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So Very Much Stuff

Garage sale ad with photos of various stuff.

So Very Much Stuff

I’m guessing there aren’t many of us who think we have the exact right amount of stuff, though there are obviously varying degrees between us. Some cars have never seen the inside of a garage, while others are the only item in a perfectly organized space. Still others think they’re not actual hoarders because their stuff is so very well organized (looking at myself with that one).  

When Clay and I decided to sell our home and travel the world, we were faced with a 2,100 sq. ft. house full of stuff that had to be dealt with. And that doesn’t include the 2.5 car garage and garden shed. To properly paint this picture, you need to know that we are both in our 50s and we got married in 2020 — when we brought together two lifetimes full of things into one house. And that well-organized stuff mentioned above? That just means you’re better at getting more things into smaller spaces. 

It took us many months to get everything (and I mean everything) we own into a 10×10 self- storage unit so we could travel with just a backpack and a carry-on, but boy was it worth it. As I let go of more than a dozen crates of holiday decorations, I could feel the emotional weight lifting off of me. Cleaning out the craft room allowed me to donate two carloads worth of art supplies to a local middle school teacher. And our unused kitchen supplies are now helping local families prepare home-cooked meals. 

So many reasons to do this!

Even if you’re not planning something as extreme as us, there are definite advantages to going through your things and getting rid of some of it. And there’s a good chance it’s not just your stuff. Maybe your grown children have left behind mementos (or furniture), or you have the memories from cleaning out your parents’ homes. Either way, it’s probably time for much of it to go away. 

Forbes shares 10 good reasons to get rid of your stuff, that have nothing to do with selling your house to travel the world:  

  • Enjoy more free time. …
  • Spend less money. …
  • Feel more calm. …
  • Always have something to wear. …
  • Help others by donating to a good cause. …
  • Get better sleep. …
  • Simplify your child’s life. …
  • Get out the door quicker

Perhaps most importantly, removing clutter gives you physical and emotional space, while also letting you see and understand what you actually own. 

“Clutter adds stress,” shares Reno resident Amy D. “Removing unnecessary stuff actually helps ease anxiety and creates order.”

And, think of how much nicer it would be to get in your garage-warmed car in the morning!

Letting go emotionally 

“The biggest obstacles I encounter when helping people minimize is that a ‘special person’ gave it to them,” shares Lora Mattingly-Enget. “I try and help them realize it’s unlikely your grandparent wanted you to hold on to this clock radio for the rest of your life.”

“I help a lot of people pass on things when someone close to them has died,” shares Liz M. “If they know that a veterans group or a student can put the clothes of their father or son to good use immediately, I feel like it is a bit therapeutic to move the items forward.”

Marie Kondo has some good advice. Look at the item and decide if it brings you joy or if it provides an actual function. If the answer is no to both, then it’s time for it to go. Of course 

it’s not that straightforward for everything and you will have some tough decisions to make. 

If it’s sentimental, but you don’t have room for it, how about taking a photo of it and sending it on its way? “The memories aren’t in the stuff, they’re in your heart,” points out Jeadene S. “If you haven’t used it or needed it for more than a year, pay it forward to someone who can use it.” 

April C. shares advice she received about things given to her by a friend or family member, “Getting rid of it doesn’t mean you don’t love them.”


Practicality Rules

Sometimes it has nothing to do with sentimentality, but it’s more a matter of getting around to doing it. 

John S. shares his rules: “If it doesn’t fit properly, it goes. If you haven’t worn it in six months it goes.” John is my ex-husband and I have always appreciated his practicality. 🙂 

And don’t “just in case.” As Chelsey B. says, “If it will cost less than $20 to replace or take less than 20 minutes to find where to buy it/order it again, you can go ahead and get rid of it.”

It pays off to start this process while you’re still young(ish). 

Retired journalist Cory F. shares, “We’ve lived in our house since 1979, accumulating all the stuff you accumulate, plus stuff from the deaths of three of our four parents, new tools every time I can’t find what I need in the accumulation of old tools, plus stuff related to my tendency never to get rid of anything I might need someday (8-track players could come back, right?) and stuff the kids, now 37 and 42, will pick up as soon as they get settled. Last year I said ‘It’s all gotta go’ and took two heaping pickup loads of undifferentiated items to the dump and two loads of clothes, household items and furniture to charity. You can’t even tell. Buy a bigger truck.”

Yeah, but how?

Not surprisingly, even this blog managed to overflow its designated space, so click here for some tips on how to start the process of making more space in your life.

Jackie Shelton, APR, is a strategic communications veteran who, after 30 years still has a hard time focusing on one particular aspect, so she has stopped trying.

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