It’s the new “thing” — Letting Go.  Everybody who’s anybody keeps telling you that the only way to move forward is to let go of all that baggage you’re lugging around.   “The Simple Life,” hey, ho!  Minimalism rules.

They tell you, “Gee whiz, guys and girls…you’ve got a wagon train following along behind you with all the accumulated baggage of a lifetime and you’re pulling that thing around with you.  No wonder you’re so tired all the time.”

For the most part, that is probably a truth, you know.  People who have little day-packs can scoot along hiking trails a heck of a lot easier than the guys lugging around those huge mountain backpacks that tower over their heads.

Backpacker by dontdothisathome via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]


You figure that you probably do have to let go of at least some of that stuff.  As you’ve probably found already, if you’re a natural-born hoarder who tends to leave claw marks all over stuff you’re forced to release, even letting go of just one little thing might be really tough.

It’s likely that you’ll start remembering the back-story behind every itty-bitty thing or else you’ll recall the dreams you had for this thing or that.  Getting to The Simple Life could very well become an exploration and excavation into your life-story.

You may keep getting sidetracked by all those stories and perhaps you’ll never get to the part where you let go of anything.


So, finally, after much browbeating there you are, winnowing your way through your stuff and starting to feel good about making all that progress.  The space around you is starting to clear up and it really does feel good.

It’s a good thing to remember that some of the more enthusiastic of our wanna-be advisors ignore the truth that you do have to be careful when you start tossing stuff.   If you make it past the first little throw away and then start getting into the swing of it all, it’s relatively easy to tip into deep toss-mode.

Then it’s possible that anything or maybe even everything can go out the window.  There you are, at the height of minimalistic euphoria….

“Tossing out the bath water…heave, ho, hup!..OOPS!  There went the baby!”

Easy, there.  Take a breather.  You do not have to clear everything out all at once.


Here’s a three-part exercise that might help if you really are not making any headway at all.

Choose a target area that you want to clear. It doesn’t have to be a large area. It could be a small corner of a room.  It could be a kitchen drawer.

Part One is to pick up each object in your designated area and ask yourself these three essential questions:

  • Do I need this? (Be brutally honest here.  Do you really need twelve can openers?  Do you need that tacky-looking tattered potholder?)
  • Is this useful? (Does it work?  Have you used it at all in the past six months?)
  • Do I still have a strong connection with it? (Do I love it? Is it uplifting eye-candy? Or is it some guilt-holding like that uber-tacky hand-me-down vase from your beloved old Aunt Martha, the one that leaked all over the dining room table the one time you used it.)

Depending on your answers to these essential questions, you can stick the thing into one of three piles – the YES pile (for the stuff you’re keeping), the NO pile (for the stuff you’re tossing) and the MAYBE pile.  If you’re a real pack-rat the MAYBE pile is going to be the biggest one of all.

Part Two of this exercise is to disappear the MAYBE pile.  Ask yourself the questions again for each of the objects in the maybe pile.  Keep asking until there are only two piles – YES or NO.  The goal is to end up with only YES things in your life.

Part Three is to find places to put the YES stuff on display or in some easy-to-reach place.  Understand that YES stuff that are packed in boxes stuck on high shelves are actually MAYBE or NO things in disguise.

Then, pack up the NO stuff and — this is the important parttake the NO stuff far, far away before the sun sets on your head.

If you are a natural-born hoarder, keeping the NO stuff for the Someday Garage Sale is just an invitation to collect more stuff.  Do not do it!

Renting out storage space for the NO stuff is cheating.  It is also very expensive.

Understand that these drastic measures are just a kick-starter.  Once you get the hang of disappearing things, you won’t need to be quite so deliberate about it.

Once you’ve gotten one space cleared, it does get easier to tackle another little bit and then another until the only things left in your life are the YES stuff.

(Maybe you haven’t noticed this, but these same questions work whether you’re looking at a thing, a person, or some situation that is bothering you.)


Victoria Moran, in her book LIT FROM WITHIN: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty, points out, “A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.

This is another good reason for understanding the why of the things you keep.

This YouTube video of a TedXIndianapolis Talk by screenwriter and blogger Maura Malloy, “The Masterpiece of a Simple Life,” points to a balanced way to get back to simple without losing what you love.

Here’s a poem:


Change is going to happen…

That’s guaranteed.

With me or without me,

Change is going to happen.


And it’s a very funny thing:

I can affect change

One, two, three…

And it’s a very funny thing.


When I put my energy there

Towards nurturing the good

Then the good will grow,

When I put my energy there.


When I put my energy there

Towards nurturing the beauty,

Then beauty will surround me,

When I put my energy there.


If I grow lax, letting things fall apart,

Get all lazy, losing heart,

That’s where the change goes

If I grow lax, letting things fall apart.


If I lose my way, if I grow weak,

Forget my path and forget to speak,

That’s where the change goes

If I lose my way, if I grow weak.


Change can’t be forced, oh, no, no, no…

You can’t push the river,

It just keeps its flow

Change can’t be forced, oh, no, no, no.


Going where it will, where it must,

Change still needs space and trust.

Time is the essence, a vehicle,

Going where it will, where it must.

by Netta Kanoho

Header Picture credit:  Clutter by staci myers via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you….)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.







22 thoughts on “KEEP WHAT YOU LOVE

  1. Great post Netta!

    I could not agree more about how freeing it feels to let go of our unneeded “things”. While it might feel painful at first, in the long-run it grants us time, and peace. I like your tips for being brutally honest with your “yes” and “no” piles. I wander though, is there any reason to have a maybe pile to begin with? Can I skip this step if I know that my maybe pile will inevitably become my “yes” pile?

    1. Hey Alison…thanks for the visit and your comments. As for your question regarding the “maybe” pile, that’s also an example of “brutal honesty!” You just gotta do what you’ve gotta do…. Hee!

      Please do come again.

  2. Hi what a great post I know someone who could really benefit from reading this he is a real hoarder and I think this would really benefit him a lot.

    I know it.can be really emotional and difficult for some people to get rid of things they don’t need any more.

    1. Thanks for the visit and your comments, Marie. I hope the post helps your friend. Please do come again….

  3. Wow.
    I advise you to keep your poems then publish them as a book later on. My friend Thabiso found an old poem journal and she is going to do that soon. I found it lovely and touching. I think writing is a self therapy to the soul. Congratz on your God given talent.

    1. Hey Linda:

      Thanks for your visit and for your thoughts.   I do appreciate them.  

      Please do come again.

  4. Interesting article. I like it. Yes I think that the idea of letting go is a bit overrated and overstated. I think letting go is important but I think sometimes people use the phrase letting go to actually mean like push something away. So I think that in addition to letting things go we also have to let things stay.

    I think when people say letting go they sometimes mean getting rid of and letting go is more of a passive thing while getting rid of is more of an active thing. So I think that is a misunderstanding because if something is not going then there’s nothing to let go. Do you understand what I’m saying? If something is staying then you can to let it go because it’s not trying to go. If something is staying then The surrendered thing to do is to let it stay.

    I think the idea behind letting go is surrender. people say letting go of anger or letting go of resentments. But sometimes those angers and resentments aren’t going. So what about letting them stay? Giving them space? I found that when I do this they have their own life cycle and they pass in time. But it is not that the goal is to even get them to pass. In fact I think one thing deep underneath the idea of letting go is to be without a goal.

    Thanks for your article because I’ve been thinking about that idea philosophically a little and I don’t think I ever told anyone. Maybe you will appreciate it a little. I got to feel like Jon kabat-zinn for a minute LOL.

    1. Hey Charles:  

      Thanks for your visit and for letting your mind run and sharing your conclusions.  It got me thinking as well.  

      I do like your concept of giving space to the angers and resentments and letting them sit there and stew for a while without trying to evict them or anything.  I suppose as long as you do not feed them or encourage them to grow, after a while, the pouting gets less and less and it sort of dissipates.  Hmmm….

      I also like your thought that the kaona (deeper meaning) of “letting go” is to not be attached to any particular outcome.  All of our attachments to the “perfect” scenario, the “best” outcome and all that do seem to make for a heck of a lot of heart-burning.  That might be the best thing to let go, maybe.

      Wow!  Talk about channeling Kabat-zinn!  Good job, Charles! 


      Please do come again

  5. What a great title to this post – Keeping what you love.    I’ve been on a three year journey of attempting to reduce the clutter, the extra baggage in my life.    Some days it does not feel like I made any progress.  Yet, the back seat of my truck is full of things that will be going to Goodwill the next time I am in the area.    

    I suppose that after a while of learning to getting rid of a few things, we get better.  I just took a pair of shorts that I liked out to the truck.  Although I liked them, they are not comfortable.    My first tendency was to think that if my weight changes, they will be more comfortable but I should keep them.    Yet, I remember thinking the exact same thing last year.   

    Thanks for providing a bit of motivation that I needed as I consider how to start getting rid of things that are in my storage unit.   

    ps.  I liked your poem.  

    1. Sondra, thank you for the visit and for sharing your story.  

      It’s a funny thing, that.  There are certain things that were perfect at one point in our lives but no longer work any more, but we keep thinking that maybe, somehow, we’ll get back to how-it-used-to-be.

      It’s good that you take the time to poke along.  It’s great that you take the time to toss stuff.

      I’m glad the post was helpful.

      Please do come again….

  6. Nice Gal Nikki says:

    Well this is a very informative article! I clean homes for a living so I found this very useful information that I can use now when somebody asks me if I can help them organize their home. Sometimes I look at their belongings and I feel overwhelmed and am not sure where to start. I will be bookmarking this page so I can write down some of these tips. Appreciate this, thanks.

    1. Nikki, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I am glad you can use the information in the post.

      Helping people get themselves organized is a really cool calling.  You can help them make more space for the life they really want, I am thinking.  Good on ya!

      Please do come again!

  7. I am person of moving around. I’ve done it my whole life. I have probably lived in over 20 homes and I’m only 20 years old at the moment.  

    What I learnt from packing my bags all the time is that you really do need to keep what you love, and you have described that beautifully here.

    Thanks so much !

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Taine420.

      Wo! That sure is a heck of a lot of moving around!

      I bet you’ve refined your stuff-stash down to your best lovelies. Good on ya!

      Please do come again.

  8. Hi, Netta. I love this post. It’s true that we need to sort out our stuff and try to clear any areas in our home that’s overflowing with things we don’t actually use or need.

    Yes, practicing this clearing of space also clears our inner- self making us more productive, happy and alive.

    Definitely throwing out or selling things we don’t use for several years and keeping only what we love, would give us lots of space all around, inside and out.

    Thanks for this post.


    1. Ruth, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.

      Please come again.

  9. I can’t stand it when I hear all these gobshites and their one liners. They are usually as wishy washy as the British weather is. 

    There certainly is a point about being organised. But as a rag and bone man for over 25 years, I have no intention of following their ‘Lets pretend we’re wealthier than we really are’ fashion and throw out all my stuff only to feel like a fool when the fashion changes back. 

    No doubt they’ll be bumping their gums soon enough about how it’s cool to hang on.

    1. Kwidzin, you make me smile!

      Please come again.

  10. What an incredible post! I was drawn in from the start.. the first half of this post I was sitting all smug thinking “I’m not a hoarder, I throw out everything..even stuff I need something” second half BOOM… I take it all back! I need to apply these rules to my life. Love love love this! 

    1. Jess, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I am so pleased you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again.

  11. Jerry McCoy says:

    I believe your poem after the video speaks more for directing where to make the change. If we put our energy into making a change for positivity rather than a change for having minimal space, we lose the ability to see how grand our lives can be or how far we can go with pushing for change that is inherent with beauty and peace.


    1. I like your thoughts, Jerry.  Thank you.

      Please do come again.

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