Last year I did the unthinkable and cut my wardrobe in half.

It was a long time coming and a brutal process, but kicked off a season of purging in my life. After it was underway I realized it was happening across the board, like a snowball effect. The ultimate cleanse.

Prior to getting sick I started to revamp this site. Combing through old content left me tired and, at times, disgusted. The overall theme was buy, cry about how much stuff I had, get rid of a bunch and then start buying all over again. The truth is I owned more clothing and shoes than any one person could ever need, even after repeatedly giving garbage bag after garbage bag to Goodwill. Why was I perpetuating the cycle?

After the stroke I spent the better part of six months laid up on the couch, forced into downtime. Initially I tried to spend some of that time on the computer, but scrolling of any sort left me dizzy and disoriented. That meant no shopping, in fact it had kind of lost it’s flavor. Newsflash: you don’t care about what you’re going to wear when you’re wondering if you’re going to live at all. When I was able to start going through posts again, this time I was exhausted by the frenzy, mass consumption and lack of living. What had I been thinking? Actually I do know what I was thinking: I am frustrated. I work very hard, have a lot of demands on me and never get to take time off. No one respects my boundaries (I didn’t have any). I deserve a break. So basically, rewarding myself with stuff – lots and lots of stuff – was my break. How warped is that?

One day I decided I was going to try selling some things on eBay. After a couple hours I managed to find only one thing out of hundreds that I felt comfortable parting with. Just trying to decide what to get rid of left me confused and panicked. What the frig, was I a hoarder? Why couldn’t I let go of this stuff? Over a series of weeks I kept forcing myself back into the closet, setting small limits on things to sell. First three things, then five, etc. Sometimes I felt like crying, everything seemed to have a memory attached to it. But then after some of those things sold I noticed I felt relieved, lighter in my spirit for having let go a piece of the past. I started to realize the things I was holding onto so tightly were actually holding me back from moving on with my life. It was an epiphany.

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In the process of all this I found a page on Facebook: Becoming Minimalist. The motivational quotes lit a fire and encouraged me to keep going. I realized I had been feeling like the walls were closing in, from all the stuff I had been clutching, for a very long time. I didn’t own it, it owned me.

When I went back to continue working through old blog posts, it was easier to scrap them. A part of me wanted to get away from the person I was, not all of her but definitely some. When I went back into the closets, I couldn’t get rid of the stuff fast enough. I purged for over six months last year. SIX MONTHS. That might be an eternity in purge years. I got rid of 10 flowing garbage bags + sold over 100 things on eBay – and that was just the clothing and shoes. By late November when it started to wind down, I was actually bummed to have to hit the brakes.

I have a secret goal: to own no more than 75 things total when it comes to clothing and shoes.

I have a confession: I’m not there yet.

Who knows? I may never get there, but it certainly keeps me motivated. What are the end results? I live a calmer, more peaceful life. I am acutely aware of what I spend. I save more money, have a greater appreciation for the simple things and am a happier person. I am also almost, almost debt-free. I feel like I’ve returned to myself in a way, back to the person I was when I left the island in Washington. A little older, a little wiser and a lot more back on track. I have to tell you, it feels great.