Saturday, May 18, 2013

The E-word: Excess

A friend of mine recently wrote on her blog about the word "Excess" and how she has made it a defining word for her life right now. She wrote about a girl she knew who lived in another country and said there were only 2 types of cereal at the grocery store, and no one complained about there not being enough variety. Many people in more affluent areas of the world, Americans especially, are so used to excess that we don't even notice it anymore. We take it for granted that there is an entire aisle at the grocery store devoted to cereal varieties.

My friend decided to begin going through her life and getting rid of the excess. She realized she didn't need 50 shirts and a drawer full of yoga pants. She didn't need a million pairs of shoes, or crazy amounts of glasses and bowls in her kitchen. Her daughter didn't need three boxes full of toys. She began systematically cleaning out her home, always keeping the word excess in mind.

This story really stuck with me, and I realized it was right up my ally. I am not a hoarder by any means, but I definitely have too much stuff. After moving into our new apartment in January, I realized I had WAY less storage space all around; I had less kitchen cabinets, less closet space, no linen closets, etc. I realized I needed to start really sorting through things and ruthlessly cutting out the excess.

I decided to do this for many reasons, including my lack of storage. One other reason was that the simple life has always appealed to me, and excess definitely makes my life more complicated. Another reason is my struggle to become a better keeper of my home. Less stuff means less cleaning! YAY!

So I decided that my journey to purge excess from my life would begin after our trip to Europe in April. I am realistic enough to know I need to do this slowly and systematically, but I have to say, this has been a lot harder and more time consuming than I thought it would be!

The first area I decided to tackle was my closet. It has been a huge issue because it is smaller than my old master closet, and it also has to serve as our linen closet because we no longer have one of those. Not to mentioned I have to find a place for all my husband's work uniforms.
I had just purchased that white shelf to help with storage in the closet....
So I went through my closet.... 3 times on 3 different days. The first time I did a surface purge. I went through much of my clothing before we moved in January, but I knew there were a few more items in there I could part with if I had to. I decided to start with those items, with my ultimate goals being I only end up with those items I really wear and love.

So the first bin was filled in Purge #1....
some of them I got money for by selling them to the Clothes Mentor, but most of them ended up being donated to the thrift store.

Then the real hard work began: Purge #2. I took all of the items out of my closet by type (long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts, skirts, etc.) and tried everything on.

My pile of long-sleeve shirts went from this (count the hangers if you want to get an idea of how much is actually there)

To this
My goal was to end up with about 2 weeks worth of shirts for each season. I ended up with a bit more than that, but I'm still proud of myself. And I know there is still room for improvement in the future!
This was my entire shirt collection (summer, winter, long-sleeve, short-sleeve, and sweaters) at the end of my 2nd purge
So at this point I had 3 total bins of clothes needing to leave my house...preferably before I started going through them and falling in love with some of the items again.

Purge #3 was for my shoes. I'm going to be honest here: this was very tough mostly because I truly didn't want to purge out any of the shoes I had. I didn't own a lot of shoes by many women's standards, but I knew I definitely had excess. I quickly realized that shoes are difficult to purge because there are so many kinds! Work shoes, flats, heels, black, brown, white, gym, sandals, boots, slippers, formal, casual, water shoes, etc.

I ended up keeping a good number of them, but only about half of what I used to have. They topped off my 4th bin of clothes quite nicely

The shoes which made the cut
I also went through my skirt collection, and I ended up purging about 6 of them which I don't wear enough to justify having. I also went through my work clothes, formal clothes, jackets, cardigans, etc. 

In the end, this is my closet right now
Next I will be going through my husband's things with him. My rule is that it gets tossed if it has a hole in it, so I think his wardrobe may be doomed.  After that I will be moving on to purging the kitchen. 

It's been a lot of work so far, but it feels so good! I think Excess has become my new favorite word to hate

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all the extra hangers


  1. This is a very good reminder. It's so true that having less stuff means less cleaning! And less worry and less stress for me personally.

  2. I love this quote:

    "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

    Purging and simplifying feels so good! Our house has 4 - 3' wide closets so I have to be ruthless in what we keep. Thanks for the reminder!


  3. Amy this is an incredibly inspiring post! I like your plan of going back to do multiple purges. Generally I will just do surface purges every couple of months and the result is that I still have way too many clothes -most that I don't wear!


I love to fellowship with others and hear what they have to say. I would ask, however, that you be mindful of what you write and try to be uplifting and respectful. Thank you for sharing!