{this just plain cracked me up!}

So, we've talked about about satisfaction, and now we are going to categorize stuff. I think it's important to think about our stuff in different categories. Defining our stuff can help us decide whether we should keep it, repurpose it, donate, or just plain let it go it.

I'm going to put things into four categories (this list isn't all inclusive, it's just the basics!):
1. Excess
2. Purposeful/useful
3. Beautiful
4. Sentimental


Today, we're just going to talk about excess.

Let’s define excess. I’m not going to pretend that my definition is Webster-worthy. Are you ready for this? I’m going to define excess as the stuff that we hold on to, not because we use it or like it, but because we have it. It’s the extra thirty plastic cups in the cupboard. It’s the five used toothbrushes stuck in the back corner of our bathroom cabinet. It’s the movie we bought five years ago in the dollar bin and have never watched.
Here’s another way of putting it: If you lost everything you owned in a house fire, the excess is what you wouldn’t remember having.
Let me continue by saying that not all excess is junk. Although, much of your junk, is excess. I’ll tell you about our recent gutting of our office. We have a two-bedroom home, and we deemed the second room as the office. When we first moved in, our office was sparsely populated with a chair, desk, and a bookshelf. Two years later, we could barely walk in it. We decided that it was enough. The dawning truth came down upon us, and we realized that we had to do something with all our excess or we would drown in it. We took a few days to wade through it and asked ourselves why we owned each particular item and then assessed whether we used it. A few garbage bags and thrift store piles later, we finally had a manageable office space. Not all of the items that we donated were pieces of junk or ugly hunks of something. Many of the items were nice, but to us, they had lost their purpose. We were holding on to items that we weren't using or didn't enjoy. Simple as that. 

We found that we had lots of excuses for our excess:

-- It was on sale--I'll never be able to get that item at that price again. So what if I have never used it? I might just need it in ten years.
-- Those old textbooks--well, you never know when I'll have to look up the past tense verb tense of the verb "haber" in Spanish.
-- I love that lamp. I've had it since college when I lived on the 3rd floor. Oh, the memories!
-- You never know when we'll need fifteen different ipod cables or another internet connection cord--especially since they are so hard to come by.
-- Oooh, my pen collection. You can always use twenty pens around the house, even if they don't write anymore. Maybe someday we'll make a sculpture with them.
-- How did that sock end up in the storage bin? I bet I have the match somewhere around.
-- We do have one printer, but we could maybe fix the other two we have and sell them. I'm sure we'll fix them sometime this year.

Sound a little silly? Sound familiar? Some of these were actually real snippets of our office cleansing conversation. We had to work past the excuses and deal realistically with what we had held on to for the past years.

Realistic responses:

-- Yes, it was a steal. But, if we really need it in the future, we can buy another one.
-- I'll keep my favorite Spanish textbook from college and then say good-bye to the other twenty.
-- I think I'll remember life on the 3rd floor without my five dollar lamp from Ikea
-- Let's just keep the cables we use on a regular basis. 
-- I'll check and see what pens work and we'll throw the rest away. Although I do have an inner artist, I'm not sure a pen sculpture is in the stars.
-- Although we love a good love story, I'm not sure the reuniting the wandering socks is worth the read.
-- How much do we know about fixing a printer. Well, let's see. Nothing.

Does anyone else have conversations like this while you purge through your stuff, or are we the only ones?

Defining and identifying excess is truly essential for being able to let it go. I'll be talking about a lot of ways to help reduce the excess or clutter in our homes during the series--so hopefully, we can all learn some tips along the way :)

I'll leave you with my favorite analogy for excess. I like to think of it as the jiggly-jiggly of my home. It's the extra twenty pounds it gained after Christmas sales and Target's clearance rack. Poor house--it has a horrible metabolism! Without proper diet and exercise, our homes will become chubby, uncomfortable, and sluggish.

I think that there are two ways to help your home lose its jiggly-jiggly:
1. Crash diet purge: Doing a major purge but not fixing any of the habits that led to the extra weight in the first place
2. Lifestyle change: Taking time to rid the excess but also changing habits to reduce future jiggly-jiggly.

I'm pretty sure you all can figure out which one is optimal :)

Right now, our house is going through number 2. It won't be free of pain. It won't take five minutes a day. However, it will hopefully produce a change that is lasting, freeing, and rewarding :)

Does this resonate with you guys?


  1. Since you posted a review of these articles I'm going back and reading them all again. I've begun the purge of the jiggly from my basement and it's very freeing! I have so much stuff that I now know I'll never use. I'm passing it on to someone who will use it and get enjoyment from it. Thanks for reposting these!


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