by Tiffany

Tiffany lives, plays and works in sunny Bend, Oregon with her husband and 2 kids. When she isn't outside playing or dreaming about her next vacation, you can find her writing here.


To keep or to purge, that is the question

I will fondly remember the summer of 2014 as a season of purging. Just off three moves in three years and finally settled into a more permanent home, I’m finally ready to sell, donate, and gift many of the possessions I’ve carefully stored.

I am almost ashamed to admit that I have packed up 26 boxes of items and set aside a few pieces of furniture that no longer had a place in our house. It’s unbelievable that I had that much stuff that I did not need to use or want to own.

Certainly my purging included frivolous items like karate belts from childhood and the popcorn bin from Disneyland (do your children save everything, too?) but I was so determined to simplify that I literally went through every item that came through the door. Each one was evaluated with a few mental questions to decide whether or not it would stay.

1. Do I have something else that could serve the same purpose? In my case, I decided that a cooler makes just as good of a drink holder for outdoor entertaining as a fancy drink holder and so the fancy drink holder is no more.

2. Would I ever use all of these at once? In our house, three pie plates are rarely needed at the same time so we downsized to an amount we will truly use. The same goes for 16 drinking glasses or two soup pots of the same size.

3. Do I expect to have an immediate need for this? It’s been nice storing dozens of gift bags to reuse for baby showers and birthday parties, but I do not foresee using 48 of them in the next few months or the next year, for that matter.  I will rely on my free storage unit for these items.

4. Do I love this item more than the clutter it might create?  “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” is often quoted when simplifying the items in one’s home but in our case, we had too many useful or beautiful items.

I honestly agonized over parting with some pieces of furniture and home decor, but prioritized less clutter over more beauty. I have not regretted the decision.

5. Can I use this keepsake or preserve the memory in another way? I have toted around boxes of our family’s keepsakes for years avoiding the time consuming and emotional task of sorting through it.

Now determined to live well with less, I examined whether or not I would use the item or truly needed it to remember a time in my family’s life. So the cards that my mom received upon my birth and the ratty blanket I had as a child were tossed.

My late grandma’s tea cups that were lovingly transported across the Atlantic from England were put in a kitchen cupboard to use daily. I realized that there is no sense in saving items in a box because it’s just as if I never had them to begin with.

Several weeks into the great purge of 2014, I already feel lighter.

I like to imagine more boxes exiting the house over the next couple months and I feel just giddy about it.

Join the Conversation

Living the life you dream for yourself

Tim Ferriss may be known as one of the first to write about lifestyle design but I think Ralph Waldo Emerson already had the corner on that market. As the story is told, Emerson was determined to build a life around the things he loved: creativity, community, nature, and friendship. He built his home with (read more…)

Join the Conversation

Go play outside

Several years ago, my husband and I sat down to determine how to best prioritize our time and money. After identifying that we highly valued playing in God’s country, it was easy to spend money on a nice set of bikes for our family while choosing to drive 10 year old cars. This morning we (read more…)

Join the Conversation

Less waste in, less waste out

For some time, I thought that having half the garbage and twice the recycling as most of our neighbors meant we were somehow gentler on the planet. I’ve since come to find that having a full recycling bin actually meant our family was sending almost 2500 gallons of waste out of our home each year. (read more…)

Join the Conversation

How to build community in your neighborhood

Before I had children, I lived in a lot of houses where I didn’t know anything about my neighbors. Sadly, I was so busy with my own life that I wasn’t interested in taking the time to get to know them. We moved to a neighborhood full of children when we had our first child. (read more…)

Join the Conversation