Loft Life: Shredding My Life Away - Spinning Straw Into Gold Blog at - 301861

Spinning Straw Into Gold

Loft Life: Shredding my life away 
Apr. 30, 2013 1:32 pm 
Updated: May 2, 2013 12:53 pm

Our move to Connecticut involved downsizing from 2100 sq. ft. to 1200 sq. ft. with a storage area of about 300 sq. ft. 

This seems to be a growing trend among boomers, so I don’t think we are unusual.

But, do the rest of you feel overwhelmed with the need to discard, dispense, give away, trash and shred the bulk of your life accumulations? It seems like bad stewardship to have spent my life accumulating all of this, and then not to disperse of it intelligently.     

I am becoming a shredder nonpareil. In fact, I am so consumed with un-consuming, I keep the shredder in my living room.   

Granted the living room is one third of our 1200 square feet, so unless I want to add it to the dining area, which houses the dining table, buffet, server, chairs, and my 12-foot, regulation-sized, punching bag, or the bedroom, where the large screen TV (which we do not use because we do not subscribe to cable), the bed, the dressers and a chair reside, the living room is really the only place left for the shredder. And, since the living room (really our second bedroom converted to living space) also has our living room couch, chairs, tables and lamps, and our two desks and chairs, this is the natural place for office equipment like a shredder.   

Many a day I sit in my living room and shred. I have ten years of banking papers all having to be shredded because in an apartment building with no fireplace (my former means of destroying paper), I can’t chance throwing even one piece of paper away that could contain personal financial information.

I don’t want to do this shredding task. Who does? I am not sure why it is my duty, since all of these papers belong to at least two people. But, I have somehow become the person obsessed with simplifying life, so I do it. I hate it. I feel like the few decades I may have left of life are going to be spent shredding.

When I am not shredding, I am sauntering down the hallway to our storage room to sort through the 400 boxes for something I need, wish to see again, or to give away.

The boxes are all marked “basement” because all Realtors these days are obsessed with “de-cluttering” other people’s homes in the supposed effort to achieve a quick sale.  Never mind the housing market is in a gutter that no amount of de-cluttering will correct. 

And, never mind that removing all laundry supplies from the laundry room, and having no evidence of life existing in the home, or any personal activity whatsoever, is a major inconvenience. 

What they don’t realize is that when moving day comes, ALL of your belongings are now neatly stored in the basement. So ALL of the 400 boxes now contain your entire life in them and all get marked: basement.

Three years later my storage room contains 400 boxes marked basement. I can find nothing without going through every single box until it does or does not appear.

Like my muffin pan. Since it was not in a box marked “kitchen,” I have now, three years from the move, finally come upon it in my search for blankets for our guests.  Thankfully, I also found the blankets on one of my earlier searches for kitchen things.

I could just load all the stuff on a truck and throw it away. My father-in-law also generously offered to store it for me in South Dakota. I think finding my muffin pan in South Dakota could be more difficult than finding it in my storage room in Connecticut. My mother-in-law’s kind remark that she wished she were closer to help me with the sorting hit the mark much closer. I wish she were here too.

Throwing it all away seems irresponsible. I am not a pack rat. I do not like stuff. I want to live a simple life. Most of this stuff does not belong to me, or at least was not purchased for my benefit.

I mean, really, who is a muffin pan for? I would be happy with my homemade yogurt and granola, and not be sad if I never saw another muffin.

But, like the shredding, it seems to be MY job to open, unpack and dispense with every single pound of stuff in this storage room. We moved 17,000 pounds, 4,000 of which are BOOKS. I tell you, I will NOT move 4,000 pounds of books to our next destination. We have to get rid of most of them. There is just too much. And I can’t lift and carry heavy boxes, so I end up making seven trips to the apartment to unload one box, especially with books.

You know the organizational mantra: 3 boxes. One to give away, one to sell, one to keep. Right. With 400 boxes, three little ones won’t work. Any ideas on this you smarties?

I have stacked up piles of children’s books, clothing, kitchen equipment, and bedding so far, ready for shipping to California, giving it to thrift shops, and finding space for some of it in the living quarters. But, this all seems so hopeless to me. 

Someone suggested I get a wagon. UMM. Does that mean buying yet another thing to get rid of after its use? I don’t want a wagon. 

There has to be a solution short of my spending my last years shredding and hauling, but, I don’t know what it is. I am open to suggestion.

Apr. 30, 2013 2:16 pm
I sometimes wish I could have someone drive over here and put all my extra stuff in a dump truck. I also thought that this could be a market where someone comes and cleans up your house and take the things and put them on e-bay for you to maybe recover some of the money in the junk I have accumulated.
Apr. 30, 2013 3:53 pm
Most soup kitchens and homeless day centers have books for their clients. You might start with donating them there or to your local library. It also sounds like you have too much furniture. Again, homeless day centers and refugee organizations often are looking for furniture to furnish apartments to get their clients started. After those things are done you will have room to spread out and go through the other boxes.
Apr. 30, 2013 5:45 pm
Been there, still doing that! We purged and sold and purged some more before the move. I have been here 20 years and until our storage facilities flooded during Sandy, there were still boxes that had never been opened. My shredder is in my dining room/office space. I am on my 3rd shredder in 20 years. I think humans are just acquisitive by nature. My best find is I list what I want to purge and someone who can use it comes and takes it.
Apr. 30, 2013 5:54 pm
Our county hosts a recycling day where you can bring all of your old documents that need shredding and they will dump your papers into an industrial sized shredder while you watch. If I can't watch them, I don't leave the papers. They look at me like I have three heads, but I don't trust people I don't know with personal papers. Marie C. has some great ideas. Missions and such will be glad to get cast offs. I'm not one to listen too though. I am still happily accumulating!
Apr. 30, 2013 7:20 pm
It is amazing how much stuff we accumulate over the years, we start out with a box or two when we move out and it starts. Maybe something like this would work for your shredding...>> .. A number of charitable organizations will come and pick up furniture or household goods when doing a canvass of the neighborhood on certain days of the calendar, you might want to check into that and when you get a pile to donate, they can pick up. The boxes are a tough one, as you need to sort through, yes make piles, keep, giveaway etc.. good luck, take it one day at a time, and little by little it will get done!
Apr. 30, 2013 7:55 pm
Marjorie, I relate to all you are saying! Loved this Blog! You are terrific, and not alone in your quest! We have been making conscious effort(s) to simplify our lives also, and it is progressive and seems to happen in layers. Over time. Had to laugh at the shredding thing. I do it too. Enjoy beautiful Connecticut; so much history there! We are from New England and long to ‘go home.’ Wish we were already there. {{sigh}}
May 2, 2013 7:36 am
I just finished posting this to Cookin' Cyn's Blog above. "We spend the first part of our life earning money to accumulate possessions. Then we spend the second part of our life (generally after retirement) dispensing the possessions we've accumulated." I've spent two years purging and decluttering. It doesn't make sense, but we're not thinking about the second half of our life during the first half, do we?
May 2, 2013 9:05 am
I,too have my extra rooms stacked w/boxes from my last move. There is NO storage here at all-so no point in going through much. Our meals are very simple, but I do have my spices, as DH really brags on my cooking. I'll get through more boxes,God willing, but I sure do miss a lot of the treasures that are packed, & we left a lot, also. I hear you about the shredding, but we can have fires here, so that has helped a lot. I try to get a box to Goodwill every couple of months and I donate a lot of books to the library also.
May 2, 2013 12:53 pm
You are all wonderful to share so much and be so encouraging. Yes, I do donate regularly--book, clothes, kitchen ware and other things. We are having a big tag sale for our church's youth group, so hopefully that gets the large TV out of our bedroom, and dispenses with more of the books and clothes. Candice you sound so much like me. I always say that about 1st half and 2nd half. And, Sue, yes, I do need to step back and see this as a progressive journey. I resonate with goodeats though about missing things I do treasure now packed somewhere to be found who knows when. And Doc, maybe I should START a county recycling day here. LOL. Anyway, thanks to you all.
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About Me
As a freelancer, I write about food, travel, entertainment and health. Publishing began as business/health writer for Orange County Business Journal, drama critic for Orange County Register, LA Times, and Irvine World News, and food critic for Orange County Register's 13 city papers. I follow hubby around the country, so next destination in IL/WI was freelancing for Stateline Business and Rock River Times (my Lunch with Marjorie column is still online there). Now in CT, I write about life in New England, travel, continue Lunch with Marjorie, and have other ventures happening. I have consolidated all my writings at Click on MENU for the growing list. Please leave comments! Thank you so much for reading. Marjorie
My favorite things to cook
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sharing meals with family and friends
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grand marnier souffle, which my husband and I make together.
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kidney lasagne...hey, we were trying to save $$. lol
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