Minimalism 101: The Art of the Purge


In 2008 we packed up everything we knew and moved to the amazing small Colorado mountain town of Gunnison.

The whole thing was a giant romantic adventure but the journey of getting there was tough. We left right before Christmas, packing all of our crap things (and we had a LOT of it) into a giant moving truck with arrangements to meet the truck there. Add in one snow storm and a campus housing apartment that was 1/3 the size of the house we were moving from and a load of stuff that was meant to fit in that original house… and you see where I am going… disaster with a capital D.

But long story short, we dug out of the tunnels of stuff and made our place as cute as we could and we pulled through. But that was the beginning of realizing that the sheer amount of “stuff” was always hindering us.

More stuff means more maintenance on the stuff.

More stuff means more time spent on the stuff.

More stuff means less time doing anything else.

Upon moving back to Illinois and then moving to Michigan and starting toward the journey of a full-time RV adventure we embarked on a term that is becoming more and more popular these days: Minimalism. I personally think that our society (maybe our generation) is realizing that our full on pursuit of “stuff” is not making us happy. Having the biggest house, the best landscaping, the newest cars is just leaving us all feeling a bit empty; emotionally as well as financially. Our kids run around with every game console they can get their hands on along with the latest iphone, ipod and ipad and we end up spending lots of time updating, posting, status sharing, instagraming, snap chatting, but NOT spending a lot of time with each other.

Don’t get me wrong, I think all of these things can be good and have their place, but lots of us are coming to the realization that we need to dial it back a little.

That things are getting a little out of hand.

I personally have realized that I don’t need any more. I have all that I need and then some. I don’t need a closet full of never ending amounts of the latest fashions. Let’s be real ladies, how often do you wear all of those clothes? When I took a hard look at it, I realized that what I use and wear is very different from what I have and think I need. I’m sure there will be more future posts about these very topics.

Some of my favorite blogs that have really opened my eyes to some beautiful ideas in the way of minimalism are zen habits, the minimalist mom, and the minimalists. These are people who are paving the way and defining a new normal and helping us all to realize that we can let go of “stuff” and be really fulfilled and happy.

After gleaning from these blogs for months, doing my own soul-searching as well as planning to live in a 350 square foot fifth wheel our motto has become, “if it serves a purpose, or it brings joy – it’s in.”

And, I’m not gonna lie, I may have added when it comes to my very teeny tiny clothes closet in the RV, “if it fits – its IN.”

When we left on Saturday Sunday for our adventure, we had two storage units full of keepsakes, car camping gear, kitchen stuff and just a bit of furniture. Everything else was given away, donated or sold.

Boy, did it feel good.

For more on that feeling, I thought I would have my husband share a bit about that.

With every ‘once precious’ item sold on Craigslist, with every donatable thing that was reluctantly tossed into our 8×10 trailer for its final trip to the Goodwill dropoff center, and for every useable artifact that was passed on to others, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. These soul-less things that would someday occupy a landfill no longer help their grip on me. I was free of having them clutter my home and mind. One thing was clear: I owned nothing, my stuff owned me.

Our stuff did own us.

But it doesn’t anymore, and we feel free-er than ever.

Have you made a move toward minimalism? Do you have a question I can try to answer? How has your stuff had a hold on you? I’d love to hear from you!




  1. Tammy,
    I love this so much. I feel like we are feeling some of the same things. We just moved to the country in search of what really matters. Question for you: what did you allow your boys to keep? Did you allow them to define “joy” or did you help them with that?
    Love your blog. Love you.

    • Thanks Stefani!

      I think our goal for this trip is to help them define what “joy” really is. And I am also learning that I can’t define it for them. I mean let’s be honest for my 8 year old video games bring him great joy and I need to be ok with that and experience that joy alongside him while guiding him with how much time he spends and why only playing video games can end up being “bad” for him. We are definitely learning as we go.

      As far as what we allowed them to bring, they each had a space that they could fill and interestingly it wasn’t too hard for them to know exactly what they wanted to bring! It was easier than I thought it would be. I have always tried to keep the toy “clutter” down though.

      I love your new country living! :)

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