Hard questions surface when you’re looking at leaving your home with a category four hurricane heading right for you. What do we take and what do we leave? These decisions are difficult to make under any circumstances but especially when stressed.

As we worked on getting all our possessions in safe places, and our home secured, I realized how much stuff I had accumulated over the years. When we finally realized we had to evacuate, it was heart-breaking to think that our home may not be there when we returned.

I also realized I needed to de-clutter my life of the excess that had crept into my home over the years.

Years of Collecting

You, too, may find yourself a collector of more belongings than you need. Many of these items are sentimental, and you have kept them for many years. Also, you may come to realize that you have become the storage place for adult children whose childhood keepsakes are conveniently stored with you.

I have also found that we tend to keep things that we no longer need just in case we can use them again. As we accrue these items, we forget what we have, and suddenly, we have a number of the same item.

The only time we clean out the excess is when we move to a new home. And even then it may take multiple moves to reduce the surplus.

Why Less Can Be More

Many years ago I lived in the Middle East and traveled throughout Europe and the United States. I was young and had a need to bring many items with me as I traveled. This was before suitcases on wheels were invented, so it was an effort moving from place to place with all the baggage in tow.

This is how I feel we are treating ourselves when we accumulate mass amounts of items in our life. We are put under stress trying to handle, organize and store all these material possessions. Have you found that the pleasure of collecting wears off quickly and becomes a chore to maintain?

As hard and, perhaps, overwhelming as it may seem, I would recommend you look at adopting a lifestyle of less. Over time, you may find that you will have less stress.

Where to Start

It is best to start eliminating the excess in your life with the easy items first. Look for the items you have not used in over a year, or the things you have saved ‘just in case.’

My search produced three coffee carafes I had saved just in case I broke one. I have never needed one, and if I did, the cost to replace is minimal. Once you start looking in closets, cabinets and the garage, you will find it easy to remove many items that have little use to you now.

Get Creative with Sentimental Items

Sometimes you just can’t part with items that have been in the family for many years. This is where you can be creative and enjoy your memories more than ever.

Think about how many of these objects are just sitting in boxes stowed away. Are you enjoying them? Below are a few thoughts that may be helpful to you.


Take your old, treasured family photos and have them scanned to keep as a digital file. You can use them for so many different projects.

Create a book of memories for family or friends to give as a gift, or use the photos to make your own special-occasion greeting cards. You could also buy a digital photo frame and see these treasured photographs every day.

Family heirlooms

Many of heirlooms can be framed for display. China, watches, children art or other special keepsakes can be collected into a memory shadow box or other type of display.

Silverware and old jewelry can be repurposed as new hair decorations, magnets or cabinet hardware. These can make wonderful gifts, and family members may enjoy a small memory from the past.

Cabinets, closets and shelving

Many times we keep items out of habit. We have old dishes or serving items that are forgotten in the back of a cabinet.

Closets may store clothes that have gone out of style or are the wrong size. It’s easy to hang on to items believing they will be useful at some point. Examine each item and ask yourself if you believe it’s worth the space and, possibly, the stress it’s creating in life.

You Have Only Begun

Once you begin to rid your life of the surplus in your home, you may find it’s only the beginning. The relief of accumulating less can spill over into other areas of your life. It can free some of your time, reduce stress and increase satisfaction. It can all begin with eliminating the items that no longer serve you.

If you have possessions that are a burden, you may find they have been keeping you from downsizing your home or from other types of activities that you could enjoy. You may be surprised how the accumulation of material things can be holding you back from enjoying more of what life has to offer.

Have you tried de-cluttering your home? What items did you find? If you haven’t undergone this activity yet, what is keeping you? Please share your thoughts below.