Don’t let junk ruin your happiness

Last week, Friday was a busy day as I helped my daughter get ready for a garage sale with some of her friends.

We cleaned my clothes closets, and got rid of unneeded candleholders, vases, suitcases, lawn chairs, a wok, some placemats, and two folding chairs I inherited from my mother 17 years ago.

But most significant of all, we sorted old records. My friend Vernette, who volunteers in the records section of an economy shop, helped determine which records we should sell for 25 cents and which ones could be more valuable.

My daughter’s Dan Fogelberg records from college days possibly could bring as much as $10-$15. An old Waylon Jennings might be worth $15-$20.

And the priciest record was “The Faces I’ve Been” by Jim Croce that according to Vernette’s pricing book could sell for as much as $60.

But it turns out that the most valuable records—the ones we saved—had no monetary value at all. Vernette suggested we should price them at 25 cents.

“Winnie the Pooh,” narrated by Maurice Evans, was a favourite years ago. And “Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel” was bought when a little boy insisted that he wanted his “own wheel.”

A favourite of mine in the ’60s was the first recording by Joan Baez, which also happened to be valuable—from $10-$20.

But my favourite song of all was in an album of assorted folk songs. “Johnson boys eat peas and honey/They have done it all their life/Makes the peas taste mighty funny/But it keeps them on the knife.”

I couldn’t let go of those favourite records—even though we haven’t played them for 20 years. Now they’re cluttering my storage room once again.

Clutter! How simple life could be without it!

Every time I get overwhelmed by clutter, I go to my favourite book by Don Aslett—“Clutter’s Last Stand.” Aslett is dubbed “America’s No. 1 Cleaning Expert” and made a multi-million dollar career out of cleaning.

As for clutter, he says, “I found that everyone is a junker—and that it’s the single biggest reason for personal unhappiness.”

Learning to separate the clutter from the treasure is a lifelong project. And how we view the things in our lives changes over time. But you must learn to identify junk and clutter.

So take a hard look at your closets, drawers, and cupboards. We only wear about 20 percent of the clothes in our closets, says Aslett. The remaining 80 percent is clutter.

You need only one of personal things, such as hairbrushes, toenail clippers, fingernail files, tweezers. You need only one paring knife, one bread knife, and one meat knife. So be sure your three knifes are very sharp and get rid of the rest.

Eighty percent of what you file is never retrieved so why not sort before you file.

Says Aslett, “Clutter doesn’t enrich life, it ends up confusing it. A huge selection of things just exhausts our spiritual, physical, and emotional energy.”

So why not get rid of the things you don’t need right now. Be sure you don’t let clutter squeeze happiness out of your life.

Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit