STUFF (Does it bring you joy?)

I consider myself an experienced mover.  After all we’ve moved 18 times in 33 years.

I know, we only moved less than two years ago, why in the world would we voluntarily do this to ourselves again?  Sometimes plans just don’t fall into place when you need them to and you just don’t see all the pieces at one time.  I think accepting the fact that we were indeed EMPTY NESTERS was the first big realization.  When we moved to NOVA, we bought a big enough house to accommodate our kids and our growing family (spouses, grandchildren, fur kids), and quite honestly all our STUFF.   After the first year, it became clear that that was wishful thinking and that the one place that we would all gather and congregate to was the lake but the lake cottage that we enjoyed some many wonderful years was getting smaller and smaller. So we changed our master plan to a multistep process.  1. Sell the big house 2. Rent something smaller and provide a shorter commute for hubby 3. Look at building or buying something bigger at the lake over the next couple years that we could retire to eventually 4. Sell the lake cottage when we do.  Well, numbers 1, 2 & 3 all just happened at the same time. 

So moving was definitely in our future but this time it would be multifaceted. We would ultimately downsize and merge two houses of furniture and stuff into the rental and new lake house, the goal to keep only what I dearly love and to let go. 

I’ve planned, sorted, purged, donated, sold, packed and labeled before the move day to make the moving day go more smoothly and dare I say, quickly.   However, there are a two things that I have learned from this move. One, you are never really ready and two, I still have too much stuff.  This downsizing is harder than you think.   But I will persevere.

1.        Never really ready.  Since it was a local move we were able to move all the breakables, lamps, pictures, some dishes, food and pantry items before the actual day.  This really helped reduce the number of boxes packed and unpacked.

2.       Plan where you want to put your furniture and items before you move and label rooms to make it easier for the movers on the day of the move. Be sure to mark the boxes with the same names.  I used painters tape on furniture with the room it would go into. This is especially helpful if you will be using it in another location than originally used.


3.       Sort.  As you go through your house, collect like things and pack them together.  For instance, candles tend to spread out throughout the entire house, as do candle lighters, shoes, books, tools, etc. 

4.       Get at least three quotes for a move.  I solicited recommendations from our neighborhood Facebook group and used these as a starting point.  One company was a large nationally known name, another company and the third a small local company that was highly recommended by a neighbor.  The range difference was $2000, $5000, and $7000. WHAT?   Be sure to compare apples to apples and what you really need.   Since it was just a local move, we were able to do so much ahead of time and pack ourselves for the most part. It was a lot of work but a necessary part of the purge process that I needed to go through.

5.       A word about purging.  This is a painful process that can be emotional if you let it.  You will often stop in the middle of this process and feel like you have to do something special with all the treasures you find in the boxes and crates of stuff you have kept over the years.   WAIT.  As you go through your stuff decide if you love it the way it is and it still has purpose.  Can it be repurposed? Could someone else benefit from it?  Can it be sold or donated?  Please don’t donate junk.  Sometimes things should just be thrown away.

6.       Pack. Pack. Pack.

7.       Unpack. Unpack. Unpack.

8.       A lot happens between #6 & #7 but as you unpack, relook at your stuff with new lense.  Is there a new space and purpose for it?  Chances are you will still have things that need to go. 

9.       Pocket a little cash.  Consider posting some of your treasures for sale on your neighborhood Facebook group or consider consigning or hold a yard sale.  

That’s where I am right now.  I am still shuffling stuff between a couple houses and little by little sorting through things and letting go.  It feels good.  The more I do this the easier it gets.  I still have a ways to go and my “list” of things I want to do with some of my stuff continue to get longer and longer but I will get there.  A fall yard sale is definitely in my future.

UPDATE: I had a fall yard sale.  It was a success in a $ point of view, but I could have done a lot better if it hadn’t been raining cats and dogs! I got rid of half of the stuff I wanted to, donated a good portion and hauled the rest down to the basement for a spring sale.

DOES IT BRING YOU JOY?  I am a BIG “Gilmore Girls” fan and recently watched the revival series over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I got such a kick out of the episode where Emily Gilmore, who recently lost her husband, started to go through her mansion of stuff clearly wanting to simplify.  She explained to Lorelei that she was doing what the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo says, hold up a piece, ask yourself, “Does it bring you joy” and if not, it goes.   The collection of things just sort of happens over the years.  We get busy with work, raising kids and life. But there comes a time when you really just want to live more simply and not be overwhelmed with stuff.  I don’t know if I will ever be completely done with this process, but at least I have a good handle on it.  Once you do, however, you can bet you look at the collection and storage of STUFF a little differently. You have a little more control over it instead of it controlling you.  Hopefully you will have more time and space to do the things that give you joy.

We’re looking forward to many more joyful moments like this at our new lake house with family, friends and especially our grandchildren.  Until next time, do something creative! 




  1. Glad you are getting a handle of your stuff. I did some of that this week with the toys and games I have bought for the kids over the years that weren’t used. Some were able to be retuned, some will go to ” Toys for Tots” and the smaller ones were divided to go into gift bags for great-nieces and nephews.


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