Thrifting to me is the same as breathing air…I need it to live.

Luckily, (or not so luckily) Mark is just as addicted to scouring thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales as I am. That means there’s no system of checks and balances in our house. So when one of us holds up a “find” at a sale, the other one urges/eggs them on, “Yeah! You can totally turn that anvil into a lamp shade!”

Although way more fun and exciting to share this trait, it’s also been our downfall. Our houses have been filled to the bursting point with “collectibles and treasures” and a suffocating amount of …”projects”. The problem is that we can both see past the ugly or the disrepair of ANYTHING. We can’t throw anything away, thinking that there will be a use for it someday. Fighting this desire to “save” things from ruin and bring it back to life either in it’s former glory or as something completely different, has been an extremely difficult and painful journey for Mark and me. We realized (and by WE, I mean ME…Mark had to be forcibly committed to a clutter-rehab)  that when your house is filled with clutter (one of the treatments is to start calling all your treasures “clutter”) it immobilizes you and stifles your life. Instead of doing all those “projects”, we spent all our time building shelves to house all the boxes that contained all the materials to do all the projects! {sigh} I’m getting all tired just thinking about it.

I'm outing Mark and I with these photos...this is the garage of the first house we bought together in CA.

I'm outing Mark and I with these photos...this is the garage of the first house we bought together in CA.

The more "treasure" we found, the more shelves we built to store it on.

The more "treasure" we found, the more shelves we built to store it on.

There are more "project" lamps than we had rooms to put them in. My chest is tightening and my right arm is numb just looking at these photos.

There are more "project" lamps than we had rooms to put them in. My chest is tightening and my right arm is numb just looking at these photos.

The garage was just the overflow from the house. We had a modest 1,100 square foot house which should be plenty big enough for just the two of us. Some how it wasn’t…

The hallway is a great place to store things. Walking sideways burns more calories than just walking straight.

The hallway is a great place to store things. Walking sideways burns more calories than just walking straight.

Our restful bedroom. I always slept well after the "climbing over the boxes" workout.

Our restful bedroom. I always slept well after the "climbing over the boxes" workout.

The office. No more room? No problem...just build shelves from wall to wall, floor to ceiling.

The office. No more room? No problem...just build shelves from wall to wall, floor to ceiling.

Guest bedroom/craft room. OK, I think you get the point. (and I'm getting nauseaus)

Guest bedroom/craft room. OK, I think you get the point. (and I'm getting nauseous)

Our answer to this problem? Well obviously…we needed a bigger house! That’s right, folks. We couldn’t see the forest for the clutter. We went from 1,100 square feet to a 4,000 square foot Victorian.  The house was amazing. It was also over 110 years old. That means we moved all of our little “projects” into one great big project…the house, itself.

Our dream house. That is if you like dreaming about termites and bees and skunks, (oh my!) and all the invisible projects like plumbing, wiring and rebuilding. Have you ever seen the movie, "The Money Pit"? It's not a comedy to us, It's a documentary.

Our dream house. That is if you like dreaming about termites and bees and skunks, (oh my!) and all the invisible projects like plumbing, wiring and rebuilding. Have you ever seen the movie, "The Money Pit"? It's not a comedy to us, It's a documentary.

Nate spent his second 2 years of life in this house, wandering the halls looking for his parents. When Zeke came into the picture, we knew we needed a change. The house, the “projects” the clutter…it was just too overwhelming.

I started watching clutter-reducing, organizational, clean-up-your-pig-sty shows obsessively. I was like an overweight person that watches diet/exercise shows.  “Clean House” and “Clean Sweep” were on 24 hours a day. Peter Walsh and Niecy Nash were my new gurus. I would have these amazing dreams that both of them would show up at my doorstep, wave their little clutter-free wands and I would emerge from the clutter-cocoon a beautiful, butterfly…able to fly unobstructed through my home. {sigh}

But when that didn’t happen, I knew desperate times called for deperate actions: “Let’s move to Florida, Mark!” I cheered. “Huh?” he replied. “Let’s start over. Let’s sell everything we own, move near our family in FL and lead a clutter-free life!” Mark grabbed his glasses off the (cluttered) bed-side table, put them on and looked me straight in the eye. “Can we make breakfast first?”

So, one year, 3 yard sales, many donations and gifts to friends later…here we are in Florida! Now, I’m not insinuating that we are by any means clutter-free now but we are well on our way. It cost us $10,000 to move all the stuff we felt like we had to keep…the “can’t live without” stuff. We’ve sold/donated about half of that in the year we’ve been in FL and have been “living without it” just fine. Even better actually. Not only is it a very slow, painful process but an extremely expensive one. But the reward is living an authentic life, surrounded by the few things that REALLY matter and bring you joy. (instead of piles of boxes filled with crap)

We have lots of new rules to keep us on the path to “less is more”. One of them is: Nothing comes into our house unless it has a place. And another is: If you bring home a project, it must be done within a week. I’m proud to say we adhered to both rules this past weekend. Celebration has a bi-annual “Porch and Yard Sale”. We are sellers mostly but couldn’t resist a little “treasure hunting” with the boys. (“We’re teaching them moderation” she said trying to convince herself.) Mark spotted a beautiful desk from the 1930’s that needed a “teeny, tiny bit of work” he said. I chose to go along with his white lie because it was awesome and we got it for a song ($30.) He carried it home and then my wonderful husband immediately got out his tools and made the repairs to the legs, cleaned it up and promptly put it in it’s new home…our bedroom. (Was he suppose to be working on the swingset? Absolutely. But I had a selfish moment and he needed to finish a project and be proud for a few minutes. Mission accomplished.) I had an industrial white fold out table from Costco in there before. I had taken out my sewing machine to finally start a life-long desire to learn how to sew. Now, thanks to Mark, I have a beautiful start to my new hobby!

Zeke helping Daddy. Not only didn't the apple didn't fall far from the tree but it's rolling back towards it!

Zeke helping Daddy. Not only didn't the apple didn't fall far from the tree but it's rolling back towards it!

Ta-da! Table, meet chair. Chair, meet table. You two were made for each other.

Ta-da! Table, meet chair. Chair, meet table. You two were made for each other.

I still dream about Peter Walsh and Niecy Nash. But in these dreams we’re…well let’s just say we’re “clutter-free”!

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