Christine had been leaving lots of great comments so I asked her if she would like to write a post for me while I am on vacation. So here is her story. Enjoy!
I am delighted to be here today to talk a little about my decluttering journey so far and the benefits that my family and I are enjoying as a result.
My husband and I moved to the US from the UK 27 years ago with just a few basic possessions, and over the years we acquired more stuff until our house was gradually getting filled up with books, collections, clothing, toys, school supplies, kitchenware, china, the endless household paraphernalia – and I was preparing to install more shelving, buy more cabinets, create more storage, buy more organizing solutions, when I quite literally came to a crashing halt in a road accident. My injuries left me without the full use of my hands for several weeks and it was during that time of enforced inactivity that I came across Colleenâ€™s blog, and to say that I was inspired is an understatement. I realized that I was spending an inordinate amount of time, not to mention money, trying to organize excess possessions, when the answer was simply to eliminate all those unnecessary things. I also realized that our ability to do certain things can be abruptly stopped or changed and suddenly we canâ€™t do all those things that we take for granted and do without thinking – the washing-up, the laundry, all those essential household tasks. Further, I learned that my possessions gave me little comfort and assistance in a difficult time, rather it was my friends who brought meals or drove my sons home from school who were the true treasures in my life.
During those weeks I read through the entire 365 Less Things blog and mentally prepared for my forthcoming declutter which began as soon as I regained the full use of my hands. I am very pleased that in the two years since then we have donated 1659 items to charity, and on top of that some things have been sold and many recycled. Perhaps surprisingly, I have not missed or regretted a single one of those things, in fact on the contrary I feel great relief and a sense of lightness every time I leave the donation center and re-energized to find more things to donate.
As for the benefits of decluttering, they are many. First, the housework has been greatly simplified now that I have fewer things around needing to be dusted. I have saved a noticeable amount of money by stopping indiscriminate purchases of extra, duplicate or unneeded stuff; these days before buying anything I ask myself how long it will be before that thing becomes one of my donation items. I enjoy having friends to visit and it is nice that the house is usually â€œcompany readyâ€ and it doesnâ€™t take forever to straighten up after they leave. My husband has a demanding job and works long days so I like having a peaceful home for him to return to, a place to relax rather than somewhere that is calling out for action or attention everywhere we look. I especially like knowing that â€œstuffâ€ has lost its grip on me; I have lost the desire to keep acquiring, and with the help of this blog I have realized that inanimate objects do not need to have an emotional or sentimental hold over me, which has been very liberating. Thus I have been able to pass along gifts which I didnâ€™t really like, and even things such as my wedding dress and certain items which belonged to my late mother.
There is still a long way to go! It is likely that we will try to downsize from this house in the next few years so I want to continue to thin out our possessions to pave the way for a simplified eventual move. There are some areas of the house which I have yet to start on and which will be quite challenging (10 years worth of Lego to start with) but with the support and encouragement of Colleen and the 365 community I know it can be done!
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when Iâ€™m slow
” I know it can be done”- yes, yes, yes. Thanks for your inspiring post.
Thank you Gail. It is wonderful that so many of us are here supporting each other as we work through our belongings.
Deb J says
Christine, congratulations on all the decluttering you have done. I know you must be really happy with all you have accomplished and the freedom it gives. Keep up the good work. We know you can do it and are proud of you.
Thank you Deb J. The support and encouragement of everyone who writes and comments on this blog mean a great deal to me, and are often just the push I need to tackle a particular area.
Thank you so much for your share! I am very interested in your thoughts on the lego’s!!! I am sitting with 10 years worth here as well. LOL
Thanks for posting, Christine!
Yours is an inspirational story, illustrating how when a person is ready, there’s no stopping them. And, of course, that “slow and steady” works. Like you, I have kept track of numbers of items leaving the house (and money coming in from sales of things), and I find this keeps me encouraged when I see those totals adding up.
Thank you , sumarie! I was thrilled when Colleen asked me to write something, I really enjoy sharing the steps of this journey and seeing progress. It sounds like you and I are very much on the same path.
It has been my experience that when something unexpected happens, in your case, your road accident, that something good always comes out of the experience. You may never have been lead to Colleen’s blog if you didn’t have some forced downtime. Congratulations on your journey thus far.
Thank you Kimberley. I completely agree with you. There is usually a silver lining to be found when difficult things happen and finding this blog was definitely one for me!
Thanks for sharing! Your journey is an inspiration to me! It was so lovely to read in concept of how you value your friends and not your possessions!
Christine – well done. You also are an inspiration to me. Not much more to add to your wonderful post. It was as if I wrote that. I know exactly what you are feeling now as after every trip away I come back (after the jet lag) and feel motivated to donate or get rid of things.
The feeling of “freedom” is amazing and thanks too of course to Colleen for starting us on our quest and challenges to live more simply.
Thank you Katherine. It is wonderful that there are so many of us around the world who are working towards similar goals and encouraging each other along the way.
Christine…I’m so thankful you recovered from your accident and are doing fine now. I enjoyed your post and
congratulations on your decluttering! I’m still a work in progress, but I do love the way it makes me feel 🙂
Well said Christine! I love what you wrote.
Thank you Wendyf! I enjoyed talking to you all!
Great post. I started reading this Blog in January and it has really given me some great ideas and kept me motivated to keep decluttering. We have lived in our house for almost 7 years. We have three younger kids so a lot has come into the house since we moved in, but not much ever left the house. I just felt like our house was always messy and there were toys everywhere. It took so much time to straighten up and then the kids would have it all a mess again. We started being intentional about not bringing new things into the house and taking a lot of things to the donation center. It has really helped to get a lot of toys and old clothes out of the house. It is definitely less cluttered. I like what I see so far and hope to keep going. I can’t even imagine what our house will look like in a year or two. I am looking forward to getting to the maintenance phase and hopefully will get there one day! Thanks for all the inspiration.
Great article! I’d be interested in helping you by purchasing some of your extra legos! My daughter loves them, but I am aghast at how much they cost! (I was not a legos girl, so I’m new to this particular toy, but love that my girl loves them!!!)
Rebecca Lew says
Several years ago my children donated almost their entire collection of My Little Ponies to our local Holiday Bureau, which is a local charitable organization that works year-round to provide gifts to needy children at Christmas. Before donating the ponies, which numbered over a hundred, my daughter took a very colorful picture of the “herd”. Though the ponies are gone, the memories and the picture remain. Perhaps you can find such a place to unload your Legos!
This was a good read for today, thanks. Brings so much back to me about my own journey over the past few years. Some how this blog has been such an inspiration through it all and I feel it’s because it’s so down-to-earth and the focus doesn’t deviate to other distractions. I just realized while I was reading Christine’s post it’s been almost four year since I have been coming here to 365lessthings for ideas that have motivated me. It really has been a blessing!
Thank you Jean. This blog has indeed been a huge help to so many of us, showing us new ways to think about our possessions and helping us to become free of them.
Congratulations on your decluttering journey, Christine! So pleased to hear about your terrific progress. 🙂
Thank you Michelle! I am very happy with the results so far and am inspired to keep at it!
I have been reading your blog for about two months now.
I loved reading about Christine’s journey – as I too have begun getting rid of little things. Vases, dog toys, plastic containers, plant pots.. there is so much around the house that serves no purpose.
For a few years now I have been editing my closet and it has taken me forever – until now I have extended the decluttering to my home. A box of books went out the door recently, old greeting cards, magazinesâ€¦ I am beginning to think I could have hoarder tendencies 🙁
Currently, I am looking forward to Christmas, so I can open all of those boxes packed with ornaments and only keep what’s necessary. Let’s see how that turns out.