Deborah Rose column: What to do with stuff? Keep it simple

There comes a time in one’s life when stuff just has to go.

You know, the stuff that somehow makes its way into our homes, creeping into our personal space like an invasive weed in a garden.

Consider the unworn, outdated clothes in the closet, piles of papers yet to be filed, unread books collecting dust on the shelves, birthday or special occasion cards stacked on a desk, the miscellaneous items in a junk drawer.

Stuff weighs us down emotionally. It takes up unnecessary physical space that could otherwise be used for something restorative and calming, like a plant or candle. Or nothing!

We find freedom by letting go of some of the stuff. It can be challenging, but it is possible.

That nugget of wisdom has been increasingly whispering in my ears the past few years.

I suspect the experiences of I’ve had cleaning out, downsizing and moving belongings for a handful of loved ones within the past several years has pushed me further to acknowledge that a lifetime of belongings is cumbersome; be selective and thoughtful.

And so, earlier this year during lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, I tackled a project I had wanted to address for years — some of the bins in the attic.

It was quite a chore, but I made a good dent in the project and unloaded a lot of unnecessary things from the house.

Many items were set aside to be donated to various charitable organizations in the community. A limited number of special things were kept, although even after wrapping up that portion of the project, I recognized some of what I kept could have probably been donated.

It was satisfying to see all I had done. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

Why I kept so much of what I had packed away in boxes is beyond my comprehension. Unfortunately, many folks do it.

In recent weeks, I’ve helped another loved one go through and pack up belongings — way too many of them.

While it’s been a taxing project, it stirred memories as we have flipped through photographs, old documents and other personal memorable.

As the family historian for both sides of my family, personal records are valuable, so I’m a stickler for keepsakes like those.

But other than that, if it’s going to collect dust, hasn’t been used in a certain period of time or does not bring joy, it’s probably not necessary.

It has become easier for me with each passing year to make the call to keep, donate or trash an item.

I don’t want my kids having to sort through all of my belongings one day as I have helped do for friends and family. I’d rather sort through my belongings now, get rid of unimportant things, and set aside and organize what is most meaningful.

There’s still a lot more to do. A lot. But staying focused, keeping things simple and holding onto what has the most meaning and significance will help get the job done.

Life can be and feel complicated at times. Why add to that by filling up the physical space around us with unnecessary stuff? That can often lead to more complications and heavy feelings that can be difficult to navigate.

Letting go of our excess stuff has the power to lighten our load and spark more inner joy and peace.

Recycle that newspaper, read the book (then donate it) or donate it, simplify the knick knacks that collect dust.

Keep it simple.

Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at