Simplicity Series Week 1: Ditch Physical Clutter

Cluttered home

Our family’s dream of nearly twenty years came true this summer. I count myself blessed to have spent two months on the road in our new RV. It was all the things we’d hoped for and more.

But this isn’t about the amazing trip we had. Sure, we saw many incredible sights, visited with far-away family, and grew closer over our two months together. All good things.

The real story is how living in a small space with a scant fraction of our possessions transformed the way I view clutter. It renewed my purpose to live differently when I got home.

Before we left for our adventure, I was fully aware we had a clutter problem. Last year with more time at home, we tackled a lot of it. Donating and discarding, we addressed the long-neglected attic and garage. It felt so good!

But where there’s some clutter, there’s usually more clutter. Plenty more needs to be purged out of here. Living in an RV for two months with a limited number of kitchen items, clothing, books, and games was enlightening. It showed me how little we really need to get by. And we were happy–totally content and wanting for nothing along the way.

Even before we got home, I started dreading the chaos of clutter that awaited me. Closets left unpurged. Drawers left unstuffed. So much junk we don’t need and don’t use.

Spending two months with limited possessions made me feel freer and happier than I do in my stationary home. The same feeling of freedom always emerged when cabin camping with my family prior to owning an RV. Simplicity and contentment abound when we aren’t fettered by clutter.

I’m sure this sounds terrible. I have a nice home in a safe neighborhood and am truly grateful. We have nice things. It’s just that I’ve allowed the disorganized overabundance of it to rob me of my peace.

Minimalist Mindset

My husband and I come from a long line of collectors, and that’s putting it nicely. Frankly, it’s borderline hoarding. Maybe it’s because our grandparents grew up during the Great Depression which trickled to our parents and eventually to us.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been following Joshua Becker’s work over at Becoming Minimalist. Becker sings the praises of decluttering as a path to a more abundant life. One of his latest posts struck me, and I want to share it with you. You can read it HERE.

One of the hallmarks of Becker’s work is how he relays unequivocal, unapologetic truths to his readers. In the above article, this is the passage that struck me squarely in the gut:

We slowly and subtly begin to waste the one life we’ve been given. We spend our money on things we don’t need. We spend our time cleaning and organizing things we don’t use.

– Joshua Becker

Ouch. It hurts because it’s true–at least for our family. Believe me, I’m a long way from becoming a true minimalist. In this house, cutting the clutter is going to have to be a long-term project. It’s not a single day or weekend of purging. It requires a mindset of letting go of stuff that is not useful or practical. It must become a lifestyle that makes me carefully consider what I am bringing into the house and why.

Grand Scale Clutter Takedown

My husband and I are going to be repainting and refurnishing our badly worn family room and dining room this fall. The dining furniture is in shambles, having given its all to this family and the previous owners as well. The sofa has endured a decade of snuggling, jumping, and spills. It’s time for all of it to hit the curb.

In the process of this overhaul, we will be ditching a 12-cube Ikea storage unit that never lived up to its potential. It was supposed to be a well-organized command center for toys, games, and books. Instead, it’s a teetering jumble of God-knows-what that we rarely use. Most of the contents will go to Goodwill. Some will go to the trash. A modest portion will remain and occupy a much smaller bookshelf.

Once we complete this formidable task, refreshing, reorganizing, and refurnishing these two rooms, we’ll need to be ruthless in our pursuit of keeping it clutter-free. Less stuff to keep track of and less furniture will help our space feel like a place to relax instead of a messy hovel.

Just like in the RV, we will limit what keep around. We don’t want to cram our space so full of stuff that we don’t have room for peaceful enjoyment. Only things we really use will earn a coveted space in our new setup.

Then we’ll move on and tackle other areas, slowly letting go of the things we’ve amassed over the years. Bit by bit, we can reclaim our home and free it from the bondage of junk.

Maybe you don’t have the time or stamina to do a big overhaul like ours. But you can do something. Empty a drawer. Recycle old papers. Donate a box of items you no longer use. Curate what you allow in your space instead of collecting.

The two months I spent with limited possessions was both liberating and sobering. I can have that feeling all the time if I am willing to let go of things that don’t serve our family and our space anymore. In closing, I’ll share one more thought from Joshua Becker’s article linked above.

Remind yourself that you have a choice in how you live.

-Joshua Becker

Too often we surrender instead of remembering we have agency. We don’t have to live this way or that if it makes us unhappy. Putting in the work is not easy, but it paves the way to peace.

With Love and Gratitude,

2 thoughts on “Simplicity Series Week 1: Ditch Physical Clutter

  1. Great message!! I started the process a few years ago when I brought my mom upstairs
    after dad passed away. Since we had to get the only spare room we had ready for mom I
    used the measure of cost to help reduce what was there. I got rid of anything I could
    replace for $10 or less without even giving it a thought. Then I boxed up anything that was
    irreplaceable and stored it for a later date. What was left was donated. Once mom was
    settled in, we tackled the attic and gave 40-50 boxes of stuff to purple heart and continued
    the process until our move to South Carolina. I am happy to say that we have parted with
    even more when we came here…so much so that our realtor made a comment that she
    didn’t realize we were minimalists…lol (this from a woman that has 4 fully furnished
    homes…that keeps it in perspective…lol) . We look forward to continuing the process!
    Your words of wisdom is an awesome reminder!!!! Love and miss you!!

    1. It is so freeing to get rid of stuff. I agree, some things are precious and should be kept. But truly, so much of what is hanging around isn’t needed. Thanks for your encouragement and for reading. <3

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