Marena Mitchell: De-cluttering for the future

Marena Mitchell SQjpgSpring has arrived and that means a lot of things, but mostly, it means change.

Everyone I know seems to be undergoing some monumental life experience — new jobs (myself included), new houses, relationships starting or ending, graduating, the list goes on. The thing is, while change is always good, sometimes it’s pretty scary.

To give you some indication on how I feel about making major switches in my life, I’ll tell you this. I came to New Paltz in 2007 and for my final semester of undergrad I moved to the city and hated it. I came back and lived on a couch so that I wouldn’t have to return home. Then, I immediately started graduate school at New Paltz, moved into my current apartment and have remained here for three years.


So, seven years later, here I am. I just got a new job in White Plains and while half of me is so excited about the prospect of living somewhere else, the other half of me becomes ill at the mere idea of it. So much so that I’ve been making late-night panicked phone calls to my support systems, losing sleep over the decision of having to move come October or committing to an over-an-hour commute for another year.

The truth is, a majority of my friends are downstate or in New Jersey now anyway, so at the end of it all, I still have no idea what I’m going to do. Everyone sees fit to remind me that stressing is useless because I don’t have to make a decision right now, and while it’s true, I usually just end up saying, “Yeah, but you know me.”

So at this point, I’ve resolved to treat this summer in New Paltz as my last, even if it doesn’t end up being true. With that comes the stress of an eventual move. My mother had a clinical addiction to moving through all of my life. I lived in nine different houses before I graduated high school, so now that I’m an adult it is practically one of my least favorite things to do.

I’ve been trying to find tips and ideas on how to make it easier, and of course, none other than Oprah has come to my rescue. There are certain parts of adulthood that I’m resistant to (any of the parts that involve say, responsibility), but after my first paycheck I plan on getting my own yearly subscriptions to Real Simple and O Magazine.

Oprah says the weight of our material objects can bring us down mentally and emotionally. While I’m not one for spiritual jargon, my friend Lesley is and she loves Oprah. All we talk about when we’re together is the law of positive attraction and her vision boards and how she tells herself in the mirror every day, “I am disgustingly and filthy rich.” It’s mostly to make me laugh, but the girl isn’t doing half bad for herself.

The strange thing is, once we started hanging out regularly again, all this change started happening in my life. The day after we hung out for the first time in six months was the day I got a phone call for an interview.

Lesley did this thing where she fell in love, got rid of all of her furniture and belongings that wouldn’t fit and moved into her boyfriend’s studio apartment in Brooklyn. Between this and O Magazine’s de-cluttering issue, I’ve decided, step by step, to do some letting go of my own.

Every week I take at least five items to either trash (if they’re destroyed) or donate. I’ve resolved to compromise with three items only: books, art supplies and clothes. Everything else, out the door.

At first this was a painful process, so to be gentle with my materialistic self, I did it in stages. For a week I would put the items in question in a bag in the corner of my room. If I didn’t rifle through the bag within seven days, I moved it to my trunk. If I didn’t touch it there either, then finally it was time to say goodbye.

It’s a system that’s worked pretty well, and at this point I don’t even need to use it. And here’s the thing, every week I do feel a little better.

The ongoing issue now is of course that I have a shopping problem. Retail therapy has always been my go-to mood-booster, and while there’s probably some way to cure it or at least an explanation for why I do it, I’ve decided that I don’t really care.

I’ve committed to a life-long battle of over-buying and constantly de-cluttering. Maybe one day I’ll break the cycle, but for now it gives me some weird sense of satisfaction and grounding. While everything around me seems to be in a whirlwind of change, that’s all I can really ask for.

Marena Mitchell is a young artist and leisurely writer living in New Paltz. She graduated from SUNY New Paltz with an MFA in printmaking in 2013. You can find her other writings in her zines, on her blog