Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Great Purge of 2015

It was a rough summer around here. I never quite felt like we got in a good groove. People were grumpy and "bored" and we "never did anything fun". The rough summer turned in to a rough fall. Some of it was the kids, some of it was how busy we were and how many different directions we were always running (not shocking, considering there are 8 of us who all have things going on) and some of it was just me.

The past couple months I've felt really overwhelmed. Like I was barely keeping my head above water and if I stopped to rest for even a second, I'd go under. It was pervasive and noticeable in every different area of my life.

A few weeks ago I told my mom that I was overwhelmed by life and, specifically, by all the "stuff" in our house. I commented that if I came home one day and somehow half of our possessions were gone out of our house I'd be relieved, rather than upset. That's when she decided we were going to get to work on making that happen! (just the motivation -- and help -- I needed!) We have been working our butts off for the better part of two weeks now. She has come over almost every day and we've tackled a different room/area/category of stuff.

While I don't think we've gotten rid of half the possessions in our house, we have purged an impressive amount of stuff in a pretty short period of time. Lots of bags of garbage. TONS of recycling (why was it that I kept boxes from so many things I've purchased long, long ago? . . . and SO. MANY. papers!). About 40 pairs of shoes. Bags and bags of clothing. Wall art. Bedding. Furniture. Picture frames. Books. Home decor type stuff. Kitchen gadgets. Jewelry. Toys. We still have work to do. And we still have more possessions than I am comfortable with! But we are WAY closer to what I am comfortable with than we were two weeks ago. We have been able to pass things along to others who need them or will, at least, make good use of them. That makes me happy. We have donated some items to charities that we trust. We have gotten rid of some of the excess that we have in life and have simplified. All 8 of us are on board and are enjoying the end result of all the hard work -- clean, less cluttered spaces all over our house, drawers, shelves and storage bins that are completely empty and a more peaceful place to live!

We've even found a few things that I forgot we owned. It is a sorry state of affairs that this type of problem is so common and pervasive. It's not just me, I know. But I can only start with myself, so that's what I'm doing. Making a difference a little bit at a time in my own life. And in my own home. It feels good.

I had requested The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up from the library a few months ago. But it's a popular book, so the list wasn't short. It finally came in for me near the beginning of the purge. I'm almost done with the book now and, while I don't agree with everything she says, there have been many ideas in the book that have been very helpful to me while going through this process. I haven't done things exactly according to her order and her advice (partly because I had already started and partly because some of her methods aren't really geared well for a family of 8 and a few I find just flat out silly -- or maybe just culturally irrelevant, as the author is from Japan and I am not). Overall, I think it is a great book and there have been some very freeing ideas and philosophies in there that I am thankful for. Perspective is always good and the author has a very different perspective than any I have previously encountered and I appreciated the new way to think about possessions.

Simplifying and paring down our possessions certainly hasn't solved all my problems, but it has helped. For that I am grateful! Major thanks to my mom and my family for all the help!

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