Seventy Five Percent

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!

114 thoughts on “Seventy Five Percent”

  1. 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. 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. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

      2. 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.

  7. 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. :)

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

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

  11. 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:


    1. 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).


      1. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

    1. “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!

  14. 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.

    1. 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!

  15. 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 :)

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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?

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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…

  24. 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

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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!

  28. 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? ;)

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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. :)

  32. 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

  33. 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.

  34. 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!!!

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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 :)

  39. 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!

  40. 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.

  41. 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!”

  42. 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.

  43. 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!

  44. 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!

  45. 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

  46. 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:

  47. 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!

  48. Gabrielle,
    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.

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