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A Time For Resolutions

The weeks from Thanksgiving until Christmas are always so hectic and if feels you don’t have time to breathe, much less think. And then, from Christmas until New Year’s, life grinds to a halt. This quiet time after the rush is so perfect for reflection on your life and contemplation of where you’re headed and what’s important. No wonder New Year’s Resolutions are so popular.

2014 was an unusual year for our family. We sold our house, the first one we had purchased; we lost a father and a grandfather, 20 days apart; and we’ve spent the last several months living at my mother-in-law’s too-small home while we play Goldilocks looking at new houses, too big, too small. We’re still searching for “just right”.

It was an awful year. It’s been the kind of year where you think things can’t possibly get any worse, and then they do. It was the kind of year where you feel God tests you and your strength and your faith over and over. It’s the kind of year where you wonder if all your life has been one long mistake, where you wonder if you’ll survive. You wonder where the light at the end of the tunnel is? Where is our happily ever after?

And then, before you know it, it’s over. The rain has stopped. And you find out that the old adage is true: what hasn’t killed you has in fact, made you stronger. You’re suddenly wiser and maybe even a little less passive.

I’ve always considered myself grounded in logic: cool, unemotional, able to reason under pressure. I’ve always considered New Year’s Resolutions to be juvenile and beneath me. “After all,” I said,”If you really want a change, why wait until New Years?” But this year, everything has come together and it just seems like perfect timing for a resolution.

It all started in June, when we decided to sell our house. We rented a large storage unit where we could move things we didn’t want in our home while it was on the market: some toys, lots of books, clutter mostly. Then, when our house sold, we hadn’t found a new home. Now instead of paying for one storage unit every month, we were paying for two.

We moved in with my mother-in-law. We could only bring a few things: seasonal clothes, small toys for the kids, some favorite books and our computers. Our bedrooms are less than half the size of our old ones, closets are tiny too. The four of us share a bathroom, with no real counter-top to keep our toiletries. Being in such a tiny space has been frustrating, to say the least.

At this point, more than 90% of our possessions have been in storage for 6 months. And you know what’s incredible? We haven’t even missed most of it.

Organized craft closet room

The truth is, I’m not very good at crafting, but I like to have craft stuff and I like to have things on hand should I decide to attempt a project. I’ve not missed a single item from this photo and if it weren’t for the pic, I might forget I owned any of this stuff.

Gift wrap storage

We would have to go at least 40 birthday parties to use all the bows in this giftwrap area within a year. The truth is, our social calendars and just not that full.

hangers

These are the hangers I removed when we first staged our house and realized the closet would be more appealing if people could see it not crammed with clothes. Other than having to switch wardrobes for seasons, I’ve not missed anything that hung on these. And as long as we’re being truthful, I more or less wear the same several things over and over.

kitchen cupboard storage

While everything in this cupboard is useful, I wonder if there’s just too much. We have so much stuff in our kitchen, we had to add shelves. Other than the frying pans and Pyrex, everything here has been in storage and not missed.

pantry storage

I don’t even know how to use some of the things on the top shelf. Other than some of the food storage containers, we’ve not missed anything from here. I mean, a food storage container that looks like an apple. Why?

Laundryroom

I love to purchase cleaning supplies and try them out. In the end though, there are only around 5 products that I use for just about everything.

files

This photo says it all. We all have instruction manuals and warranties for our stuff. Then we have all the paperwork that we somehow tie to our own identities.

PJs pajamas

My daughter had so many pairs of pajamas, she could wear a different set every night for two weeks and still have two pairs left over. Insanity!

baking

Even Betty Crocker does not need this much bake wear! And to top it all off, I have such a weakness for sweets, I almost never bake!

Christmas

We aren’t crazy Christmas people, but I’m starting to think we might be crazy hoarder people.

So, here’s the thing: When I was a kid, houses weren’t as big as they are now. The house I grew up in was half the size of the house pictured above. The homes my parents grew up in were even smaller than that. Those houses could have in no way held as much stuff as our family has managed to accumulate. As houses get bigger, we all seem to feel the need to fill them with more things. But for what?

It makes my stomach turn to think of all the money we’ve wasted over the years, purchasing in excess. Worse than that, what have we taught our children? What will they think is a normal amount of stuff when they grow up?

This year, I have a New Year’s Resolution, and it might be the first one I’ve ever had. Our family is going to live more simply. We’re not going to become Spartans by any means, but I do feel in my soul that the days of stockpiling things that were on sale are over. We will not be measured by our debt or our bills. We will not find our worth in the collections of things we can amass. And we will not clutter our lives with junk: material, emotional or otherwise.

I know enough about change to know it has to happen slowly over time. This will not happen overnight. But in the 365 days of 2015, this family is going to make decisions about what is and is not important and start living authentically. It’s still organizing, but it’s a whole new level.

Watch this space because this year will not be sugar-coated and easy all the time. This year will be filled with problem-solving challenges that we’ve never faced before. I hope that you’ll join us on this journey and even offer some insight if you have it.

Simplified 2015 is happening. Happy New Year!

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4 thoughts on “A Time For Resolutions

  1. cheryl seals says:

    As we come to the end of 2015 in a couple of months how did it go Christene ? I know we all have to much stuff, well there may be a few who don’t i wanna see their house’s ! hehe And yes I think of the hard earned money we spent on really to much stuff very sad..I would love to see more organizing an getting rid of solutions from your site pretty PLZ …

    1. Christine says:

      Hi Cheryl! Thank you so much for the encouragement 🙂

      It went really well! I definitely wasn’t 100%, but I created a pause to make decisions when purchasing stuff. We’re still in the process of pairing down things and that will definitely have to be something I keep following up on. I’m in my office right now, looking at 4 bins of things that need to go to ebay or consignment. It’s a slooowwwww process, but one worth sticking with, for sure 😀

  2. Christine says:

    Thanks Tammy! It’s crazy how we accumulate so much stuff, right?

    Happy 2015 to you too and good luck with the purging!

  3. Tammy says:

    Great post Christine! I’m right there with you regarding all the “stuff”! It’s become out of control in our home and I’m starting the purging process as well. Wishing you guys a great 2015!

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