Living with Less: Lessons From What We're Living Without

As our Living with Less series comes to a close (don't worry there are still a few weeks of paring back left!), I decided to begin dispersing what we're living without. This morning the Vietnam Veterans will arrive to pick up the bulk of goods, so I spent much of yesterday organizing and itemizing what we're donating. As I poked along, having mostly forgotten what I was parting with, I realized there was some good stuff in there! Read on for the purging lesson associated with each good.

TOP ROW

1. Here are nine (of the many) items we're living without

2. I've been carrying around this lampshade for years. I purchased it in 2006 for a lamp it ended up not fitting. Though we still use the lamp, this shade still doesn't fit it. Lesson Learned: If it doesn't fit now, it never will. Let it go.

3. When we were first married my husband gave me this cookbook cover. He noticed I was always getting food on my cookbooks as they sat on the counter. It was the perfect gesture and I used it for a while, but the way the light reflects off it in our new kitchen causes me to strain my eyes. So, goodbye cookbook cover. Lesson Learned: Sometimes items loose their usefulness. It's okay, pare away.

4. Hubby bought these tennis rackets on Ebay before I knew him. He's an avid player but never used the rackets to actually play, at least not since I've known him. The two of them cost about $20, which is why he bought them. Lesson Learned: Just because an item is inexpensive, doesn't mean it's useful. Cut out the phantom spending, folks!

5. These paintings are from China; they were brought back to the states from a 2007 trip. They've hung in several places in our home, and while I think they're okay, their colors aren't great with our décor and are more suitable for a child's room. Although we want kids in the future, and these painting would be okay for a child's room, we don't have kids now. I'm sure when that time comes, we'll love another piece of our art more than these for that purpose. Lesson Learned: If you're not passionate about a piece now, you probably will never be, even if your life changes to possibly fit its purpose down the road.

BOTTOM ROW

6. I've been carrying around this over-the-door shoe organizer from The Container Store since 2008. I bought it for our Brooklyn condo but it didn't actually fit over-the-door. So, what did I do? I left it in my closet for two years and then stupidly brought it to our home in New Jersey. I still have the receipt but I now live nowhere near The Container Store and I refuse to lug it into the city just to return it for $30. And not to mention the receipt is completely faded! Lesson Learned: Don't procrastinate with returns. If it's not meant for you, make it a priority to return the item; otherwise, you'll be stuck with trying to figure out what to do with it. This is the ultimate lesson in refusing goods into your home!

7. Here are three necklaces: one I've never worn; another I constantly wore in 2008 but can't see myself wearing again; a third I love and can still see myself wearing. I'm donating the first two and keeping the third. Lesson Learned: Compare like objects. It will help you define what you use and what you don't use.

8. Sweet hubby and I were on a Saturday walk through Brooklyn two summers ago when we came across a shoe store. I was in one of those moods where you just want to shop. These shoes are what resulted in our little adventure. I've never worn them and don't like them at all, and I'm not sure I ever did, so what was I thinking? I'm not sure I was thinking, that's the point. Lesson Learned: Don't shop when you're bored. Make your shopping trips count: have a list of what's needed and don't browse for sport.

9. The subject of this image is a mirror (squeezed between boxes) that I'm letting go of. I bought it in 2002 and paid too much for it. While I love it, the mirror itself has warped and doesn't do its job from across a room or up close. Lesson Learned: If something isn't doing its duty, it's okay to let go of it.

10. I used to work in an office located in a giant NYC skyscraper where winters were like summer and summers were like winter. These cardigans were my saving grace during the months it was extremely warm outside (requiring that you wear a dress) and 58 degrees inside. But I don't work in an office any longer and I don't wear them in my current life. Lesson Learned: Shop and maintain a wardrobe for your current life, not the life you once had or dream of having. It's a waste of money and space.

(Images: Landis Carey)

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