Downsize Me

A battle is being waged in my home. It’s me against the stuff.

the garage (my colander is in there somewhere. no spaghetti tonight.)

If you’d told me four years ago I’d be happier in a 1,500 square foot house than in a 4,100 square foot house, I’d have said you were off your rocker. 

Today I’d eat those words. Call me cozy, but a small house suits me. Now please take your rocker with you before I send it packing to Goodwill.

Ain’t nothing wrong with a big house—unless it’s THE big house. Then we’d have other issues to discuss. In the immortal words of Alan Jackson, it’s all right to be little bitty.

My husband is scared. He likes his stuff.

At the closing of the sale of our house last week, I told our real estate agent we’d have half as much to move when the lease ends on our current rental. My husband, bless his heart, said I was being mean. In front of my face. With me sitting right there across the closing table. A nervous laugh to cover his fear.

Maybe I am mean with clutter. Like a drill sargeant. The people and the dog come first, so the extra baggage has got to go. Whatever stays must be packed, labeled and stored appropriately. Ready to ship out at a moment’s notice.

This is combat, and I mean business. By the time I’m finished, we’ll be fit for a feature in Real Simple. Watch out, Martha Stewart. I’m coming for you next. I’ve tasted freedom, and it’s a good thing.

Freedom from debt. Freedom from cleaning a large house. Freedom from catering to the tastes of potential buyers. Now that I have it, I want more. More freedom to do what I love with the people I love.

Commandeering clutter is not something I love. It’s necessary, like laundry. We all have to do it. But let’s whip it into shape and minimize the upkeep, shall we? Let’s hang on to what counts.

Those things packed in boxes I literally haven’t seen in years? The most loved ones bring a rush when I unpack them. Reunited and it feels so good.

The others are asked to peaceably exit the premises. If they dawdle, they will be forcibly removed.

I need the space and the freedom. My time, my sanity, is no longer negotiable.

moth holes discovered when I unpacked my favorite shocking pink cardi. no!

Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Matthew 6:10-21 The Message

Warning: This is a three-song post for a one-post week. Alan Jackson’s Little Bitty, Peaches & Herb’s Reunited, and brand new Dara Maclean’s Suitcases. You’re gonna love it.

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16 Comments

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16 Responses to Downsize Me

  1. Carrie Leverman

    I can so relate to your post! We have our family squeezed into a 1200sq ft home only because we are completely upside down in it. It is cozy and I am married to the man who throws away everything even plastic bags with new clothes that yet to be unpacked because I have no where to put them…oops! If I am missing something the first place I check is the garbage or recycling. However, staying on top of the clutter is the only way the 4 (5 actually with little Breda and all her stuff) of us can manage in our cozy little house. Congratulations on the move and my best advice, visit IKEA!
    Love from Florida,
    Carrie

    • Carrie, that is so funny about Jeroen throwing things away! He cracks me up. I think I would do that too if left to my own devices. Like you, we have to learn to stay on top of the clutter in order to manage–which is fine with me. And momma can’t do it alone–which is the harder part for me!

  2. My favorite phrase is “when in doubt, throw it out”. I knew we would be moving soon after Jeremy got home from Afghanistan, so I spent that year of him being gone de-cluttering. Selling stuff, throwing stuff away, cleaning. When he got home, the fun continued. We moved with less stuff and it was great. The feeling was so liberating that it made me want to continue. Since we moved in I’ve been selling furniture, throwing all sorts of stuff away, organizing and planning future organizing. It is wonderful to have a place for everything, and everything in it’s place. And if it’s pretty too…then that’s icing on the cake!

    • Thank you for sharing, Tiffany. I loved to read about your process as I think we’re at the beginning of a similar one. We will be moving again in seven months or so. What a joy it would be to move with less. How much easier and cheaper (since I want to hire movers next round). Let’s see. What can we part with? Probably a lot more than even I realize right now. Glad to hear the culling down approach works from someone who has gone before.

  3. Lisa

    I hear ya Aimee! I often wonder in my own 2-person (5 dog) home how we accumulate so much stuff. The biggest issue (my opinion) is a husband with hobbies. Big hobbies, that require “stuff”. Wood working, motorcycle restoration, photography (one of the smaller collections). However, my shoe and purse collection also can carry some blame. We’re working on the selling and good willing but it is hard. Thanks for the words of encouragement. And good luck with your pack rat man. I look forward to future posts as the “debate” continues. :-)

    • What debate? :)
      This will be an interesting few months, that’s for sure. I love how you called C’s stuff “hobbies.” True, they are hobbies. It’s funny that they also justify having a bunch of stuff. When pressed, J would willingly call his stuff hobbies too. Oh, I hope he doesn’t read this and get any ideas…
      Like you, I have some “hobbies” to pare down as well. More in the mementos category than in wardrobe. I watched this guy on clean sweep tell a victim to let go of those memory items and hold on to the memory. Take a deep breath and toss. Oh, Lord. Here we go!

  4. Krista

    Aimee, this made me giggle, and made me realize that Jeff and Clint are probably a lot alike! Clint cannot bear to throw things away, or even sell them (even though he is such a penny-pincher). I, on the other hand, love the feeling I get when something leaves this house, be it in the trash bag or in the hands of someone rummaging through my stuff in a yard sale! Clint has gone looking for something and asked, “Where is the ______?” Only to hear me reply, “I sold it in the last yard sale!” His response is not always so nice, but our life doesn’t need any more stuff! Happy donations to you, my friend!

    • Oh my goodness, Krista. I think Jeff and Clint would have a ball joining forces on this one! Jeff does the exact same thing. I’ll donate something we haven’t used or even seen in years, and it never fails. Two days later he will ask me, “Where is the _____?” Just like Clint! How is it that they could need something only when it is given away? Do they have some kind of phantom pains? Drives me crazy!
      I used to fess up that I donated it. Now I simply give the Hillary Clinton answer, “I don’t know where that is.” Vague, but honest. I figure I really don’t know where it is at the exact moment he’s asking.

  5. Have you heard of the book “Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?” There is an emotional connection between how much stuff we keep and how we feel. I get a high and feel lighter whenever I clean out a room or section of the house. Great post Aimee!

    • Oh, Michael. T & I were headed to the library this afternoon. Guess what I checked out? Can’t wait to delve into it. Thanks for reading and for the great rec!

  6. Elizabeth Whelan

    Aimee,

    This one made me laugh out loud! When Don and I first got married and moved to our new home, I made him take everything to the basement. He couldn’t figure it out. My plan was to sort it and only let the “approved” things come upstairs. Now that is mean. My phobia — can’t stand clutter. No worries, God showed me, Matthew is a hoarder at five!!

    Of course with “no” basements in Texas you need to really come clean…no where to put it!! Glad the house sold. I remember five years ago, Don moved to Texas. I sold the house…oops looks like they backed out. So, we had two houses one income. Something I said I would never do. Unfortunately it sold and now I am experiencing over our 18th day with over 100 temps!!! Yee-Haw….heading to the mountains for vacation…may not be back.

    Love your posts…clearly addicted…your biggest fan :)
    Elizabeth

    • Love you, Elizabeth!
      You should visit St. Louis and we can be partners in crime. We’ll really “clean-up” at my house! I have employed a similar strategy to your newlywed plan. That’s why there’s such a train wreck in my garage and my basement. Only the “approved” items are allowed into the living spaces. Everything must undergo a rigorous and ruthless inspection to separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats. Lol.
      In case you’re wondering, like your Matthew my Theo leans more toward his dad’s blissfully cluttered and unaware style, proving again how well my punishment fits my crime.
      Enjoy your refreshing mountain vacation!

  7. Nikki

    This really made me laugh – ah – memories of our talks about our perfectly organized basements. You know I feel Jeff’s pain, of course!! :)