My husband brought up our very old computer and has been using it at home to run data reports. When I am working, I often look at the screen saver pictures; we stopped using this computer roughly four years ago, so the pictures are a snap shot of our life during that time.

The first few times I looked at the rotation of pictures, I marveled at how small my son was (the pictures are from his birth to about 18 months, and he is now 6), and how much my son and baby daughter look alike.

But then I started noticing something else—how empty our house was. The hall way from the study to the dining room/living room was completely empty! Now there is only a narrow path because there is a standing book shelf filled with kid’s board games and my eBay shipping supplies, and a chest that holds all of our blankets. Resting on the chest are clothes I haven’t listed on eBay.

In the pictures our living room is also sparsely furnished with only a couch, tv and tv stand and kitchen table. My son had the entire area to play with. Now, there is a standing toy box, another large book shelf, a small book shelf, the playpen, a big bouncy seat, a couch, a kitchen table, and end table, a tv stand and tv.

So, what happened? Six years ago we were just starting to dig ourselves out of credit card debt from my graduate school education. We did not have a lot of money, and we did not have a lot of STUFF. But life was much more enjoyable.

Now we are overrun with STUFF. Part of it is from having three kids in the apartment, a large part of it is from my eBay business and, more importantly, a lot of it is from just buying too much. Too much that we don’t need and don’t use. Too much that I am now trying to cull for the decluttering challenge.

We bought STUFF thinking we needed it or because we wanted it, but all it did was clutter our home and our lives. STUFF has affected us in many ways:

– Maintaining the home is difficult when I am always having to move piles of stuff. Our home is not nearly as attractive as it used to be.

– Having STUFF can begin to feel oppressive; it makes me feel trapped sometimes

-Having too much STUFF makes me feel out of control

I started the decluttering challenge 3 weeks ago and have gotten rid of over 160 items. There is so much still to do, but I find inspiration looking at those old photos and seeing how sparse our home was. It can look that way again. I’ll make sure of that.

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