’s one prize in every box. That earring I’d been missing for a long time, a favorite fancy pen, a photograph or love note that got stirred into the mix.

It’s incredibly empowering and lightens my emotional load… letting go of baby clothes and educational little kid-toys, old successes and failures and unrealistic expectations… handing on what’s useful but in general unloading my baggage, loosening my grip on the past, admitting that life goes on and no amount of attic souvenirs will let me move forward while staying in the comfortable world I have known and loved.

I finally pitched the box with dusty dried remnants of my prom corsage, my wedding bouquet, assorted bits of magic that have lost their sparkle..

Here’s what I have learned:  

A lot of what I kept was for the mom/wife/person I thought I SHOULD be.  Or the one I imagined I would one day have time to be. Or the woman my mother was.  I have learned to get real. 

The world moves faster that I expected. Technology that seemed expensive and ripe for resale is now laughably dated and barely worthy of donation.  Half my homeschool curriculum never got used, because my kids zoomed past those skills and kept going, without my interference and best laid plans.

All this stuff has weighed on me — photos waiting to be sorted into albums, projects waiting to be finished, way too many puzzles and games carefully hoarded because the missing piece would surely show up one day. Now the puzzles and pieces are reunited, and my kids way too old for the games. I should have chucked them long ago.

I feel lighter every time stuff leaves my house, whether by trash can or goodwill bag. Lighter is good. I have lost almost 25 pounds of fat since midsummer, and hundreds of pounds of junk in this house purge. Soon I expect I shall be able to fly.