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Stuff: How to Manage the Monster

Joined: 7/26/2013
Posts: 1
When I met my husband, we were living in small apartments and both of us were prior homeowners. Our apartments deceptively kept secret the growing mounds of boxes, crates, car parts and outdoor gear in our three large storage units.

In those storage units, the limits of daily functions were exceeded. For example, we had:
• A bright yellow catamaran raft (once used to float down the Colorado River), and other river gear such as a portable potty (with a seat cover even);
• A boat engine, with no boat;
• Skiing (three sets of skis, since has grown to eight sets of skis);
• Eight duvets for varying bed sizes; and
• An extra car (even I could see that the 1963 Camero project car had to stay).

How does one tame the creature named “stuff” if you decide to move into one regular 2000 square foot house with a small two-car garage? We accumulate stuff as an extension of our own personalities, preferences and hobbies. To remove it, feels as though you are removing a part of ones self-identity. Each coffee cup has a memory. And what if we pull a permit to the Grand Canyon again? Not to mention the items that were gifted from our grandparents like the antique watches, silver wear and boat engine (yes a boat engine girls).

Upon moving into our new house, it became my duty to make the first snap of the whip at our ever-growing monster. I chose easy pickings. A couple only needs one set of dishes. But then there were items of sentimental value that needed explanation. This became a journey into the past and was not always easy to listen to. It included ex’s (how was I supposed to know which Christmas ornament was from mom or girlfriend?) I was realizing that my husband kept things because it was PRACTICAL. To some that sounds reasonable, but keeping the duvet from your first marriage just doesn’t “feel” right.

Besides the “we have two rule,” another rule of thumb included “if I haven’t used it in a year.” This narrowed things like clothes and shoes. Priorities such as gifts from family and expensive items such as the catamaran stayed. And we recognized that eight pairs of skis IS reasonable when you live in a state with winter opportunities nine months of the year. In addition, we revisited items; as being important two years ago may not be important now.

Taming this beast is not always fair or equal. One person’s commitment to function may in fact outweigh the other’s need for emotional harmony (or vice versa). Ex’s are just that.

It can be contentious and many times we had to rank (out of 1 to 10) so that we knew right away how the other felt. It is an ongoing fight with this monster. Because truthfully, we are the monster. Hopefully it’s a friendly monster. But none-the-less, a monster that needs to be diligently managed.
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you as being selected as the Adult StageofLife winner in our November / STUFF writing contest. This is a huge honor and you should celebrate your accomplishment. We will be contacting you via your registration email for prize details.

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World, One Story at a Time”

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 5:34:17 PM
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Comment by CAKle

Joined: 12/5/2013
Posts: 2
In the old days, the self-help books used to say that communication was job #1 in a relationship. This story demonstrates the value of communication-without-blame. I like it. Embedded is the value both partners placed on "stuff". They rose above the love-of-stuff and valued one another's feelings. I like that, too.
Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013 3:20:23 PM
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Comment by Esantiago

Joined: 1/28/2014
Posts: 26
It is extremely difficult to get rid of things with personal attachment! I'm usually the one in my house to encourage my parents to let go of the things they don't need. My father is very sentimental about many of the contents of our basement because they have memories of his parents and sibling that passed. Those are the items I can't even fight him on because I understand keeping an item or two because the person who has passed had once shared it with you. You have an enjoyable read here! Continue to share with us!
- Elly
Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 1:12:51 AM
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