Living Large Excerpt: The Clutter of Our Lives

My book, “Living Large in Our Little House” has been described as like “having a conversation with a friend,” just as I hoped it would be. Read further from an excerpt on stuff and clutter.


Living Truth: “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak.” ~ Hans Hoffman

 “That can’t be the truck,” I told Dale as a neighbor from Arkansas pulled up in front of our split-level in Kansas City. It was 2007, and we had hired him to help us move. My aunt’s husband, Monty, had told us the truck was big enough to haul all of our stuff for the 300-mile journey to Our Little House.

It probably seemed like a big truck to him, but it was the same size truck that professional moving truck rental companies recommend for a one- or two-bedroom apartment. We had a three-bedroom house, a two-car garage, and a 10-by12 foot storage shed, all full of 17 years of accumulation. We had spent the prior few weeks going through our belongings, pitching and donating as much as we could. But at that time I believed I’d eventually have a 1,000 square foot home on our lake property, so we kept everything we loved that was still functional.

Let our experience be the road map for what not to do with all of your stuff when you’re moving to a little house.

I had, in fact, become my mother, having over time developed an unhealthy and unsustainable relationship with my belongings. By saving all that stuff, I was trying to hold onto what was left of my childhood, which had ended so abruptly at age 17 when my dad died. Also, many of the items had belonged to my mother or grandmother, or had been given to me by my great-aunt. The stuff my mom had kept for years was already in storage. I couldn’t yet let go of her things, especially, because letting go of them felt too much like letting go of her.

Most of the folks I’ve talked to who have moved to a tiny home will say tha the most challenging aspect of transitioning to a smaller space is letting go – letting go of sentimental items, collections, and overall clutter. It’s been one of the biggest challenges for me, particularly since my mother died just a few months prior to our move.

Eight years later, most of that stuff still sits unused in that building on our property. I get a sick feeling every time I open the door to that building. It continues to clutter our lives physically and mentally.

I now realize that I do not-and never will-need her good china, her dining room table set, her large, gold framed, sofa-size painting of the French countryside that she both specifically for the space above the mantel in the Wilson House (and that she took with her to every apartment afterward)………..

Read the rest of the story, get tips on decluttering and other tips, see exclusive photos of Our Little House, as well as reading the stories and seeing the photos of other tiny/small homes by ordering my book, “Living Large in Our Little House: Thriving in 480 Square Feet With Six Dogs, a Husband And One Remote…Plus, More Stories of How You Can, Too.”  

(Photo by Kevin Pieper for Mother Earth News)

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1 Response

  1. Mia says:

    so true on so many levels. I am still purging every chance I get moving from a 2100 sq ft home to my car and trying not to bleed with every bag/box that i get rid of!