Spare rooms and starting points

It started with my son’s nursery. I was eight months pregnant, almost nine. We had just switched into weekly appointments with the OB so we knew it was time to start putting things together. I had procrastinated working on the baby’s room for months and for good reason. The room was so full that I could barely move around in it. It was overstuffed with furniture, supplies, and general junk. In the two years we’d lived in the space that second bedroom had started out as an office and guest room only to turn into a pit of despair.

I’d been doing a little work in the room, taking a few hours here and there to try to sort it all. There were some big plans for the room. I was going to make the closet a functioning storage area while also having all the baby’s things set up. My dream was a dual use space where I could work on projects while the baby napped and played. Unfortunately as I began to round my way into that ninth month of pregnancy I had more big ideas than I had energy. When my work amounted to no progress a close friend decided to get involved. Cleaning and organizing the nursery, she said, would be her gift to us.

What was supposed to be a couple of hours on a Friday night turned into more than eight hours, dozens of trips to the trash, a lot of crying, and a mountain of things that she simply drove away with because she knew there was no possible way I’d ever get them to Goodwill. I went to bed (finally) in the early hours of Saturday exhausted, a little angry, and completely embarrassed. How had I let things get in the way of getting ready for my son?

Stuff, or the large quantities of things, has always had a place in my life. My mother had a lot of stuff. My father’s basement is still largely full of all her stuff. I’ve seen people I love torn apart over other people’s stuff. I’ve gotten into fights with my fiancé over stuff. When my son was born a week after the great purging of his nursery and then spent two weeks in the NICU I had a lot of quiet time to think about my life. There was the natural thinking about my baby boy and how he was doing, but there was also a lot of thinking about how I didn’t want his life to be choked out by things. I wanted him to be able to appreciate and value what he had and, perhaps most of all, look back someday at a childhood full of experiences and memories that outlast and outshine being surrounded by stuff.

That’s where this blog begins. This year I’m making the conscious choice to live with what matters and not just what’s there. That means going through what I have and keeping only what is useful and meaningful. It’s a huge undertaking, but one I hope will help me and my whole family not only overcome our possessions but create a happier, fuller life, one that is intentionally simple but endlessly rich.



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