It is de-cluttering week at my house. During the spring and winter of every year I clear out each room of our house and decide what needs to be thrown, donated, and kept. I’ve always called myself minimalist, not needing stuff to make me happy, but after this week’s de-cluttering, I think it is necessary for me to question if I truly am what I say I am.

After clearing out my closet and my daughter’s closet, I filled eight garbage bags worth of clothes, toys, and other miscellaneous items. As I cleared out my daughter’s room, I wondered how a four year old could accumulate so much stuff.  Of course, I realized that she had no control over what she acquired and it really was me that I needed to blame. I stopped and looked at what I had collected in the white garbage bags. When did I buy all of this stuff? Why did I buy it? I don’t know.

I question how much of it I really needed. Judging from what was in the piles, I probably didn’t really need over ninety percent of the stuff. But I bought those things. I also purchased some of the things for my daughter, only to be giving it away. I can blame commercials, our consumeristic society, or my dying “need” to have a particular something for my propensity to buy, but those reasons are all excuses. I bought all this stuff because I didn’t question why I needed it.

Amid all the chaos and confusion of stuff, I discovered  important things – My old trophies from high school, the scrapbook that chronicled the first year of my daughter’s life, and old vintage pictures of my husband and me.  I sat back and reminisced as I looked at these past moments.  Of course these items stayed in the kept pile.  The kept pile and the the donate pile were staring each other in the face and I realized that the things I treasured weren’t purchased, but were connected to some event, emotion, moment, or memory. The sharp contrast of what mattered and what was stuff took on a greater gravity when I placed it in the same room.

I like what de-cluttering brings into my life. In an odd way, it brings me peace, knowing the stuff in my home are things that are things that matter. The physical exercise of discarding things, I hope, will mentally prepare me for the next time temptation may convince me to buy something.

I don’t think I fit the definition of minimalist yet, but I am working on it.