ATX to OAK and BACK AGAIN?
Two years ago I ransacked our house and decluttered.
Top to bottom.
Broken Barbies were smuggled out in the dark of night (hell hath no fury like a seven year old whose fractured toys are tossed away).
Kitchen gadgets Id “hoped” to learn to use, but which were still encased in boxes were re-homed.
Clothing Id held onto since the *last* time it was in style (hello prairie blouses!) was donated (and, I’m confident, later purchased for Halloween costumes).
I created a six pronged approach and emptied the house of unnecessary stuff.
pink shoes+plastic flowers=necessity!
I thought I’d done a great job eliminating the “not needed” and the “not regularly used.”
Now that I’m faced with packing again—I realize I didn’t do as well as I’d thought.
travel hoop to POP ART this all made the trip.
This time I wanna give *everything* away.
Admittedly my feeling initially stemmed from not wanting to unpack/find places for all our stuff post-move—yet the more I considered my feelings the more I realized it was bigger than that.
It was two-fold.
First, I ‘love’ many of my possessions yet simply don’t use as often as Id like to think I do.
The happiness I only imagine might be realized by someone else (time to give away!).
Next, and an extension of the first reason, many of my possessions don’t bring me joy even if they were procured with an eye to doing so.
I wasn’t able to put this second piece into words until I stumbled upon the ever articulate Leo Babauta‘s post on the subject.
Leo challenged his readers:
If life were an empty container, with limited space, what would you put in it?
I realized he was speaking metaphorically/challenging us to live our priorities, yet right now I’m mired in the literal place of decluttering.
Regardless of intent, his words have framed my packing process and facilitated my making the trek to Texas as a much lighter-me.
I’ve shifted from being overwhelmed by the stuff we’ve somehow added the past 2 years to distilling it down to a singular question I ask myself with each item I encounter:
Is this one of my container items? If my life consisted of limited space would I add this object in?
This elimination process has been easier than I could have imagined.
It’s become intuitive (if I had limited life-space would keeping ___ increase my joy?).
It’s allowed me to step back and see how something which may not belong in my container—could still be a prioritized item in a friend/loved one’s container.
Id only *hoped* Id sit in. A friend WILL sit in.
- My container is small because I’m choosing for it to be small.
- My container is small because the physical things which bring me true, unmitigated joy are few.
- My container is small because I’ve realized liking something or having fond memories about something is different from it currently bringing me joy.
- Moving or not have you joined the minimalist movement?
- Are you able to hold on to only items which truly bring you joy?
Michele @ paleorunningmomma saysNovember 19, 2014 at 4:12 am
I lean toward more minimalist and like to get rid of things once I have no need for them, but, my husband is the exact opposite and so we have a problem! Never sure if he’ll kill me for getting rid of things but I often do anyway and he never asks. It’s the separation process that’s tough I think.
Melissa saysNovember 19, 2014 at 4:39 am
YES!! My hubby is lke I am so we have lots of stuff.
Healthy Mama saysNovember 19, 2014 at 4:15 am
I hold on to EVERYTHING in the hope it will later bring me joy.
Lori Musselman saysNovember 19, 2014 at 4:23 am
Ah, I so love cleaning out the clutter – although my husband says I just make a big mess. And I’ve seen the fury of a scorned child who has seen her/his Mama throw out some of their toys (even if they’re broken). It happened once, and then purge time started after bedtime ;). Good luck packing.
Melissa saysNovember 19, 2014 at 4:38 am
I need to pare stuff down here because I always buy things and hope I will wear them or use them and then I don’t.
They don’t bring me joy they stress me out.
Jennifer FIsher saysNovember 19, 2014 at 4:42 am
I have WAY too much stuff — have been slowly weeding . . . where does it all come from. BTW, when you get back to ATX, you’ll hear about the Hutson-Tilson professor who has been purposefully living in a dumpster for nearly a year . .. http://dumpsterproject.org/
Irene saysNovember 19, 2014 at 8:01 am
I need to stop and weed and thinking about if I had limited space.
I rent a storage place for me stuff and there it brings no joy 🙁
lindsay Cotter saysNovember 19, 2014 at 4:50 am
when we moved to NZ, we did this. GOT RID OF A LOT. packed minimal… stored the rest. BEST THING EVER
but your life packing… i need that. NO is a good one. Must pack that more
Brittany @ Delights and Delectables saysNovember 19, 2014 at 4:51 am
I am working on decluttering my house and my LIFE!
Olive saysNovember 19, 2014 at 4:57 am
I like how you don’t as much focus on the clutter but on the joy.
I have a lot of stuff but right now it would go in my container.
It brings me joy.
Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb saysNovember 19, 2014 at 5:09 am
I’m a purger my nature. I’m one of those people that doesn’t do a huge purge once a year….I do one once a month. Seriously. When we moved to AZ 2 yrs ago we sold/gave away half of our belongings and never looked back. Our home is scarce and most would probably say it looks college-like given that we have a hodge podge of mostly vintage yet unmatched furniture. But that’s how we roll. Wouldn’t change it for the world.
Coco saysNovember 19, 2014 at 5:16 am
i try to de-clutter my life literally and figuratively, but it’s HARD!
Vonnie saysNovember 19, 2014 at 5:28 am
I’d not considered the amount of junk I’ve purchased in hopes it will bring me joy.
Jody - Fit at 57 saysNovember 19, 2014 at 5:36 am
I want to move to force me into this… I need to do it but so little time these days. WE want to move but with money as an issue & it costs for 1st, security, and all that goes with a move, it has to wait. BUT YES, I collected a lot after family died – thinking having it would help with the pain & keep the memories but with time I realized I don’t need all that stuff to remember the feelings…
Leslie saysNovember 19, 2014 at 5:59 am
Great topic! I did this when I downsized from a house to a small 2 bedroom apartment, and I’ve been continuing to declutter in bits and pieces ever since. It’s ongoing. One thing I have done for a couple of years is gift experiences rather than things when possible. My son and I have gone on zipline tours, Segway rides, and, next Spring, a Maroon5 concert. I’ve found that the experience and the memories are more valuable than a thing, in these cases.
Tamara saysNovember 19, 2014 at 6:29 am
This is one area where the husband and I diverge in tendencies. He keeps everything. And is like a 7-year old if I throw out his broken Barbies…
Michelle saysNovember 19, 2014 at 6:39 am
This is just what I needed. We’ve been TALKING about downsizing for two years now. We just haven’t taken any action yet.
Emmie saysNovember 19, 2014 at 6:52 am
Yep. Downsizing like crazy right now and re-evaluating everything – what’s important? What makes me happy? Something being “nice” doesn’t cut it anymore. Picked a super small container for things – everything else HAS to go. Once I get things together, the key is getting them from the massive pile to their new homes. I get hung up on that. But that’s where the satisfaction comes.
Kim saysNovember 19, 2014 at 6:56 am
We have far too much stuff and I know that right now it is just adding to the disorganization I’m feeling!!!
I love the container approach and think I need to use it with physical things as well as in other areas – my containers all need to shrink and start only holding the truly important things!!!
Bryce saysNovember 19, 2014 at 6:59 am
clutter = the worst! great post!
Betsy saysNovember 19, 2014 at 7:09 am
You have good timing with your post! I just started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up and in it the author talks about how you should only keep things that bring you joy. Such a great way to look at your things!
Alysia @ Slim Sanity saysNovember 19, 2014 at 7:20 am
I try for the minimalist movement. I seem to have a problem with it sometimes. I go through the house and declutter pretty frequently, even if I only come up with a couple of things. That’s a start, right? 🙂
TriGirl saysNovember 19, 2014 at 7:30 am
So I’m not very good at the minimalist thing; I have this persistent worry that I will turn into a hoarder. Moving is so tough, but moving back to Austin sure sounds lovely 🙂
Renee @ Bendiful Blog saysNovember 19, 2014 at 8:10 am
Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with THINGS, I seriously watch about 15 minutes of the documentary Tiny and realize I can live without a lot of THINGS. I swear it’s like a shot that motivates me every time I watch it. I tend to hold onto clutter in piles, it makes me get rid of them.
Katrina saysNovember 19, 2014 at 8:32 am
I LOVE purging!!
Nancy Johnson Horn saysNovember 19, 2014 at 8:34 am
My husband just recently did a big purge of our baby stuff (the baby is 4). I am ready to declutter and really clean out my closets. Thanks for the inspiration!
crabby mcslacker saysNovember 19, 2014 at 9:08 am
How did you manage to make decluttering sound so fun? I HATE making decisions about what to keep and what to toss; you’d think with our bicoastal lifestyle I’d have that down. But too many times I’ve tossed stuff I later wanted that it keeps me tethered to items that really aren’t seeing much use.
The best cure I’ve found is to simply live in smallish condos so we run out of storage space at some point. So at some point, in order to keep something I REALLY want, the iffy stuff has to go.
Wishing you a relatively stress free move and fun adventures ahead!
Joanna @Makingmine saysNovember 19, 2014 at 9:49 am
I love this mindset – I know I have too much “stuff”
And it create chaos. It’s more to clean up, it more clutter, it’s more to keep track of. Less would simplify so much. I need to work on this facet of my life for sure!
Jasmine saysNovember 19, 2014 at 10:13 am
You may know that I too am leaving CA in the near future, after only 6 months here! Before I left Seattle I rid myself of half. While here I have rid myself of more with a garage sale. Now I am right there with you in not bringing too much to my soon to be new home. I am considering things like how much I will have to pay to move, store, etc. I am also looking at my true feelings for items- truly positive, indifferent or negative. I ask myself: does this item fit into my new life? Do I really want it to? I like your (from your friend) vision of an actual container and what I might want to use my allotted space for. I know I am grateful for this experience and how it has given me the freedom to let go.
Andrea@WellnessNotes saysNovember 19, 2014 at 10:17 am
I try to only keep what is truly meaningful to me, but things that don’t belong keep making their way back… This is a great reminder that I have to finding new homes for lots of things a priority!
Erin @ Her Heartland Soul saysNovember 19, 2014 at 10:25 am
Great post! I’m not a natural minimalist but I definitely need to adopt some of these thoughts!
messymimi saysNovember 19, 2014 at 10:54 am
This is my continuing goal. It is not the goal of the rest of the family, especially Grandpa, who wants to give the kids a ton of very valuable items that have to be stored and cared for.
Someday, they will move out and have their own homes and take their things, and i will have only what i use and love and what will actually bring me joy as i use it.
Geosomin saysNovember 19, 2014 at 11:14 am
We’ve been trying to declutter and it’s overwhelming at times. I want to purge but my husband is a keeper of things…but he is a much better organizer than I am (I just make piles!). It’s been interesting. With a limited budget we don’t want to get rid of things we will need again, but we need a big purge. I have found things I thought I’d given away back in their place….someday I’ll have it done. Some day 🙂
misszippy saysNovember 19, 2014 at 11:22 am
I’ve gotta tell ya, I would love to go minimal when it comes to material possessions. I love to get rid of and declutter. And yet I’m married to a pack rat and seem to be raising a pack rat daughter. It makes me crazy sometimes!
Lindsay saysNovember 19, 2014 at 12:08 pm
I love this! Such a great question to ask yourself and one I am going to start using. I have waaaaay too much stuff and so do the kids. I half dread the holiday gift giving because of it. Thanks for the motivation!
Elena saysNovember 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm
oh my goodness I need to do this-although I am not moving I feel like there is way too much stuff everywhere to clutter my mind.
Kate saysNovember 19, 2014 at 3:05 pm
I declutter at least 3 times each year. Things are sold, given to friends, or donated.
…and since I don’t buy a whole lot in the first place, I don’t always have a lot, but find that there’s often clothes or decorative items that I don’t care for as much as I thought I did when I got them.
Brittany @ Barr & Table saysNovember 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm
We got rid of SO much when we moved to California but seeing as how we still have a few boxes that have never been touched, we clearly didn’t get rid of enough either!
Laura @ Mommy Run Fast saysNovember 19, 2014 at 5:55 pm
We try to live simply. We talk the talk but it’s harder to follow through. Actually, my husband is really good at clearing things out… I tend to hold onto them longer. But compared to the average American, I’d say we’re definitely minimalists!
Myra saysNovember 19, 2014 at 6:43 pm
I love stuff, and have spent entirely too much money on it. That being said, I learned a valuable lesson this year.
My mom passed away last October. She lived with me and my daughter in our small two bedroom garden apt. I’m just getting to clearing out her stuff. The sad thing is that we don’t need or really want anything. We have great memories thy will stay with us much longer than any stuff. Your post coukdnt have come at a better time.
I’m ready to clean up and move out.
GiGi Eats saysNovember 19, 2014 at 10:34 pm
I NEED YOU TO COME TO MY HOUSE and THROW EVERYTHING OUT FOR ME!!!!!!!
Cammy@TippyToeDiet saysNovember 20, 2014 at 5:59 am
I’ll never get to minimalist status in physical items or otherwise, but I do like to remove what no longer brings me joy or serves a useful purpose. Even better, for me, is to ask the joy/purpose questions BEFORE I buy or commit to something. I don’t always get that one right, but I’m working on it. 🙂
Annmarie saysNovember 20, 2014 at 6:37 am
We just recently cleaned out our basement and hall closets….it was such a task! We still have my daughter’s closets to clean out along with all the drawers…such a task and SO MUCH stuff we don’t need!
Dr. J saysNovember 20, 2014 at 8:26 am
Just be glad your seven year old didn’t make the packing decisions for you! lol!
I can hear it now, “Those things my mom threw out when I was a kid are worth so much money now!”
Dave saysNovember 20, 2014 at 9:35 am
Congrats, and a great topic! I learned to do this from the best – from, ahem, negative example by those who shall remain nameless. 😉
So we began doing this about a year ago, and have been doing it continuously. Gradual portions have made it less crazy than trying to do it all it once, although that approach is certainly valid, too.
We can actually walk place to place without hitting things, and now we hit antique stores just for viewing! 🙂
Krysten saysNovember 20, 2014 at 12:52 pm
We are hoping to be moving soon… But house hunting/closing is proving to be more difficult that expected. UGH!!! But I am slowly trying to get rid of things in hopes that the perfect place may come along sooner than I think
Kris Olsen saysNovember 20, 2014 at 1:58 pm
Moved many times. “When it doubt throw it out” I have many memory containers of items belonging to my sons. Artwork, that should be framed 🙂 Planning a move in the Spring. Not many things going to the new house. Family table is the most important thing to take. Many memories around that table!!
Happy moving to you!
Aliza saysNovember 20, 2014 at 3:20 pm
This is great. Can be applied to so many other areas of life – including relationships, friends, tabs open on my laptop… 🙂
Sandra Laflamme saysNovember 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm
It is a constant work in progress to become more minimal. The accumulation of stuff happens with kids and is hard to undo. I just did a major purge of stuff but there is more to go. Sometimes the “pack-rat” tendencies from my childhood creep back in. I attach too many memories to everything. Good luck with the move!!
Christine @ Love, Life, Surf saysNovember 20, 2014 at 8:32 pm
I love love love this post so much. Yes, I’m an incredible pack rat but I love this perspective.
Deborah saysNovember 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm
I love those pink shoes!!!
I was really mercenary in my decisions last time I moved as well. I actually like the concept of moving for that reason. My mother’s lived in the same home for 50yrs and I hate to think what moving would be like for her.
I can appreciate the intuitiveness in decision making. When it comes down to it we do often know what’s best. (Even if we struggle to admit it!)
GiGi Eats saysNovember 26, 2014 at 9:02 pm
I am a hoarder….. But…. I need to not be – why I have bills from three years ago is beyond me!