Sorry, we disappeared for awhile. What have we been doing? We've been purging stuff. All at once, room after room. And then slowly. More and more stuff.
We'll start with the room after room --
Back in April, just after we started this, we hosted a fund-raising garage sale for our son's baseball team, and it was a GREAT incentive to get rid of stuff. First up was the sun room: We live in that room. Toys, books, decor. We were brutally honest about what made us happy, what we actually use, and what we really wanted. I went through the books and cut them by probably 90 percent. What was I doing with all of those books?! Certainly not reading them. Almost all of the books we read come from the library and always have. We kept the ones that have meaning (Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, anything by Barbara Kingsolver, Shel Silverstein, Steinbeck, Irving or books written by friends). I kept the ones we have actually referenced (an anatomy text book, a few environmental books, art reference books, a couple books on mythology, some by Bittman, Pollan.) And I kept just a few unread novels- only a few. We purged old games, puzzles, cds, toys. Out went knick-knacks, old candles, doohickies, and tchotchkes.
Then came the dining room, the kitchen, and the breakfast room: those rooms were a little harder. People have given us gifts. We like to entertain and have serving pieces, plates that belonged to my aunts and my grandmother (most of which I've never used), a few things from Brian's family, many many thrifted items. But like I said, we were honest about what was really valuable to us and what we were attached to. If we really wanted to keep it, we did. And let me tell you, A LOT still left this house.
We went through the pantry, the linen closet, the coat closet, storage closets, our clothes, the kids' clothes, the camping gear, the shed. Even during the garage sale Brian would come out every few minutes with something else from the basement or the attic, and I would say, "Sell it." After the garage sale, I took load after load to the thrift store. I sold a bunch of better stuff on Craigslist and Ebay. It has all felt so good. SO. DAMN. GOOD.
And here's the thing. We still have plenty of stuff. The house is still decorated and cozy. No one is going without. And there is still more to go through. (J's room, the studio/office!!!, the basement rec room, etc.) I think we had just been kidding ourselves about how much had been stacking up around here. We still have work to do. Plenty of work to do.
Now the more slowly part I talked about before --
Since that first big push, something has changed at least for Brian and I, in the way we view what we really need. Even after giving all of those clothes away, I'm realizing I don't need some of the items I thought I was really "attached to." Stuff is still on its way out, but it's a slower process now. And another thing is certain. We are no longer bringing as much stuff into the house. I have all but stopped my trips to the thrift store. I have gone a few times looking for specific things (ie: N needs shorts, J's basketball won't hold air.) But I cannot bring myself to just stop and browse.
I don't have the time or space or energy... WE SIMPLY DON'T NEED ANY OF IT.