I don’t like stuff.

Okay, wait, no, I like diamonds and other precious stones, and things that sparkle, but besides that, I’m not someone who holds on to mementos and feels good about it. I don’t look into my cabinets and feel fulfilled that I’ve held onto that “just in case” crap. It makes me feel tied down and unhappy.

Since I’ve moved into my house, I’ve always just sort of made do with what I’ve had rather than try to make any part of it my own. There have always been excuses as to why I’ve never bothered to save up for that new chandelier or the curtains or the Elvis-on-velvet-painting that would make me smile when I saw them. I am the sort of person who is affected by my environment, and somehow I didn’t think that having not one single room that reflected my personality would affect me.

It has.

It’s time to stop.

I’ve started the Great Purge. It’s time to get rid of all of the stuff that I have lying around that I simply do not need or want. There is a ton of it and I hold onto it because I simply have felt that I should. I know that I shouldn’t. The Salvation Army will be immensely happy to see me coming. If I were wise, I’d eBay it, but I’m not, so I won’t.

If I find anything good, I’ll offer it to you guys. (Like the laptop I’ve used twice. Talk about a stupid purchase. I need to sell that. *sighs*)

I’ve been looking into hiring painters and finding someone to rip out the carpeting. I’m allergic to the dogs and I need to get it out of here. Even if it’s expensive. I’ve picked out some paintings and some end tables and will continue to try and find some things that match my gloriously tacky tastes. Think bedazzled toilet seats as wall art. If you guys have any decorating tips or places you like to buy stuff, please, I’m all ears.

I’m just tired of looking at stuff I don’t like and thinking, “someday, SOMEDAY.” Life is way too short for that shit.

I’m famous for all-or-nothing thinking and it’s only recently that I’ve realized that making the house my own doesn’t have to be something I do all in one fell swoop. I need to start somewhere.

Because I’m worth it, too. My happiness does matter. Somewhere along the lines, I’ve forgotten that.

Simply put: I’m starting over. One bejeweled bust of Elvis at a time.

It feels fucking great.


Tonight at midnight CST, I’m ending the Pulling the David Cook for Charities Prank. If you want to win free ice cream for a year from Cold Stone, you have until then to get your posts in.

82 thoughts on “The Incredible Lightness of Starting Over

  1. environment is very important to your emotional well being. if you’re not happy and comfortable in a space, you won’t enjoy your time there. i still haven’t repainted our ‘great room’ since we bought this house three years ago, but it’s a pretty neutral color and i just hung all my shit on it.

    i actually have the paint in the garage. i just haven’t done it yet. same for the counters. i keep talking about tiling the kitchen counter. and i haven’t done it yet.

    i bet i get it all done right before we sell the house.

  2. Ahhh. I’d give my left big toe to have a whole week to myself to just purge & organize. It feels so great when you achieve clean simplicity. GL!

  3. Iam taking this challenge too looking under those stained carpets hoping there is good hardwood and installing new toilets so I can afford my water bill again (last month 3X avg household) The toughest will be the skeletons in the closets. Hold me and I’ll watch your back too

  4. Dear Aunt Becky,
    Is it something in the air? Do you have a headache as well? I dropped off a carload at Goodwill today: two bags of long, swooshy skirts, 1 box of unused plates, 1 bag of cardboard bricks (uh-huh), and 1 enormous laser printer with a permanent paper jam. I kept the white victorian SATIN nightgown only because I may be a ghost for Halloween. Motto for the month: Get the crap out.

  5. I had a yard sale this weekend then followed with a trip to Goodwill to give away everything we didn’t sell. It feels like such a huge stinking relief to get rid of so much stuff!

  6. Alleluia, Becky! Mommy’s happiness DOES matter, not just when she’s yelling or grounding them. Maybe someday I’ll get around to a Great Purge…. but that would mean I’d have to stop procrastinating, right 😉

  7. YAY on starting over!! I can’t wait to start over myself. I need to get out of my dark funk, and move away from here. Then I can make my house my own. Can’t wait to see the Bedazzled Elvis Bust.

  8. Ok, Bex, tell me how to get rid of shit that evokes good memories when you pick it up? Cause I’m looking to get rid of some shit, yos.

    We tore up living room carpet three weeks ago because it was all stained and gross and found oak hardwood that will need very little done to it to make it even more beautiful than it is (course, the house is over 120 years old…can’t wait to see what’s under the kitchen and the spare room flooring!)

    Yay purging (the stuff kind)!

  9. This post makes me want to rip my 1982 hideous faux-wood kitchen cabinets right off the damn walls. I’m so over living a kitchen with a 7′ ceiling. Could we start an AuntBeckysList for all our “treasures”?

    1. Don’t rip ’em out!

      Home Depot offers this stuff that just goes overtop, like a sticker, but looks way better!

      Or just paint them all black and change the hardware. (That is always the back up plan on decorating shows, right?”) That’ll make a huge difference. It may look like shyte, but it WILL be a huge difference. Unles they are already black (’cause I guess they are already ugly).

  10. Ha! We are exact opposites. I’ve spent my life being TOO sentimental and keeping every memento and cute piece of kitsch. Now I’m dirt broke and moving home with my folks and I’ve had to get rid of damn near everything. I was hoping to raise money to buy myself a laptop, but it turns out that the things that have great value to ME have no value to anyone else. 🙁

    Enjoy your nesting – you want your house to feel like a home. Just don’t go overboard like I did!

  11. There is clearly something in the air. My husband and I were talking this weekend about finally doing something about our supposed three season porch, (that is really a month in fall and month in spring porch, vs. a three season.) Gets way too fucking hot in the summer, and is way too fucking cold in the winter. I think we should be able to finish it pretty easily and add some square footage onto our teeny tiny house! Yay, for making him think it was his idea, right?

  12. You know what helps me want to get off my but & get rid of my saved just in case stuff. Shopping at Goodwill or Salvation Army. I’ll buy clothes, but I cruise the bric-a-brak aisles just to see that other people bought worse that what I have at home, but they were able to see that and get it the hell outta their homes. I think I can, I think I can.

    Although on 50% off day it’s really hard not to spend 50-cents on Tic-Tac-Toast just for the funny value.

  13. I’m dying to put up a crystal chandelier in my bathroom. That’s right. BATH. ROOM. But not over the tub because it would tempt fate a bit too much. And if I can’t find an affordable one? Well, that’s where eBay, a glue gun, and Michael’s come in. As the Barbie song sang to me this morning from the tv, “when in doubt, glitter it out” – and that’s really all I need to hear.

  14. Doesn’t it feel you good (that’s how my four year-old says “make you feel good”)? When we moved out of our old house, I literally threw away any box that had never been opened without even looking in them. I still to this day have no idea what was in those boxes, but I didn’t need it for the 5 years that we lived in that house, and I haven’t needed it since we moved into this one 4 years ago. I feel free!

  15. Because I haven’t told you yet this week, I heart Aunt Becky.

    You know who you are and what you want, and you do it. I’m 35 and am just now trying to figure out who I am; not as a product of my parents, my upbringing, my alcoholic (now sober) husband, or my daugheter.

    Can I please have just a teensy bit of your….what is it, exactly? Guts? Gumption? Resolve? Strengh? Kick-assedness? Whatever it is, I want it.

    And good for you for recognizing that our homes are vital to our well-being. That is one thing I DO know. If a room doesn’t make me happy (at home or at work), it pulls & tugs at me until I fix it. You go, with your tacky Elvis self!

  16. On Saturday I spent 6 hours purging junk out of my basement. I have a van load to take to Goodwill and I’m not done yet. It’s very cathartic for me.

  17. good for you! it’ll be so liberating. and since you don’t want to sell it, just have the Sal Army write you a receipt and you can deduct it as a donation in your taxes. 🙂

  18. Oh my….I am THAT person! You know, the person that hangs onto everything! Just in case….and so does my husband….Now our house does NOT look like it could be on an episode of Hoarders or anything. But if you opened my closets and drawers you would shit your pants. I have “stuff”crammed in everywhere! My closets look like the closet that Monica had on “Friends” that no one was allowed to open. Yeah, she had one closet like that. ALL of mine are like that! Wow. I MUST CLEAN IT OUT! I never look at the cards that have been give to me for special occasions over and over again, do you? Things that I have held onto just in “case” havent been touched in years! SO…..I am going to get off my lazy ass and throw this shit away! Hubs is out of town and he will never miss it!

    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    Now, I gotta get busy!!

  19. I totally get this! I just wrote a post about this. It’s like I woke up from a hormone-induced slumber, looked around, and realized I live in a shit hole! How did I not see this?! Probably because I was too busy taking care of babies. So yeah, I’m with you on this. Maybe it’s just a natural evolution of bringing aunt becky back. . .

  20. The Great Purge is happening in my house too! And just like with you, I’m too tired/lazy/whatever to go through the hassle of actually making money on Ebay, so my Salvation Army may give me my own dedicated parking spot before I’m through. I’m sure I could have made $500 on the baby stuff alone that I’ve given away. Good luck! When it’s all done you’ll feel so much better.

  21. I hear ya, and I’m in the same boat.

    You can always find sellers for exactly the kinda thing you want at regretsy.com. 😉

    Or if that’s *too* tacky, try shopplasticland.com.

  22. My mom ripped up the carpeting in the living room once because it was gross and found even grosser tile, and while they had eventual plans to put in new flooring (which only took 5 years, LOL), in the meantime she got a floor paint, which I think was actually for garages, and painted the nasty ass tile. It actually looked pretty good!

    Of course, this is the same woman who put bleach in the carpet cleaner because the carpets were gross (they turned out great!) The people before us put cheap ass carpet in before we moved in…

    I had a Great Purge when I lost the house, and a secondary purge a year later to deal with the last bits, and now large amount of random crap make me anxious. I think it’s because my ex left me to deal with the house and all the crap by myself. Which is a valid reason to be anxious of crap! Plus it makes it easier to move now!

  23. Oh, I hear you Auntie. I do. We just recently moved and I am so there. I have moved the same crap around for years and years. Its time to purge. I am tired of living with bare walls and old silverware. We even still have our hand-me-down furniture. I’m tired of living with this bachelor pad feel. I have kids dammit!

  24. Ooooh. Decluttering is one of my favorite things EVER. The process sucks, but the feeling when it’s done is so peaceful and wonderful. Yay! My four person family lives in a 2 bedroom one bath condo in Chicago, and one of the only things I excel at at housekeeping is getting rid of shit that doesn’t fit in my minuscule apartment. Go Aunt Becky!

  25. Home improvement is my therapy. My mom died in Aug. 2009, and we bought a house in April 2010… without the projects of the new house I would have been in the psych ward. I say that with 100% honesty. It is cleansing for the soul… well that and Jack Daniels, but I don’t suggest that you mix the two!

    Good luck and have fun with it!

  26. Dood. I wish I was closer…nothing makes me feel better than tossing shit. I’m a professional purger. I’d come help in a heart beat. My advice, since I can’t be there? If you have to think about it, toss it. XOXO

  27. No website suggestions from me, the shipping to Oz kills me, so I only look on Oz sites and that’s not going to work for you.

    I need to do the same thing. I need to save (now, not someday) and start fixing things up.

  28. We don’t keep much clutter. Eventually I get sick of stuff, or hate the way it looks, and it’s gotta go. My husband, however, considers me a hoarder (that should tell you something about how much stuff he likes to keep). I don’t like knick-knacks, but I have a lot of photographs and paintings from relatives. (Like so: http://razfoto.com/gallery2.html)

    What you need are a few good pieces of furniture that you like, a paint color (neutral, probably, but if you like bright, go bright) that works with the furniture, flooring that feels good under your feet (tile with the built in heating for those lovely Chicago winters?), and decoration that reflects your soul (bedazzled toilet seat and chandeliers). It’s not that hard – unless the Daver does not share your taste. Then you might have to compromise, which sucks.

  29. I am pretty much the same way, but lately I have started doing what you are doing now. Getting rid of crap (though I do hang on to the sentimental stuff that has to do with the kids) and getting a few things I actually like. Instead of just pictures of the kids on the walls, I now have actual real ART. It’s… strangely liberating. Love you. xoxo

  30. My issue isn’t that the house has stuff that I don’t want or like, it’s that I have very little stuff to fill it. Money sucks and having a financially responsible husband who keeps me in line also sometimes sucks. 🙂 I have BIG plans for the baby’s nursery now, though, I can’t wait to start on it.

  31. BWAH! I was halfway through this trying to figure out what universe I was in. I thought I had gone to Carpool Queen’s blog and couldn’t process!

  32. Good for you!

    I have always been a holder-on of stuff – not because I felt I needed to keep it but more because I’m pretty f*ckin’ lazy… Last year after a shitty few months (job loss, grandfather loss, 1/2 thyroid loss) and having a massive pity party, I decided to start purging (stuff not meals). Man, did it feel good. I don’t wake up thinking “crap, I wish I had kept the program from my grade 8 graduation”. I had fun while I did it (especially with the Barbies) and I felt like I was accomplishing something. Once a lot of the clutter/baggage was gone, I was able to start imagining what I wanted this space to be. It also reminded me that even though I had no job, I still deserved a nice place to call home. It was the most liberating thing I did!

    Okay that was too cheesy…I’m going to shut my whore mouth now.

    Good luck! Have fun!

  33. I’m down. In fact, I proclaimed last December to anyone who would listen that 2010 was going to be the year of the Minimalist – a refutiation of the consumer credit bull-rush that doomed us to our 2008 fate. There was an article profiling a rich, WASP-y New Yorker on NYTimes.com that was OK, but captured up the ideal with a great title: “The Joy of Emptiness.” Its summation was that not having to look at, deal with, and manage a whole lot of crap was in fact relaxing and not devoid of stimulation or otherwise sterile.

    1. OMG, I am going to San Francisco TOMORROW and will be checking out the store there!! I so need decor and furniture, and I’m so over Ikea! I’ll still have to order it online if I like it in person, but I liked it online and I LOVE crate and barrel stuff… Thanks!

  34. Check out EPBOT. It’s the personal blog written by Jen from Cake Wrecks and she has some of the coolest, most unique decorating ideas…lots of steampunk goodness and geeky, girly fabulousness.

  35. Yay for you! When you get done, will you come to my house? I am one that keeps everything, you know… Just in case! Hey, it has saved my ass a few times. I made the standard no-chance-in-ever-keeping New Years Resolution last year, to go through everything, and muck it all out. BWAHAHAHAHAHAAA! I got halfway through one room, and felt totally overwhelmed. We do not have a DI, or SA drop out here in the middle of freaking nowhere… Or I might actually stand a halfway chance in hell at getting somewhere. Hope springs eternal though…..

    Not too much longer… and I can use it for NEXT years resolution! *sigh* shit…….

  36. And also, because I seriously need a hobby… and I have no life……I was screwing around the other day online….. i found this…. wedonweb.net…….. So, you can virtually marry anyone…. and they dont have to even know…. So… If someone wanted to marry… oh, Dexter, lets say…. you can got there.. wa-la!! done!

  37. I will go back and read the comments, I promise.

    But I also want to add the good advice from Karen Kingston; Her clutter clearing book (although very new age) helped me get rid of stuff, and from Fly Lady (who is very much sugar coat) who says baby steps and one little thing at the time.

    Losing the stuff feels good. And it’s ok to say thnxbye to things you have loved but no longer need. Really – say it!


  38. My husband does that for me. He says it is to help me out, but I know it is just so he can get more junk. And if you need someplace to send the4 laptop you can send it here. Then I don’t have to blog from work because it blocks me on some pretty great things (at least I think they would be) like your post about gay teens~~ guess it doesn’t want me to read about it for some reason, says it is blocked as the catagory is sexual. Sexual and you?? They have got to be kidding right??!!??

    On another note I bought my girls bracelets with their names when I was in Vegas last month and I accidentally bought one that says Amelia instead of Amberly– would your little diva want it?

  39. Take it slow…one room at a time. No need to do the whole house at once. And I’m TOTALLY with you on the useless “stuff”….I’m so ruthless that I don’t even keep my kids’ artwork. Yeah. I’m a total bitch.

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