It's disposal time

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck

By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane bound for Ohio to visit family I haven’t seen in more than a decade. It’s a trip long overdue, but in preparation for it this past weekend, I finally came to the realization there’s something else long overdue in my life–cleaning house....really cleaning house.
I was looking for some old family photographs to take with me, and in addition to more than 10,000 prints (thank God for digital photography), I found a sundry of papers, receipts and things that once upon a time I thought I might need in the distant future.
OK, that future is never going to come and it’s time to eliminate the clutter. I am way past middle age now, and not getting any younger. My children are grown, and all live on their own. It’s time I sort through the bits and pieces of my life and get rid of all that superfluous stuff that has found its way into every corner of my life–and house.
My logic is this–why would anyone, anyone I ask, want to keep a collection of cards that are indeed special to me, but will mean nothing to anyone else?
And do I really need all those free tote and lunch bags that were freebies when I subscribed to magazines?
Two Solo cups of pens, pencils and highlighters squirreled away in the closet, out of sight, out of mind? What’s the logic or the benefit of that?
My journalism career spans 20 years and I have oodles of items from the stories I’ve done, and people I’ve met–not to mention clippings of my work. Twenty years, times 52 weeks equals a lot of work–thousands of stories, ten thousands of photos. Was it all Pulitzer material? Far from it. Get rid of it, I chided myself. Save only that of which you are most proud.
“How much does it cost to rent a Dumpster?” I asked the spouse.
He, who is also a collector of things but is much more organized than I, was shocked.
“You plan on getting rid of that much?” He asked.
Oh, little does he know, but I am. If I had a Dumpster Sunday, half of the house would have been in it.
With renewed purpose and determination to downsize by 33 percent by Christmas, I started formulating my plan of attack. Everything begins with a strategy, I was told by my boss, and once you have that strategy, everything else falls into place.
For the next four months, two evenings a week, I am going to force myself into a discipline that mandates I eliminate one trash bag per cleaning. I may even take some vacation days to vacate the premises of clutter.
And then what? Why, pass it on to someone else, of course. Any takers?