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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Too Much

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Originally published October 5, 2007

This column is reprinted with permission from The Hills Newspapers.

Some problems are just too much. If not handled right away, they get even bigger. Then, another one comes along, and things really start piling up.

That’s the way things start piling up when my family brings them home. My kids bring schoolwork, artwork, and teacher’s letters. Party favors, sports gear, and the latest clothes. My husband brings magazines, books, and newspapers. Business gifts, travel souvenirs, and household gadgets.

Like savvy developers, my family grabs any open space. They leave things on the kitchen counter, hall table, bottom step of the staircase – no possible location is overlooked. Before I know it, piles of things have sprung up overnight, and the house is looking as overcrowded as the Bay Area.

These piles join other piles. Outgrown clothes in the closets. Old toys in the basement. Unwanted furniture in the garage. Used books on the shelves. Old baby equipment, appliances, computer accessories, ski equipment, garden tools, water toys and musical instruments. (I am really piling it on now.)

Like any reliable garbage man, I regularly try to dispose of the piles. (The rest of my family seems to regularly be on a garbage strike) Some piles only need to be put away. But others need to be thrown away or, whenever possible, given away — to the recycling service, or the local charity, or even the neighbor down the street.

As piles go, it’s best to come up with any alternative to throwing them away. Otherwise, our discarded piles will end up alongside everyone else’s. Then, piles will be everywhere, and life will be a lot like walking through a crowded dog park – you really need to watch where you step.

To get rid of piles properly requires some effort. Some days, I feel like I am working in the company mailroom, as I divvy up piles into still other piles depending on where things should go. (Baby equipment to the women’s shelter and children’s ski suit to a neighbor.) When working your way up through the mailroom, you never have all the answers. So, when I cannot figure out the right pile for something, I employ a sorting system I learned many years ago. (“Eeny, meeny, miny, mo”.)

It takes constant work to stay ahead of the piles. At times, I believe I have taken care of them once and for all. But, it’s like having a mole in your garden. After you have finished flattening down one mole hill, another pops up. Not to make a mountain out of a mole hill, but it’s one pesky problem.

More to the point, this problem is too much, or rather, too much stuff. The best way I have found to deal with piles is to try and not have them in the first place. That means having less stuff. Of course, we cannot control everything that comes into our house, but we can control some things.

These days, I think twice before bringing something else home. Do I really need the latest kitchen gadget? Should I check the bestseller out of the library instead of buying it? How much will my kids use that new toy?

With a little forethought, we can all lighten our load. Then, we will have fewer problems, and life will be more carefree. So carefree, we may find ourselves walking through a dog park without watching our step.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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