I am a neat person. I am organized. I am meticulous with my things.
These personality traits are no match for the sheer quantity of stuff lurking just out of sight in my house. Or at least, I thought it was a house.
Six years ago, I bought our dream house. We loved it so much that we were both convinced it would be our forever home.
A huge yard that is perfect for gardening.
A nice street full of friendly faces who are always outside.
A beautiful neighborhood dotted with small lakes and miles of hiking trails.
Plus, it had tons of great space.
The realtor said it. My parents said it. My husband said it. I even said it. Until I actually moved in.
Since I lived at home previously, I didn’t need a moving truck. I wasn’t taking any furniture. We didn’t actually have any furniture. The husband of my cousin actually left our wedding rehearsal to let the delivery people in so we could have a mattress to sleep on. Our house was empty. Except for my stuff.
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As I went to place my clothes in the closet, my toiletries in the cabinets, my shoes anywhere I could fit them, I was at a loss. Not a momentary “oh, what did I walk into this room for?” feeling. I was awash with regret. Nothing would close. Nothing would fit. Towels spilled out of the linen closet which was also doubling as a medicine cabinet and a catchall for every Bath & Body Works product I had been gifted but never finished in the past decade. My house was a disorganized mess and we hardly even had the chance to live in it.
Suddenly, I couldn’t shake the fear that this dream house, this forever home was a fluke. How could I undo this? There was no receipt. There was no return policy. There was no money back guarantee.
After a teary phone call in which my mom gently reminded me that people have lived in much smaller spaces and survived, the faintest flicker of realization dawned in the back of my mind.
My house wasn’t the problem.
My clothes weren’t the problem.
My linen closet wasn’t the problem.
My shoes weren’t the problem.
I was the problem.
As I looked through my most prized possessions, I realized something. I didn’t actually prize most of what I packed. In fact, I couldn’t tell you the last time I wore most of the shoes. Or clothes. Or scarves. Or jewelry.
If I’m being entirely honest, I never wore a lot of it because tags still hung on many items. Lotions I never used. Fragrances I seldom wore. Not because I didn’t appreciate the sentiment behind the gifts but because I had held onto the items so long, wearing them was like dialing a time machine back to 2006 (Japanese Cherry Blossom, anyone?).
That is when I realized my dream house, my forever home was actually being used as a storage unit.
I don’t have all the answers now, and I certainly didn’t after that moment. Not as much as changed in the last five years as I would like. I still have too much. I am constantly trying to shrink excess in a methodical process that is maddeningly slow. But progress has been made. I once owned over 200 pairs of shoes. Now I have less than 30. I used to have more than 50 designer handbags. Now, I have cut down to less than 20. I do not have a single Bath & Body Works product in my house.
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I just have to keep going. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. It’s maddening. But as I strip away layer after layer of the things that I don’t need, I have more space to live.
And my house feels more like a home.
So Tell Me…How do you make sure that your home is a home, not a storage unit?