From Purge to Peace: Letting Go of Things

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Every few months and definitely once a year or so, I feel pushed in by my own house. I look around and see clutter encroaching on me to the point that I will avoid the most offensive rooms. At this point, it takes me a few weeks to process the idea that yes, it’s time for the annual purging of our home. Eventually, I feel determined enough to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

In his book Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy says to tackle the “biggest frog” or most daunting task, first. For me, it’s my walk-in closet. Half the closet is dedicated to my crafting tools of the trade. Only a small portion of it actually houses my clothes. My best friend is the Rubbermaid tub, the perfect organizer for large and small items alike. The awesome, and sometimes problematic, thing about these tubs is that they hold a lot. So when I begin purging my house, I know to go through each of these tubs.

Here is my process, and what I discover when I tackle purging the house:

-God is good…we are never lacking. I have all I need and a lot of what I want. I determine before I start purging to “Bless and Release” items that I know I’m not going to use any more. I will sell big ticket items like furniture, but donate smaller items like cooking supplies and toys.

-A lot of what I keep is for sentimental reasons. During this particular purge of January 2018, I realize that I’m no longer sentimental about items from January 2008. Bless and release.

-For an honest-to-goodness thorough purging session, I take EVERYTHING out of tubs, drawers, nooks and crannies. There are some exceptions to the rule: I have a tub full of cards, letters, and pictures over the course of my life. I have organized this tub to perfection…I have only retained my most sentimentally valuable cards and letters. Because I remember this from one purge to the next, I leave this particular tub alone. However, I might decide in five years to give it another go. A huge benefit of going through every tub and cabinet is discovering that I have several items of the same thing stashed in different places. Purging allows me to organize them so that all of one thing is one place.

-I start from one side of the door and work my way around the room. I will sort items and am thorough about going through each and every drawer. In this way, I can be certain that I’m only keeping what I need and letting go of everything else. Sometimes I find “jewels” that make me feel a little giddy, and sometimes I think, “Why on earth did I think this was important to keep??”.

-I may reorganize a room or space to reflect what will best suit my needs during that part of my life. For instance, as a homeschooler, books and school supplies took center stage in my bonus room. Now that I’m no longer homeschooling, the space is used for another purpose.

-If I’m having a hard time letting something go, I ask myself, “When is the last time I used this? Realistically and honestly, when will I use this again?”. This method generally helps me to purge items that I had convinced myself I needed but never actually used.

-When I empty out cabinets and drawers, I clean them out with a dust rag and cleaner, if necessary. Afterwards, I can really feel that the space is clean. It goes without saying that this is the time to throw out dead pens, dried glue, broken anything, etc.

-I systematically go through each and every room: closets, bathroom, bedroom, dining room, kitchen, living room, patio. My husband is in charge of the garage. It takes a little encouraging to get him to want to sort/purge the garage, but we focus on how good it will feel to have that space cleared out and newly organized.

-As you’re going through the process, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged at how much you’ve got to get through. Turn on some good tunes and allow yourself to sit in the process of cleansing. It’s good for the mind and Spirit. Sometimes, you get to travel down Memory Lane for a moment and relive a happy experience. Other times, you may come across something attached to a negative feeling…at that point, it feels good to let go and purge that negative memory and feeling. Remember: the garbage can couldn’t care less what memories you have attached to an item, or the person you’ve blessed with the donated item.

-If you have trouble focusing and seeing things through, set a timer. Two hours for big spaces is a good starting point. I dedicate a whole day (maybe two!) to my closet. Sometimes, having a break for half a day will allow me to mull over in my mind how to best organize something, or re-think keeping items I don’t need.

-Finally, I decide what to do with things I’m letting go of. For this particular purge, I’ve set aside some valuable items for charity, offered some art supplies to one of my kiddos, and will donate the rest to Goodwill.

When it’s all said and done, I can feel that the house is lighter. I no longer feel like I’m in a claustrophobic space and I feel lighter in my Spirit. It feels to good to physically purge items that sometimes bear an emotional or mental weight on me, too.

Writer bio: CJ Heath


CJ needs to get back to work sorting, cleaning and purging. She has discovered that writing an article about cleaning/sorting/purging doesn’t actually get the work done. Time to eat that frog!


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