Downsizing – and a challenge for you.

I have been blessed with visits from five of my dearest friends this week – two sleepovers with friends from afar and three local girlfriends just dropping by to chat or for a meal. I feel so blessed at the start of my journey to have time to visit with these important women in my life. I feel a little like they are sending me off on a grand adventure.

One adventure has begun before I have even left the house. Here is how it began:

One of my visiting friend has recently downsized her home from a large split-level to a small two-bedroom cottage (for her, her husband, three children, and dog). And she is nothing short of transformed.

We talked long into the evening and I realized her transformation: she parted ways with her stuff. All of the safety nets of things that we build around ourselves to insulate us; all the deal-with-it-later messes and broken items; all of the too-damn-much that surrounds us.


Like me she is a savvy thrifter and enjoys the second-hand-store hunt for the perfect Hanna Andersson PJ's; the groovy Danish modern chairs; the quality European blocks for pennies. And like me, she got herself a little buried. (Okay, a lot buried.)

So she and her family determined to dig themselves out.

The called the thrift store for a pick-up and proceeded to fill the truck. And then the dumster. They touched every single item they owned and asked this vital question: "Do I love it?" or "Would this belong in my dream house/dream life?" And if not, they let it go.

They downsized from rooms and rooms filled with gorgeous Waldorf toys to a simple dollhouse, a wooden castle, and one doll for each child. Done. Enough. Go outside and play.


They downsized from closets brimming with clothing and a large overflow of additional sizes in the basement to four adorable season-appropriate outfits for each person with no back-up. Four is enough if you have a washer, and the children mix-and match to create plentiful options. Their dresser drawers are empty and so is their to-do list without all of those things to clean, put away, and otherwise tend to.

They unloaded those tubs of too-big-now-but-will-fit-later kids' clothing, believing in the abundance of the universe. We don't need to hoard these things. We can pass them along and then welcome the right items in our world when we want them.

In short, they are free. Their stuff-burden has lifted.

As she and I talked I started to feel a familiar discomfort in my stomach. A feeling of being on the precipce of somthing really big – of major transformation coming in my own life. It was a little hard to breathe to be honest, as I reflected on just how much I have burdened myself with by way of treasures and finds and just-in-case.

All of my labeled bins of big-kid clothes in the basement seemed vulgar suddenly, and so did our packed closets, dressers, and baskets of playthings. And with a slightly-sick-yet-very-excited feeling in my belly I went to work. I worked from my children's bedtime until my own and proceeded to fill my van with items I do not need.

The next morning the kids and I started right away moving toys and clothes and decorations out the door. They selected formerly-precious playthings to pass along to friends. We joyfully let go of so very many things. And we feel fantastic. I got rid of the jeans that I still wear even though I hate them; the dressy clothes I haven't worn in a year; the beloved Birkenstocks from high school that are useful yet ugly. I let the kids unload things that were treasures to me but ignored by them – a fairy bower, two wooden race cars, some Waldorf dolls. And we feel absolutely free.

And we've only just begun.


Our dresser drawers are easy to open, the playroom is spacious, there is less what-to-wear drama in the morning, and we're all lighter for having less stuff. I even resisted the urge to sell anything. That is just another holding-on that I need to be done with. I gave away my Moby Wrap to a (pregnant) farmer-friend, a brand new nursing bra to a neighbor, plenty of soft-soled kid's shoes to little friends around town, and a fancy kid snowsuit to a little one I love.

I'm done. Divorcing the stuff. 

I share this story because I truly think it is changing me. And I want to invite you to join me. Can you fill a bag today? A box? Your car? It might just change everything.

Are you in?

Post your progress in the comments how much you send down the road and together we'll transofm our families.

With love,

Edited Spring 2011: I've just begun hosting a Simplicity Parenting Book Club here on Clean. Join us, won't you? You don't even need to read the book – or be parents for that matter. There is value in the discussion for us all. Find it over here.

67 thoughts on “Downsizing – and a challenge for you.

  1. Casey says:

    Inspiring. I think going through my and my husband’s clothing (hanging on to so many sizes for myself because of shifting through pregnancies is just silly) is a great idea. Getting rid of all but the most cherished toys sounds fabulous too. Less choices means more focus, and in our household focus is powerful. I think we’ll be following suit in a big way…shifting to waldorf, quality over quantity.

  2. Lindsay says:

    We’ve done a lot of this type of thing over the last year. It was almost exactly a year ago I opened the door to what would be my older daughter’s room and started sifting through boxes of stuff that had moved with us and hadn’t been unpacked in three years! Most of it went out the door. We’ve done more since then too, and now thinking of moving again (for the last time hopefully), it’s going to start again. We already have very few toys, and the ones we have are high quality loved ones, but there are a lot of other things that we could definitely still downsize (especially in our kitchen). I think I’ll get started on that. =)

  3. Rachel Wolf says:

    The toy bit is huge. My kids are loving giving these items away. It is easier for Sage (8) than Lu (4), but that is understandable. Shes still letting things go, so well take it at her pace. Now to just remember not to bring more in!

    ~ Rachel

  4. Rachel Wolf says:

    Thank you for the link. I appreciate it so.
    And yes, it is ongoing, isnt it? Were planning to move soon so the fire was already smoldering, but this inspired friend made me take it further than I might have otherwise.


  5. mindy bell says:

    this is really inspiring! As a thrifter, you accumulate SO MUCH STUFF and it’s hard to even know what’s useful or needed when it’s at cheap prices. I do a big purge every season and I try to remember that getting rid of stuff clears so space and it’s emotional too. You need to get rid of the emotional hold an object has on you to make room for new experiences. good job!

  6. Kasey Love says:

    Last spring, after I began having trouble closing my dresser drawers, I decided to go through some of my winter clothes and give some away.

    After spending a full afternoon looking through all of my winter, spring, summer, and fall clothing, I had filled several bags with clothes that I previously thought were important useful items to me.

    I must remember that just because I don’t buy new things very often, I am still accumulating things. Mostly without even really realizing it. In fact, buying items from thrift stores and such can drastically impact your amount of everything. Looking back I know there were way too many instances of, “Oh why not?! I mean it’s so cheap!”

    Giving my clothing to those less fortunate filled me with such a freeing joy. Like a weight had been lifted. Truly inspiring.

  7. Jennie D says:

    I found myself nodding and agreeing with everything you wrote in your post! I especially found it interesting that you decided not to sell your items. It made me think of the few high-end baby items we purchased and are now sitting in our attic, waiting to be sold. Money is very tight in our house at the moment and I felt like I couldn’t afford to give those items away. However, you have now given me food for thought. I think we could find a way to give the items away and still pay our mortgage. I know there are people in our area in a more desperate state than we are in… and now that my babes are almost 2 and 4, we have no need for the items in our attic. I think it’s time to let go…

  8. hebejeeby says:

    Thank you for this post sooo much. Over time I have bought baby clothes planning for the future. After a few years of trying without joy we realised today why are we holding onto stuff that upsets us? So – today (my birthday!) we made the very positive decision to donate it to the local hospital and charity (thrift) shops. If we are lucky enough to need baby clothes in the future we’ll get it – if not, someone has made use of it. Bizarrely we agree that we feel better and slightly unburdened….

    Thanks for the blog – am constantly inspired x

  9. Cassandra says:

    I am soooo with you on this! I love this post! There is nothing I like better than filling my car to the brim and driving it all over to a charity shop. Sometimes it hurts a little, but, I know that all the stuff I accumulate and never touch, is hurting me. It is cluttering my mind and my basement. The thought of downsizing our house has occurred to me as well…less mortgage = less hours away from my family at my job.

  10. kat says:

    Since before my 2nd was born in June, I’ve been doing this. We live in a small house and my husband has a tendency to keep a lot of unnecessary things, so I’ve been going through one room at a time, eliminating anything I can.
    The next step is going to be toys. My nearly 3 year old doesn’t play with toys, she uses her imagination and I love that about her. Her birthday is coming up and so is Christmas, so I intend to get her a few imaginative play things and get rid of everything else. I can’t wait for it!

  11. renee @ FIMBY says:

    I’m totally in as we are preparing for a big life change for our family next year. Something I haven’t blogged about publicly yet. But this… this kind of post gets me going. Makes me want to jump for it right now. Just a little longer.

  12. Lori Beske says:

    Yes, to much stuff. I’ve been pondering this for a while now – but oh where to start?? Our house seems to be busting at the seems (not literally of corse – but we have to many things we just dont use) and so my mind is constantly trying to figure otu where to put it all. Given the time it would be wonderful to do a huge purging of it all – we’ll see how that goes.

  13. Amanda says:

    This is wonderfully inspiring. I try to live by the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I don’t always succeed, but it’s a good goal.

  14. Tracie says:

    We got rid of 4 carloads of stuff before we moved from one town to another and after the move we have taken 2 vanloads of stuff to the thrift store. I was amazed at how much junk we had, stuff we hadn’t used in forever. I am still working on weeding out some things. It feels good to let go of stuff and to know that someone else is going to use it!

  15. Lisa says:

    We had a huge garage sale this summer and sold a lot of the baby items. My youngest is 3. We can now see are basement floor. There is still more things to go through, but we got the ball rolling.

  16. sarah says:

    thanks for this post, I currently feel like I’m losing the battle with the laundry! though sometimes it feels easier to have more clothes and not have to wash as often, it really is more manageable to have less. i think we will be passing on some of our abundance soon as well.
    i was also on the receiving end of a friend getting rid of some really quality baby things (like you did), and it was a huge blessing for us. so when the time is right i think i’ll be looking to friends in need first, and then donating the rest. thanks for the inspiration!

  17. lisset says:

    we call this “project purge” at our house and it is met with more enthusiasm from some (me!) than others (my husband!). i grew up in a home where we often said out with the old. my husband on the other hand grew up in a home where hand-me-downs were plentiful so if you ever received something you could really call yours, you held on to it with your life- even if it was paper. lots and lots of useless scraps of paper. when we had to clean out his family home of 30 years it was a nightmare! and that’s not the type of thing i want to leave for my children. since we’ve married, we’ve moved so many times that this is usually the catalyst for taking inventory and getting rid of anything we wouldn’t be willing to pay to move. it seems to help my really frugal husband to see that hanging on to all this stuff actually costs him more and more! for me, it’s the emotional cost i can’t handle. i want a simple life- materially and mentally- and that’s just not possible to achieve when you are drowning in junk, always worrying how you are going to house it, and having to search under piles of things to find what you really looking for.
    it’s hard to purge and keep things in check when we are conditioned to gratify every impulse to buy or have, but it is worth working for. the benefits far outweigh the sacrifice.

  18. Melissa says:

    Is it bad to say that I was seriously considering the drive (from Milwaukee) to visit your local thrift store with all those recently donated Waldorf toys? I’m just not at the point were i can let go of the stuff yet, and the hunting for the stuff is fun too.

  19. sherrieg says:

    I am with you, 100%! I probably started a year or so ago in our house, when I became pregnant with our second son. We needed to change our ‘office’ (which was a junk room, then) into a functional bedroom and turn a teeny tiny room into a functional office. And it has just spiralled from there! I am now a certified purging madwoman – I always have a bag on the (otherwise empty) floor of my closet to put things in as I see them and know that they can go. I have no idea how many bags of stuff we’ve donated, and how many things we’ve put out on the curb. It is completely freeing, and I feel so incredibly good with every thing that goes out the door. Yay!

  20. Susanne says:

    This post really resonates me and is something I, too, have been thinking about. I struggle with how our world and consumer habits create this overwhelming feeling of need for every gadget and gizmo. I love my iPhone – it keeps me organized and on time and entertained, but it’s hardly necessary for a happy and fulfilling life. The same goes for my Cuisanart Perfect Temp tea kettle that heats water to the right temp for 3 different kinds of tea and coffee. Couldn’t I just stick with the usual kettle on the stove top? Or what about the stationery that I love, the journals I keep, the yarn, the fabric, the endless craft notions, the books that have made lasting impressions, the bobbles and knick-knacks and treasures from trips or restaurants, or that smaller size I swear I will fit into. It’s all so hard to part with. It’s even harder to part with if it seems like I could get a bit of cash back via Craigslist.

    I have been making some progress: knitting birthday gifts for all of my friends from my stash. Borrowing books from the library. Cutting recipes from magazines and organizing them in a binder.

    I am not making such great progress on handling the “omg, I need to have that because it would make my life easier/better/happier” feelings. Is a VitaMix blender really necessary in life? Are we so lazy that we now need special kitchen scissors to chop herbs? I even wonder about the hair products and accessories I go through. How many elastic hair ties does a gal need? Is shaving cream really essential? Will that lipstick really make me feel better about myself?

    The hard part is sneaking things past my mom who is the worst pack rat I know. I know she already has tons of things saved for her future grandchildren – mostly our treasured childhood story books, but also clothes and games and toys.

    We are also contending with having to organize many of my father’s belongings since he has died. Imagine trying to find places that will take a physician’s lifetime library of slides or texts or instruments! Not to mention all of his art supplies from his many oil paintings.

    There really just is so much in life! I going to commit to keeping myself honest, though. I’ve already got clothes ready for the consignment shop and donation sites. And when I make purchases I try to consider how much usage I can get from an object – is it multipurpose, will it last a lifetime? I think it’s really all about being secure with who we are and realizing that happiness is not on the other end of a price tag. Thanks for reminding and inspiring me!

  21. Kim Miller says:

    How timely! I had a garage sale over the weekend, yesterday gave bags of kids clothes to 2 people I work with and took other things to the local care closet and donated to coats for kids. The Easter Seals truck is coming through our neighborhood tomorrow and I’m getting out extra early so I don’t miss them.

    I still feel I am overwhelmed with stuff and spend too much of life managing stuff. I’m going to keep plugging way. Good luck on your journeys- your inner one and the one you are planning with your kids. Hope you find your piece of land soon.

  22. denise says:

    Yay! I love purging. I used to love moving just so I could get rid of stuff every year. Living in a house means it has to be a conscious effort to not buy stuff, or give it away when we are done with it/have outgrown it…friends, thrift stores, charities, women’s shelters, families who need it. Other people get great things, and I can have less stuff, which makes me very HAPPY!!!!!! 🙂 Stuff weighs us down, makes us feel like we need more stuff, and closes us into our houses we have just to hold our stuff. Starting to sound like Carlin. ;P Woo hoo!

  23. seaside siblings says:

    This is a journey I have been on for about 5 years now. I am happier without ‘stuff’ filling our lives and our homes. But it is an ongoing journey, soon, I will have to tackle my wardrobe again, as it has slowly grown in size.

  24. Laura says:

    Love, Love, Love this post! I started seriously purging in May and I’m still working on it!! 20 years of accumulated stuff! I never got rid of anything because most of the things we had people (loving, well-meaning family) had given us and I felt guilty about giving it away. On the occasion that I would give things away inevitably my Mom or my husband’s Mom would say “what ever happened to …” So I kept their things. In May we decided we really wanted to make a big move and we began to purge big time. I let go of the guilt. I embraced my values and let all family and giving friends know that we wanted no more things and I warned them that I would just give it all away. When I told my Mom she requested that I give her back many items, and I dutifully loaded them up (half a mini van full!) and we drove 7 hours and delivered them to her. I stopped counting the minivans full of stuff I’ve taken to goodwill stores (mostly locally run second hand shops)…it has been well over 7 full minivans, and then we sold the mini van! It is transforming. My husband and I both say that we shudder to think what would have become of us had we not decided to start giving it all away. This very much reminds me of one of my all time favorite children’s picture books: “The Quiltmaker’s Gift”. The grumpy king is forced to give away all of his worldly possessions so that he may enjoy the quiltmaker’s beautiful quilts. She won’t give him one until he has nothing. In the process of giving all of his things away he changes and becomes happier, and happier. Thank you for this post…now on to more purging!!

  25. Jody says:

    Oh I LOVE this! I’ve gotten a lot better in the last year or so but I still have a long way to go. (I was reminded as I stared at the FULL 26 ft U-haul) This is a perfect reminder as I’m days away from unpacking all that stuff in our new house. At this point no one will notice if something disapears! 🙂

  26. Sarah says:

    This is such an inspiring post! I am constantly caught between my crafty/crative nature, my attachment to objects of family history, and my desire to de-clutter. It’s strange, but my memory does not work in a normal linear fashion…I actually don’t remember huge portions of my life without an object to spark that memory. This can lead to collections of unneeded stuff as I attempt to keep from becoming a blank slate with no past, which is a rather frightening thing to be. But it is so possible to take this overboard.

    So I will be doing more downsizing. This week I am getting rid of my candle-making supplies. I haven’t made candles in over a year and don’t currently feel drawn to do so. And we aren’t talking family heirlooms here… Out it goes!

  27. radha says:

    I am on round three of “divorcing the stuff” as we move into our new home in Flagstaff!! I am excited to liberate and allow space for my self and family to expand (in ways that don’t include “stuff”)!

    Love to you girl!

  28. Casey says:

    Well, you asked for updates…I went through the toys during naptime. All the toys that take batteries are gone. Mechanical noise just caused dissonance in the home.

    I love the story related by the founder of Oompa Toys here in Madison — “Early one morning I crept into my infant daughter’s room and tripped on a plastic, battery-operated walker. Loud animal noises instantly blared from the seemingly innocuous toy. I had a bleeding toe and stifled some not too pleasant words. A cacophony of clucking chickens, moo-ing cows and quacking ducks would not be silenced despite my best efforts. I gladly (and somewhat vindictively), threw the walker in the trash. An electronic bovine moo’ed as I walked away.

    I felt there was something unnatural about surrounding my daughter with so many disposable toys. I wondered if she dreamt of copyrighted characters or if her first words would be “Dora” or “Mickey”. I wondered if she would ever learn to use her imagination. She did, after all, play with toys that with the push of a single button did and said everything for her. I donated most of the contents of her room to a local charity the next morning.”

    I relate so much with that! I held onto our wooden toys, the train set, the kitchen, the wood blocks. Trucks, being my big guy’s obsession, will be hard to pare down. Each boy has two stuffed animals and one Waldorf doll. I held onto several balls as well, and books I refuse to part with.

    Clothes will be the next big purge…just don’t have the time to do so right now!

  29. Lori says:

    Here’s a question for the crowd – how can I can do a better job of stopping the stuff from coming in to begin with? I am a consta-purger but try harder and harder every day to just not bring stuff into the house that I will store and later have to purge. My husband & I do fairly well with things that we purchase (or chose not to) but gifts have us stumped.

    The culture in our extended families is “wish lists” for Christmas & birthdays. I appreciate the concept because loved ones can at least give us something we know we’ll use rather than random “I thought of you when I saw this [insert unwanted gift].” However, we are established enough now that we need/want very little, and our attempts at “no gifts this year, please” or “in lieu of gifts, please donate to xyz in our name” have fallen on deaf family ears. The truth is our loved ones enjoy the giving – the shopping, selection, wrapping, and watching the recipient receive.

    With a new baby on the way, this is heightened tremendously. Any suggestions about how to minimize the STUFF? Rachel – your family seems to “get it” – HOW?

  30. Monica says:


    i’ve been doing this for about 5 years. and i still do it every other week. feel like i may have 1 too many objects. i keep on top of things.

    i’m ok with keeping clothes my girl will grow into. i’m not rich and feel that the universe has already provided for us with these. and some other stuff. i don’t want decluttering to become some psychological burden of it’s own! which it can.

    i’m ruthless with – do i love this? but i’m gentle with myself and my family.

    keep it up!

  31. Tara says:

    Read this post twice today and purged a ton of things- very inspiring! We just moved into a smaller place too- and I keep unpacking things that have been in storage for 3 years…thinking why do we have this???
    Thank You!

  32. Andria says:

    Inspiring post! I just cleaned out my dresser and closet on Tuesday morning and filled a bag with 30 items. I love that you are “divorcing stuff” and I think I will follow suit.

  33. Rachel Wolf says:

    Oh, Lori. That is a huge question. I will try to address how to handle family and gifts in a future post. My folks just get it. Frankly, it is because my grandparents did not. My mom struggled with the dozens (yes, dozens) of holiday and birthday gifts we would receive each year. They struggled with relatives sneaking us candy. They struggled with grandma luring us over with promise of TV time. These were not how we lived growing up, so the seduction of it was pretty intense. And it disrespected the choices that my mom and dad were making. So they were determined to do better. And they have! They are awesome. The Mothering Magazine forums are a great place for a conversation about this too, including ideas about The Letter to family. I believe Mothering posted an article once where a new family contact all family and friends and laid down the nothing new, nothing corporate, nothing plastic rule. And stuck to it. Pretty awesome.


  34. Rachel Wolf says:

    Thank you so much for that quote. I am considering sending it to my well-meaning Aunt who thinks Lupine is deprived because shed doesnt have a bottle-feeding electronic rubber doll. AND well done. Keep the momentum rolling!


  35. Rachel Wolf says:

    I agree about keeping clothes as long as the system is working. Since inspiration struck this weekend Ive begun gutting the bins of clothes because 1) I was saving too much and 2) some of it I did not love! So I am purging and believing that things we love will come when the time is right. I hope I stick with this as you have. Inspiring…

    ~ Rachel

  36. Jayna says:

    just dropped off 6 bags at purple heart! can’t give up value world just yet though:) nice work, keep us posted and we need to see pics of the new** less cluttered spaces, the “clean” ones:)

  37. Kari B. says:

    This is wonderful encouragement! We have been clearing out slowly over the past six months or so. I had my first son a year ago and we were blessed with so many generous donations, but most of it I’ve passed on now. When I think about it I’m amazed at how little we NEED. A big step last week was clearing out our towels. Seems like a weird step, but I never threw them away because they came in handy when I didn’t get to do laundry or needed to wipe up a mess. I gave away two trash bags full of towels, wash clothes and bibs. Ridiculous. Even food- I’ve had to clear out my cabinets and cellar one can at a time. It’s slow but feels good to watch the pile lessen. I plan on taking a second look at absolutely everything else we own and sending most of it on down the road. I really don’t want to teach my son to be attached to things the way my husband and I have been for years. Thank you for this!

  38. Kristen says:

    I’m reading “Simplicity Parenting – Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids” Sounds like what you’re doing.

  39. Natalie McIntire says:

    Rachel, I only know you tangentially as we both live in Viroqua. I got the link to your blog from Banner’s list today, and was intrigued with your travels and this downsizing as well. We downsized this past summer as we were planning to move out of our house for the year and spend it in Ecuador. It was so freeing to get rid of so much stuff, but as I read your post and others’ comments, I am thinking maybe I can get rid of half of my stuff again when we move back in next June. Stuff is very interesting when we are traveling too. We decided each of us could take two bags to Ecuador for the year (otherwise the airline fees would have been huge). It was hard to think of what to bring and what to leave behind. Which craft items should I bring? I brought my knitting needles (get the yarn there), and colored pencils. My son, chose to fill one of his bags with fishing stuff, his passion. Lures, and all his materials for tying flies. That is what he wanted to be doing with his free time in Ecuador. I thought it odd to bring more fishing stuff than clothing, but it was the right choice for him. Still, there have been many times I have wished we had decided to bring only one bag each. Not because I don’t want the fishing stuff here (maybe the clothing would have stayed home), but because stuff and traveling do not mix well. It seems the less we have the more free we feel. Thanks for a great thought provoking post.

  40. nannergirl says:

    I love this idea. My family and I live in a house that we love, but one that seems too small for our family to most of the people we know. I love to purge things. This year we are focused on giving handmade Christmas gifts. There is so much more that goes into handmade, and it is much harder to overdo it. I could use a good “bye bye box” day though. Thanks

  41. Rachel Wolf says:

    I have a friend who is in a very small house (600 sq ft, five people). Her goal is a slightly larger house with even less stuff than they have now in their small house. That way they have a little bit more space but not more stuff to go with it. Sounds heavenly.

    ~ Rachel

  42. Mama Michie says:

    I was just snooping around your blog (I’m eagerly awaiting my recent order from Lusa!!), and even though this entry was from months ago I’m starting tomorrow! Yay me! I’m excited. The part where you mentioned clothes you haven’t worn in a year, is really what struck me… I’m starting in my closet!

  43. Rachel Wolf says:

    Mama Michie,
    Hooray! It is transformational. I havent really stopped (slowed, but not stopped). Right now I have six white trash bags of… well, junk in my closet awaiting drop off at a thrift store. It continues to feel great to clear out the chaos.

    Keep me posted!

  44. Leah Cantrell says:

    Wow! A friend, knowing the change that is currently going on in my soul, sent me a link to your blog today and I am floored! This post could have been written about me! I too have a husband and three kids- no dog, but 5 chickens! A few months back I watched “The Story of Stuff” and, completely intrigued, I began reading Annie Leonard’s book of the same name. It really began stirring me and brought some truths to the surface that I think are really in us all. I realized that much of the stress in my life was directly related to my stuff. To the upkeep, mentally and physically, of my stuff. I have felt burdened by it for so long, but really wasn’t aware of what the weight was exactly. And being a natural purger, I am always passing things along. I thought I was living a minimilistic life…..but really we still held on to too much. So I began to do a major purge. Then, we decided to get out from under our mortage and put our house on the market. We will be moving in a few weeks to a two bedroom cabin with NO closets and 1 bathroom, a big screened porch and antique pine walls and floors. And I am thrilled! I feel so free, and so exctied to be challenged in this way. To part ways with so much stuff and make room in our lives for things we love, things that matter. As I sort through the things around me, I ask two things: “Do I USE this?”. Then I ask “Am I ready to part with this?”. If the answer is no, but I feel like it should be a yes, I give myself a few days and come back to it. Usually, by that time I feel ready. It is an emotional undertaking and I think it’s important to be at peace with the process so that you don’t feel any resentment or obligation. It was so fun to read this post and encouraging to see that others are on a similar journey! Thank you! Leah

  45. Leah says:

    Wow! A friend, knowing the change that is currently going on in my soul, sent me a link to your blog today and I am floored! This post could have been written about me! I too have a husband and three kids- no dog, but 5 chickens! A few months back I watched “The Story of Stuff” and, completely intrigued, I began reading Annie Leonard’s book of the same name. It really began stirring me and brought some truths to the surface that I think are really in us all. I realized that much of the stress in my life was directly related to my stuff. To the upkeep, mentally and physically, of my stuff. I have felt burdened by it for so long, but really wasn’t aware of what the weight was exactly. And being a natural purger, I am always passing things along. I thought I was living a minimilistic life…..but really we still held on to too much. So I began to do a major purge. Then, we decided to get out from under our mortage and put our house on the market. We will be moving in a few weeks to a two bedroom cabin with NO closets and 1 bathroom, a big screened porch and antique pine walls and floors. And I am thrilled! I feel so free, and so exctied to be challenged in this way. To part ways with so much stuff and make room in our lives for things we love, things that matter. As I sort through the things around me, I ask two things: “Do I USE this?”. Then I ask “Am I ready to part with this?”. If the answer is no, but I feel like it should be a yes, I give myself a few days and come back to it. Usually, by that time I feel ready. It is an emotional undertaking and I think it’s important to be at peace with the process so that you don’t feel any resentment or obligation. It was so fun to read this post and encouraging to see that others are on a similar journey! Thank you! Leah

  46. Rachel Wolf says:

    So glad you found your way to my blog. Yes, parting with things is medicine. And a healthier version that the medicine that stuff acquisition proves to be for many of us. My current mission is to downsize and update my home, one room at a time. I have three to four rooms scheduled each month and ever junk drawer, closet, and pair of shoes is being cleaned, considered, and potentially moved down the road. Blessings on your path to simplicity. Having lived in a house that most would call a cabin for a few years (with no closets), downsize before you get there! Youll be glad you did.


  47. Angela says:

    This is terrific. I am decluttering myself right now and it is a process and a bit of a struggle (time-wise), but I feel so much better. One thing I do hold onto is hand-me-downs from my older daughter to my younger and my older son to the younger. As soon as the youngers grow out of stuff out it goes. The next thing to tackle is the basemen full of toys no one cares about. We first amassed them in a search to find something our first son would like. It turned out he had autism, hence the low-toy interest. Then it turned into heaps of toys for play-therapy. Eesh. I love the idea of having to clean and organize less, so out goes the stuff!

    Thanks for this post!

  48. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Angela. I am glad you are on a powerful journey of cleaning out. It will change everything. Your son with autism is probably aware of the vibration of all of your stuff as well, so cleaning it out (even the unseen) will likely be calming for his spirit too.


  49. Laura says:

    OMG I’m so with you. I’ve done much of this, but the process continues. Up next unload big house for smaller… it’s starting to echo in here anyway bc we don’t have much stuff anymore. I’d get rid of more, but than it would be REALLY LOUD in here for all the little kid noises echoing throughout!!! Happy happy day!

  50. Tiffany says:

    I started getting rid of stuff about a year ago. After reading this book and this blog, I have again cleared out many things. I also find it very freeing, but oddly enough I also find it hard. I had my husband go through all the bedrooms after me, and now our kids are satisfied with just a few toys each – with a “library of toys” in the attic. I am looking forward to downsizing the library of toys as well. It does feel like a burden has been lifted.

  51. Rachel Wolf says:

    It IS hard. Really. Because everything we brought into our life came in with some perceived value attached to it. Otherwise we would not have brought them in.

  52. Anne-Marie says:

    I came across this post yesterday (I know it’s old) and was inspired to both clean my closet and think some about our stuff– and to challenge my family to make some cuts. I was also inspired by watching my 9 and 6 year olds play with a big box for the entirety of the weekend. Who needs so many toys when you can entertain yourself with a box? 🙂 Anyway, I wrote a post on my feelings about our stuff on my blog.

  53. Rachel Wolf says:

    So glad you found it. Im still inspired by the journey of my dear friend and still – after all these months – paring down possessions every week. Every week. Another box or bag or pile of them out the door. And there is so much more to clean out. Whoa. Welcome to my blog. Blessings on your journey to less.

    ~ Rachel

  54. Sarah says:

    I love this post! I have a serious hoarding mother and grew up waiting for her to go to work before I cleaned my room and threw stuff in the trash (which I had to hide under legit trash like foodstuffs so she wouldn’t find it and reclaim it.)
    I am now married with 2 Littles and travel the world with the military. This transient lifestyle is so great for a “shedder” which is my term I affectionately label myself. I am not reliant on things for emotional fulfillment. In fact, I get quite a lot emotionally, from letting it all go and only keeping in my space what I need and what serves my family well. If it is not facilitating growth of benefit to us, it is dragging us down. There is no neutral. We don’t have the space in our tiny Japanese home for anything but what our family needs. And the term “need” has been paired back to it’s original and pure meaning for us. When an overgrown plant grows amuck and branches die the plant will put all its nutrients into the dead branches trying to fix them. But if you cut the dead ones off and prune the plant to what’s only necessary and maybe even a little less, the plant will thrive and grow big and happy once more, using its nutrients for the essential growth and health of the plant, not wasting it on the accessories.

  55. Heather Krcha says:

    Over the course of our almost 10 years together, my husband and I have gone from living in a 900 sq foot house to 5000 sq foot house! We have 4 littles (6,4,2, and 7 mos) and are in the process of letting it all go and living in a vintage airstream. We have let all the excess go and now I’m down to hard stuff- the old chest I had acquired over a decade ago. His metal/glass vintage bookshelf. We have been surprised how much we have allowed these cool “things” to define us. It feels amazing to let it go, but really weird.

    My goal is to just really enjoy a simple life together- fish, camp, hike, play…without hours spent taking care of the lawn and animals and the house…

  56. Lissi says:

    I’m doing it already!! I have filled 17 garden stand up bags so far and gave them to a friend of mine who lives in the country and needs some extra cash to sell. She jokingly said I could have 20% of the profits, I told her it was all going to the op shop so whatever she did with it was hers to keep. I’ve also thrown out at least 10 Coles bags full of rubbish. I still have more to go but it already feels amazing. Books I’ve kept forever, clothes I will never wear again etc etc etc just stuff I don’t need in my life!! It feels so good!!

  57. Becca says:

    Yes! This is exactly the inspiration I needed today. I have been steadily clearing and purging for a few months now. The most frustrating stuff I own is are huge laundry pile. Gosh I’m sick of mountains of laundry! Love the idea of 4 seasonal outfits! Off to clean and purge.

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