Why I am Giving My Stuff Away: My Journey with Minimalism

I am giving my stuff away. Not all of it. But a lot of it. Wondering why?

I moved to the UK almost 20 years ago. Not only was I 20 years younger with a lot to learn, but I came from a place where having lots of things and space to store them wasn’t an issue.

Not only did I bring lots of my stuff with me, but I inflicted my purchasing-mania on my then-boyfriend-now-husband. So many new shops beckoned me with shiny, glittering new objects that I hadn’t seen before. I bought more stuff. Stuff that would allow me to host dinner parties for 16 with enough table-ware to accommodate all of them. And I wondered, why-oh-why didn’t the UK have The Container Store to help me organize all my stuff.

 Why I am Giving My Stuff Away by UK Yankee (photo credit gaelle_marcel_Unsplash)

Organizing wasn’t the thing

Because at that stage, it was a question of organizing. Of course I could accommodate all that stuff. I just needed a plan to organize it. I turned to Martha Stewart for help. Pinterest came online and I searched feverishly for Organization Ideas. I had multiple boards dedicated to it. I found a fabulous website called IHeartOrganizing and became an acolyte of Jen, the organizing guru who would help me sort out all my board games and tv remotes with cute little baskets that slid into IKEA furniture.

British Houses weren’t the thing

But even the organizing couldn’t save me. So I started to rail against British housing. The houses were too small. The room dimensions were ridiculously proportioned (Actually, new development homes are ridiculously proportioned but that’s another post for another time!). Then along came Minnie-Sue with all the associated stuff of a baby and then child. As we needed to accommodate her stuff, I wondered how in the world our house would fit US in it, let alone all our stuff! My mood went sour and I found fault with British living in general.

I am giving my stuff away. what does a meaningful life look like?

This feeling persisted more or less until about a year or so ago. Until I stumbled upon an article by a couple of American guys who called themselves The Minimalists and I read their story. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what particularly resonated so strongly with me but I do credit them with really kick-starting an awakening in me. This awakening led me to a transformation. I began to think hard about the reasons that I felt compelled to be accumulating material items. A lot of it had to do with emulating a lifestyle that didn’t really ring authentic with me anymore. I realised that I actually had no interest in keeping up with the Jones’. Or the Smiths. Or anyone else for that matter. These things were not meaningful to me.

When I announced my epiphany to my husband, I swear he got down on his knees and thanked the heavens that I had finally come around to his way of thinking. Because, you see, he had been preaching this message all along and I wasn’t ready to hear it.

For the past year, we have been slowly purging our house of extraneous possessions. We have been practical and realistic about gifts and gift-giving. You can read a little more about this from my sister-in-law’s guest blog The Gift Of Enough at Christmas.

We have blitzed the utility room and the storage room (I know! I was complaining about space and organizing and all along we had a STORAGE room…!). We’ve purged the kitchen, the art cabinet, all the bedrooms and we’ve made in-roads into the loft. Slowly I am giving my stuff away.

I’ve sold some stuff on Facebook and I am giving my stuff away on Freecycle. Lots of stuff has gone to the charity shop. Wherever we can, we try to find a good home for things because I absolutely and whole-heartedly object to the disposable mentality of our society today. I find our local council household-waste facility a really depressing place to go!

Every time something goes out of the house, I feel a little lighter. Every time a bit of floor-space or counter-space reveals itself, I marvel at my lack of urge to fill it. Our house is slowly revealing itself to only contain things that we know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. And I am learning to fall in love again with Everything That Remains (credit to The Minimalists for this turn of phrase)

Why I'm Giving My Stuff Away by UK Yankee

I wanted to document this because as I give my stuff away, I’ve been inwardly observing how it changes me. Minimalism is slowly becoming a big part of who I am. As I have purged the physical things that no longer have a role in my life, I feel my perspective changing on other so-called ‘must-haves’ of modern living. Including technology. But that’s a blog-post for another day. The day will definitely come though! Along with my thoughts on The Myth of the Time Thief. Stay tuned…

 

 

Lucy At Home

Mother of Teenagers

Lucy At Home

31 thoughts on “Why I am Giving My Stuff Away: My Journey with Minimalism

  1. Hi Alisa. Right before reading your blog, I was reading about tiny houses. One of my thoughts was about “stuff?. Where would you put it? Now that I have been home more, I am well aware a purge is long overdue. It’s just wrapping my head around parting with my treasures. I have to erase sentimental from my brain. Thank you for your insight. I’m looking forward to The Myth of the Time Thief. XXOO

    1. I’m very happy to assist this summer! I can be pretty ruthless :-D! I’ve seen those tiny houses and the amazing flexibility inside them. But despite my aversion to having too many ‘things’, I don’t think I could live in a tiny house. I like to have a bit of (uncluttered) space to stretch myself out without touching both walls! I do think a change is afoot. I really hope it is. As a species, we cannot go on living the way we have been. There are, quite simply, not enough resources to sustain it! I always love reading your comments! xxx

  2. I agree we think we need better storage, and larger homes, and to have what everyone else has, but “stuff” is not what brings us true happiness, yes we get the temporary shopping/purchasing high, but then when that goes away we are back to where we started. Happiness comes from living authentically, being with people we love and respecting and loving ourselves. Beautifully written article!

    1. Thank you so much Mac! I know we are very similarly minded on this subject! I heard a great podcast from my internet crushes, The Minimalists. A man wrote in to say that he was trying to train himself to be able to go into a shop and resist the urge to come home with things he didn’t need. He described it as a strong mindfulness practice. He move on from the urge to buy to picking things up as though he was going to purchase them and then putting them back again. His final stage was to go into a shop, admire the beauty in an item but know that he didn’t need it. The process took him 6 mos. I think if you can get to that stage of identifying beauty but knowing the object has no utility to you then you can get a similar high. Thanks for your comment lovely lady! x

    1. Lol. One thing I will say is that it is very hard to focus on that when your life is busy with other things like…oh, I don’t know…a baby! 🙂 I think we all come to it at some stage but it has to be when we are ready. My mom is the most sentimental person I know but even she has begun to see merit in fewer possessions. But then, she has recently retired and actually has the time and mental energy to devote to it! Thanks for commenting you lovely lady! xxx

  3. We are also becoming minimalists too. It’s funny really. We lived in what amounted to an itty bitty aluminum can (a house trailer) with 4 kids for our first years together. I always dreamed of having a big house for them all to play around in. So, we built that big house. 9 bedrooms (seriously), 3 bathrooms, and all the trimmings. 4,200 square feet of bliss. We couldn’t have been here more than 6 months and it all started feeling like too much….almost like our stuff was suffocating me. It started really bothering me to see it all. So weird because we’d wanted this for so long and we’d worked so hard to make it happen. We still have the house but we no longer collect things. We put our resources into experiences now instead of objects. It’s so much more fun and much less suffocating.

    1. This is so interesting! I actually really enjoy having space around me. I just don’t like it to be cluttered with a lot of ‘Things’. I’m really interested in what you say about how you had wanted this house for so long and you worked so hard and it turned out to not be everything you thought it would be. It’s kind of a metaphor for life isn’t it? We spend a lot of time working hard to bring home money to HAVE nice things. But if we eliminate our need for the extraneous ‘stuff’ we might not need to spend so long working for that money and we free up time to enjoy life. Vicious cycle very much being sold to us by pernicious advertisers. Thanks for your comment! It’s really made me think! 🙂 x

  4. I love this idea of decluttering and giving away…I am purging my things and I need my family to jump on board. It is so very freeing. Thanks for this post. I will share it in hopes that my Mrs., she reads it and agrees! Less is more!

    1. It is definitely easier when the family is on board with everything! Otherwise it feels like a losing battle. I hope you find that you and your wife are on the same page and things move forward swimmingly! Thanks for you comment! 🙂 x

  5. What a fab post! I love reading about your journey! I don’t think I particularly BUY a lot of stuff, but I am a HOARDER. I attach sentimental value to everything (a trait I collected from my grandmother!) and then I can’t get rid of it because it’s too precious. However, we moved house 2 years ago and I was ruthless with our possessions. We gave away so much stuff to friends and family, as well as charity shops, and it felt fantastic. We moved into our new house and everything had it’s place – no clutter! Hurray! So I have made a real effort to keep it that way, and only substitute items rather than adding to the stuff we have. I have slipped a little but, for the most part, I’m really proud of our new “minimalist” living. #blogcrush

    1. Oh well done you! I bet that felt absolutely wonderful! I’ve started to use some of those heirloom keepsakes in my everday life so they end up replacing things that aren’t as precious and those are gifted/sold/charity-shopped. For me, less clutter definitely leads to a better frame of mind! Thanks for your comment lovely xx

  6. A great read Alisa and something I have wanted for our family for a while. Clutter causes so much stress and anxiety and zaps our previous time. The amount of time I spend in a day picking up toy clutter that’s not really been played with properly. The world would be a better place if we all made changes like this.
    Maybe a how to guide next for us hoarders 😉 xx

    1. Lol! A How-To Guide is a great idea Kelly and thanks for your comment! I follow a wonderful little company in the US called Fawn and Forest. They posted a blog of their little girl’s room and it was so gorgeous in its simplicity. They made a conscious effort with her toys. Sometimes I wish I could rewind and do the same!! xxx

  7. We’ve just brought a new Kallax and are busy storing, however I much prefer to give stuff away and then store a limited ammount. Life just feels nicer when things are simpler, doesn’t it?!

    #blogcrush

    1. Ah! The Kallax is the upgraded version of the IKEA Expedit isn’t it. We currently have 6 of those cube-style units in our house. Isn’t it funny that when you see them in catalogues or on websites, there are cubes that have one thing in them. Ours were crammed with cd’s and dvd’s, books, albums, framed photos, boxes of winter clothes. It’s taken a couple of years to pare all that stuff down. And interestingly, the units are always snapped up when I sell them on Facebook. I think we’re all trying to fit our lives into cubes! Lol! Thanks for commenting! x

  8. This is very relevant to me. I really hate the ‘must have’ culture of modern living. If you think about it there are very few things that we must have! I get edgy when the house is too full and I love a good purge! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

    1. Yes! Marketing and advertising is insidious. We’ve had occasion to have to live without stuff when the kitchen or bathroom has been under construction or the shower breaks. Its amazing how quickly we adapt. Thanks for commenting Sharon! x

  9. Love this! Once you get started, you just can’t stop. I cannot bear ‘toot’ and one acquires so much with children. As fast as I’m getting rid of it, it’s coming back in. I struggled for years with getting rid of stuff but losing our loft space to a bedroom meant that we had to be frugal. Now I just want to keep on but it never seems to go fast enough. The triumph of trying to sell things often battles against the will to just be rid. Shed next for us. Doesn’t bear thinking about though! #tweensteensbeyond

    1. Lol! Thanks for commenting Nicky. I totally agree about the selling vs donating! Because I have a pile of stuff sitting next to me that I’m trying to sell and actually I just want it out of the house! At least if I give it to the charity shop, I know that it’s going to a good cause! 🙂

  10. I am not a minimalist but I cannot stand having excess stuff around and regularly purge our house, although sometimes to the annoyance of my teens who swear I just randomly give their things away. I give away to charity and will also sell some things on ebay if I think they are worth a few pounds but it is never ending. Just when I reach the bottom of the house it seems to be no time before I am back doing it again. Love your story and your inspiration. #TweensTeensBeyond

    1. Oh, I know this feeling! As a parent though, don’t you sometimes look at some of your kids’ stuff and think ‘They never use that. They won’t even know it’s missing’? I try to be sensitive to this but honestly, all the little scraps of paper that lie around! When I ask Minnie-Sue if it can be recycled, she nearly always says yes. Which makes me wonder why she didn’t do it in the first place!??! Thanks for the lovely comment! 🙂

    1. I totally get that! It took me a long time to break this link. It still takes a lot of practice though :-). Good luck and thanks for the comment! x

    1. Thank you Jemma! One of the ways that I face The Buying Proposition is to just stay out of the shops! This is completely easier said than done. But they are so good at channeling the psychology that induces us to buy. And I am as susceptible to it as any other person (hello Le Creuset shop at the outlet!). It’s become easier over time and after the amount of effort we’ve put into clearing the clutter, I’ve begun to look at ‘Things’ I see in shops as The Enemy lol! 🙂 Thanks for the comment and best of luck on your own journey! xx

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