How much?

How much stuff does one really need?

It’s a question I regularly ask myself.

Like many people, we spent most of our twenties accumulating stuff.

Clothing. Electronics. Furniture.

Stuff we thought we needed because we were married. Stuff we thought we needed because we became homeowners. Stuff that was shiny and made fancy noises when you pushed buttons. Stuff that made us feel better when we had bad days (weeks) (months) at work. Stuff that distracted us from the problems in/with our lives (friendships) (marriage) (careers).

Stuff that took up too much space.

Stuff that kept us from really examining and working on the true issues in our lives.

We’ve moved past this and have worked through most of the issues (but not all because no one has a perfect life).

In fact, I’ve spent lots of time this summer going through our stuff to figure out what we really use.

As part of this purging process, I tackled the clothes section of our closet recently. I rearranged husband’s clothes and culled mine. I came up with two sacks of items that I was unnecessarily holding onto — dresses that reminded me of a job I did not like, shirts that were given to me that I had never worn, and the shoes I wore to my senior prom and high school graduation (both over ten years ago). I now have the energy to hang up my work clothes at the end of the day and we can see the closet floor.

It was a cathartic process and I’m looking forward to attacking the shelves above the clothes bars in the closet. Those items haven’t been touched since we moved in over five years ago. I would argue that we don’t need most of it, but I need to take a look at what’s up there since I’m sure there things that have emotional value and are worth keeping.

As a side note, we used to have a dog who liked to eat shoes, shred clothing, and chomp down on plastic (among other things). At the time, we thought it was funny and dutifully bought more stuff. Now, I’m ashamed when I start calculating the aggregate value of the pairs of shoes, belts, sunglasses, and vacuum cleaner that we lost.