Ten Things I Learned from Purging My House


Decluttering our house can teach us lessons about ourselves. Here's what I learned through purging my house.Decluttering our house can teach us lessons about ourselves. Here's what I learned through purging my house.Decluttering our house can teach us lessons about ourselves. Here's what I learned through purging my house.Decluttering our house can teach us lessons about ourselves. Here's what I learned through purging my house.Who doesn’t like a tidy, clutter free, organized house?

My hand is in the air. And I bet yours is too.

Well I’ve been organizing and purging stuff from my house and it feels wonderful.

It also is looking better. Not always in the open and living spaces, but behind cupboard and closet doors. Book shelves.

And that is a good feeling. To open a closet door and see more of the white shelves. To pull open a bathroom drawer and see everything in one quick glance.

I started in my bathroom. That place where shampoo, body products, hair accessories, and beauty stuff accumulate. One large garbage sack later, all items left were just necessary products and nothing had an expired date.

Ironic how we think one day I may just wear that shade of lipstick. Years pass, and that day never comes.

Sorting, processing, throwing out and reorganizing our house is a lot like doing the same to our life. Not everything you come across is all bad and needs to go, nor is everything all good and needs to stay.

Somethings have served their purpose and now can be passed onto someone else (baby things). Somethings are expired (that jar of bright blue polish I never got around to wearing). Somethings you still need, and may always need (kitchen dishes), and somethings were only for a season (card making supplies).

10 things I learned from decluttering my house, plus decluttering tips:


1. We like to collect stuff. Get a few people living under the same roof and pretty soon that stuff is tasking up all available spaces, drawers, and horizontal surfaces. It is easier to bring stuff in than toss stuff out. So, don’t delay to long.  The longer we wait to organize and purge, the more stuff we will have to go through.

2. Life is about stages. And it seems each stage needs new and different equipment. What a baby needs are far different from what a teen needs. What a runner needs are not the same as a swimmer. Every stage and interest needs different stuff. When we have lots of stages and ages we need more stuff. But as time goes on, we can get rid of stuff from stages that have been outgrown or moved past.

3. Memories get attached to and tied up in our stuff. It is hard to see a box of baby clothes the kids wore and not walk down memory lane. I was surprised about how many good memories I came across as I was purging. Even silly stuff, like a can of sunscreen from a few years ago that we had taken on a trip conjured up some snapshot moments of that trip.

Decluttering our house can teach us lessons about ourselves. Here's what I learned through purging my house.4. A little bit of purging here and there makes a big dent. Occasionally I spent most of the day organizing and sorting and tossing, like the day I tackled my office. But even that day had interruptions and pauses, including a trip to drop a kid off, running errands, and visiting for an hour or two with a friend. Other days I had ten minutes and sorted through one drawer. An hour and a half turned into a bathroom purge. Half an hour translated into organizing a book-case. Over time, all add up to a lighter and more organized house.

5. Tastes change over time. That octagonal set of dishes I bought before I was married, the ones I haven’t used in years, well my tastes have changed. And that is alright. Get rid of things you no longer use, that no longer speak to you, or compliment your current tastes.

6. Hobbies and interests fall by the side. I have lots of card making supplies. Stamps, embossing powders, stickers, fancy paper, edging scissors, and pens of every color. But the last time I pulled all the stuff out to make cards in the last ten years was to make cards with some friends. I no longer have that desire anymore and am spending my crafting time doing other things. And that is all right. For years my daughter and I used those supplies. I had stamping birthday parties for her, and craft nights for her friends. But that stage is gone. Now someone else can use them. Don’t keep things you are no longer interested in or will do only every ten years. Pass the blessing along to others.

7. There is a reason we hold onto things. Maybe we were poor growing up. Maybe things represent security. Maybe we want to be prepared for anything or every possible situation. Maybe our stuff holds memories and we are holding onto those memories. Maybe we think we may become poor again and won’t be able to buy another, so we keep one and a spare. Maybe we are to overwhelmed to even tackle a small project. Maybe we hear our mother’s voice, or someone else’s and believe a lie about us or our stuff.

As I was cleaning, I thought about my reasons for keeping things. Like most things, it was a complicated reason of several things. First, I was poor growing up. I needed to keep and take of what I had because I wasn’t getting more. (I still have mechanical pencils that still work from my college days.) Back in my twenties, there was not a Walmart on nearly ever corner where you could buy things at a reasonable price. My first set of dishes and silverware were expensive. Now I can go to Walmart and buy a set of dishes for 4 for $20.00. I sometimes forget this and keep things I don’t really like or want, forgetting I can buy a new one at a reasonable price and in many more options than years ago. I grew up not wasting or getting rid of the one item, so I do better donating things to a charity, rather than tossing them.

As I am purging and sorting, I remind myself that I am no longer poor. That I can afford to replace items I don’t like or want. And that I don’t need to keep items I don’t like or want anymore. These truths help me be more ruthless. The truth is that most things are replaceable if I accidentally throw away something I may want in the future. (That unused punch bowl.)

As for things with memories, like that prom dress you wore in high school and still have and will never wear again, take a picture and toss the item. Now you can revisit those memories anytime you want.

Decluttering our house can teach us lessons about ourselves. Here's what I learned through purging my house.8. Things wear out and need to be replaced. Those sheets that are twenty years old and worn to 10-thread count need to be tossed. In fact, most linens have a life of less than 10 years. One lady, whose kids I used to babysit as a teen, had a wonderful idea. “Every ten years everyone needs a new wedding shower because all their items from their first one are now worn out and need replacing.” Nine years after my wedding the truth of her comment was reality. As you toss items, make a list of the items you need to replace. (You just may need to throw yourself your own shower!)

9. We need to toss out the old to make room for the new. To keep our houses from bulging, toss out something old so the new fits in. This works in our closet, drawers, and bookshelves. It also works in our lives. Get rid of the old lies and believe the truth. Get rid of those t-shirts from 15 years ago and get some that fit and look better. It is better to have fewer things that work, that we enjoy, that bring us happiness, and that we use, than a houseful of things we don’t.

Ask yourself: Does it serve a purpose? Does it remind me of memories? (Maybe you can take a picture and toss the item.) Is it something I use regularly enough to keep? If not, can I buy a new one or rent one if I latter need it? Does this create peace for me (like artwork) and make my place prettier? Do I really need this? Why am I holding onto this?

10. You will find surprises. Things you thought were lost will resurface. Things you didn’t even know you had, will be discovered. And things you had hidden and forgot about will be found. In a coffee table drawer, I found an unopened bar of chocolate that I had hidden about 6 years ago. Along with the novel I was reading at the time. Keep a sense of humor and wonder.

Purging and sorting our accumulated stuff within our spaces can be a happy walk down memory lane. It can also be hard and sad. It can be confronting the past and our beliefs in our self and life. It can be a surprise and a laugh.

Like in every other area of life, give yourself grace.

This is not a competition.

Our stuff does not determine our worth or our day.

No shame or guilt allowed. We are learning more about our self and our past through our accumulated stuff. And in the process, we are changing and becoming new people.

Decluttering our house can teach us lessons about ourselves. Here's what I learned through purging my house.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.



PS. Want to see your clutter in a new light? And get a chuckle? Read Kathi Lipp’s post, Why Clutter is Like Every Bad Boyfriend You Ever Had

If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.

Join the discussion: What have you learned through de-cluttering?

Decluttering our house can teach us lessons about ourselves. Here's what I learned through purging my house.May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory);  Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Decluttering our house can teach us lessons about ourselves. Here's what I learned through purging my house.

What is Helping You Survive These Winter Months?


My grandparents headed to Arizona during the winter months, leaving me wondering why they left every year and why on Sunday nights we couldn’t visit them. Now with each passing winter, I understand more and more why they headed south. South towards the sun and warm balmy days.

Heading south is not an option, though. Even if I live where it is cold outside. So, what are we to do?

Winter blows in with cold temperatures. At first it is fun to wear those winter coats, sweaters, and long sleeve shirts that have been lying unused. Christmas arrives, amid parties and a flurry of activities that take minds off the cold. January arrives, and there is a new meaning to cold. To darkness. To dreary, now that all the Christmas decorations and lights are packed away.

It feels like there is nothing to do but hunker down and wait.

Then February sneaks in, and while the days are getting a little longer, it feels like winter will never end. The weather is unpredictable and cancels calendar plans. Sickness stalks the aisles.  The house feels like it will never be warm again.

By February, I tend to wear the few same things over and over. What does it matter what cute shirt I wear as a hoodie or thick sweater tops everything? And when I venture out, a coat tends to stay on more often then not. I feel like I will never be toasty warm again.

As February unfolds, I need to force myself outside for walks. To leave the house more often. To remind myself that winter has never lasted forever. To feed our souls. 


Find things that nourish your soul.


It seems that during this time period, this waiting for winter to end, it is little things that tend to bring me happiness. Little things that make me smile. Little things that brighten my day. Little things that sustain me.

Hot tea with honey and milk.

Fingerless gloves.

Good books.

Blankets to snuggle under.

Conversations with family and friends.

Windows that spill in light and sunshine.

Planning summer trips and activities.

A happy (bright colored) winter coat.

Flannel sheets, topped with a down comforter.

Pie of any kind.


Words of hope and truth.

Memories of warmer times and places.

A good belly laugh.

Thoughts of spring and knowing it will return.

Knowing that I am not the only one waiting. Hoping. Dreaming of spring.

So, what bringing you happiness during winter?

What is sustaining you in these cold winter months?


How to nurture yourself.


Don’t wait until spring to be happy and satisfied. Find something that can sustain you now.

Winter is a time of rest, regrouping, and refreshing so growth emerges forth come spring.

Winter is a time of counting different blessings and finding joy in the starkness that surrounds us.

We may have to look harder to find the positive, to notice our blessings, to find the joy, but it is there.

Find it. Count it. Do it. Be happy. And then share that happiness with others.   

All that sharing will create community that lasts long past the seasons.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.

Join the discussion: What is bringing you happiness and helping you get through these winter months?

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory);  Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Joining the Leaf Crazies

leafcrazies2leafcrazies1Do you ever remember something you said, or perhaps did, and get embarrassed? You inwardly cringe or give a nervous giggle? Or maybe you wish you could go back and change time with just a little turn or a small eraser?

Well I do that, sometimes. Especially this time of year.

It’s fall and the deciduous leaves are changing into crayon box colors of brightness and I remember our trip back east and cringe just a bit.

leafcrazies5I was in my twenties, our daughter was 3, maybe 4, and we were on a plane from Seattle to Boston. It was fall, end of September, beginning of October and we were heading back for a week and a half to attend a conference and sight see and explore.

There we were on the plane for hours and I was busy trying to entertain our daughter and read my book and control my excitement.

I finally settled down to read and as I am opening my book my ears perk up at my neighbor’s conversation.

“So why you headed out east?”

“To see the leaves.”

“Me too.”

“You ever seen them?”

‘No. You?”

“No, but people say it’s an unforgettable experience.”

leafcrazies3 leafcrazies4The leaves, I thought, and started laughing quietly. Who were these people who were flying from Seattle to Boston to view leaves? Botanists? Leaf Professors?

I casually observed them. Yup, they were definitely too old for very much excitement. Maybe colored leaves was all the adrenaline shooting excitement their poor hearts could manage.

I glanced down at my book. Then my ears pricked up again. This time the people in front of us were talking. And if it wasn’t the exact same conversation. People going out to view leaves. A little later I heard people talking behind us about the same exciting thing. Leaf viewing.

Who were these people, I wondered? Was I on a plane with a bunch of crazies who were spending money and traveling across the continent to see a few leaves when a drive into our mountains would have been a much cheaper alternative? Did they have so much free time they were filling it with leaf study?

We landed, and while we were standing in line waiting for our rental car, I told my husband about the loonies on the plane who had flown all this way to look at leaves. “Who are weird these people?” I asked, poking fun at them.

Now Seattle has mainly Evergreen trees that stay a dark green year round and don’t provide any spectacular color anytime of the year. Although they do drop ugly sharp dead brown needles that are annoying. In the mountains, there are patches of more deciduous trees that turn color in the fall and this is the place people around Seattle go to see color.

I had been into our mountains in the fall numerous times and I couldn’t even fathom someone spending money to see mountain fall colors thousands of miles away.

leafcrazies6We checked into our hotel for the night and collapsed from flying exhaustion.

Next day we were driving to Lowell and I saw this brilliant purple tree aflame in a leaf color I had never seen. It was so bright I practically needed my sun glasses.

“Stop the car!” I shouted.

Then I ran out and took some pictures and picked up a few leaves.

“Have you ever seen anything like this?” I asked hubby. “Purple leaves?”

Frankly, I ended up eating crow. We didn’t go back specifically to see the leaves, but they ended up becoming a main part of our focus. We skipped part of the conference and drove through lower Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and upstate New York just marveling in the beauty of the leaves. The sheer number of deciduous trees. The colors that were so bright and bold and so unlike trees we had ever seen clothed before.

Suddenly what the people had said and that I had been laughing at, made sense. I became one of those leaf hunting, searching, gazing people who were pulling off at overlooks to just stand and stare in awe and take pictures. I also was collecting and pressing leaves in a book.

It was so beautiful we talked about moving back east, and then a native reminded us that it only looked like this a few weeks of the year.

leafcrazies7 leafcrazies8A few days after we had landed and became enthralled with the leaves, some family flew in and we were having dinner with them. They asked what we recommended for sightseeing, and we gushed about the leaves. On and on we talked, and they looked at us with blank expressions. Clearly we were now the loonies.

“Seeing the leaves is spectacular,” I tried to explain, “like experiencing an optical orgasm,” I gushed, then blushed.

Two of them choked on their dinner and almost needed the Heimlich maneuver. My husband raised his eye brows and nodded at our daughter.

Okay, maybe I had become one of those crazies on the plane who was searching for the leaves of all leaves.

Here I was gushing about leaves, these unexpected blessing, when days earlier I had been laughing and thinking arrogant and judgmental thoughts about people like who I had become.

I think about this experience every fall and think it would be fun to head east again and see the florescent leaves, and then I laugh and remind myself not to make the same mistake again.

I am learning that it often better to just nod, smile, and maybe ask a question when someone says something I think is so outrageous that I want to burst out laughing from the ridiculousness of it all.  Especially when it is about something I have no experience with.

Yes, I am trying to remember that sometimes it is best to reserve judgement until I have tried it. Or at least learned more about it.  

Because I never know when I may join them in their ridiculousness and even later recommend it to others.


Join the Discussion: Do you have a similar experience? Have you made fun of something and then ended up liking it?

Linking up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holly Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart)