Don’t Leave the Door Open


….or else he’ll come in.

The cleaning out downstairs ramped up to warp speed yesterday. An entire huge stack of boxes was downed in the process. Some things were easy to throw away. Other things were hard.

One box was packed to the rafters with newspaper clippings. Back when I was the lifestyles editor of a small town paper, right out of college, I kept every single article I wrote. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. And my reporter notebooks.

I saved my children the trouble and I threw it all out.

Some day, my kids will face the task of going through what I have. They don’t need that bother. No one–not even me–is going to read those old articles.

Other things I’ve been carrying around in boxes for years–many, many (did I say many?) stories I wrote when I was a teenager. (Tried to read them. Too tedious.) Papers I wrote in college. My college grades. On and on it goes. So much paper, filling up boxes. I never look at it. I don’t care–why would anyone else? If I need a transcript, I can still order one! Oh–and newspaper clippings from my college radical days–letters I wrote to the editor of the university newspaper, clippings of protest marches with pictures of me. On and on. The stuff. THE STUFF. Boxes and boxes of stuff, stuff, stuff. I threw it all out. I don’t want to leave all this crap to my children. They write stories and poetry, too. They have their own crap.

Dear Children,

You can thank me later.


And let’s not forget the California Who’s Who from 1986. My dad is in it. A teeny paragraph in a huge book. There were two of them. One of them is inscribed to Morgan: “For Morgan, my only granddaughter. She’s so sweet, I need no other.” OH FINE, Dad. Like I can throw that out! He thought I needed one, too. Luckily he just wrote “Suzanne” in it and I felt justified to toss it. I don’t want it!!! I’m sorry, Dad. Morgan can deal with hers.

And the curtain rods that crossed the prairie.

(Just kidding. I think I will be able to do something with the curtain rods now, thanks to your ideas.)

I also stacked boxes and BOXES of books to go to the library. Why do I have all these books????? I rarely read a book twice unless it’s a resource-type book. I picked out about half a dozen books from numerous huge boxes of books to keep because they were either useful or sentimental. The rest will go to the library for them to either keep or sell to raise money. Other boxes of various stuff were put together to go to the Salvation Army. And a lot of other stuff went to trash.

VERY good day on cleaning out and I totally deserve bon bons. I’m starting to believe I will get down to bare walls now.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on March 6, 2011  

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40 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 3-6

    Wow! Congratulations!!! Looks like you made quite a bit of progress downstairs. The rooster was probably hoping for some paper bugs or spiders. Or perhaps he was just curious about the commotion. It’s great that you could work part of the time with the door open, I think it helps keep a clear head as well as keeps stuff moving out the door. (But not those curtain rods!) I’m a bit ahead of you with the paper…got rid of all my old job publications, copies of books, newsletters, etc more than 20 years old years ago…Next round the diplomas go. But what to do with the photographs? Not of me, but of parents and grandparents. I’m the last of my branch of the family as far as I know, but I just can’t bring myself to ditch photos of people married in the early 1900s, first communions in the 20’s or the last photos of my Dad’s family at the dawn of WWII.

  2. 3-6

    Well done Suzanne! I had a major cleaning up like that years ago and have ever since kept it up by throwing away everything I don’t read/use in 3 months time. I love that chicken encouraging you by the door!

  3. 3-6

    I am proud of you for all your hard work. Great job. I wish I could get it together to do the same. I am such a pack rat.

  4. 3-6

    I bet that feels fabulous! Even if you can’t see your junk, I reckon it still eats away at your soul a little bit at a time. Go the decluttering!

  5. 3-6

    Good Job! Thats hard work, You deserve those bon bons. Its also great inspiration, I have been really dragging my feet on my project.

  6. 3-6

    Keep up the good work!! You are inspiring me to finally tackle the garage. I want to see my walls too! :woof:

  7. 3-6

    Bonita, you can donate the family history and photographs to a Genealogical Library. Especially if there’s one in the county where those photos were taken. You would be surprised at the number of unknown 2nd,3rd and 4th cousins you have that would be interested in seeing this family history. I know I’d LOVE to have a copy – or the PICTURE of my Great-grandfather that’s been floating around. Distant cousins have it and I don’t have contact with them. I honestly don’t know where they are or their full names. But I know that my Great-grandfather was born in A.A. county, Maryland. If those old photos of him were ever donated by them (and some of them are only children and have none of their own) I would then be able to get a copy. Unfortunately, those pictures will probably end up in the trash. And before you donate them, if you have any idea who is in the pictures and where the pictures are taken, you can write it on a piece of paper and include that with the pictures. (put a small number on a corner of the picture to identify which picture is which.)

    Just a thought

  8. 3-6

    I need to do the same.

    You are making great headway. Congratulations.

  9. 3-6

    You are inspiring! :D

  10. 3-6

    Congratulations!!! and thanks for not tossing the curtain rods. I can’t wait to see them in the new space.

  11. 3-6

    :snuggle: There is no way you could get IN my two shed to get a shot like that.

  12. 3-6

    Congrats on a job well done. When you are finished you and your rooster can come over to my house and toss stuff out. lol. I do have 2 dogs and a cat that like to watch also.

    Old pictures and old paper. List them on craigs list or even sell on ebay. People who do altered art, art and scrapbooking love old photos and papers. They will pay for them. Most will keep the orginial and make copies for the actall art part.

    I do agree if you lived in the same area for years donate the photos to your genology place. People do like to go and look at that stuff. You might discover a few long lost relatives that way.

  13. 3-6

    Great job Suzanne. As someone who is currently going through my mother’s belongings after her death last May I believe that the efforts you are making will save your children some heartache about not wanting to throw away things. For those who said they struggled with throwing away photos, we recently have been going through photos from my f-i-l, scanning them and putting them into a very nice photo book using Shutterfly. There are other similar companies, we just got into Shutterfly. My husband is spending wonderful time with his Dad (94 years old) asking about the photos, which leads to many wonderful stories. The book allows for including text, so these stories are also being included. Thanks to some coupons for free books, we’ve been able to share “prototypes” with my father-in-law for editting (he has difficulty reading things on a computer screen. When complete, we will make copies of the book for each of our boys, plus my husbands brother and his son so everyone has a nice book and not piles of yellowing photos. PLus it has been so much fun to share this project with my father-in-law who is very into family history.

  14. 3-6

    Yahoo…way to go Suzanne! I see empty shelves!

    Bonita, please don’t toss the old diplomas and photos. Like people said above, SOMEONE now or in the future will be searching for them. A local or state library, historical society or genealogical society would love to have them. I know I would dearly love to find a photo or information of my great-grandmother whom no one seems to know anything about.

  15. 3-6

    You keep reminding me I have to open the closed door on our basement room and get rid of the father in law’s dumpster diving junk. :cry: I have learned to walk past the closed door :lol: , but I have to do it sometime. When it is raining is better than when it is sunny. I’m an outside girl. :moo:

    Looks great Suzanne.

  16. 3-6

    Well Done Suzanne..I know how hard it is to throw stuff out..But its like a burden lifted after its done..And I think we feel better when things aren’t cluttered..I know I do.

  17. 3-6

    Sometimes the future seems too scary so we hold on to the past. Sometimes, it’s just comforting to know it’s “there” in boxes to look at if we ever need it. When I cleaned out Mom’s house I realized that keeping things we don’t use is not a good thing.

  18. 3-6

    Awesome – we are recovering pack rats too. :) Good luck! And as for the rooster – I was expecting to see a goat. lol

  19. 3-6

    I will thank you instead of your children right now. My husband and I are clearing out 64 years of my parents stuff. As I write we are waiting for a neighbor to come with his trailer to be loaded with recyclables. This is the third time he has been here and all we have worked on is metals. I will tackle the things that are paper and or cloth in the next couple of weeks.

  20. 3-6

    Awesome job suzanne! You are so inspiring…I want to get in my craft room and dig in now. Well, after I have my morning coffee…

  21. 3-6

    All I can easily say is….WOW! Every time I had to go through one of my parents’ things, I came home vowing to do the same with my stuff. However, i only really get to it whenever I move. Before leaving Atlanta for Iowa 1.5 years ago, I had my sister help me. Carloads to Goodwill, many trips to the trash, and I sold a few things. Now I’m in a small 1 bedroom apt. and still looking at some of the unopened boxes I brought with me. Can I borrow you when you’re through with your basement?

  22. 3-6

    Oh – and a friend and her brother picked up about 6 boxes of books I donated to a book recycling project. Since living here, I’ve donated more to my library.

  23. 3-6

    I have discovered that I clean and dispose of unnecessary items best when I am really mad; I have even gotten down on hands and knees and stripped the wax off of linoleum and scrubbed the corners with an old toothbrush. New wax was, of course, applied.
    Looking around my house I can see that I have been feeling happy for a long, long time. What I need now is to get upset for at least a month!

  24. 3-6

    Thank you for the wise words. I lost my Mom in July and I’ve been having a tough time getting rid of some of her things. I figured if she kept them they must mean something, but what? I didn’t know she had some of it until she was gone. I have no idea what or even if they had meaning to her. Maybe she didn’t know what to do with them either! It would be cruel to leave it to my daughter so I will purge… closets, drawers, boxes and baskets. Again, thank you Suzanne.

  25. 3-6

    Comment #4, Charlotte, I think you are so right! Even if no one else sees my clutter in the closets and under beds, I know it’s there and it’s like a little black cloud in the back of my mind. I’m the same way with cleaning. People will say “but your house is always clean!”….picked up, yes, but if I haven’t dusted and vaccumed and scrubbed, it’s disturbing to me!

  26. 3-6

    I can’t even face my garage of stuff…

  27. 3-6

    Proud of you; love the rooster. I think he was just curious to see the inside, and what was inside, of that woman person’s own personal barn.

  28. 3-6

    Darlene, Diane, thanks for the suggestion @ the old photos and diplomas. I always figured they were just interested in “names.” Was concerned about wandering off topic, but it has its rewards.

  29. 3-6

    He was just checking to see if you had any cookies! I think if I left our door open, these crazy wild turkeys would wander in!

  30. 3-6

    If you would had done it ealier you could had used the papers for fire starting. If you had a shredder big enough you could use the papers to compose :shimmy: or sit and shred by hands :( na to much! Good job on cleaning out!!!!!!!!!! :woof:

  31. 3-6

    Suanne, you give me HOPE! remember the computer room that became a bedroom for the teen? well the bedroom now has become the BLACK HOLE! my dear brother inlaw sold his home and gave me all of our side of the families things, pictures, china, lots of misc. stuff that he thought I might want, I will have to tackle this room next, but I really would rather eat BON BONS!!!!! you do inspire me to get busy! Thanks :fairy:

  32. 3-6

    We did a major paper cleanout last year. We shredded old documents, bank statements, cancelled checks, etc. We still had every receipt from when we built our house 20 years ago. That all went to the shredder too. We took a couple hundred books to the library. (Don’t forget to get a receipt for your donations for tax purposes). It is such a relief to get out from under all the paper, especially when you know someone else will benefit from it. And my office looks so GREAT now!

  33. 3-6

    Please, as someone who works at a library and in genealogy – do label who and what you know in the photos – libraries don’t have the staff and unfortunately they usually get put in boxes and put to the side in a staff office somewhere because its not labeled!!! Getting the time to clean out the way you have you deserve more than bon bons!! Congratulations!! :snoopy: My husband is the pack rat with all the gadgets and items – we still have an 8 track player with 8 tracks he plays, we have cassettes, vinyl records, all sorts of video games, etc. And he doesn’t want to part with any of it — what to do??!!! And don’t suggest getting rid of him – after 35 years I have him mostly trained!!!

  34. 3-6

    Sounds like everyone is cleaning! BunnyRuth, what a wonderful idea to scan the photos and make a book of memories!

    Suzanne, it must have been difficult to get rid of your articles, but I totally understand. I just put a bunch of author copies in the recycling bin. My closets were overflowing.

    Now, on to the old record albums and VHS tapes…

  35. 3-6

    Chris, I didn’t see your post (just above mine). Does your husband want any more vinyl records? :lol: (Sorry. Couldn’t resist).

  36. 3-6

    I wish I had started on my “junk rooms” when you did Suzanne. I would have at least made a little headway by now.
    I overheard my adult kids discussing my over flowing junk rooms…”If anything happens to her (meaning yours truly) we’re just backing a truck up and tossing it in.”
    My son said “Better make it a dump truck!”
    I am thinking it will be my revenge to leave a bunch of meaningless stuff…just for putting up with their “boar’s nests” of bedrooms when they were teenagers! ;-)

  37. 3-6

    Congratulations, Suzanne! I’ll join some of the others in thanking you now on behalf of your kids. Three years ago my father moved into assisted living. Thanks to the fact that my siblings are much older, I got the job of emptying the house he and my mother had lived in for 63 years. Separating the things to keep, things to sell and things to recycle or give away from the junk was a backbreaking job. How I wished my parents hadn’t indiscriminately kept everything.

    About 20 years ago I got rid of my own college papers, class notes, etc. I have never regretted it or missed any of that stuff. As a bonus, once all that clutter was gone, it was easy to keep it that way. Now I have room to store or display things that really are meaningful to me.

  38. 3-6

    Good job on decluttering your space. You made a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

  39. 3-7

    I’ve got my own clean up going on. I at least try to throw out one thing a day or organize something.

    It’s starting to shape up.

  40. 3-7

    yep, it’s that time of year for purging. I’m getting motivated thanks to you Suzanne. good for you for getting rid of all that stuff. I think the same way – who really wants to grow through all this stuff after I’m gone? it won’t mean anything to anyone, and I have no children. It feels much better to just lighten my load while I’m here. :yes:

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