The Halfway Point

The half-way point of our Simple Year journey is nearing. I’ve been reflecting upon the progress we’ve made and what we still need to accomplish in the next six months.


What We’ve Done

In the last six months we have:

  • Nearly finished renovating the house.
  • Committed to the decision to sell the house and downsize. Preferably somewhere without a pool. And a smaller yard.
  • Eliminated the housekeeper.
  • Eliminated the lawn service.
  • Eliminated DirecTV.
  • Sold the Lexus.
  • After three months of being a one-car family, replaced it with a more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly, very pre-owned Prius.
  • Cut down our wardrobes by more than half.
  • Decluttered the kitchen and everything in it.
  • Completed several rounds of decluttering in The Girl’s Room.
  • Completed several rounds of decluttering in The Boy’s Room.
  • Decluttered the kids’ study area.
  • Went from two dedicated rooms for offices, one for me and one for Stephen, to one desk in the family room.
  • Donated boatloads of stuff to many different charities.
  • Found homes for a variety of objects using Freecycle.
  • Sold others on CraigsList.
  • Reduced the volume of crap in the sunroom and garage by half.
  • Challenged ourselves to pack minimally for our summer vacation last year.

I feel like we’ve done a lot, but we still have a long way to go.

Where We Are Now

Getting rid of the stuff has been simultaneously easy and hard. It’s been easy to say goodbye to stuff we don’t want or need. But sometimes I get angry at the stuff. Which really means I get irritated with myself. Disgusted by all of it. By the wasted money. Wasted energy. Wasted time.

And when it’s not easy or I’m not angry, I find it all very hard to face. Hard to dig up the energy to find a home for it. Because the irony is that there was a waste of time and energy and resources in the accumulation and then there’s a corresponding exertion of energy in the disposal. I could fill up my trash bin every week and send it off to the landfill. But I don’t want to do that. It’s not right. And it’d be a shame to throw something away someone else has been praying or hoping for. This has been one of the most eye opening parts of this entire project.

I also feel a lot of guilt. (Admittedly, I do that a lot.) Guilt not just about having acquired the thing (whatever the thing is) in the first place, but with such a lack of awareness and complete disregard. I know why I did it – I was working like a crazy person and was focused on just surviving. If there was a need, I’d go to the store and fill it. Usually because I couldn’t find whatever it was I was looking for in a house stuffed to the brim. It was quicker that way. But that’s not a good excuse. It’s just not.

What I’ve found during this year, though, is that when you start stripping away the stuff, it can be scary. Any time you start staring down your demons, it’s frightening. And humbling. Because at the same time we’re also tearing down the walls we’ve been hiding behind. Like, we’re no longer anesthetized by it and can really, truly see it.

Embarrassed. Flabbergasted. Annoyed. Dismayed. Overwhelmed. I’ve felt all of these. Especially with our dirty laundry being aired on the internet. But I’ve also felt relieved, hopeful and, dare I say, I am starting to feel free. Not dragged down by the baggage. And it’s these positive feelings that keep me going. My struggle has been real. But while I’ve been sincerely feeling all of these things, to put it in perspective, it’s also pretty shallow. And that’s hard to swallow. Because I hadn’t considered myself a shallow person before this. But I was wrong.

When I take a good long look at the shallow, I feel, I don’t know – ashamed? Because there are so many people that can’t feed their kids or don’t know how they’re going to pay their electric bill and I have to face the reality that my struggles, in the scheme of life, are so silly. I mean, really? I’m worried about stuff that’s pointless. Stuff = pointless. Which then sends me back on the roller coaster of emotions.

Sort of like the roller coaster of buying stuff. You just keep going and going and going and nobody wins. Except the manufacturers of the crap you’re accumulating. And this roller coaster of accumulation and emotions? It sucks all of your energy and leaves you empty. And my friends and family and I deserve more than fumes. We all deserve more than fumes.

What We Have Left To Do

I can’t even list what all we have left to do in detail, because this post is already way too long. But in big terms, we need to:

  • Go through all of our Christmas decorations and keep only what we will use and what we love. Donate the rest.
  • Finish going through everything in the sunroom.
  • Finish going through everything in the garage.
  • Declutter the master bedroom.
  • Declutter the master bathroom.
  • Finish the last of the items around the house from a construction standpoint. (The guest room walls need to be patched and painted, as does the mudroom. Punch list stuff like that.)
  • Research neighborhoods with smaller houses. Make a decision as to where we will go.
  • Prioritize volunteer activities and choose where we will spend our time.
  • Practice saying ‘No.’
  • Define what simple means for us.
  • Overhaul our spending on food. It’s too high right now.
  • Prioritize kids’ activities.
  • Focus intensely on our health (nutrition and exercise) and prioritize healthy eating choices on a budget.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me. I really do appreciate all of the comments. A lot. Even the ones that challenge me. They make me better.

31 Responses to The Halfway Point

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey. It’s very inspiring, and I look forward to hearing more! We are also in the process of downsizing, and I am so looking forward to having less to clean and maintain and organize!

  2. Thank you for your honesty. I’m sure it’s very difficult to posth,not knowing what kind of response you will recieve from the world. it takes a lot of courage, both to go against the “buy more” tide, and to tell the internet about it. Your journey continues to insire me to look at my life, and make the changes I need to make.

  3. Wow! Sounds as though I’m not alone in the feelings I’ve been experiencing during our journey to simplify our lives. I still have days when I wish a flash fire would take care of so many of our things, but leave the family and home undamaged. I know that it’s my responsibility to remove these items from our lives in a responsible manner, but a girl can dream…Keep it up! You’re doing an incredible job, and being a wonderful role-model for your family and readers. Hugs.

  4. You are doing great! Your blog is helping me in my journey of crap reduction, most of the easy stuff is gone so reading about other’s struggles helps me make those harder decisions. Thanks!

  5. Getting angry and feeling guilty, is the best way to learn a lesson permanently.

    I did that with debt, and am slowly doing that with things / stuff I buy at full retail price when I don’t have to (e.g. designer shoes that fit like a glove, need not cost $800, but $200 when purchased used).

    You have done an amazing job, Kandice. Feel proud. You will see in hindsight after it’s all said and done, how well you did.

  6. Your journey is very inspiring to me, and I love to read your posts. I am in the same decluttering spot as you: much has been done but there is SO much more to do. Slowly but surely it will get done, and it is embarrassing to know that we have spent good money on things we didn’t need, sometimes having multiples of one item and yet we’d buy more at the store. I’m anxious to read more of your simplicity journey!

  7. I don’t comment a lot, but I love reading your posts! I have so much respect and admiration for your being brave enough to be so open and vulnerable about the changes you are making and the feelings you are experiencing along the way. It is hard, at least for me, to admit to embarrassing feelings like being shallow or petty at times. We all feel this way, but you are brave enough to put it out there and not worry about being judged–or worrying but not letting it stop you!

    You have accomplished so much in these 6 months and I hope you realize it and are proud of all you and your family’s hard work. I am wishing you the strength and patience to finish the job you have started so successfully!

  8. Thanks for sharing it helps me with my efforts to declutter my stuff/junk. I too have felt a lot of the emotions that you have as well so I guess we are in good company. LOL.

    Keep up the good work and good luck on finding a smaller house in budget, what you want, and where you want it.

  9. I almost started to cry when I read this, it is exactly what I’m thinking about. Now I live in a 3 room apartment with my boyfriend and our son so I don’t have that much space (and stuff) as you have, but anyway, I have tried to declutter and downsize for 6 months or so, but right now I’m stuck and it doesn’t feel good at all, even if I know that I have a lot less now than before. Keep up the good work! /Rebecka from Sweden

  10. You have done so well so far. You still have time to do what you want to do.

    We are looking to move from Ohio to Florida next year and I have been getting rid of a lot of things. I really have to think do I want to take it with us and pay to move it and then not use it or do I love it eough to take it with us. We don’t have kids but we do have 3 dogs and 2 cats so I have been going thru there toys and donating the ones that can be to the animals who don’t have. I’ve also got a few things together for a spring/summer garage sale and have been deciding what big things we want to take with us. It’s a lot of work but I don’t want to take things and unpack when we don’t need them. Dh is so in charge of the garage if it was me 1/2 of that would go.

    Good luck and you can do it!!

  11. “Because the irony is that there was a waste of time and energy and resources in the accumulation and then there’s a corresponding exertion of energy in the disposal.”

    There’s the rub. I nodded vigorously at this sentence. My depression currently stems from the fact that even if I do find proper homes for our discards, they still will end up in the landfill eventually–maybe just not by me. That makes me hurt.

  12. Thank you, Kandice, for being so brave and so open. I am absolutely certain that you and your family has the strengt and determination to see this through to a well earned success. Please let us follow you all the way to your happy life with less, even if it should take a little bit longer than planned.
    Cheers from Helena in Sweden

  13. This post is awesome. Congrats and I believe it is all worth it. We are doing something similar this year on a smaller scale and it has already laid off…even if it’s so hard at the time

  14. Great post,My emotions are the same, mainly I hate the fact that I wasted all that money and now I have to spend time dealing with the stuff. And the fact that as Trisha said it will all go to landfill eventually which is scary. We recently had hard rubbish collection and it made me feel ill to see all the electronics, furniture etc on the sidewalk to be thrown out and then think of all those people shopping for new stuff which will be put in the rubbish also in a few years.

  15. Happy half birthday! I hope that as well as all those challenging emotions you also feel proud. You have improved your own lives and by documenting publicly you have offered others a chance to learn through you, also.

  16. Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished so far. You’ve gotten a lot done in 6 months, especially when you throw major back problems. I really enjoy reading your posts, and they keep me motivated to continue simplifying.

  17. I’ve been lurking for a while, but wanted to let you know you have been an inspiration to me. Thanks for posting your journey here. I’ll continue to follow.

  18. Congrats on a great job!! Good luck on the remainder of it. I enjoy reading your updates and following your accomplishments.

  19. Kandice, I have missed your posts and am now trying to get caught up with you. I think you are doing great in your decluttering process. When I began mine I lived in a one bedroom apartment with no storage areas or garage. That one tiny 500 sq ft apartment took me 6 months to clear out! Your journey and your feelings as you do so parallel my own. I was so upset with myself for letting all that crap come into my home but not wanting to toss anything out to sit in the landfills it took a bit of work to find everything new homes. Isn’t it fun to see your kitchen cabinets so empty now? That was one of the first break throughs I had. My kitchen, while not large by any means had cabinets overflowing. Finding things was a pain and often dangerous as things fell out trying to get to what I needed. When I was done I had half the cabinets empty and the rest were neatly arranged with easy access to everything. That was when I knew I had to continue no matter where the final result took me.

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