The Year We Said Goodbye to 1,000 Things

I am so happy to do my first guest post on this blog! Today you are hearing from my friend Jenny who, along with her husband, decided to part ways with 1,000 things. That's right, 1,000 things. Read our interview below. It's inspiring. Thanks for contributing, Jenny!

MGPO: Jenny, you and your husband decided to part ways with 1,000 things! Is this something you made up or is it something you heard about elsewhere?

Jenny: My husband and I have a good friend who we talked to a lot about simplifying life in general. Simplifying our food, how we spend our time, how we entertain ourselves...pretty much everything. We both could swear that the challenge was our friend's idea, but she swears it wasn't! We don't actually know where the idea came from!

MGPO: What made you guys decide to finally pull the trigger and go for it?

Jenny: We started the challenge on Christmas Day 2015. We had just come out of an incredibly hectic and emotionally tumultuous season of adopting our first child. After living apart for six weeks while waiting to be cleared to travel home from Oklahoma with our newborn daughter, we were ready to be home as a family and nest. However, we quickly realized that our nest felt a little out of sorts. We were overwhelmed with new stuff. Baby stuff, parent stuff, old stuff, new stuff. It was sort of taking over. While I was glad to be home, home felt a little overwhelming after living in a small motel room for 6 weeks! Since I had just arrived home with our daughter a week before Christmas, we made the hard decision not to make our annual holiday trip to North Carolina to visit our families. At home by ourselves with a newborn baby on Christmas Day, we decided to start simplifying right then and there. We spent a quiet morning drinking coffee, listening to carols, and making piles of "keep," "throw away," and "give away" items.

MGPO: That sounds pretty dreamy! (Says the organizer!) What was the experience like?

Jenny: We started out with a lot of momentum. The first room we tackled was the kitchen. We found so many things stashed into drawers and cupboards that we didn't even remember we had, so those were easy give away decisions. Things definitely got more challenging as we moved into different rooms, especially our closet. I started to realize how attached I was to "my" stuff. It's easy to get rid of a spatula when you have four. But a pair of jeans I paid a lot of money for five years ago and "might" want to wear again some day? A little bit harder to part with. For me, it was workout pants. "But I DO need all 10 pairs," I would whine. For my husband, it was old tools. "But I MIGHT decide I want to use this blow torch to make yard art!" Wait, what? We finally decided that the criteria would be if we hadn't used it or worn it in the past year, or, if we had to take up a new hobby to use it, it was out!

MGPO: 1,000 things is, well, a lot of things. How'd you inspire yourselves to finish?

Jenny: We gave ourselves a year to hit our mark. Some weeks we'd get rid of 50 things. Some weeks (months even) nothing would go in the pile. Some decisions took a long time. Some things even went in the give away pile only to be pulled back out at the last minute. It was definitely a process. We knew that we wanted to raise our daughter with the mentality that more is not better. We want her to love one doll really well. To have a few favorite books. To be content playing with a cardboard box AND my Iphone. We felt like we needed to set this example for her. We don't have to have everything to be happy, and if we have extras, we give them away to someone else who needs them. If we can teach this to our daughter, we've pretty much won at life.

MGPO: Congratulations on finishing! How do you guys feel now that you are done? What's the biggest change you have seen?

Jenny: As crazy as it sounds, we are ready to do it again! Or at least to keep the number growing. We both get really excited when something goes in the giveaway box. I think we've both experienced really positive changes in our mentality about possessions. Will I be more or less loved if I keep this dress hanging in my closet? Will anyone think differently of us if our daughter has two pairs of shoes instead of four? Will SHE feel any differently? Only if we make it a big deal. If she grows up thinking and believing and rocking the fact that two pairs of shoes is the acceptable norm (and is in fact one pair more than most of the world), we've pretty much won at life.

MGPO: Would you encourage others to take this challenge?

Jenny: Absolutely! Even if it's a smaller number, like 500 or 100 or even 50 things, see what kind of space you can open up in your home and in your life when you reduce the amount of stuff that surrounds you. I think you'll find it truly worth the effort.