To Do List

Give the ancient little oak ukelele to your friend at work. She’ll enjoy it.

Sell your 5-string banjo, as simple as they come, in its solid case with the rope handle by which you’ve carried it to workshops. If you haven’t learned to play it yet…

Sell the basic-but-serviceable electric guitar, even though you love the curvy shape, and dark, polished wooden body.

Return the good electric one to Michael. He can have fun playing in its dozens of alternate tunings and different voices.

Keep your favorite acoustic guitar, and another to pass around at parties. 

Keep the little red electric one. It could be fun to goof around with.

Keep your mandolin and fiddle, too.

Pack up boxes of books. The programming books and cookbooks, Dilbert and Miss Manners, biographies and histories, physics and feminism. 

Drop off books on dealing with an addict. Your sister has been gone for years, and someone else at the recovery center will be needing them. 

Keep the books about Aikido, music, gardening, and horsemanship.

You are not going to single-handedly restore public access to trails through your community. Find someone else who can use your boxes of files, piles of notebooks, and rolls of maps. You are not the keeper of local history. Give these things to someone who is.

Take down the colorful glass suncatchers that were enchanting 20 years ago, but now just gather dust and block the view. The painting of koi can go, too.

Clear out the garage, too, that place where unneeded things go when you can’t quite get rid of them. Get rid of them now. 

That cast-iron dutch oven set you meant to donate to a raffle? Donate it.

Sort through those boxes of desk clutter from past jobs. Do you want to have a desk in an office again? No. Burn the boats.

Keep the tools, gardening supplies, and camping gear.

Keep the tractor!

Oh yeah… The saddle rack, covered in a dusty sheet, and the big cabinet full of nearly-new riding gear. Clear it out. English saddles and Western, and bareback pad. Bridles, stirrups, cinches, and blankets. Clean it up and drop it off at your friend’s consignment shop. Even the saddle rack goes. Most things in the dressing room of the  horse trailer, too. And all the clothes, the breeches, show clothes, jackets. Off to new homes.

Everything goes except that one saddle, handmade by a friend, which would perfectly fit a sweet-natured drafty little mare with no withers. Just in case.

Give away, donate, or sell anything you can. Throw the rest in the dumpster, and then have even that hauled away.

Make room for movement and openings for creativity. Clear out space for friends. Declutter, unclog, and open up. Dump the teacup.


It’s been very difficult for me to get down to some of the hard work of cleaning out things I no longer use or need. It finally occurred to me a few days ago that this process is very much like handling the estate of a loved one. These things represent a life that is over. They meant something to somebody. It’s hard to clear out things and say goodbye, even when they were your own things, and your own life. But the stuff from the former resident has to go if a new person is going to be living here. 

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