Getting Organized (and Staying Organized)

In our community there is a pretty active “Swap and Sell” site where people list items ranging from trade, to free, to a few dollars, to many hundreds of dollars. People share recommendations for services and link people in to posts that are community members who have a specific skill. I love it! I love that we are giving the money, and our business, to people within the community and keeping items out of landfills! Goodwill is one of my favorite go-to’s and I have pretty much worked my Goodwill game down to a science. (You think I’m kidding…) I save money, not because I’m cheap (really), but because I would rather spend my money on experiences with the people that I love as opposed to “stuff”… so when I want “stuff”… I find thrift, I find insane deals, and I find myself on the swap site.

We are officially sleeping at the new house, effective Saturday… but that means that we made a pact that we are just not moving things that are not going to the new house. We have plenty of space, plenty of living space, plenty of storage — but there is just no real reason to FILL it… Why store things in our space that we are never going to use? Why live in that clutter? We are six months out from our wedding day so it really doesn’t make sense to intentionally stress ourselves out if we really don’t need to.

I hate clutter. I hate – HATE – clutter… So, onto the swap site I went. Listed everything that made no sense to keep and perhaps we could make a few bucks off of it. I made over $250 selling swap items! Just stuff I was trying to get rid of and not move… I am that person, the one who doesn’t feel the need to spend hard earned money on something – if I can get the same item for cheaper. I won’t shirk on quality if I cannot (i.e. food – always pay more for quality food if you can) but there is something about knowing you didn’t pay full price for something that was a want (in some cases a need!). But getting rid of the items, and making a little bit of cash, sparked a fire inside. Holy crap! We don’t need this! Sell this! Sell that! Get rid of this! Recycle that!

I got so excited about purging that when Drew and his co-worker pulled up in the work truck backed up to my garage, I instantaneously thought… “I should run out onto the deck and yell down to him that this is not going to end well for him…” Ahem! I mean… “Please, God, tell me he isn’t bringing more ‘things’ here!” He brought two gorgeous cabinets on wheels with the tops as cutting board material – and tons of under-cabinet drawers and storage. I am backing up from the two of them unloading… “What are we going to do with these?! I just got rid of things!” – but, Drew had a good point – laundry room storage for smaller items that shouldn’t simply be scattered all over the floor. As it turns out, that even though I was in the insane mode of purging – he was right. We did have a demonstrative need for laundry area organization. I had no answer as to where all of the detergent, cleaning items, towels, dryer sheets, etc… were actually going to go prior to this.

Rule of thumb: Be willing to assess, and potentially acquiesce, if there is a need for something and it can be justified.

Solid choice!

I have said it before, but I will say it again – there exists research on the things that make people the most happy. As referenced in Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” there is roughly a certain amount of money that would make people feel content, but it does not trump domestic happiness. Happiness that you feel in your own space, where you live, where you lay your head. Filth, clutter, and dirt are proven to make people feel overwhelmed, exhausted, uncomfortable. All of those things!.. but coming home to clean, organized, inviting space makes people re-evaluate their stress and discomfort levels significantly lower. So, guess what we aren’t going to do? Collect clutter! We have more space now than we are used to knowing what to do with, so attacking the possibility of filling all of those square feet with junk we may never ever use again is something we are committed to taking on head-first.

We are unpacking things at the new house and we started out with this happy little attitude of “Wow! This feels just like Christmas! Unwrapping brown papered items for a surprise!”

But then… it became, with each unwrapped item… “Why do we need this?” … “I don’t even remember buying this!“…. “What the hell is this for?… What the hell does this even GO to?” …”I don’t know…??? Stick it with this indiscriminate glass bowl.” … “Is this your Mom’s?… You don’t think so? Well, maybe we should put it in this box to give to your Mom anyway? Yes? Ok, good. Here’s a box!”. I, also, found myself dancing very carefully around the topic of decor and things that I thought might be important to Drew but that were not important to me. I would bring it up, gently… “Perhaps, we could use this…somewhere…like maybe during a certain season and then put them away…”  (He saw right through me.) “Yeah, I wasn’t planning on using those at all…”  (Huge sigh of relief from me as I tucked an item into the box of items that were going away somewhere…)

  • Figure out which items are REALLY important to you — and be sure you have a fair number of items you’d be willing to cave on getting rid of — even if it means having a very frank discussion with your spouse. (I don’t just mean Drew, I mean, me too!)

Yeah, that was the other night as we were unpacking a few boxes – trying to make our big furniture move lighter by moving pretty much everything we can in the SUV in the meantime. The house is coming along, it is starting to feel more like a home – but that is really just because a lot of our crapola is over there. We took care of all of the necessities upon closing and now its down to getting organized.

We just didn’t need all of this “stuff”!

We started with canned goods. In the last year – our diet has dramatically changed. I keep very low carb (sometimes I misbehave) and Drew is doing a lot more to eat more like me, so he has kicked all of the fake chemical sugars and we rarely make noodles, pastas, rices, etc. There were a ton of canned goods that were either…

A. Expired

B. Simply not going to be eaten in any foreseeable future.

Just because you have a huge pantry, doesn’t mean you need to fill it with items that might go unused that would be immediately used by a food pantry in your community! (Remember that! Immediate use… versus, potential expiration.) One way to see what you really need in your pantry is to keep a weekly list of what you cook for dinner. (You can meal plan, or you can do this retroactively to stock according for minimal waste.) … and when you complete the week, don’t tear the page out and throw it away. Keep a journal of it for maybe, a month or so?… then look back and see what recipes you cooked, what items you actually ended up eating that night – and only keep on hand the items that fall into those meals. Tons of recipes have multiple overlapping items, so perhaps you may only need to pop out to get something fresh. Drew has a tendency to buy two of everything at the grocery store… and honestly, when we were first dating and first moved in together I was at a complete loss… “Why spend the money now if you don’t have to? Why place the burden on one month’s food budget if you don’t need to?” (Thoughts – I never really argued with him, it just perplexed me.)  Until……. I was out of the Ranch seasoning that goes on my favorite treat. Popcorn. I was looking everywhere. All over. In the basement. In the backs of the cabinet. In the lazy Susan… Then I understood – and I never questioned it again.

No reason to only buy one of something at the store, unless it is grotesquely above normal price, if you are simply going to run out and have to make a special trip to purchase it anyway… or not go out and purchase it and end disappointed (like me…).

I cannot tell you how it feels. I cannot really explain any of it. I cannot explain how it feels to be sitting on our couch in our living room, in a place where I see us really happy, really content, raising a family, and spending out time for many years to come. I don’t know why, but I do know that I have never felt that level of contentment in any previous circumstance in my adult life. There is a different feeling when you know that something is as close to permanent as it can get with all of life’s various things that arise.

As the previous owner of our house said in his note…


“Welcome Home…”


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