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I've moved several times, and each time I went through a "purge" - only to build up my possessions in my new home. This recent move, I decided I wasn't going to clutter my life or my home anymore. In this article I write about the things I have learned - about myself, about my needs and how sometimes the things you own might own you.

I think I could call myself the queen of clutter purging. I have moved several times in my life, but in the seven years I have lived with my husband we have moved six times. And two of them were out of state moves. I have taught myself how to get rid of my crap.

But then, I get to my new place and I build it up again.

Does this happen to you, too?

We recently moved to our dream state, and I essentially did the entire move on my own since my husband had to be here quickly for his job. As I was deciding what to take and what to give away I made a decision – I am not doing this purge thing anymore. Realistically, the next time I move (locally!) there will be some things to get rid of. But no more purchasing crap to fill my home that truly doesn’t bring me joy.

Once all of our stuff arrived (two pods and two SUV’s full – this was after giving away a lot of stuff) and we unpacked, I still looked around and thought “do we really need ALL of this stuff?” But at that point, I was just determined to have some sense of organization in my chaotic wejustmoved home and I found a place for everything. Closets, drawers, under beds, garage. And we still accumulated MORE stuff in the months that followed – but necessary things. We didn’t have any living room furniture, and with the exception of our couch we wandered second hand stores for everything else. People – I got my dining room table for $10. And there is nothing wrong with it.

Once things got settled (why does it take months to really feel settled after a move?) the holidays arrived. I had to move a lot of household decor into boxes to make room for my Christmas decorations. Christmas ended, and as I packed away all my holiday trinkets I realized something – I loved the emptiness of my house. Is that weird? I loved how the clutter was removed and things just looked clean. That is when I fully decided that things had to change – and it was time for another purge.

Does This Bring Me Joy?

I had heard many great things about the book – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – and so naturally I purchased it and read it in a few days. Marie Kondo guides you through determining which items in your house spark joy – and which ones don’t. I went through every room in my house and pulled out every item I owned (I didn’t subject my husband to going through his, he can go on his own clutter journey when he is ready). I literally would hold up an item and say “do you bring me joy?” There were some things that I had an actual emotional response to – things I never expected I would. Like the beer mug we swiped from the bar in Wisconsin the day we got engaged. We hardly use it – but there was just no way I could get rid of it. And things I thought I would be emotional about, but was a-ok putting it in the box of giveaway items. There are also things that won’t (and shouldn’t) bring you joy, and you still need to keep them. Like rain boots. I don’t have an emotional reaction to boots, but I need to keep them.

Related Reading:
7 Super Easy Ways To Save Money Online

I’ve Only Gone Through Two Rounds

Even though I was ready to get rid of everything – like overly ready – I still had to do it in stages. I knew if I tried to do it ALL at one time, I would be completely overwhelmed. I was also afraid that I would go on some crazy rampage and get rid of everything, only to realize I really need those rain boots I tossed into the box.

I have only gone through my possessions twice. And I know there are more things I can get rid of, but I am ok with the space I give myself between purges.

What These Cleanses Have Taught Me

My Stuff Was Suffocating Me

When you just live among your things, you don’t realize it at the time but it can be pretty suffocating. At least it was to me. Cluttered mantles, overfilled side tables, stuffed dresser drawers – its almost like stimulation overload. When my house was a blank slate after Christmas, I realized I breathed a little easier. I still put out my photos of family – that’s not clutter to me. But trinkets and candles and other kitschy things – they went away.

I Was Holding On To Things That Were Holding Me Back

This is going to be a weird one – but I felt like holding on to my “office attire” meant that I was holding on to the idea that I can’t be successful on my own. I haven’t worked in an office since 2014 – why am I lugging around dress pants and button down shirts? Purging them meant I could make it as my own boss. Plus, who knows if they actually fit me anymore (cringe!)

Recommended Reading – The Minimalists – You Are Not Your Khakis

I Realized I Had Emotional Triggers

As I was going through things left and right, tossing them into boxes and bags I realized something – shopping used to make me feel good. Shopping still makes me feel good. There is a rush I get when I purchase something new that I think I definitely need. Bringing the bags home and laying out all your new items and being all excited for something new and shiny! But really? It was a band aid for something that was bothering me. I now knew that the next time I get the urge to purchase, I need to step back and think about what is really going on. My consumerism has dwindled a lot in the past year, so the good news is I must be happier now than I was many years ago when I racked up credit cards at trendy restaurants, swanky bars and late night diners.

Related Reading:
Are You Thirsty Enough?

My “Stuff” Doesn’t Define Who I Am

Until recently, I purchased a lot of items to prove to other people (and maybe myself) that I was successful and had a good life. That by wearing certain clothes or accessorizing my home a certain way that meant that I was a certain kind of person. If I could buy these great things, then life was pretty good – right? And don’t get me wrong, my life isn’t and never was terrible. But now I realize purchases need to have a functional reason. My husband and I purchased a plain, brown couch that was comfortable because really that’s all that matters to us. I don’t want to spend the lifespan of the couch making sure it didn’t get stained or torn. Why get stressed out over a piece of furniture?

Quite frankly, what I “am” is only important to me. And I am confident enough with my choices in life and where I am at that I no longer need “stuff” to prove who – or what – I am to other people. I am a smart woman. I don’t need a library full of pretty books to prove that.

One Person’s Trash IS Another Person’s Treasure

I made two piles as I purged. Give away and try to sell. Clothes were just too much of a pain to try and sell, but other things – books, dvds, home decor – other people wanted my crap! And better yet – other people wanted to pay me for my crap! I hope all of those things that no longer bring me joy bring it to someone else.

Check out this article on another take of purging, and how she misses her stuff

What’s Next?

My next adventure in the Purge and Renew chapter of my life – my files – both digital and paper. Organizing my digital photos. And starting my “No Spend Year” on February 1st. It’s going to be a difficult and wild adventure, and I can’t wait to share it all with you.

Interested in the Conquer Your Clutter bundle? I really like this bundle of e-books – it is full of a ton of great resources on organizing your life, your money (super important to me right now!), your kids, your meals – even your morning. 

It’s a curated collection of 38 eBooks, eCourses, and printable planners to help you organize your life, created by people who’ve learned how to conquer all the different types of clutter (physical, mental, digital) in their life – and win!

The combined value of the resources in the toolkit is over $650, but you get EVERYTHING for 95% off!

Check it out here

I purchased the bundle myself, and I am super excited to get started. A few of my favorites are:

  • 2017 Budget Planner
  • 5 Days To A Better Morning
  • Meal Planning Made Easy
  • Home Management Binder
  • Ultimate Guide To Freezer Cooking

And that’s just the beginning! Check out the bundle for yourself and see if it’s the right thing for you!I've moved several times, and each time I went through a "purge" - only to build up my possessions in my new home. This recent move, I decided I wasn't going to clutter my life or my home anymore. In this article I write about the things I have learned - about myself, about my needs and how sometimes the things you own might own you.

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. Jax | 26th Jan 17

    “My stuff was suffocating me.” This is where I am right now. My Partner and I are in the beginning stages of talking about possible places we might like to move to, and all I can think is how can I move when I have a basement full of stuff. 80% of it I inherited when my mom passed away so there is so much emotional attachment. Like you I plan on doing it in stages-starting with items that just aren’t useful anymore (ie-broken, outdated, etc.) and then work my way through.

    • Lauren | 24th Feb 17

      Jax – the emotional tie is the hardest part! My mother in law owns 3 china sets that she inherited from her mother and grandmother that she knows she will never use all of. But she just can’t let it go. And I know that they will want to pass it down to me someday, too. That’s not something you can really say no to! But starting out small helps – good luck with it!

  2. Jennifer Connolly | 4th Feb 17

    I am currently working on this right now. I am so tired of “stuff”… moving it, looking for it,looking at it, finding homes for it, cleaning it etc. I am done. Very helpful post!

    • Lauren | 24th Feb 17

      Jennifer – haha, I call that the “sh*t shuffle” – the process of just finding new homes for your crap! Finally I found a new home for a lot of it – the trash can or the Goodwill.

  3. Samantha Lafleur | 21st Feb 17

    I have slowly started using the KonMari method about a month ago and am loving it. I am finding that the more I get rid of, the less overwhelmed I am. I have also realized less stuff means less time cleaning which means more time to do the things I love!

    • Lauren | 24th Feb 17

      Samantha – exactly! I used to want a big, beautiful house (and nothing against people who have them) but now I see them and think, “I would just have to fill it with stuff, and who is going to clean that massive place?” I am a huge fan now of less is more.

  4. Anne - Just Only Home | 23rd Mar 17

    We bought this house a couple of years ago and I went through what felt like a major purge. But now after a couple years of living with everything we kept and then accumulating more I am ready to do it again. I hope to have a yard sale as soon as the weather is nice enough to want to spend a full day outside and I am going to hopefully have everything rounded up and priced by then. What doesn’t sell I’ll donate. I’m ready to be done with it!

    • Lauren | 24th Mar 17

      I feel you! I just went through a spring cleaning purge, and I only moved into this house 9 months ago – and before I moved I took three trips to Salvation Army getting rid of stuff. It’s funny how you tend to accumulate more! But a purge feels soooo good!

  5. Kimberly | 26th Mar 17

    We are empty nesters-moved and downsized…it feels great and freeing to have less! Less IS More! Thank you for this post 🙂

  6. Patricia Hutchens | 31st Mar 17

    You inspire me. I am so ready and believe it will help lower the stress of the health issues that kinda run my life.

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