Minimalism vs Really Good Organization

I used to LOVE storage magazines. Seriously. I would get couple when I saw new ones out. I would binge watch Clean House or other similar shows on TV. I was so excited when I got to go to The Container Store, it was like a dream come true.

I was really good at organizing. I could make my house look like a house in those storage magazine...for about a day. Then low and behold it would be messy and cluttered again.

What the hell Batman?

We have moved every two years for the last 10 years. In 2015, before we moved to Belgium, we went through our stuff and realized that we had a box of stuff still in the original box from when I moved out of my parents house at 19. We had been living in houses with basements (or when it lacked a basement, rented a storage unit) all this time and these boxes just got moved from place to place without us doing anything about it.

The story actually begins a few years before 2015 when we lived in our smallest house to date, just under 1300 sq ft. 

In this house we were really able to start making big changes in the impact our family was making on the earth. We had tried before and were doing a few things but in this house, we owned it and had some land.

One of those things included looking at everything in our home and really get rid of things that didn't fit in with what we wanted for our family BUT we hadn't drastically changed our mindset and so while we downsized, we didn't do it much.

I just became really good at organizing it all.

Forward to 2015...despite claiming to be minimalists and having people say we were minimalists...we rented a 20 yard dumpster and FILLED IT with stuff that had been in hiding. I had been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and another book...The Joy in Simplicity or something like that. 

I was armed with the tools and cleaned out a lot. 

Flash forward to December 2016, the girls and I have to move back from Belgium because the house is empty (long story on finances) and so here comes the movers to pack our stuff up. We were so proud to see how much little stuff we had compared to the move over there but I watched as they all packed it up and HOLY CRAP we still had a lot of stuff. 

I was just really good at organizing it.

Flash forward again to July 2017 (that is this month) and with the bus almost getting done....and me getting REALLY tired of trying to get the girls to clean up their toys again...I decided it was time to go through it all. Keep in mind that it has only been 2 years since we rented the giant dumpster (I'm serious it was longer than our 15 passenger van).  I am not even 100% done and I have a 50 gallon tote, a large moving box, a few larger items that don't fit into boxes....and thats just the donate stuff. At the curb right now is 3 big trash bags and a broken storage tote filled with scrapbooks that I haven't worked on or looked at for about 6 years.

That was just the garage....which still isn't done.

Even as I have taken pictures of our current living situation, a lot of people comment on how peaceful and minimal it is. 

While I agree that we would definitely fall into the minimalist category for the size of family we are....I would say that I am just really good at organizing.

I think this is an important question to ask when you are working through clutter and downsizing...am I really minimizing or am I just getting really good at organizing?

Today, the inspiration to write was all the photos and mementos I went through. So many of them I kept because I thought I had to. I went through them...yes all of them...and pulled out the ones that immediately made me smile...like flipping through them quickly and still made me smile. 

I got rid of a lot and I feel insanely lighter.

For letters and things (Oaken and I wrote a lot of letter when we were dating and first married), I had a box that I said "this is all I am keeping" and when I was done, they all fit perfectly.

So again...the question is...

Am I really minimizing or am I just really good at organizing?