Too much stuff.

Hello folks,

Pete and I are down to the wire as we empty our old house before our closing on Friday.

And despite my great intentions of simplicity, I just didn't do enough. I thought I had, but I hadn't. We're reached the stage of packing where we're just throwing stuff into boxes that we'll have to sort through later. At the new house. Talk about packing up bad chi.


So many of us are buried in things. I thought I had done more than I had. But there is still so much to do.

Today, to inspire you (to do better than I have done!) is a repost from two years ago. From what you've shared it was one of my most inspiring posts ever.

So read on, and be changed. And keep at it. It's big and important work. You won't regret doing it, but you might just regret not getting around to it soon enough.

And with that, I'm heading back to the basement.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~

[A friend of mine] … 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.

Divorce your stuff. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

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 dumpster. 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.

Divorce your stuff. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

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

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 precipice of something 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.

Divorce your stuff. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

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

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 transform our families.

With love,

36 thoughts on “Too much stuff.

  1. Natacha says:

    It’s incredible how much stuff one collects throughout the years isn’t it!? My father was in the Dutch airforce and we moved every two years. I think moving houses is the best way to keep your stuff under control!
    Natacha (from Luxembourg)

  2. merrit d says:

    YES! YES! I emptied my ENTIRE house, minus the furniture, onto our back lawn this summer, for an entire week. It was overwhelming to see it all at once, but I went through every item and donated more than half of it all! I feel free, amazing, and still want to donate more. Every week I let go of a little bit more. Who needs “good” dishes? They should all be “good.” One set used for all occasions, right.
    It’s time to get back to defining ourselves as souls, givers, lovers. My soul is done being defined by things. I want for more love, more experience, and more gratitude for what is.
    Thanks for ALL of your amazing posts. My life seems ride on a parallel wave of sorts. In my part of the world, I’m labeled as an outcast. I find comfort here, visiting with the like-minded:)

  3. Sesasha says:

    I have moved at least 20 times in my life and of all of those times, there was only once that I didn’t actually pack trash to throw away later. I love the search for simplicity and I’m on that path myself, but I think some things are just human nature. One of those things is putting down roots so moving is extremely difficult. I think almost everyone winds up packing things they plan to throw out, donate or give away once they get where they are going. It’s a part of the human experience.

  4. Amy says:

    In the past 7 yrs 4 months we’ve moved 6 times and in a month there’s another possible move. We’re waiting to hear if my husband got his PhD extension, if he did we’re moving so he can work on his research. The first move it was just my oldest son & I. We filled a 26 ft moving truck to the brim. This past move we got rid of all our furniture and we were able to move all of our things with 3 trips of just the trunk full and 2 trips of the car full of our things. Even though we have little compared to others it’s still a bit overwhelming for me. I think mostly because nothing has a place.

    We recently bought furniture and pieces are slowly making their way to our house. I am looking forward to the few things that we do have having a home to go to.

  5. Fräulein Rucksack says:

    Dear Rachel,
    I like your re-posts (and posts!). I just read it and now re-read it. I gave things away recently because it really bothered me, it really gave me bad feelings. It took me a while to find out it was because of stuff.
    I have a thrift store box where I put things every other day and I bring it to the store at least once a month.
    Just my love, he has no problem with stuff. And stuffed shelves. And he is a keeper. That’s hard. But I hope we find simplicity together.

    Oh and I wanted to tell you how encouraging your move is. You wanted a farm. Then you almost got one. And you finally are where you wanted to. That’s so fantastic!

    Love, Fräulein.

  6. Nahuatl Vargas says:

    Well I’m at that too, I moved in July, but finished bringing stuff just a month ago, in the rush of rent my house, so I just trow everything in my room, in a mess. And I expend way too many nights sleeping in my son’s twin bed, with him, until he declare he was done with co-seeping and I was in trouble.
    I have my bed now in the middle of chaos I understand I have to do more, too.

  7. Suyai says:

    Just what I needed to read. Thank you.

    I’m just too curious -maybe a little bit too much, ha!- but ugly Birkenstocks? Care to share? No worries if not. 🙂

    Peace and blessings to you and yours. xx

  8. Debi says:

    Awesome and inspiring post… I’ve procrastinated the “purge” for years. Always in the back of my head is the thought that as soon as I throw it out, give it away or sell, I will certainly need it. You’ve inspired me to take the first step… thank you for sharing.

  9. KC says:

    We’ve decided to move to the east coast to have a change and find life with seasons. We’ve been cleaning out our house for months and sold off o0r donated over $2000 dollars worth of our stuff. And yet I still feel like it’s too much. But when you have 4 people in a family and each has a hobby it’s hard to have minimal things!

  10. Emily says:

    rachel, I know what you mean about not doing enough. I have cleaned out my house numerous times this year and yet still I have piles in my basement. I clean it up, get rid of things and more things appear, without getting any new things. This is a long process. I hope you get a good decluttering in before you put it away in your lovely new house.

  11. Kim says:

    Thanks for reposting this Rachel. I was up thinking about it all night and started in on the playroom early this morning. We filled a green garbage bag with donations before snack 🙂 I was headed Christmas shopping with a friend tomorrow but after a chat we’ve decided that going out for dinner is a better idea. Thanks for the little nudge 🙂

  12. Karen C says:

    Thanks for re-posting this- it is inspiring. I am constantly filling boxes to take to Goodwill, but our house is still packed full of ‘stuff’. It is a long process, and one that unfortunately never feels like it gets done, but I will keep at it. Life is so much better when it isn’t cluttered with ‘what-if’s and ‘I may need that some day’s.

  13. sproutsmama says:

    i’ll echo the others here. thank you for this. truly.

    we are just beginning to pack for the first major move of our family lives. the overwhelming need to hold on to stuff “just in case” was really weighing on my heart. this helps me see a way to breath a little deeper.

  14. Nicole W. says:

    Okay, I’m on board. lol I read this post before, but I don’t think I was “ready” yet. Like other’s, I have trouble not thinking, “But what if I need this one day?” or worse, “What if I regret giving this away?” It’s the sentimental stuff that gets me!

    But ever since my husband and I moved into this tiny apartment and accumulated so much stuff, I’ve been getting sick more and more often. And I have a suspicion it’s cause of all the stuff that I CAN’T CLEAN AROUND. Who knows what’s being built up in this air!

    So, I’ve broken down all the parts of our apartment to purge gradually. There’s only 16 (tiny place), so I should theoretically have a more liveaable apartment in 16 days! I hope I follow through…


  15. Jillian says:

    Thank you for inspiring me to start purging again! I gave away 4 garbage bags of baby and maternity clothes yesterday along with other various baby stuff and have more waiting to go out the door. It feels so good!

  16. Emmalina says:

    You are in good company : ) The last move (and hopefully final ever!) I thought would be easy as we’d moved and decluttered just one year prior and I had gone on a big decluttering binge just before moving too. Nope, it was hell on wheels. We are continuing with the paring down this winter but I’m just grateful that packing and moving are not in our immediate future!

  17. V says:

    I have really been feeling overwhelmed by the stuff and clutter in our house, and overwhelmed as to where to start. Anywhere! The paper/artwork/mementos are the hardest for me – I just never know what to do with it, so it just gets moved around and around. We hope to move in the new year, so this is inspiration to get started!

  18. Lori Ann says:

    We are currently packing to move. When we first listed our home we “staged” it and put a lot of items in storage – but took as much or more to thrift shops and the dump. Now, as we pack the remaining bits I would like to go through these same closets and drawers and do another purge. My 10 year old has the hardest time with this but at least if my husband and I do it with our items there will be a difference! One thing we did do – I bought each of us a plastic locker trunk and they are our “forever” boxes. Inside my son’s is his baby items I wanted to keep, letters that are special, etc. This way the mementos are in one special place and you cannot save too many!

  19. Lexy says:

    I like this post…but I don’t the purging will be truly fulfilling until the precursor to the purging is also addressed: consumption, more specifically, over-consumption. To only consume what one truly needs. I’m not saying I have it figured out (I don’t) but I did an annual purge of my household for years until I finally realized that I could skip the purge if I didn’t bring things in throughout the year.
    I’d love to see a post from your about that!

  20. Tricia says:

    It is an inspiring story Rachel. I’m struggling to let go of things at the moment. We’re moving from a spacious home full of stuff to a shed – and then ultimately a small rural home.

    I want to let go of stuff – but it is hard. At the moment i’m thinking I’ll make it easier by having a ‘memorial stuff wall’ where I display images of all the things I had trouble letting go of 😉

  21. Jayna says:

    thanks for the reminder! We are doing some of that de-stuffing over here too! The new space looks so perfect! So happy for you all! 🙂

  22. Rachel Wolf says:

    What a beautiful comment in all of its parts. Thanks for inspiring me right back. I’m amazed by how you let go of things! (And glad you find commonality and belonging here.)

  23. Tonya - Plain and Joyful Living says:

    This is such a constant process for me. With seven children and a smallish house and many people giving us “stuff”, we have way too much, in my opinion. Books and craft supplies are the hardest for me to let go of. I agree, though, the fewer items the more freeing.
    Blessings with your new home,

  24. Rika says:

    Wonderful post. Thank you for your honesty. I hope you post about your progress and keep inspiring us.
    Cheers from Adelaide Australia

  25. Brittany says:

    Hello Rachel,
    I have been purging slowly over the last two years but I’m ready for a big purge. I want all the unnessaries gone. I’m having difficulty with guilt about gifts and getting rid of them. Especially since Christmas just happened. Some of the gifts I would open and as I was thanking the person i would be thinking, “thrift store”. My husband thinks I should keep them for a year and just see if I use them. I know I won’t, they are synthetic and unpractical. I would like someone to back me up. Can I just get rid of them?

  26. Rachel Wolf says:

    Of course you can. As a dear friend once told me, Keep the love and pass the gift along. You know in your heart if you will use it or if youre keeping it simply out of obligation. The giver never intends to burden you, so let it go.

  27. AP says:

    Hi Brittany and Rachel,
    quite some years ago I helped my best friends J+J move house and we came to a rather funny situation where I kept putting a certain item onto the rubbish place whilst one of the mums kept putting it back to the stuff to be moved. ‘J+J said, anything ugly or not used, will not move to the new place’ ‘But this was a wedding pressent from xxx’ we kept going back and forth. I won! Must have been because long before the move J+J had declared that I’m part of the furniture – I knew what got ever and what didn’t. 🙂

  28. Cassandra says:

    How would you deal with family members who bring things to give you every single time they visit? Or go crazy with the gift giving during holidays/birthdays? Assume that said family members are the easily offended types.

  29. Rachel Wolf says:

    I know how difficult this can be. I have friends who had dealt with the same. It can be disempowering and frustrating. the folks Ive know who have overcome it is by consistent, loving connect to gently guide family towards things (or experiences, for example gifting a museum pass instead of a toy) that are in line with your values. Sorry I cant be more helpful!


    Hi Rachel Wolf,
    Cassandra ( has left you a comment:

    How would you deal with family members who bring things to give you every single time they visit? Or go crazy with the gift giving during holidays/birthdays? Assume that said family members are the easily offended types.

    Status: Published


  30. rebecca says:

    hi. i spent some time yesterday going through your blog history and came upon this post. it touched and reflected some thoughts that have swirling ’round my head for a while. tell me your thoughts on my thoughts 🙂
    i love the idea of homesteading, back to the land, etc. as it empowers people to break free of dependance on market driven, mass goods, products and services, commercialism/capitalism, etc but, the” independence ” theme i am not so fond of. as we change through climate change and speak about community resilience, we need to acknowledge our NEED to be interdependent on one another. this family you speak of, put themselves in a vulnerable place…they are no longer “secure” with stockpiles for later or just in case. they are open to “believing in the abundance of the universe.” How utterly simple and mind blowing. I have to ask myself do I truly believe in community? if i do not have everything i need to work, play, grow and learn i need to be invested in my neighbors and the world at a different level. thoughts?

  31. Lisa says:

    This is coming soon for me, as we will be putting our house up for sale shortly. We will be living with family as we are between homes, and I will not be moving things I don’t love twice. Gone-too small clothes and never used kitchen gadgets. Thank you for the reminder why it’s important to do this!

  32. Megan Gray says:

    We have been doing major purges for over a year now. This January we will be one year of our biggest purge, our car. We walk, ride cargo bikes, take public transport, or if need be borrow a car. Everyone has a backpack of clothes and that’s it for clothing. Laundry is easier and less of a headache. Toys have been purged multiple times, and we are trying to do our best with keeping things simple this holiday season. The kids have been great at deciding what toys they want and don’t want. And we never force them to get rid of anything. We are planning a big out of state move in May and right now all we have to move is ourselves and things that were way too special, like photos and art, to get rid of. It’s going to be an easy and simple move because of it. I don’t ever want to go back to having too much crap! Even my husband has felt a million times better letting go of stuff. It’s amazing how things can have such a hold on you.

  33. bambi says:

    Love all u post is so far from simplicity but desire it on so many levels that is the goal going into a new year here shortly…but when better to start than now!!!!

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