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Start the New Year Off Right by Decluttering Your Home

By Amy Newmark January 04, 2021 Lifestyle

Do you have too much stuff? Do you feel like your possessions own you, and not the other way around? There’s something so liberating about cleaning out those overstuffed closets, cupboards, and storage spaces! And what better time than now?

We have some real-life role models for you, to inspire you and motivate you to start the new year right by decluttering your home.

Don’t Hold Onto Someone Else’s Blessing

The question Jeanie Jacobson always asks when helping her friends organize and declutter is: “Are you holding onto someone else’s blessing?” It changed one friend’s perspective.

The idea of holding onto someone else’s blessing had her gleefully cleaning out her house. “I’d never seen anyone part so willingly with so many useful goods,” Jeanie said of her friend.

When you hold onto something too long, because “it might fit again” one day or you might “need it one day,” you’re depriving someone else of that useful item right now. So, gather up those things you don’t need and put them right in the car. That way you’ll be forced to drive them someplace to donate them!

You’ll feel great because the joy of less is real! Those extra possessions exact a toll on your psyche and weigh you down.

Your Memories Live in Your Head, Not in Your Possessions

Amelia Hollingsworth was packing up to move into a much smaller house. She was having a hard time letting go of pieces like the kitchen table where the family had spent so much time or the porch rockers where she’d nursed her babies. So much of the furniture held special memories for her, but she didn’t have room for it in the new place.

Then her mother put it all in perspective. “The stuff isn’t the memories,” she said. “And you don’t have to worry about losing the memories when you leave your stuff behind. Those you take with you.” And she was right. Your memories go with you, and you don’t even have to use bubble wrap!

Take That Downsizing All the Way to Your Car

How many of us are still driving around huge sedans or SUVs even though we don’t need to haul that much stuff anymore? That was the case for Geneva Cobb Iijima when she became a widow and decided to move into a two-bedroom cottage. It was perfect – a bedroom for her and another she could use as an office and a guest room. There was a garage too.

Geneva sorted through her belongings, making those standard piles of Keep, Donate, Trash, and Sell. That all went well. But then she realized her big SUV wouldn’t fit in her new garage.

Out went the big SUV and in came a cute little red sports car. This widow realized that age is just a number, and it’s never too late to mix it up and try new things.

Find Creative Ways to Make That Stuff Go Away

In another decluttering story, Patricia Lorenz’s friend, Diane, was marrying the new love of her life. They had two households to combine, plus all the treasures from Diane’s mother, who had died recently. This led to a basement packed with wonderful items the new couple didn’t want.

What did they do? Diane’s friends threw her a bridal shower and came and wrapped up all the things she didn’t want. And then Diane gave those beautiful packages to everyone who came to her wedding, as take-home gifts. And, of course, she asked her guests not to bring gifts.

Patricia says, “And so it was that everyone who witnessed the joining of two hearts left with a gift, and a newly married couple went home to a nice empty basement.”

Final Tips for Decluttering Your Home

  • Find a thrift shop or charities that will accept your donations.
  • Imagine the joy of the person who will benefit from your donations.
  • Do your decluttering in tiny pieces – one drawer or one shelf at a time.
  • Put your unwanted items out in the trash or in your car right away.

Do you feel weighed down by your possessions? Have you decluttered your home, or even one closet? How did it feel? What techniques have worked for you? Please share your decluttering successes – and your failures – with us!

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The Author

Amy Newmark is the author, editor-in-chief, and publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, a second career she began at 50 after decades on Wall Street and in technology industry. Most importantly, she’s a wife, mother of four, and grandmother of three… so far. Connect with Amy at

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