3,000 square feet. Fully furnished. Closets and storage rooms filled. Garage outfitted with all the trimmings.
Have you ever thought, “How did I accumulate so much stuff?” Better yet, “Why have I held onto this personalized bedazzled jean jacket in a size 4T?”
When we finally decided to step into simple living, we knew we were going to have to sift through all the historical treasures held in those plastic bins.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been reading blogs, books, and listening to podcasts about downsizing and purging. The Minimalists have taught me how to live with less. Erin Loechner has coached me how to Chase Slow. Project 333 has shown me how to Be More with Less. I have all the knowledge at the tip of my fingers but to be honest with you, I struggle with purging.
Packrat. Hoarder. My Mom says it’s “sentimental.” Call it what you will, but it’s hard to throw your stuff away. Each time I go through my closet or storage bins, I’m able to let go of a few items here and there, but I find myself clinging to sentimental stuff…just like my Mom. Apple. Tree.
For instance, about two months ago my Mom had been cleaning out her basement and brought me a large bin full of love letters from 4th grade, report cards, ISTEP scores, POGS & slammers, baseball cards, artwork from friends in high school, and a small box. It was hilarious to go back and read some of those letters!
Then, I reached for the little box hoping to find a hidden treasure. Was it the golden slammer? Was it Reggie Miller’s rookie card?
No. It was a box full of my baby teeth. Gross!
“Where do you start? This whole purging business is overwhelming!” I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer this question, but I will do my best. See my guide below. Think of it as a 4th-grade love letter-just check ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
- Does it bring you joy? Yes or No
- Do you love it? Yes or No
- Have you worn/used it within the last year? Yes or No
- Will you regret throwing it out? Yes or No
Now, to the bins:
- “3 Pointer Queen” basketball cape, tiara, and wand? No
- Basketball shoes signed by Pat Summit and Kent Poole (Hoosiers actor)? No
- Puff paint T-shirt’s I made back in the early 90s? No
- My rebellious purple Adidas soccer coat and Umbro soccer bag full of patches? No
- Baby Teeth? Goodness Mom! NO!
Do those items bring me joy? They DID. Past tense. They helped create memories of Joy. But do I need them to feel joy now? Today? No.
An interesting observation. I found myself calling my Sister and Mom to ask for permission to pitch a few things. That’s right. I needed their blessing, their approval before I was able to “let it go.” Thank you, Elsa.
It’s hard, but after the first bag goes out the door, it’s liberating. Donate to Goodwill, local shelters, churches, or throw it away. You will feel so free.
Lastly, do your kids a favor.
When you go to be with the Good Lord, do you really think they will want to sift through all your junk?