Seventy Five Percent

August 5, 2013

By Gabrielle.

We are home!

It doesn’t quite feel like home yet, but it’s getting there. And we love this house!

I feel like I’m still recovering from last week. We knew clearing out the storage unit wouldn’t be the most fun thing we’ve ever done, but I didn’t understand exactly how challenging it would be. I think I’m still processing the whole thing.

Would you indulge me if I vent for a bit?

silver bed

As a recap for those who are just now following along: When we moved to France, since the house we were renting was completely furnished, all we brought with us was clothes (plus some books and a few holiday items). So the rest of our belongings — the furniture, the plates, the bikes, the bedding, etc. — went into storage.

And because we had a young baby at the time, we decided it would be simplest and easiest to hire out the storage unit packing. So a moving team came for a day and packed up the whole house and put everything in a storage unit. And we didn’t have to deal with it at all. Which was so nice! There was no purging. No figuring out what we should store, and what we should donate. No clearing out armoire shelves and dresser drawers. Everything was simply wrapped up and put into storage as is. We essentially paid for our problem to go away. It felt like a luxury at the time. And it still does when I remember it!

We were only planning on being gone for one year, then we would find a house in Denver and transfer our storage to the new home, and settle in. Easy peasy.

But it didn’t work that way. : )

Instead, one year grew to 2 1/2 years. We moved from France to Oakland, to a semi-furnished house. And when we faced our storage unit last week, we knew that many of our belongings no longer made sense. For example, ski gear and sleds that were perfect for Colorado don’t make as much sense in the bay area. Matching toddler beds? No longer necessary.

So, we rented a smallish truck, and we reduced our belongings by 75%.

Seventy five percent. That is a lot!

green table

And it was shockingly emotional. Like going through the history of our life and marriage in a really condensed amount of time. We said goodbye to the little red cabinet I designed for our first nursery. We said goodbye to the armoire I found in New York — it housed our toys then, and my fabric stash in Colorado. We painted it twice. We said goodbye to treasures I’d found at tag sales. We said goodbye to every piece of furniture in the Napoleon Dynamite room. We said goodbye to furniture we’d saved up for as newlyweds. And not just furniture. We purged files from college. We donated books and books and books we no longer need (yet somehow we still have so many books!). We got rid of my old graphic design portfolio samples. Outdated business cards. So much stuff!

And because we didn’t pack the boxes, we didn’t know what was in the boxes, so we had to open each one and figure out if there was anything in there we needed to save. It was one of those situations where a box from the office might have our tax files (essential!), and also a half used cube of Kleenex (sigh!). Essentials had to be repacked and put on the truck. Everything else had to be donated or sent to the dump. Load after load after load went to Good Will.

A thousand decisions (donate, repack, sell, trash, decide later) every hour. One minute, I would be showing the kids the sequined glove I wore when I did a Michael Jackson lip sync in high school and we would all be laughing, and the next I would be snapping at everybody to keep-working-or-we’ll-never-get-all-this-done! And then I would have to hide behind some boxes so I could cry for a minute and pull myself together. There’s no question, I was a total wreck.

pelmet box

Of course, it ultimately feels good to get rid of so much stuff. We could feel the weight lift from our shoulders as the storage unit emptied out. But I think the amount of reduction, plus the time limits because of the truck rental (we had 3 days to get it done), combined with the actual physical work of moving boxes and furniture, left me feeling traumatized. Like I said, I think I’m still recovering. I know that technically, we didn’t have to purge, we could have rented a bigger truck and brought more stuff to California. But really, if I had done that, I would have just been putting off the work for a future date.

We finished packing up late Wednesday night, and the very next morning, we jumped in the car and started on the long drive back to Oakland. 18 hours total. Ben Blair and I could barely manage to talk about the storage unit. I think we were still processing. Though the packing and purging had to be done ourselves, we did hire out a driver for the truck. What a blessing! It was so nice to be together during that long drive home.

Our truck driver will arrive either today or tomorrow. We’ll drop him off at the airport, and then we’ll start the big task of unloading and unpacking.

Doesn’t it feel like this is the move that never ends? Hah!

When I get overwhelmed (which is often at the moment), I keep imagining our life a month in the future, when the boxes will mostly be gone, the kids will be in school, and we’ll have some sort of schedule going on. I’m very much looking forward to it.

Tell me, Friends, have you ever had to do a major purge like this? Could you get rid of 75% of your belongings? Would you find it freeing? I remember talking with Wendy of Blue Lily before they left on their first world tour — they got rid of everything but one box!

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{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

1 allysha August 5, 2013 at 11:32 am

I can only imagine the craziness! I’ve been helping my sis get rid of stuff as she heads off to school in London, and it’s hard to sort through everything. Although, as we packed a van full of stuff for good will my other sis and I commented that there was something so appealing about getting rid of stuff!!!!

I hope you recover quickly and that you have a little time for a good nap, a nice long bubble bath, and some good chocolate. Good luck settling in.


2 bliss August 5, 2013 at 11:42 am

man. all i’m working on is a yard sale and i’m beat.
i can’t imagine going through our whole life and sorting it out.
hope you feel better soon. california will be beautiful and special for the blairs.


3 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Best of luck on your yard sale! I was longingly wishing for a well-planned out yard sale last week. I’m jealous. : )


4 Amy3 August 5, 2013 at 11:46 am

Wow, 75% – that is huge. We had a storage unit for several years and although it held far less, it was still an exercise when we emptied it. Lots of wondering why we’d chosen to keep certain things, angst at deciding to part with others, and then figuring out where what we did want to keep would go in our very small apartment.

This also puts me in mind of when my dad moved out of the house I’d grown up in. My siblings and I all pitched in to help sort through over 25 years of accumulated memories and mementos. It’s definitely not easy work. You’re right, though, it will all settle down in time.


5 Danielle August 5, 2013 at 11:50 am

I think you deserve to vent after all that – wow!! I did a major purge once, before moving to England. Not nearly as much work, since I didn’t have children yet. Although it sounds exhausting, I hope it was equally cathartic. Getting rid of stuff sometimes allows for better things to enter your life. And either way, unpacking will be a breeze in comparison! Take care. xo


6 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:13 pm

“Getting rid of stuff sometimes allows for better things to enter your life.”

I really love that thought.


7 Danielle August 5, 2013 at 11:51 am

I think you deserve to vent after all that – wow!! I did a major purge once, before moving abroad. It was difficult physically and emotionally, but not nearly as much work since we didn’t have children yet. Although it sounds exhausting, I hope your purge was also cathartic. Getting rid of stuff sometimes allows for better things to enter your life. And either way, unpacking will be a breeze in comparison! Take care. xo


8 Jennifer August 5, 2013 at 11:52 am

So so freeing and so so heartbreaking is how I imagine it’d feel for me and how it seems to have felt for you.
You spend years buying and building up the things you want but then you have to clean them, store them, save them year after year. I joke about moving to an empty house and leaving all the stuff behind. But I’d hate it as much as I’d love it.


9 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I know what you mean. Ben Blair and I looked at each when we first opened the storage unit and confessed that we we both had secretly hoped everything had been stolen and therefore we didn’t have to deal with it.

Obviously, that would have been traumatic in its own way, but a relief as well!


10 Kpriss August 6, 2013 at 12:29 am

wow! Now that’s honesty!
I think it is as connecting as it is exhausting and drawing the line, you get more pros than cons but I admire you and your Husband for taking the time and the patience to do this. Together. One of the aspects that’s less taken into consideration but SO important! (the togetherness)

Fingers crossed for everything to get back to normal as soon as possible. But oh, what an accomplished feeling that will give!


11 Sandi September 29, 2013 at 8:42 am

I know what you mean about the burglary – I sometimes have a similar thought. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of my life worried about losing everything in a fire, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve done a 180 on the fear and am at a point that I realize as devastating as it would be to lose cherished mementos, it would be the easiest and quickest way to free me up from the burden that is possessions. It’s hard to know where the line is between owning possessions and being owned by them! I married a minimalist 10 years ago and I am slowly embracing that philosophy and loving it.


12 ellen patton August 5, 2013 at 11:55 am

I got rid of a lot of stuff 25 years ago when I moved to Boston. I don’t think I can get rid of 75% of my stuff here. And I hope to never move again. But…I can’t take it with me. :)


13 Mary {My Life in Scotland} August 5, 2013 at 11:58 am

For this purpose I don’t own a lot of stuff. We are getting ready to move and I’m purging. A lot. I don’t like “stuff” and I don’t identify with it. I used to pride myself on everything I owned fitting into my car. Now with a toddler I can’t say the same thing but still…I don’t like to have a lot of crap. It feels really good to cut of the crap before moving. Its time.


14 Summer August 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Dude, this post had me choked up. I’m so emotional about *stuff,* and I don’t know why. I always remind myself that nothing lasts forever, and it’s either donate it now, or have random family members chunk it when I die.

That being said, I just finally went through and put all my previous drivers licenses, student IDs, ticket stubs, etc into a book. I was like, “Wait, my whole life doesn’t even fill a notebook? Womp woooomp. ;) Good for you for purging!


15 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Thanks for feeling emotional with me, Summer!


16 cath August 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Good for you! I need to do the same thing, embrace the whole “less is more” philosophy! Do you miss France at all?


17 Erika August 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Big Hugs!!! Over the past year, I’ve purged about 75% of our things – maybe more. We live in a small beach bungalow by the sea (Southern California) – and we have three kids, a big dog, and a little cat. I was feeling overwhelmed and cluttered, so it all had to go. I was ruthless – RUTHLESS – and yet there is little I miss. I got rid of 90% of my kids’ clothes (I have girls and they had an amazing wardrobe) – now it’s much easier for them to find something to wear from their very limited wardrobe. I got rid of so much – books, papers, furniture, you name it… It hurts for a bit, but I did take some photos in case I want to look back at something to remember. Also, when I purged the toys, I got rid of about 90% of the kid toys (my kids are 6, 4, and 1 – so this was a big deal for me) – anyway- I accidentally got rid of my then-three year old’s favorite stuffed animal. she was heartbroken he was “lost” (I did not tell her he was donated). But- Ebay to the rescue, and she later “Found” that lost lovie under her bed. ;-) When I was 20, my house burned down with all my belongings in it (I lived in San Francisco at the time)- so anyway, I guess it’s not the first time I’ve purged. It’s always a good thing to travel light. :-)

Here are some blog posts I wrote about that:



18 Christine August 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience. I read your posts and they are close to me.

Fire (not my own but neighbours, although we suffered extensive water damage) and moving.

I love the look of uncluttered homes & the ability to keep things neat and tidy, I need to improve my discipline on not accumulating stuff (crap).



19 Christine August 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I don’t mean to make light of your fire experience. I didn’t explain it well, my neighbour lost everything. What we experienced was horrible, but I can’t even begin to imagine what you went through.


20 Zoe - SlowMama August 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm

That process, right on the heels of arriving back state-side, must have been exhausting on so many levels. You are so resilient!

Our purges have been a little less dramatic, but I’d say we got rid of about 1/3 of our things over the past six years, with more to go. It can be so hard to let go of things, though I really believe that when we purge, we create more space for creativity and newness, and that’s exciting.


21 Darcee August 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm

After ending a 9 year relationship with my kids’ dad, I packed up my 3 kids and my parents and moved out of state. From split to move date was less than 3 months. I purged and purged and purged. I only took beds/linens, 2 dressers, a washer and dryer, clothes for all of us, books (both mine and the kids), and my oldest sons bike. There were some other odds and ends, but it wasn’t much. Arriving at the new house, I realized how little I had really brought. It seemed so empty. We didn’t even have a table to eat at!! A few months of searching Good Will, Deseret Industries, and other assorted thrift stores, we finally had at least the essentials. 5 years later, another move to a different state looming over me, more purging. I had the time and luxury of not having to downsize so extremely this time.

That first move was very difficult, and fraught with emotion. Looking back, I realize how necessary and symbolic all of that purging was. I was leaving an abusive situation, and starting a new life with my children. Letting go of “things” was good for me.


22 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm

“Looking back, I realize how necessary and symbolic all of that purging was.”

Oh wow. I can only imagine. How great a fresh start must have felt after an abusive relationship!


23 Lisette Wolter-McKinley August 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Sounds both daunting and exhilarating!


24 Karen August 5, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Wait, did you get rid of your ski gear?!? What about winters in Lake Tahoe or Mammoth Lakes???

We have moved about every 5 years and usually do a fair bit of purging prior to each move. This last one was the hardest because we had lived in a house and had a baby during that 5-year stint. Purging and packing are hard to do with a toddler/preschooler underfoot! My hat is off to you for the tremendous amount of work you just went through.


25 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

We thought about Tahoe (I don’t even know Mammoth Lakes — sounds awesome!), but really, the kids grow so fast, that we decided renting makes more sense. And frankly, we eventually ran out of room in the truck!


26 Donna Thompson August 5, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I will be that way someday. I have lived in our house for 26 years (with 6 kids) so because we haven’t moved there is alot to ‘purge’ as you say. Plus the grown up kids could take their stuff and that would help some :)


27 Winter August 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Wow! Emotionally draining is all I can say. No wonder you’re a bit traumatized from the experience.

I actually watched this TED Talk the other day ( and was fascinated by the idea of getting rid of all your stuff. I’m not sure if I could do it, but the idea keeps calling my name.

Glad you’re home!


28 Sneakysnap August 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm

What is painful now in the short-term will prove to be liberating in the long-term. Several years ago facing a transatlantic move of our own, my husband and I reduced our belongings to 15 boxes. It was laborious and exhausting. Unlike you, we did it over the course of six months (three days does sound daunting). But like you, the agonizing decision-making never seemed to end. Fortunately, recovery is very fast. In less than a month after the final purge, my husband and I had started our new life, and got busy filling it with–instead of stuff–lots of memorable experiences. I quickly forgot about our possessions. When we eventually came home to our 10 boxes a year later, even those items we felt were important enough to keep, paled against the year we had just had. We edited some more and reduced those the pile by an additional 50 percent. It has made us more agile, and less afraid. Four years later, we are fierce editors of our possessions. Our rule is to not acquire anything today that we couldn’t cast aside for adventure tomorrow. A few months ago this essay about living with less appeared in the NYTimes, and I’ve adopted the author’s closing line as my personal mantra, “My space is small. My life is big.” Design Mom, although you are hurting now, know that your life is big.


29 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm

“Design Mom, although you are hurting now, know that your life is big.”

So sweet! You absolutely made my day. Thank you for the kind words.


30 Jody August 5, 2013 at 12:32 pm

You know what? I am doing it today (the purge). We’re moving to a new province next week, with our 4 and 5 year olds. My house is chaos, each room, each cabinet. I have made big money on craigslist, have donated trunk loads of things, and felt my heart both heavy and light. I am very surprised at the emotional reactions I have – and don’t have – to things going out my door. I am a ‘change disliker’ and have walked a long emotional journey to this place – I would NEVER move if it were solely up to me, but its not. I am finally seeing my anger/frustration/dread turn to a little bit of ‘well, maybe this will be an adventure after all…’. I suppose it feels good? I am still trying to decide (I suppose I won’t have a real answer to this until we’re living our new normal). I can identify with the processing. And the hiding behind things to have a quick cry. :) Congratulations on your purge! It DOES feel good to live with less but those memories are a kicker, aren’t they?


31 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Fist bump of solidarity, Jody! You can do it.


32 Sherri August 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I totally understand your need to vent and to feel a bit emotional. I remember having my kids one right after the other – so close in age – so little time to prepare for each baby. When I was pregnant with my last – a girl (now starting kindergarten in the fall :( – I got rid of some boy stuff – with…. um ….. mixed feelings. Like you, felt SO good to purge and lighten the load, but… I still remember seeing the pile of donated clothes – with a little striped polo on top that both boys wore – burned in my memory – driving away from that pile – and the painted blue dresser given to us by friends when we had the first boy – the toys that occupied my sweet toddler boys’ and wouldn’t interest a girl – all that familiar “stuff” – gone. Every now and then, I rant at my old 3 story city Victorian (circa 1900) that there is no storage – the house made me do it – get rid of baby memories :). Anyway…. sounds like you have an exciting new chapter ahead, though – can’t wait to see the post on that beautiful house!


33 Sunny Day August 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

We are newly weds and just moved and got rid of 40% of our things… We already lived together, but we had kept things from our separate homes: like dishes, furniture…in case, we decided to split… Now, we gave everything to good will…
It felt very freeing and awesome!

Well, the other 50%, we actually use and we must have 10% of things that we didn’t manage to get rid off. Still attached to things we don’t use….

But I remember helping my parents move to a smaller house…It took 3 months and lots of tears and reviewing the past… it was beautiful and tough at the same time! Bravo for you for doing it!


34 Robin Kendall August 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I purged a lot during my move last year. But I did and do feel lighter now, since I kept only things I really use and really love. Your job in 3 days sounds overwhelming – wish I could give you a hug!


35 Erin August 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm

We moved across country last summer, and purged quite a bit. This year we bought a house and moved again. I love the paring down moving forces you to do, but it is so stressful and tiring.

PS: I am positive you were much more graceful about it than I’ve ever been. Good luck over the next few weeks.


36 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I appreciate you picturing me being graceful, but I promise, I was far from it. : )


37 Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke Photography August 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Oh wow, You’re back!!!! I enjoyed the snippets of France (and still trying to convince my husband to try it out for a year since he was there on his mission) and can’t imagine the 75% cleanse, but I’m sure it feels great! You did take pictures of the Michael Jackson glove, didn’t you? Pictures make it seem a little less hard to let go…


38 ABBY August 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I understand this. I am still working through the trauma of moving 9 months ago. Somehow with kids and a renovation, it practically sent me over the edge. It does get better. And with less stuff to deal with that will help the transition be a quicker and less painful one over time. I wish you all the best settling in to your new home and town. xo


39 Erin August 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I think I would be a huge jumble of emotions too. We recently moved and brought almost everything with us. Now, I’m going through boxes of baby clothes that we no longer need; which is sad in some ways. In other ways, I walk into the storage area of our basement and see box after box…only to wish we could finish the space and make it useable as a craft room/guest room.

I guess what I’m saying is that I feel you. A three day purge would be exhausting on many levels. Hang in there, dear!


40 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm

The baby stuff. It’s brutal! The questions of how much to keep, and the whole idea of the baby stage being over and no longer needing those items.


41 Christine August 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm

This will be me in about 12 months’ time. Moving from England back to Australia. We left Australia for ‘ 2 years’ in Europe 2 months after we married. Six years, and two children later we’re preparing to return ‘home’. What do we want to pay to ship home? Is our family complete, do we need all our baby stuff? What surprises will we find in or storage after 6 years, for sure what was important at that stage in our life probably won’t be now….. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. I have no idea where to start.


42 Design Mom August 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Oh. That’s rough! 6 years is a long time. I know what you mean about not knowing where to start. I wish I had good advice for you!


43 Tiffany L. August 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm

We have moved every couple years, and the psychological trauma of closing out a chapter of life is so difficult, something that takes me a few weeks (or months!) to shake. None of us want to be looked at as materialistic, but our stuff helps define who we are and what stage we’re at in our lives. Weeding out baby clothes and miniature rocking chairs and favorite old toys and college mementos always tears at my heart. I never regret the outcome, but oh, the process can be so painful. Best of luck!


44 Heidi August 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I wonder if your emotions are to do with getting rid of the baby stuff. I know when I realized that I wasn’t going to have any more babies, (I have 5 and miscarried the 6th at 41) I was really emotional about getting rid of the baby stuff, because it meant no more babies. I did keep the really good toys for the grandchildren, though, and after awhile wondered why I had all those other toys. Since then purges have been easier, so hopefully this will be the case for you as well. (or, you could just keep having babies. Yours are all very beautiful, and you’re still young, aren’t you? ;)


45 Kimberly August 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Oh, the emotional roller coaster you have been on! 75%! Amazing!! The excruciating work is (hopefully largely) over, and I can only imagine how wonderfully light you must feel now. But, oh, being in the midst of those 3 days…I feel for you.

We just moved from Kansas to Tennessee. We had 5 weeks and 4 days from the day my husband got the job offer to the day we needed to drive out of Kansas. We really wanted to sell our house as opposed to renting it, so in addition to purging and packing we needed to stage and show the house. Thankfully we had a large unfinished space in our basement where we could pile our stuff, so we saved the expense of a storage unit. We decided to move ourselves, and when the 26-foot UHaul filled up, thankfully we could rent a trailer to put behind it. Between the truck, the trailer, the 2 cars (1 shipped as husband drove the truck), and many, many truckloads of things to Goodwill and the dump, we barely managed to fit the stuff in. As we made our final walk-through of the house I had a sinking feeling about a large cabinet next to our fireplace, and sure enough, it was FULL of old mail and various papers we had stashed during frantic house cleanings. Thankfully it only took about 20 minutes to go through and reduce it all to 2 tote bags. We purged lots of things before the move (I identified with much of your description of the process), but still we have SO MUCH STUFF. We are renting for a year while we try to find a house, and I am determinded to move out of this house with fewer boxes than I brought in. After the really very not fun process of trying to fit all of our stuff on the truck I am ready to get rid of the stuff!! I will use your 75% as an inspiration!


46 Kimberly August 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm

you’ve been through so much.
on tough days i remind myself, “i can handle today”.
i must admit, when we moved to colorado from napa i had hoped my husband would agree to just sell/donate everything but our bikes and drive out in our mini cooper…instead we towed the mini behind the moving truck.
sometimes starting over is so freeing.


47 Mrs. LIAYF August 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Oh, Gabrielle. I feel for you!

I grew up in a military family, and we moved every 2-4 years. And, my mom did a major purge every year we moved. It was always traumatic to part with things imbued with memories. But, it was also a bit refreshing to get rid of “stuff” that was no longer needed or wanted. We learned to focus on the important things that we really truly loved. I still have a few items from my childhood, and those are the most treasured . . . . although I do wish that my mom would have let me keep a bit more. :)


48 Lynnette August 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I still have dreams about finding a hotel room or something that I was storing stuff in and forgot about and now have to clean it out in a day and PAYING THE BILL…..I am in the process of emptying a three car garage of “stuff”….my daughter accused me of hoarding but the reality is the emotion of it all….I am so feeling your experience. Hang in there


49 Kem August 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm

We decided to put our house on the market, went threw everything and got ride of about 30% of what we owned. Boxed up about another 30% so our house would be uncluttered for potential buyers. 2 weeks into selling our home we decided that this house while small as it is, was where we wanted to be. Clearing out all that wasn’t needed allowed us to breath. Now I have the boxes in the basement to go threw. Thinking I might wait for school to be back in.


50 amy j. August 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm

While I can’t imagine having to do it that quick, I can imagine the purge feeling both good and bad. Sentimental things from life, such as letters etc. would be hard if not impossible for me (we have BOXES of mementos). However, furniture (unless it’s a family heirloom and treasured antique)…nope. And just general stuff? Nope. I let stuff go frequently. I keep things but when I’m done with them, I’m done…no hesitation. We are in the process of deciding whether to build a new home or stay, forever, in the one we are currently in (meaning we pay it off and retire here). Either way, our lives will be purging in the very near future (a year or so) to make way for the future of lives with growing kids (middle and upper elementary) and two middle age parents who forsee a future of less is more! ; ) Enjoy your fresh start!!!


51 Angela August 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm

For me, how I feel about purging is really a reflection about how I feel about the move. I’ve moved cross country several times (East Coast to West Coast, back to East Coast and finally back to West Coast). For the moves I didn’t want, every single item I got rid off was this sad reminder that the life I had was over. With this last move, I cried non-stop through the entire purging process. There was no sense of accomplishment only a deep, deep sense of loss. For the moves I was excited and happy about, purging was easy. I was making room for new and exciting things. Goodbye, old stuff weighing me down! I won’t need you in my new, exciting life. Hurray, my entire life will fit into a handful of boxes!

Be gentle with yourself. Change is exciting, but it isn’t always easy.


52 Stephanie August 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm

We’re a military family and so we move every 2-3 years. While our things have increased (as we’ve added 2 children), every move forces a big purge. It is also so difficult for me to buy big items – furniture, art – because I never know if it will fit in our new house. I know that I am guilty of hoarding little knick knacks for decorations, but it honestly would be freeing for me to get rid of them. My struggle is keeping our home a home when living in a white walled world.


53 Elaine Ellis August 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm

I am so devastated to have missed your Tweet about your storage sale (I live in Boulder). I recently cleaned out so much stuff on a “cleancation” and I dropped off four bags of clothes at my sister’s house. She was so incredibly excited and I freed my life up that it inspired me to get rid of more.


54 Damaris @Kitchen Corners August 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I keep telling myself that we need to move to a bigger place so I can have a bigger home office but then I remember our move back from Brazil and I throw that want out the window.

Moving is sooooo hard. So hard.

We also moved to a furnished place in Brazil and left our stuff in storage. Coming back was overwelming. Why did we have so much stuff? We were able to survive fine and happily with so little when we were gone I felt all sorts of emotions (guilt, mad, disgusted, greedy) when I saw everything that we owned. We left my most prizes possessions (cook book collection) at my husband’s aunt’s garage. The rats at through ALL of the boxes and I basically had to throw all of my cookbooks away. I’m still traumatized from that move and it’s been over a year.

It does get better though :)


55 Erica August 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm

We move into our new home at the end of this month after living in a small apartment with only a fraction of our stuff, for a year. We also had movers pack all of our things and put them into our storage garage. I’m not looking forward to going through it all, after putting it off for a whole year! I have 3 kids and I know that there’s a ton of toys that we’ve done without that can be sold or donated. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us! You’re an inspiration!


56 Karin August 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I think it’s wonderful that you involved the kids in your purge. It seems important to me that kids get to see how unnecessary so much stuff is — that we don’t have to take it all with us. It lightens the load of a life to learn to let go and move on. Congratulations on your accomplishment! I hope you get some nice R&R at home soon.


57 julia g blair August 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I’m inspired to purge!!!! Thanks millions. Do get some rest. Love you all!


58 Smee August 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm

After Dad died, the task of cleaning out my parents’ house was left to my husband and myself…then it was burglarized and vandalized, which made the scene and task SO much harder!
The positive thing it produced was motivating me to rid *my* home of unneeded things. All our kids are grown and out – the time to purge is NOW! I do not want my children to have to experience trying to toss out or keep their parents’ life long collected “things”.

I have found that as things are disappearing from my own home, I am much happier. There’s more air, more space to think and breathe, my life is simpler and more relaxed.

It’s true what they say, “Less *is* more!”


59 PH O'Neill August 5, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Boy howdy, that sounds like a trip on the emotional rollercoaster. Good for you for sticking with the smaller truck and doing what needed to be done to move forward. I live in a tiny apartment with my husband and two kids, so I edit just about daily and go deeper regularly. It’s hard enough in those smaller pockets; it must have been truly brutal for such a big load to deal with.


60 Megan M. August 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm

I’m about to face this very problem, only on a much smaller scale. We’re moving two blocks away and have two weeks to organize it, but we’re downsizing so we’ll have to get rid of a lot. On the one hand, I’m excited, because we really need to get rid of some stuff and it will make moving so much easier. On the other hand – yikes. It’s a lot of work.

What you had to do sounds super stressful! I would have cried a lot too. I may cry over our stuff as well!


61 Kathie August 5, 2013 at 6:23 pm

We got rid of at least 75% when we moved to France – Albertville, located in the Alps. The hardest part was giving away our son’s rocking horse that was given to my husband as a little boy. Even though we gave it to my husband’s brother, it really hurt. However, we learned a big lesson: it’s only stuff. People matter; stuff comes and goes over time, even precious family heirlooms!


62 Diana August 5, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I know how you feel we moved from Pennsylvania about 8 years ago to Florida. We have had a storage up there and decided it was time to stop paying for it. When I saw it I cried how was I going to get this all done in 3 days well it got done but took us a week . There were days that you could have heard a pin drop. The stress of having to open every box was bad so when i came home i went right for the closet and decided I was not keeping stuff I had no idea if I was going to use. I now have a empty closets. Still recovering from that trip


63 lilcg August 5, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I think about this a lot. my grandparents were survivors and came to this country after the war with my father and my aunt (both very young children) and a trunk with all of their belongings. they settled in chicago and lived there for 38 years until they eventually moved to arizona. when they moved to arizona they sold or gave away 38 years worth of furniture and belongings and took with them only what they could fit in that same trunk. I wonder sometimes, as I look around my house full of books and art and toys, whether I could do it.

my father wrote about the trunk and about memories and things:


64 Janelle August 5, 2013 at 8:33 pm

That is simply beautiful.


65 Grace @ sense and simplicity August 5, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I’ve been reading about all the things you’ve been doing over the past few weeks and wondering when you would crash and burn. I would have been sitting in a corner moaning (just kidding – or maybe not) with all the stressful events you have gone through – moving, saying goodbyes, speaking at a conference, setting up a new house, sorting through and getting rid of 75% of your goods – YIKES. Good for you for being able to put one foot in front of the other and still hug your children and talk to your husband. Onward girl!


66 Khali August 5, 2013 at 7:56 pm

We recently moved house and went through the same process – mostly because our previous house flooded and ruined most of our possessions. I can empathise with the emotions such an experience brings. We’re further down the track and I can honestly say you’ll be delighted soon.


67 Kristen N. August 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I’m from New Orleans and my dad lost everything in Katrina. His house was covered in water for two weeks. We were blessed to save a few precious items and the rest was lost when the house was demolished. He says Katrina was the best thing that happened to him because it made him see what’s really important. To quote him: “most people die and their stuff lives, but my stuff died and I live!” So freeing.


68 Vera August 7, 2013 at 3:50 am

Love his attitude, thanks for sharing!


69 jessica August 5, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Gabrielle I know EXACTLY how you feel. We are on the reverse end. We are moving to France and getting rid of things before we go, simply because we can’t take them with us and the home we will be renting is fully furnished.
I can relate to your post so much. So many memories flashback as you go through items in your home. I have just come to realize that I need to live in the NOW and cherish those memories of the past but learn to let things go. I found it helpful to take pictures of items that meant a lot to me but I could do without. Good luck in the settling in!!


70 Sally from Little Hiccups August 5, 2013 at 8:15 pm

When we moved from Australia to Berkeley we had to get rid of huge amounts of stuff. We were moving from a three bedroom house with lots of storage and a huge garage to a tiny 2 bedroom apartment with very limited storage. After purging our home of all the things we knew we wouldn’t need we were still left with a lot of stuff. A lot of this came with us but there were still a lot of things that we knew we couldn’t take with us, from electrical items that wouldn’t work in the US to items of sentimental value that we just wouldn’t have room for. I didn’t want to dispose of any of this so I organised to have it put in storage. Our move was quite rushed due to my husband’s work and I had to do it all myself (he moved over 3 months before the kids and I). There was too much work for me to do on my own so I hired movers to do it all. The one company did it all – packed up our belongings for storage, packed up our belongings to be shipped and then shipped it. I watched over the packers like a hawk and had marked things as best I could for either storage or shipping. Unfortunately there were a lot of mix ups. Months later when our shipment finally arrived in Berkeley we discovered just how much of a mix up there had been. Items that we just didn’t have space for had been shipped by mistake. Many of these were of sentimental value and we had to try and make room for them as I didn’t want to throw them out (old framed photos, my kids’ beloved baby toys, beautiful saris from our trip to India etc). Electrical items that we couldn’t use here such as my brand new (but now completely useless!) food processor had been shipped. We ended up throwing out so many electrical items as we couldn’t use them, couldn’t sell them and had no space for them. As well as all of the things that came by mistake there were plenty of things that were put into storage in Australia by mistake. We moved late in the year and had not brought any Summer clothing in our suitcases. As the new year progressed we discovered that all of our daughters’ Summer clothes had been sent to storage by mistake. We had two very upset little girls on our hands when they found out that their favourite dresses hadn’t made it. All of my craft supplies had gone into storage by mistake. That was the worst bit for me! We managed to get the shipping/storage company to send some items over to us however they wouldn’t take anything back.
If we’d had the time I would’ve much preferred to do all the packing myself. That way I’d know for sure that everything would be going to the right place. At the time it seemed like a great idea to have someone else do it all but in the end it just made things harder.
Oh, and when our belongings arrived in Berkeley I too had the pleasure of unpacking a half used box of tissues!


71 Janelle August 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Oh Gabrielle, my heart and nerves hurt for you. I am traumatized every.single.time I move. I’m a wreck whether I’m going across town or across the country. And, usually, I come down with some nasty illness about a week later (I assume from the stress-assault weakening my system).

When my 1st husband and I went our separate ways, I left CA to come back to CO. I had a newborn (who is about to turn 15!) and a small truck. I went thru the house ruthlessly in 2 days and took only what I truly loved. I had enough furniture to set up house on my own, but JUST. I also felt so free from STUFF as I drove away and then arrived and unpacked.

I would bet the limited time frame and limited truck space is actually a hidden blessing – if you had had more time or a bigger truck you would have had the luxury of lingering over items and being a bit more sentimental. You would have kept more, and felt less of that weight lift.

Blessings on you and yours for the ability to settle in, and the emotional rawness to ease quickly. You’ve done SO much in the last few weeks – you all deserve a bit of boredom for a bit.


72 Jody August 5, 2013 at 8:36 pm

It’s so funny how objects can have such power over our lives. I’m a huge fan of ‘purging’ and love to travel lightly. Even so, occasionally I come across an object that brings me back to a time and place and the feeling is completely overwhelming, like a brick in the chest. That said, those seven flesh and blood blessings you are traveling are all you’ll ever need. Best wishes!


73 Mara August 5, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Three words: Alameda Flea Market.


74 Emily August 5, 2013 at 8:57 pm

You might regret getting rid of your ski stuff! There’s tons of skiing just a few hours from Oakland. The season can be hit-or-miss, but plenty of Bay Area folks have ski leases they visit every weekend in the winter. That’s the beauty of this area — surf on Friday, wakeboard on Saturday, ski on Sunday. :)


75 Kelli August 5, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Congrats on accomplishing all of that so quickly! We recently had a somewhat similar experience, and while it was nowhere near 75% of our belongings, it was a lot and it was seriously emotional. I simultaneously love and hate my relationship with “stuff” because I’m just so sentimental. The problem was that each item was so much more than the sum of its parts to me. A vase from when I was born was really a memory of my long gone Grandfather. A collection of football mums (I’m from Texas; they are a big deal here) was high school all wrapped up in a box. We made so many trips to Good Will. So far, I’ve really only missed/regretted tossing a few things. That’s not too bad, really. Best of luck to you in your new home! You are so right – in a month, it will all be a memory as you ease into a completely new routine. P.s. long time reader, first time commenter. Your stories often touch me, but this one just really resonated with me.


76 Emily August 5, 2013 at 9:10 pm

My husband and I went from a 3-bedroom house with a 2-car garage in Phoenix to a 21-foot Toyota Dolphin motorhome to a 1-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.

It’s amazingly freeing to get rid of most of your stuff — because that’s what it is — stuff. Of course there are the sentimental objects, which I’d hold close to my heart, revisit the memory, and then let the object go. But I’ll always keep that memory.

You really don’t need much to be happy.


77 Junglewife August 5, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I know where you’re coming from. Last month we left Indonesia, where we had been living for the past 8 years. We were able to bring 8 suitcases back with us, as well as two small crates. I had a little longer than you did to sort through things, but we were also living in our house as I tried to sort and pack. It was VERY emotional. We sold just about everything, no option to put anything in storage and decide about it later. I brought a lot of the kids’ toys, photos, quilts, etc, but everything else got sold. So that was hard. I definitely empathize with you! I am guessing we got rid of about 85 to 90% of our belongings.


78 Leslie August 5, 2013 at 9:51 pm

We sold our home that we lived in for 22 years and had to move in 30 days. We did a huge purge, no time for a yard sale. Felt so good at first, but still missing some of the items we got rid of. Best of luck.


79 Jennifer August 5, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I have felt for the past few years that we are leading parallel-ish lives, with slightly different arcs. We have just moved back to San Francisco after five years away. We moved to France, first to a small fishing village in the Maine-et-Loire and a year later to Paris, and then came back to the US to DC for ten months and LA for ten months. When we left San Francisco we thought it was for ten months. We put our wedding gifts and some of my husband’s tools into a small storage unit and subletted our place in the Mission to a friend. And then it turned out we were staying, and our friend moved in with his girlfriend, and my brother moved the entire apartment into a bigger storage unit. And we had two more children and four years passed, all of which we spent in furnished rentals (and over which time we accumulated more stuff). We are just unpacking our boxes from the storage unit and from everything we moved from LA (that includes everything we moved back from France, and gathered in DC). Your comment about the half-full box of kleenex really resonates. Some of the boxes are like exhibits from the museum of jurassic technology. It is amazing to see how much technology has changed in five years, and how much my personal style has changed too! In the midst of this unpacking, we left for the East Coast for a month, where my parents live. As I am getting rid of things here, I started collecting things again there. My mother has advanced Alzheimer’s and could not really sort through what she inherited from her mother a few years ago, and much of it is incredibly well-cared-for pieces from the 19th century, but what I am going to do with the black wedding dress of my great-great X5 grandmother from 1853? Because of my mother’s illness I felt an incredible attachment to everything and I also wanted to honor the care that my relatives had taken of their possessions, but I also am trying to lighten our lives and I do not want to devote my life to archival acts (as I feel my grandmother did, although perhaps this brought her pleasure). So, I have been thinking a lot about the meaning with which we imbue objects, about memory, and care and reuse as well as letting go and making room for news ways of being. Your thoughts on the trauma of letting go (and the sheer physical efforts this involves) were especially meaningful to me at this moment! Good luck with making your new house a home. I look forward to the updates.

All best,

Jennifer (written on a fold-out mattress amidst boxes and boxes of books, but at least the children are sleeping in beds)


80 Kelly August 5, 2013 at 10:58 pm

So sorry!

We moved from our first apartment together to another across the country. I planned all my most important stuff to be in our car which my husband would drive to our new place. I was going to fly (7months pregnant) with our 1 1/2 yr old at a later date.

The partial moving van we paid for was filled and then left. I went for one last quick trip to visit my grandmother before we moved. No chance to make sure every important thing fit in the car. So…of course it didn’t.

When I got back we tried to pack it. I planned on packing that puppy to brim, but my husband reminded me that he would he driving for three days and couldn’t exactly push the car seat all the way forward or have things blocking his vision. So I had to leave a lot of stuff with a nice girl who took it all from me to donate or keep. “This is nice stuff!” she told me. I knew. And we were so poor at the time!


81 Michelle Glauser August 5, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I love purging and had quite the time purging my husband’s parents’ garage, though if I’d had complete run of it, there would now be a car in the garage.

When I get stressed, I throw things away. I really enjoy being able to move at the drop of a hat. Though I think we’ve decided that San Francisco is our final destination, we’re moving to Shanghai for 8 months. Hurray for foreign adventures!


82 Wendy @ Blue Lily August 5, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Yes! I know the emotions you are feeling but I do promise it’s worth it! You still have the pictures of what you once owned and that’s all you need besides family :) good luck on your new adventure! Hope to see you when we come to the Bay Area in November!


83 Alpha August 6, 2013 at 12:31 am

I remember the mental and physical exhaustion of moving our lives and stuff to Australia in 2004. My kids were 2 and 4 then. I had a household staff back home that packed our stuff, which was super! Like you, we simply had everything packed away.We decided to ship our stuff to Australia because we figured we simply cannot afford to buy everything again! When our stuff arrived at our doorstep in a big container truck, we realised we had too much stuff to fit in our new home. So, we ended up sorting, donating, making quick decisions and had a big garage sale. It was a nightmare. I never want to do that again! So, when I read your post I said, OMG, I know exactly how you feel. Glad that things are starting to fall back into place for you. Good luck and may your new home and community be gracious to you and your family. All the best!


84 NOLALeBlanc August 6, 2013 at 6:10 am

Hurricane Katrina “purged” our house for us. At the time it was very sad and difficult. After living with my in-laws, in a FEMA trailer and a small apartment, I’m kind of glad I didn’t have all of that stuff with me. Katrina got rid of stuff that I just didn’t know what to do with (childhood drawings, high school photos, etc.). She also taught me to make my life a little more concise. Our new home doesn’t have nearly the amount of knick knacks and decorative items we had before, and I’m fine with that.


85 Kelley August 6, 2013 at 6:42 am

I’m spending my last summer with my parents before heading off to grad school in London. When I got back from my dorm I took out the clothes I needed for the summer and just shoved the rest into a corner. As this is the last time I’ll spend any length of time at my parents house, I’ll definitely need to do a major overhaul, but I am absolutely not looking forward to it.


86 Bekka August 6, 2013 at 7:07 am

I feel like I have done this with every move I have made, which have been many. In the past five years I have lived in Utah, Ohio, Germany, two flats in Cyprus, Florida, and will hopefully be moving again soon depending on a new job for my husband. The last move happened in two weeks, was international, and was unbelievable. We believed we would be in Cyprus for quite awhile, start our family there, set roots. When my husband lost his job and we came back to the States, we tossed and donated pretty much everything. I felt like I was throwing all of the dreams I had set my hopes on into the garbage. Several months later, we’re still not established but I am so grateful for the purge. I’m anxious to see where we end up next and the new dreams I can infuse into that home.


87 Katy @ All Sorts of Pretty August 6, 2013 at 7:17 am

75% ?!?!?? Oh my goodness, I can see why you’re frazzled. I’m getting ready to move and I’m happily purging, letting go of “stuff” and hope I can manage to not accumulate so much in the next house. It really can weigh you down.


88 Chrissy August 6, 2013 at 7:26 am

we are literally in the process of moving our family of 6 from london back to new york…the packers come tomorrow. ugh.
as the majority of our stuff is going by sea container, we have had to determine what we need to have for the next two months. surprisingly, this is not as much as you would think, even with 4 kids!
the only place i am having trouble is in the family office space …there is so much in there (photos, travel memories, school papers, school memories) that i have not organised (yet). i think they will just go into a big box, somewhat sorted, and have to be dealt with on the other end. maybe in two months time when the stuff arrives, i will be more able to deal?


89 P.J. August 6, 2013 at 8:28 am

My possessions don’t own me but I do treasure the memories and creativity and inspiration they represent. I think of the example God gives us from nature – greater fruitfulness and health are the result of pruning. And that’s what the future holds for the Blairs…blessings of health and abundance. Thank you for sharing your courage and honesty.


90 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay August 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm

That is a lovely thought and I am going to think of it as I do my Fall purge! Thank you.


91 Erica August 6, 2013 at 8:55 am

That would be incredibly hard to get rid of most of my things. The Napoleon wall is awesome. We drove through Idaho this last weekend & I thought about the movie the whole time haha!

Great pics!


92 Giulia August 6, 2013 at 9:03 am

When I moved to Canada 10 years ago, I got rid of everything except 4 boxes that I shipped via regular mail and 2 suitcases which I took on the plane. There are only a handful of things I regret giving away – it’s hard, but it’s also great to start from scratch.


93 Emily August 6, 2013 at 10:22 am

I feel traumatized just reading about it! My husband just finished 13 years in the Navy – that’s been 11 moves since we have been married! Every single time we move there is a lot of discussion about “our things” and how I wish we could live like they do in so many other parts of the world, like minimalists with only the essentials. Clean, fresh, light. We just have so much stuff. I can only imagine how difficult it was to do that task but how light you must feel now! Your prospect of being settled into a new home and new schedule soon sounds delightful, best of luck to your darling family!


94 Janssen August 6, 2013 at 11:23 am

We got rid of practically everything when we moved from Boston to Texas (just what fit in our car and a couple of shipped boxes). I thought it’d be easier than a regular move, but it was so much work to deal with EVERY SINGLE THING.


95 Koseli Cummings August 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I relate! Oh, stuff + memories. I’m always fighting my inner hoarder + inner minimalist.


96 Corinne August 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm

You are so amazing, Gabby. I have often fantasized about getting rid of 75% and have never been able to do it! When we moved to England, our shipment was delayed. But we did just fine without all that stuff (we did have to buy a stroller, but those European strollers, ah, worth it), and I realized I could live on far less than I ever thought I could and be happy. Even then, I would have cried too! Sometimes it feels like you are letting go of a part of yourself when getting rid of sentimental things (did you take any pictures? that can really help me feel better about letting something go). Especially when it’s tied to something as wonderful and life-changing as the birth/growth of a child.

Moving is really hard. I would think something was wrong if it were super easy for you. I also feel like I go through a grieving process as I let go of people I loved in the old location, especially with our international move, since it felt so permanent and old friends were now so far away. Best of luck. Thanks, as always, for inspiring us.


97 Holly August 6, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I can relate! We recently moved home to Tennessee after 4 years in Tanzania. We returned with our 2.5 children (the .5 is for the one still in utero at the time) and a total of 10 suitcases! We had to get rid of so much. The hardest for me was the things my husband had built, which was lots of our furniture, but also my sons’ play kitchen and their little playground. It was a little easier knowing that we had left some nice things in Tennessee: furniture my husband made in college, my grandmothers corner hutch, some of our favorite kitchen knives… Still processing though. My 3 year old occasionally will talk about something he had in Tanzania. Sigh. We’re living with family at the moment, but when we get into our own place I think I’ll really enjoy the mix of old, new, and small things we acquired in Tanzania. I try to remember that the memories will never be sold. Those we get to keep.


98 Louise August 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Hi!! Been reading your blog for a few weeks now and am very curious (and jealous) of your amazing journey to France and having a family of 6.

As for this post — what did you deem most valuable? We moved last year — a whoping three miles away! It was the worst four days our family faced. We were no longer talking to each other by Sunday! And our kids were 4 and 5 — we’d all just had it. We thought we’d downsized a lot, but as I look around, 10 months later, I can’t believe how many things are still with us. My husband comes from a family that kept all his old toys — do you do that for your kids? Do you have “sentimental rules” on certain items? How about holiday decorations? we could open up a small store with all our stuff.
At times I wish we were minimalists — in the end we USE a small percentage of these things. (Why did I allow my Mother and Mother In Law to pressure me into getting formal China?) Tools? work stuff?

Just wondering…..


99 Raquel August 6, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Just wanted to give you a virtual hug. Moving is hard. Hang in there!


100 Cheryl Burchett August 6, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I moved out of my first house, to another state, and into a room at my sisters so my first husband could attend law school. Our belongings went in storage for a year but by the end of that year my marriage was ending. He took his belongings and I got the half empty storage unit and the keys to what should have been our apt. So much of our stuff represented a life that I thought we were building, but just seemed empty and sad when I finally moved it out. Reading about your storage unit experience has me a little emotional about my own!


101 Lauren August 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm

When we moved from Seattle to Virginia we sold just about everything. We ended up with a lot of new furniture and toys, which was nice, but also ended up replacing a lot of stuff, like bikes and camping gear, that was a pain. Still, purging always feels nice in the end.


102 Sarah W August 6, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I’m the worst at purging! My husband and I have done a lot of big moves since we’ve been married and every time I say I’m really gonna purge, and often I feel like I am, but when we get settled in the new place I think “I still have way too much stuff!” And the books! We get rid of a lot each move, but we still have a lot somehow. Our most recent move was back in July and I still don’t feel settled, and I’m still not completely unpacked. Oh dear. I hope you feel settled soon!


103 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag August 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm

My thoughts on moving: moving makes me not want to own things EVER.

I’m very good at purging belongings. TOO good! I’ve thrown stuff out that I really wished I had held onto. But I get so swept up in the ‘it all must go!’ mentality, and I feel so free and light, and yay, my life will never be cluttery again! And yet, that never ever seems to be the case…..

I don’t think I’ve ever let go of 75% of my belongings though~ I’m so impressed! I hope you get lots of downtime now, and I can’t wait to see a tour of the new house!


104 kelleyn August 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm

I can’t see getting rid of 75 percent. Some things yes, but not 75 percent. Though I am pretty good at purging all the time. I don’t like clutter, so if it doesn’t have a spot then it goes. I also have a rule that if I haven’t worn something in a year it goes. My husband is a little bit more of a pack rat than me, but I have worked my magic on him and he is getting better. You are going to regret the ski equipment with Tahoe just around the corner. Only a couple hour drive.


105 Esoteria August 8, 2013 at 4:13 am

When I went though my divorce I only took the few things I really wanted to keep, mostly kitchen equipments. Only furniture I took was a single cane chair I nostalgically liked. It was the most liberating experience I ever felt and the following two years I was free as a bird and moved flats in few hours only.


106 Overseas mum August 8, 2013 at 4:42 am

I know the feeling, we packed up our house 5months ago to move overseas for a few years. Had a garage sale before we left and got rid of all the baby items.
Though our “fully” furnished apartment isn’t furnished that well and i am struggling with havig to buy things for this house knowing i have the exact same perfectly good item back home.
How did you do trying to keep your stuff to a minimum whilst overseas?


107 Tara August 8, 2013 at 7:22 am

I’m right there with you. Packed it all in storage and a few months became 18 months. Unfortunately, our entire storage unit got dumped in our garage, so 2 months later I’m still going through boxes. Sigh* One of these days it will be done, hopefully soon than later. But it does feel so good to get rid of all that stuff!


108 Rebekah August 11, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I would love to do this with Clint Eastwood or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Man oh man, brilliant.


109 LLH Designs August 13, 2013 at 8:58 pm

It’s been a long time since I’ve chimed in, Gabrielle, but thought this was just the right post. {I’ve had to reduce my blog reading time to be more present in real life…and to keep up with all of my farm duties!} First, I can’t believe you were in France so long! Time flew! Here anyway. Did it for you? Since you’ve been gone, we moved from a very urban neighborhood in Houston to a small farm in Tennessee. A crazy leap of faith. We didn’t have to reduce our belongings by 75%, but we did a lot of purging as we packed and then again as we unpacked. But more than anything, I know it can take a long time to process all the emotions of a move. A year later, I’m still processing! The best thing we can do is give ourselves lots of grace. Blessings to you and your family as you adjust to your new home. xo, Linsey


110 Liz Bohannon August 14, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Ummmpph! I got a little tired just reading about this! A year after we were married, we decided to sell everything (except for about 3 boxes + some clothes) to do a 6 month cross country where we lived in our car! Needless to say, space was of the essence. We didn’t know where we would land (back where we started? East Africa? Timbuktu?) and couldn’t afford to keep our apartment (or even pay for a storage unit!) so we had to get rid of everything! We had just gotten married the previous year, so it was a bit sad to get rid of so many things that were still fresh and shiny–but after reading your post I am thinking maybe it was easier that they didn’t have as many memories attached. After a year of travel we ended up moving to Portland into a 300 sq ft apartment, so we were thankful we had done our purging when we landed in our new home. (It took us under an hour to move in :) I am now totally in love with and committed to a one-in, one-out (roughly) lifestyle that keeps the “stuff” accumulation in check. I take a lot of photos of things (cards, letters, memorabilia) and find that often a visual reminder of something special does the job just fine without taking up space. Excited for you and the family and the next adventure. Welcome to the West Coast!! xoxo


111 Debbie O. August 20, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Welcome to Oakland! I hope you and your family love it. I just made the opposite move (roughly) from Oakland to Germany with my small family. My husband is doing a fellowship for one year and I’ve taken a leave from my job to spend time with our baby, who will be one year old next month. We did our purge before leaving – read Jordan’s post about it and “you are not going to want to see any of this stuff” really stuck with me.
I have a hard time letting go of stuff and free time is limited with an infant, so we started purging months in advance. It helped lessen the intensity. And by the end, I was so ready to be done, I really got into the swing of tossing/donating things. Then our tiny storage unit got full and I had no choice :-) Again, I hope you love Oakland as I do!


112 Kathy September 8, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I’ve just been catching up on your blog. I think I have been experiencing some similar crazy emotional life changing stuff. I just moved back to Chicago after living in Switzerland for three and a half years. We had a storage unit too. All the leaving and starting new is overwhelming.

So I just wanted to say thanks – it helps to read your words and your beautiful insights.


113 Ashley Keeth September 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I love it! I have been slowly selling everything we own. We started off with kitchen supplies, then lamps, vases, chandeliers, and chairs, some big rugs…I continue to tell my kids “they are only belongings” and when we get to the point where we are on mattresses on the floor we will travel around the world and we have nothing to be attached to or burdened with. We are currently on selling dressers, pizza frig, and antiques…’s a nice $1500-2000K a month. Lighten up and fly! Ashley


114 Yo October 11, 2013 at 2:08 am

I understand what a daunting task it is, and I wish you lots of REST and CONTENTEDNESS (is that even a word??) in your new home! May the good times roll for you and yours!


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