Friday, October 14, 2011

31 Days: Letting Go of Stuff

Two Saturdays ago we opened the garage for a sale. Three hours only.

It was a flip decision. It sounded fun*. And necessary.
*(It sounded fun before I discovered that we would be moving the following week, but by the time that happened, I was already armpits-deep in vintage linens and McCoy pottery.)

See, I'm the product of a hoarder and a purger. I'm also the middle child, so you can imagine the quandary I find myself in when it comes to hanging on vs. letting go.

I don't like clutter. But I also rather enjoy the feeling of ultra-preparedness.

And now, an anecdote: From the ages of 13-15, I was scary-obsessed with Teen Magazine. Though money was always tight back then, my mom understood that Caboodles and Shine Free make-up and modeling contests and those weird hot rollers made out of bendy purple foam were my love language, so she got me a subscription. I never did have most of the things I pined for, but I did have the mags, so I could pretend all I wanted.

I wore those suckers out.

I kept every issue, cataloged by date on my rickety bookshelf.

I had big plans to pass them on to my Someday Daughters, so I hung on to them.

Then I went off to college...and the purger found them hiding under my bed.

To say that I was fiercely devastated and eternally aghast would be an understatement. How would I ever show my Someday Daughters the hot pink, asymmetrical, ruffled, one-shouldered prom of my dreams? What if they needed a diagram on how to perfect the perfect shaded eye (circa 1990)?

So, years later, "the incident" still fresh in my mind, I bought a stack on Ebay. They have someone else's mailing address stamped on the fronts, but they are mine in spirit.

Now, you may wonder what this has to do with my garage sale, and I'm sort of wondering myself.

All I can tell you is that it is freeing with a capital FREE to decide that it simply is not in you to box and haul 3 different sets of vintage china and tens upon twenties of milkglass vases to your next stop in life. I started purging with reckless abandon.

I looked on with great fondness and just a tinge of wistfulness as my things found new homes.

Now, we're here in the rental with so much stuff still sitting boxed in the basement, "in storage" until we make our next move.

It's already got both of us thinking that if we don't need it between now and then, we probably just don't need it at all.

I love collecting. I love the thrill of the hunt. I love flea markets and rusty junk. I like unexpected treasures, especially when they're dirt cheap. I will always love these things.

But I am done hoarding. I'm done saving for a rainy day or for that vintage yard party that I never did throw.

The box of Teen magazines? They're still with me, "in storage", because a girl's got her limits.

I'd better find a reason to dig them out, and quick.

Now, it's your turn. What is the craziest thing that you're saving for a rainy day? We want the dirt.

*For the rest of the Letting Go series, click here.


  1. Craziest thing? Hmmm. I've got a WHOLE lotta crazy here. I need to have a garage sale and PURGE away. But I can't find my garage right now.
    I have to say here though, that I'd been saving records (and even buying them at garage sales) for a craft project that I wanted to do (5 years ago!!) and that since we've moved we've LISTENED to nearly all of them. There is something to be said for saving. Just sayin. You just never know when you're gonna buy a house with a record player in the wall.
    I would LOVE to see how to apply eye shadow though. I remember those diagrams and the practicing that went with them, although I was SEVENTEEN girl. I even had my own subscription that I paid for with my very own hard earned dollars. Word!

  2. I have a whole collection of Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High books I've saved for my daughter. She's turning 12 next week, so it's about time to bust them out! We have hauled these books across the country and back...hope she likes them! :)

  3. The purple foam rollers--I so had those! I'm sitting here cracking up (while the hubby is wondering what's up with me) just remembering the pages of Teen magazine. I always devoured it cover to cover as soon as the mailman delivered it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
    I've been loving your series just over two years ago we were in a similar situation--forced to sell due to decreased income and an expanding family. We landed in a rental for 9 months before we finally found our current home. Moving twice within a year really forced me to look at all of the stuff I had. There was no better feeling than just leaving the boxes unopened, loaded them into our car and took them to the local St. Vincent de Paul. I figured if I lived without it for 9 months, then chances are it wasn't necessary. I honestly can't say that I'm missing anything from those boxes.
    Thanks for the great series and continued good luck on your journey!

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  5. Cloth calendars.

    You know, vintage 1975?

    Obsessed with them.

    You never know when you are going to need to know what day of the week it was in 1975 when so-and-so happened.

    Besides, it was the year I was born which makes them even more glorious.

    I even have a '74.

    And most of my collection came from my grandmother's cupboard.

    Some people call them dish rags. Law. The nerve.

    So, if you see one, you know who to call...


  6. We've moved 4 times in 15 years of marriage. Not to bad. However, the past 3 moves we have moved the same 5 heavy boxes of books [and notes] from college that we've yet to unpack and put on the bookshelf. Goodness. Why?

  7. you just made me SO mad that i didn't save mine!!!! oh prom dress was going to be the huge ball gown looking ones, with a sweetheart neckline and the drapings with tulle underneath. tell me you know what i'm talking about? please? and you forgot love's baby soft for the caboodle next to the shine free. i'm a pack rat. i just in recent years through away BOXES of notes from jr high and high school. I kept every.note.passed. probably the contents of a brazillion rain forest. the even more pathetic part? i'm kinda regrettful i finally threw them out!

  8. oops, that was threw*. you had me so in 1990 i couldn't think straight.

  9. I had those rollers too. Swoon. And the prom dress of my dreams was hot pink sequined and man did I love that thing. Double swoon. Loved Teen Magazine and Seventeen. Triple Swoon. I still have the prom dresses. And all my journals from grade school. Man. those are painful to look at now! lol

  10. I had those rollers!!!!!

    My favorite thing from that era.....learning how to put my 4 shades of purple Cover Girl eye shadow on all at once.

    I can't offer you a lot of interesting dirt on what I hang onto....cause
    I'm a sentimental purger...meaning that I do hold onto things but only letters/pictures and other things that are super sentimental for me...the baby clothes and blankets...etc.

  11. I wish I was at your garage sale. :) Though we are trying to simplify life too, so I try real hard to stay away from such things. Ok, I'm going to admit it here, I have a problem of hoarding: A. Tissue paper (like the giftwrap kind, espec if it has a pretty print on it), B. Stationary (my collection goes back to my childhood, and C. Paper Napkins. There, I said it. I have this thing for paper, and I cannot seem to use it quick enough or throw it out before I find a fabulous deal on some more. Loving this "Letting Go" series. I tried to comment on your post yesterday, but my computer froze. Blessings on you and yours as you get settled!

  12. I just have to say, an international move where you pay the moving company by the pound to move your stuff will do wonders to bring out your inner-purger!! Some of the weird things that mysteriously survived that fate in our house:

    - back-dated issues of real simple magazine, but only the Thanksgiving and Christmas issues.

    - every VHS/DVD version of Star Wars that my husband ever bought (even if their so worn the audio sounds warbly).

    - an ancient typewriter that I bought at a garage sale, that happened to be manufactured the same year my Oma was born. The best part? It still works! I've even typed haiku on it while staring wistfully across our own farmland acreage.

  13. When I married my hubby seven years ago we had to downsize from 2 homes to one, so we held several yard sales and sold my addictions: Walt Disney Collectables, Precious Moments, Cherished Teddies, and misc. stuff that I collected over the years because "some day I will have room to display it and/or have kids to pass it down to." I was a little sad both during and after the yard sales, but I really do not miss any of that stuff, nor do I miss tripping over their boxes in the garage. I have to admit I found myself unable and unwilling to part with a few boxes that were packed up in the early 90's, but I know what they contain and most of them are too sentimental to give up yet (Christmas ornaments from my family, my Snoopy ornament collection, my grandmother's tea set, photographs, etc). Maybe one day I will be free of all my boxes, but for now I contentedly hold onto them and they will remain with me, even if we move, until I feel that I can truly let go with no regrets.

  14. I didn't think I was a hoarder, but this year my Mom and Dad moved to a farm. It is such a beautiful story it would make you cry. I will post it soon. But any way, they got rid of a lot of stuff from the house we lived in for a zillion years. Every time I would see them getting rid of something I would bring it to my house. Currently our garage is unable to be walked in because I have my Daddy's high chair from when he was a baby, 4 bags of my Grandma Leatherman's old clothes, A huge canning bucket, a very, very heavy owl barn ornament that my Dad is not even sure they ever had hanging in their barn and some stinking matresses I slept on when I was 8....WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Please figure it out and call me ASAP so you can fix me. Love, Becky the Hoarder

    Oh, and P.S. I also have all of my paperwork from the first 4 years of social work. That would be equal to approximately 12 LARGE boxes.

    I think I am a hoarder...

  15. A few years ago I was feeling really burdened by all my extra junk. Thus began my motto, 'if ya' don't love it or use it, lose it!' It was GREAT! I had a HUGE garage sale that turned into a free-for-all & in the end I ended up being the one that was freed. What a lighthearted-breath-of-fresh-air it was! There's a chance I may have gone to far, as we still do not have livingroom curtains, but then who NEEDS curtains out in the sticks. ;)

    I still have one pair of Pepe jeans from 1995...I refuse to give up the thought that I'll one day fit in them & of course my kids will need something to wear when they do 90's week for homecoming! :)

    Oh yeah....I may not have been allowed to wear make-up, but I had a lavender swirl Caboodle & Exclamation Perfume! :)

  16. Really? Teen Magazine. I was obsessed with it, too. I remember the adds for Long and Silky and Dear Jill advice column...what memories! I am in the middle of a major purge right now and just boxed up the fifty or so flute glasses that I've accumulated for my someday garden brunch. I don't know where all the stuff came from. Never again! I'm glad the kids are adjusting. It's a testimony to how secure they feel with you two. Have a wonderful weekend, Patty

  17. Good for you for getting rid of things that you don't use. The crziest thing I keep are the tiny tiny scraps of paper left over from making card and scrapbooks(yes I still make them by hand).

  18. My husband complains about the totes of 8 years worth of journals. Why can't I let them go?

  19. p.s. my little sister (and sometimes myself) still use those foam rollers.

  20. For a rainy day?? I'd say I just about have one of EVERYTHING!!

  21. I am almost 50 and I do have my Teen magazines from back in the day :) But I had all sons!!!

    Those milk glass vases multiply like rabbits when
    people aren't looking.

  22. I wish I was at that garage sale!

    And ps. I totally still have my purple caboodle and those bendy curlers under the sink at my parents' house.

  23. nothin' like a little move-y move to make you feel like the ULTIMATE purger!! i am SO here with ya! get this, i had a garage sale in july...totally purged and threw and made $500 bucks.then we moved a week ago and i got rid of PILES of stuff. now i'm unpacking and getting rid of TONS more because i don't want to fill our garage of this townhouse with boxes...i wanna PARK in it. so ya, i'm with you. stuff...i love it but i hate it too. ugh! i feel like going junking right now :)

  24. Books! What an obession! And clothes that don't fit me anymore as I dream of the days when I was twenty pounds thinner. :0

  25. When I saw the title I almost didn't come here. I am a hoarder. Not the can't walk around type, but the stuff it in the attic, under the bed, in the closet type. It haunts me to get rid of things that hold sentimental value. Similar to another commenter up there my parents moved from their home of 33 years and I cringed at the things they were going to sell. I brought some of it home and then what I let go I still regret. Mainly things from my childhood, toy piano, organ from my grandparents, books that I loved. (I found most of the books at library book sales and bought them again.) Guess what? I overcompensated and kept just about everything for my kids. Now my youngest son's room is overflowing from toys that were his brothers and his own toys. There is an up side. My granddaughter now drags around her mama's first baby doll. She had her first birthday picture made in her mama's birthday dress. I'm so glad I kept those items. My sister has moved around 17 times in 23 years and knows how to throw out. We've lived in this same house for 21 years. The ceiling is groaning with all the stuff in the attic. I need outside help, so I'm thinking of inviting her over to purge for me...makes me sweat just thinking of it.

    Melliocity - I kept my Sasson skinny jeans from 1977. My daughter wears them now. And I look at her and think "And I thought I was fat when I wore those things." I threw all the other clothes out.

  26. Goodness. Sorry for that book up there.

  27. I am sentimental, but am learning to keep the memory and let go of the things that clutter up our house and my head. I just saw the most beautiful photo of a bunch of little girl shoes all lined up and WISH I had done this with Hannah's shoes before I gave them away. Take photos and then - let go. So freeing!
    So glad to follow along with you with this series. Hope you are all adjusting well to your new abode!

  28. We just did the same move you did.. Sell house, move, live in rental 7 months, move again. I had a garage sale 2 days before we moved the first time & again after we moved from the rental & did not use the "stuff" that was stored for 7 months. I was in purge mode & got rid of lots of stuff, most I am very happy about. This week I went to the Goodwill in search of some photo frames to spray paint to put my kiddos fall pictures in when I just sold or hauled off to the Goodwill a whole box just a FEW SHORT months ago! So - you just never know - but I say purge anyway - It can be replaced.

  29. 1. I loved teen too. And I had those silly purple rollers. They didn't work at all on my super thin stick straight white girl hair, so you were not missing much on those.
    2. Why do I have a tub in my attic labeled "college memories" that mostly contains my sorority paddles? I could not care less about them. Yet there they sit.
    3. I am also half hoarder half purger. One day when the purger part is in charge I am going to rip apart that attic.
    4. I really like this series your doing. I can't wait to see how frugal and rental meet with your love of flea markets. I think your going to come up with some great stuff.

  30. Oh, had me at caboodle. Mine was peach.

  31. make me laugh.

    I had a caboodle AND a subscription to Teen!

    Did I know you are also a middle child? I am also the "ignored" middle child. <----Totally my OWN reference point for life. Maybe you feel differently, but seriously..that's how I felt growing up.

    Let's see...I had been hanging onto various scraps of material for YEARS thinking "I'll eventually learn to sew on a machine and will use these someday!" and years went by...

    I was still handstitching.

    More years went by...

    Still only sewing by hand and doing it very, very rarely I might add.

    I can't recall the exact moment I got rid of all of those scraps, but it was freeing!

    I also LITERALLY rid myself of everything else in late summer 2003. I was leaving Arizona and coming back to Minnesota to attend the U of M's design program. All I brought back with me was my cat, my clothing and all of my important books and photos.

    Everything else was gifted to the Flagstaff, AZ Goodwill!

    I think I'm a former hoarder but moved soo many times that I eventually just learned to let things go.

    I never missed any of it for the most part.

    I DID regret parting with many of my Mary Englebreit Home Companion mags though!

    Thanks for making me laugh!


  32. Mason jars. I have over 600 of them. (mostly in boxes) Antique and new. Some are even filled with candles.

    I also have a collection of 30 or so wine bottles. I hope someday to cover them in jute. And give them away at Christmas as presents.

    My husband hates my mason jar and wine bottle collection. As do I hate his farm toy collection! Well, I love farm toys. But not the need to have over 500 of them.

    I'm having a garage sale too in a few weekends. You won't see any of my mason jars in it. Mostly just my husband's bachelor gear. :)

    October 15, 2011 11:30 AM
    Mason jars. I have over 600 of them. Antique and new. Some are even filled with candles.

    I also have a collection of 30 or so wine bottles. I hope someday to cover them in jute. And give them away at Christmas as presents.

    My husband hates my mason jar and wine bottle collection. As do I hate his farm toy collection! Well, I love farm toys. But not the need to have over 500 of them.

    I'm having a garage sale too in a few weekends. You won't see any of my mason jars in it. Mostly just my husband's bachelor gear. :)

  33. LOVED Teen! My sister and I poured over them countless times. We even cut out our favorite models and kept them in photo books. How weird is that?! My faves from that time...lock n roll curlers (that made me look like shirley temple), Exclamation perfume for sure, the "Girl Talk" board game, Aussie sprunch spray and Rave hair spray. I can still smell it when I think about it!
    Ps, my house is in great need of purging. I also love flea market junk and save things for soirees I never end up having. It's so hard to pass up a good will never find one like it again! Right? :)

  34. Wow! So many products that I HAD to have when I was younger and now have totally forgotten about. Nice flashback!

    I'm not saving it for a rainy day, but I can't part with my childhood collection-pencils. What kid collects pencils? Me. They are in a box in our basement. They've moved with me every time I've moved and I refuse to throw them away. One day my kids might want to see all the fun pencils I collected on vacations. Maybe.

  35. We just moved into a one bedroom apartment. We are waiting for military housing... My (hoard) collection is Fiesta dinner ware. There are 2 people here, but we have 28 place settings.

  36. I swear that with every post you are reading my mind! I collected pencils as a kid. I still have them all in a box. I will say that along and along I have let my daughter have some (along with vintage Hello Kitty band-aids-seriously). My husband would say that my craziest collection is my vintage books. I just can't seem to stop. I have a huge selection of teen books from the 50s. I told him that by the time our daughter is old enough to read them, books targeted at her will be filled will all sorts of horrid things that she shouldn't read. And there is no telling at that time what sorts of things will be "acceptable" for girls to do at that age. But, I will have a whole library of wholesome books from which she can choose.

  37. Ooooohhh! TEEN magazine....and Seventeen. I loved them both. I spent my teen years in Northeren Manitoba, I mean, really, north in Manitoba so those magazines were my dream world. Everything I wanted, but just not found in the local Super Thrifty Drug Mart...or the mail order Sears catalogue.
    I saved all my dolls and barbies for my girls. All those Holly Hobbie dolls, and my beautiful barbies. Andof course, my dolls with the growing hair, Velvet and Cinnamon, were their offical names. And my girls, when I bestowed the beloved gifts to them, well, they were polite and acted nice about it, but, I guess the magic stopped with me, the poor toys were abandoned. They sadly, eventually went off to the thrift store. All that saving for naught. The memory is the key...not the item!

  38. I'm just like "E" a whole lot of crazy going on that's for sure!
    I thought I was organized but now I"m calling myself an organzied hoarder! Yep its true. Always planning for that party that never happens. I like the idea if someone needs a platter I have 5 to choose from. I'm the gal they go to when they need something.

    To be honest I'm kinda done with being that girl. I just don't have the space or my mind doesn't have the space. If I just got organized maybe I would enjoy being that girl again.

    So basically I'm holding on to anything and everything. Its amazing we can even get the cars in the garage!


  39. I'm holding onto the Village 66 (is it?) snow scene...but about to ask a few friends if they want.

    My parents live in an old family estate that has never been cleaned out in 200 years. No joke. And my mom is sooooooo ready for a place of her own--not her in-laws' in-laws. There's so much schtuff that could warrant the place being opened up as a public museum. Yet, I'm realizing that it's all nothing my mom wants to take with her, nor do I want. After helping to clean out my mother's parent's house last year, we all came to the realization that a life lived leaves a bunch of stuff that mostly only meant something to the person who no longer lives. So, purging I do! It's fairly easy for me, as my husband and I have a rule that we clean out the old around Christmas time when we're typically given more stuff.

  40. That's funny. I just described me 'to a T'. I collect, hate clutter, then purge. I find myself wishing I had NEVER thrown away my righteous "hippie" clothes from high school. I always thought I would pass those down to my kids...oh well. I'm sure some awesome kid is still wearing those Levi bell bottom jeans circa 1969 i scored at a thrift shop for 2 bucks that I patched up myself. Thanks for the memory,take care homie:)

  41. China for parties I'll never have!!!

    I *have* been getting rid of more and more. Some to donation, some I've sold - feels great to pass along cherished treasures.

    But, I still have...
    Too. Much. Stuff!