CLEANING THE ATTIC Tip #10: What’s the Point?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, one of the hard things about letting go of something is remembering how much I paid for it.

And every time I mention that, someone suggests I sell the item on Ebay. Or take it to a consignment shop. Or have a yard sale.

I decided not to do those things. In the long run, it really isn’t worth it to me, for several reasons:

1. The time involved.

Learning to do Ebay effectively takes time. And brain energy.

Silly as it seems, I’m still not that comfortable with a digital camera. I have no idea how to upload images. I know those are skills I have to learn eventually. But stopping to learn them right now feels distracting to my de-junking mission.

Someone ran me through the process of selling on Ebay, and it’s a lot to come to grips with. I completed one auction. I couldn’t believe how much time it took up.

It takes time to decide what’s really worth selling. Time to describe each item, time to come up with my terms, time to package each item for shipping, time to run it to the post office. Time for the auction to run its course. Time to respond to customer questions.

If the item doesn’t sell, I have to decide once again whether to relist it, hold onto it again for another auction, or give it away.

I end up making lots of decisions about each individual item.

Same with a consignment shop. Time to figure out what they’ll take and what they won’t. Time to haul it to the store (usually by appointment.) Time spent determining a price. Time to haul the unwanted stuff back home, and to decide what to do with it again.

When an item sells, usually you can expect to get about 25% of the retail price (depending on its condition and desirability). If it sells. And if the store doesn’t have to further reduce the price to move it.

Whatever doesn’t sell, guess what? You have to take it back (unless you give them permission to dump it or give it to charity.)

Same with a yard sale. It takes time, time, time, to gather, tag, store, set out and sell each item. And then dispose of each unsold item.

Time, time, time. Time I’m not spending directly on my art.

Which brings me to the second reason:

2. What is my focus?

We hear over and over, what you pay attention to, will flourish. Well, I want to pay attention to my art, not my stuff.

Is all this extra time spent relocating my stuff for money really moving my business and art forward effectively?

I would rather move this stuff on and get back to making–and selling–my art.

Nicole Caulfield, the artist who walked me through an Ebay auction, sells small works of art there called ACEO. The time spent using Ebay directly helps her art business. It might be worthwhile exploring Ebay if I intend to sell my work there. But I don’t, for now.

The last reason is more subtle. But it helped me the most.

3. Giving helps me emotionally and spiritually.

The donations I made to the Sharon Arts Center “yart sale” helped them raise funds for new programs. It helped other artists who could really use those supplies. And it helped me. I got a tax deduction, equal perhaps to what I would have made at a consignment shop or yard sale.

Giving books to our public library’s book sale helps them raise money for new books. And other people get to read my books. I get to make space for new books! (Ohmigod, I can’t believe I said that!!!)

Donating to Planet Aid helps others around the world, donating to Project Share helps local kids have a good Christmas, donating to Freecyle creates good karma.

Many of these items I’ve been holding on to represent dreams I used to have. But I have new dreams now.

Letting go of your old dreams may help someone else’s dreams come true.

A friend once told me, “Sometimes when we pray, we may feel our prayers aren’t being answered. It’s because we haven’t made room for them. We have stuff blocking the way. The answer can’t get through.”

I think about that a lot. Lots of things can get in the way.

Junk. Hanging on to old dreams. Getting caught up in recouping money from our past mistakes.

Need one more reason to move it all on quickly?

Making room for your prayers to be answered may help be the answer to someone else’s prayers.

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9 Comments

Filed under action steps, art, business, change, cleaning the studio, life, mental attitude, mindfulness, recycling, recycling tip, time management

9 responses to “CLEANING THE ATTIC Tip #10: What’s the Point?

  1. Great post!

    I’m the same way, I just give stuff away.

    Flylady recommends the same thing, she says Bless someone else with your stuff. She also says get rid of your guilt quilt — you know, that unfinished quilt so many people have in a closet. I did that, I asked a quilter relative to please finish a quilt that had been promised, she was happy to do it, and I got the guilt quilt out of my house. Fabulous for both of us.

    Even selling on ebay using one of those stores that does it for you may not work — I gave them some items, which then didn’t sell! I had to go pick the items up again, after having mentally let go of them already. It was awful!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Ooooh, thanks for letting me hear your experiences, Elaine. I’m always glad to learn I’ve made the right decision! :^)

    The guilt quilt….hmmmm, great name! I think I saw a few up there in the attic!

  3. I think the real breakthrough is figuring out what method works best for each person. For you it’s giving the stuff away. For me, it’s a yard sale.

    I’ve held yard sales in the past. I seem to do one every few years. It’s a huge purging process for me. I guess I’m too selfish to feel good about giving so much stuff away, but thinking about making money off the junk makes me very happy! The very thought helps me decide to “sell” instead of “keep”.

    A yard sale is a lot of work, but the deadline (the sale day) helps focus the work for a short, intense period. My sale is 2 weeks away. I won’t make much art in these 2 weeks, but after that I’ll be so much freer.

    Oh, I got rid of my guilt quilt in my last huge purge a few years ago. Didn’t realize everyone had one!

  4. pacres

    We cleaned out a whole room of items on Freecycle.org. It’s relatively quick and simple and most items were gone the same day and will hopefully get more good use before being recycled or trashed.

  5. Great post Luann – lots to think about there – and I’m very much on your wave length.

  6. Thanks for your input, Barbara. I think when we have everything under control again, a regular yard sale will help keep it that way.

    Yes, pacres, when Freecycle works, it REALLY works! I covered Freecycle in the very first article in this series: Freecycle It!

    Katherine, thank you for the kudos, and also for the link to my post!

  7. I’ve tried yard sales but we just don’t have enough of the stuff that people are looking for. I didn’t make enough money to make it worth while. Every now and then if I have something that worth something, I’ll try and sell it on Ebay, but that’s not often. I’ll also put some used books on Amazon, but I don’t do that often either. Mostly I give stuff away. It’s quick, easy and gets stuff out of the way. Plus it makes someone else happy.

  8. I gave away thousands of dollars of stuff earlier this year – freecycle, craigslist, donations, etc. It was a very freeing process. I didn’t want to spend time trying to sell any of it. And I know it will all come back to me in some other way as the universe has enough for everyone.

    The best part of the experience was realizing I really wanted to move, not just clear things out. So I did.

    Clearing things out is a great way to make space for dreams to come true.

  9. I sell on eBay as a business. But I sell commodity items (jewelry tools, equipment and supplies) so once I write a description it can be used over and over.

    In clearing my clutter, I refuse to sell on eBay. It’s nto worth my time. And yard sales are not for me. I give things away. It makes me feel good and helps the recipient. I’m trying Freecycle for the first time today so we’ll see what happens there. Giving feels good.

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