What Happens When You Get Rid of Stuff

I've been wanting to start a blog for quite a while, yet I wasn't inspired to write about anything in particular — until just last week. On Facebook, I read an article about these two guys who decided to simplify their lives by getting rid of, well, stuff. They asked:

"What if you removed one material possession — just one — from your life each day for a month? What would happen?" 

I decided to ask myself this same question for the next 30 days.

30 Days Later: A Little Less Stuff-y 

I have officially completed my 30-day, self-imposed “get rid of stuff campaign.” Here are some things I learned along the way:
  • ​The things that occupy my space really should fall into two main categories: things that I use and things whose beauty bring me joy.
  • Just because I have physical space in my house to store something doesn’t mean I should keep it.
  • Physical stuff that isn’t meaningful is noisy. Being in its proximity wears me out and is like having a low-level frequency of humming in my ears all day long.
  • I can get a physical rush from acquiring stuff. That’s why if the price is right (or perhaps free), I’ll talk myself into getting a less-than-desirable item.
  • I shouldn’t feel guilty if I don’t want to keep something that was received as a gift. I know this sounds heartless, but my mom reminds of this often, and it’s an extremely freeing concept.
  • Nostalgia is a strong driver for keeping some things I don't use.
  • When it comes to clothes, I should only keep what fits me well.
  • I love hair products and I'm not willing to change that part of my life (seriously).
  • It's easier to part with stuff when I can give it to someone I know.
  • A room with less stuff simply feels lighter.
  • Other people can help, and also hinder, my efforts to de-clutter my space.
  • If I use something once each decade, I probably don’t need it.
  • If my stuff isn’t serving a purpose, I sometimes don’t notice it, even if I walk by it each day.
  • I only scratched the surface of what I can get rid of in my house. At times, I felt resistance and I want to part with more things that make me feel uncomfortable.
  • My stuff has been part of my evolution. It illustrates interests and hobbies that have come and gone, lessons I’ve conquered, skills I’ve acquired, good choices I’ve made (as well as bad ones), and my stuff has defined certain periods in my life.
  • It’s easy to think material things automatically equate to pleasure, but they often end up being a burden.
  • I’m not Mother Theresa — I still want stuff. But I recognize that not all stuff is created equal. I need to be even more particular about what I bring into my presence.
  • Overall, eliminating stuff has been a metaphor for how I want to keep growing in life. Every now and then, it’s time to clean the literal and figurative house — to remove stuff, jobs, obligations, people, etc., that are no longer serving me. By doing so, it creates space for other more beautiful and fulfilling things to enter.

Day 30: You're So Corny 

I cleaned out a few things from my pantry today, to get rid of products that contain corn and gluten, which I generally avoid. Some of you will think this is wasteful, but I don't feel guilt in parting with items that are no longer for my higher purpose.

Day 29: Lip Service 

This is an old tube of red lip gloss. I like the color, but the formula isn't my favorite, so it doesn't get used often. While we're on the topic of red lips, I first started seriously wearing these bold hues when my girlfriend gave me a tube of red on Valentine's Day (how adorable is that gift, by the way?). It was the perfect shade for my coloring and complexion, which is the key to any woman pulling off a red pouter. So, while I'm parting with this red beauty, I still have others in my repertoire, including one I just wore this last weekend.

Days 23–28: Odds 'n' Ends 

Day 23
One of my favorite things to check out at Costco is the book section, which is where I picked this up. Given the topic, I figured this was a "must have." But I never actually read this because I got bored.
Day 24
The tiny bit of remaining hair product in this container is hardened. As a result, I'm feeling pretty confident about my decision to part with this item.
Day 25
When I put on new socks, there's a feeling of ecstasy that I experience. I love the softness of the material, how cushy they feel, and that I notice the comfort of them with every step. On the other hand, once socks have been worn and worn, and washed and washed, it's more of a flat-line experience. These socks fall into that category.
Day 26
When I was in junior high school, my friend and I used to call random people from the phone book and do crank calls. That is NOT why I still have these, by the way.
Day 27
In my quest to stay out of the sun, I try out sunless tanning products from time to time, usually with the same result: I break out with mild hives. That's why this is nearly full. 

Side note: Before I decided on this item, my husband talked me out of something else I wanted to eliminate.

Day 28
Whenever I buy new tennis shoes, I keep my old ones "just in case." I rarely wear the back-up shoes, and since these are pretty ragged, they're leaving today.

Side note: Before I decided on these shoes, my husband talked me out of eliminating two other pairs.

Day 22: Con Sordino 

I just parted with this old TV. It was used so infrequently that I almost didn't even see it sitting there each day. The room feels way lighter without it. 


Day 21: Twinsies 

One day I wore this to work on casual Friday, only to find that my male co-worker was wearing the same thing. That's not the reason I'm parting with this, but I was more wanting to share that it's super cool that an article of clothing can immediately spark some sort of memory.

Days 15–19: This and That 

Short and sweet: that's today's posting.  Below are the items that left my house this last week.
Day 15
This has been sitting in the basement ever since we got our Krups single-cup coffee maker. I'm guessing my husband is probably going to wince at seeing this go. It falls into a vast category of items that should have left our house years ago, mainly because of his recurring question that goes something like this: "But what if we need that for...."  The ending part of this sentence is usually an act or event that will happen once in a decade (and that's being optimistic).
Day 16
I could never find just the right place to put these decorative balls. They have been sitting in a bowl, but I've never fully enjoyed their presence.
Day 17
These are mini-size soaps. A friend gave me these and suggested I put them in my guest bathroom. I did that, but they must give off the vibe that they are for looks and not to be used. If I must post a sign saying "Please use these," I've decided they are too fussy for my house.

Day 18
I am a self-help nut. Most of what I read is non-fiction aimed at making me a better human being. I read both of these, but they're not ones I'll likely refer back to at a later date.
Day 19
I love A-line skirts and even the colors of this one. Still, there's something about how this fits that prevents me from wearing it. (Note: With the 4th of July coming up, I was half-way thinking I should keep it to wear that day, but I resisted.)

Day 14: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go 

We recently won an 80s-themed basket at a local fundraiser. There were four sets of mesh gloves included (different colors for matching various neon-colored outfits, I presume). I'm getting rid of three sets, but I do admit to keeping one, which will go in my costume supply box.  

Day 13: Stamp of Approval 

96 rubber stamps left my house today. They've been sitting in a box for the better part of the last year. I was planning to mail them to a friend's kid, but that never happened, probably because it would have cost a small fortune (those suckers were heavy in that box!).

Holding onto these stamps made me realize that it's easier to part with stuff when I know who will be the next owner. Donating to a second-hand store is only so satisfying. But when someone I know says "I can use that," I have no hesitation to cut ties with my stuff. 

From now on, I'm going to try and feel better about donating to the nameless and faceless individuals who will end up with my old items. For example, maybe some mom will buy my stamps at Value Village, and they'll keep her kids busy this summer creating all sorts of art projects. That's a way better scenario than the stamps sitting in my dark basement, not getting used.  


Day 11: Most Days I've Gone Mad 

"When you are in love, you greet each day with a banana peel in your heart and a tennis shoe on your face."

"I like you as much as I like lawn mowers."
"When I first saw you, my knee cap went tingly all over."

You've gotta love Mad Libs. They were created to teach kids nouns, adverbs, exclamations, etc. They inspire creativity and imagination (at least I always dug deep to choose the most outrageous words possible). Plus, the nonsense created by them has an even more wonderful result: giggling. 

A few years back for Valentine's Day, I filled out Mad Libs and mailed them to friends/family. Today I will donate the uncompleted ones that remain, hoping that someone else will take pleasure in a little silliness.

Day 10: What Not to Wear 

Sometimes I despise the fact that workout wear can cost as much as an outfit I'd wear to work. But alas, I have come to appreciate well-fitting clothes, even for my workouts. These items have deodorant stains, or require regular adjustments to avoid looking look like Britney Spears in a belly shirt, so they're no longer in the regular rotation.


Day 9: My Life Isn't Perfect But My Hair Is 

Today I'm getting rid of these brushes. One of them is about 17 years old… I'm not sure if that's impressive or really gross. I've been told that my hair is sort of "my thing" — it always looks good, no matter what. It's kind of true. Some girls never leave the house without mascara, but for me, it's a well-behaved head of hair. Having the proper tools certainly makes that easier, but these fellas were replaced with newer and sleeker models a long time ago.


Day 8: Whose Coat is This Jacket? 

It's Day 8 of my "getting rid of stuff campaign" and I'm feeling resistance. I walked from the living room, to the dining room, to the kitchen, to the office, to the bathroom, and I even looked in two closets. Still, I was having a hard time finding my singular (yes, just one) item to eliminate. Hmmm... I need to ponder this resistance a bit more in a future posting.

In any event, I landed on this pink coat for today. I bought it at a second-hand store with the original tags still attached. I'll be honest: I didn't love this coat. The color isn't my favorite and it has a slit up the back (not the most attractive feature for someone like me with an ample back side). After hemming and hawing, I came to the illogical conclusion that I simply had to have it.
My lesson from this item is that I sometimes make clothing purchases based on price, even if something doesn't look great on me. In these instances, I'm always ignoring my intuition. Ultimately, this means I don't end up wearing these items or I don't feel good in them when I do. From now on, I’m going to make a more concerted effort to not let price be the key driver for my clothing decisions. I mean, it's better to buy nothing at all then to spend a penny on something I don't love.