“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

As I am about to move out of the house I have lived in for over 35 years, I am going through all the stuff I have accumulated over these many moons. It isn’t pretty to see the amount of clutter my husband and I brought into this house. Which brings me to the word decision. As a widow, I have to make all the decisions of what to do with the accumulated junk on my own. This really sucks because it brings up a sadness at not having a partner to share in the decision-making. I am the sole yea-sayer or nay-sayer of my life’s possessions and this process does not make me a happy camper.

I elected to explore the word decision in an effort to ease my irritability at being the sole decider. I discovered that the word decision comes from Latin decider which literally means “to cut off.” If I view the phrase “arriving at a decision”, as cutting off other choices available to me, it is a positive outlook that I can wrap my overwhelmed head around. Having choices is great, but at some point, I have to decide where I want my stuff to go and thus accomplish my long-term goal of cleansing my house while looking forward to fitting the things I do treasure, into my new smaller living space. My friend Ciji Ware calls this “right sizing,” and I agree whole heartedly. I then proceeded to I examine the root word in decide, which is cide. Cide is also from the Latin word caedere meaning “to kill.” We know the words homicide as referring to killing a human being, suicide as meaning a person kills oneself and, and pesticide as meaning to kill off a bunch of annoying bugs. If I am to continue to think positively, I can imagine the word decide as killing off other options, which leaves me with clearer choices.

I have now adopted a new mantra: decluttering! There are professional organizers who say that decluttering can reduce stress. When you are tossing out your deceased husband’s high school yearbooks I can’t say it reduces stress, but I can say, it is empowering to feel less encumbered. Prioritizing is my other mantra. I know that my son wouldn’t want to keep our old college mementoes so I can easily say, “Out!.” As for clothing, if I haven’t worn a schmata in a year, “bye, bye.” I have tagged record collections, vases, platters, pictures, and furniture with post-a-notes reading go or stay. I know that with the amount of accumulated goods I have, I must keep up the pace in order to keep moving forward. Wavering is not part of my equation. This is a black or white decision, yea or nay, no gray area involved unless I really, really am undecided emotionally with a piece of Peter’s life, and have to put it aside until I can find the strength to vote on its fate.

Donation is a good thing and helps me to forge ahead. Contributing to others brings up gratitude, which is always a positive. If I visualize others enjoying my things, I can actually find a warmth inside of me that is healing. This makes the decision to give things away a win-win situation. First, I am feeling good about my “declutter situation,” and secondly, I am bringing happiness to others ergo making me feel even better. Having less, and treasuring what I do possess is empowering. The empty shelves and space in the closet, brings me a sense of clarity, focus, and oddly a new sense of peace.

Here are a few items, in no particular order, that can definitely be tossed out without a pang of guilt:

· Old magazines.

· Games and puzzles with missing pieces.

· Old letters which can be scanned into your computer.

· Old electronics and the cords that don’t seem to fit them.

· Shoes that are too tight.

· Shoes that are too high for sure!

· Any clothes with stains. Yuck!

· Old hangers. To quote Joan Crawford “no wire hangers, ever!”

· Old makeup (check dates since makeup has a shelf life).

· Old toothbrushes (change your toothbrush each time you visit your dentist for a cleaning).

· Clothes that are too big that you are saving for when you gain a few pounds.

· Clothes that are too small that you are saving for when you lose a few pounds.

· Any cooking utensils of which you have doubles. How many of us have three peelers?

· Unused, unmatched, and chipped coffee mugs.

· All refrigerator magnets. Really? Does that ever look good and do they ever stay on?

· Cookbooks. You can pretty much get any recipe on line. And, I am a cookbook writer!

· Expired cans, boxes, and bottles of food.

· The one earring you keep in hopes of finding its mate.

· How many hair ties does one person really need?

· Old perfumes and toilet waters.

· Old manuals which are all on-line.

Last week the sewer backed up yet again. Talk about the s*%t hitting the fan. I figure this is a sign from Peter saying, “you go girl! Get out of the house with my blessing.” I don’t believe in other worldly phenomena but what the heck, I’ll take this as a sign to leave my house, move to a condo, and start living an easier and hopefully less painful existence.

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