Excess Baggage

When I saw this picture it made me laugh. It’s exactly how I started my marriage. I moved from South Florida to the suburbs of Chicago and brought everything with me I thought I could possibly need. I was prepared for anything.

A year later, when we signed a lease for an apartment in the city, most of my stuff was still in suitcases and boxes. Our new place would be 200 square feet smaller and I had no clue where any of it would go. I felt like a borderline hoarder. Exhausted from the mere thought of hauling all of this stuff, yet again, I knew was time for a serious purge.

So, Justin and I came up with a plan — declutter our apartment. Well, our lives really. Fueled by the adrenaline of getting a new place downtown, we got rid of everything we didn’t have an immediate use for. Some of it was trashed. Some of it was sold. Most things were given away — wall art, lamps, books, kitchen appliances, clothes. Lots and lots of clothes. We whittled our closet down to the bare essentials.

Once we settled in to our new place and the excitement waned, we felt…empty. But sometimes the best life changes start with the smallest things. In time we grew to love our clean, minimal space. It was simple, yet cozy and comfortable. Our mini lifestyle makeover injected a freshness into our home.

Two years later, it’s still our way life. Living with the bare essentials has opened our eyes. When our life was filled with things, all of it seemed so important. Every dress, skirt, pair of heels, book, magazine, coffee mug. But when the excess was removed, we could see clearly. It became much easier to distinguish between wants and needs, must-haves and maybes.

It’s an ongoing process for us. Every few months we make a point to shred old papers/bills, and shed a few layers from our closets. Right now I’m looking to buy new dinnerware and flatware. But, I won’t be piling the new sets on top of the old ones.

This is not to say that I don’t want (even crave) more “stuff”. In fact, I keep a running list in Pinterest. But, for now, it’s just the two of us, and what we have will do.

So how do feel about clutter? Is it something you can live with or do you feel like it’s time for a change?

Photo credit: {Brooke Schwab}

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