I told a friend of mine that we did the Community Yard Sale this weekend. He laughed and asked, “Did you have anything to sell?”

I think there is a common misconception that because I’m a professional organizer, my house is completely free of clutter, or things I don’t use or believe to be beautiful. William Morris gave us this concept that if it’s not useful or beautiful to you, then you should not have it in your home. While I agree with that overall concept, sometimes it’s just not that simple. Life gets busy and we can become somewhat blind to our stuff.

The truth is that even professional organizers need to re-think and clean out their homes sometimes. And because I have kids, and they have stuff I definitely don’t think is beautiful, I choose to believe there is some middle ground with the whole useful/beautiful thing.  

I’ve lived in three different houses in two different states in the last six years. In every house, I designate two small spaces in my basement or garage – one for donations and one for yard sale stuff. Having a designated space makes it easy for me to regularly remove things from our active living space and put them somewhere until it’s time to deal with them.

But each house was different, and we went through a different phase of life in each home. And the fact is that some stuff stayed along for the ride through too many moves and now it was time to let it go.

And then there’s the kid stuff. I think it multiplies while we sleep at night. I am a big believer in purging kids stuff as they outgrow it, but somehow we still had Thomas trains and Cars cars and – please don’t tell anyone – a few baby toys that I had kept because they were great toys.

See, even as a professional organizer I struggle with the same stuff as my clients. I have held onto things because I think I might use them one day, because I hadn’t taken an honest look around the house to see what needed to go, AND because I was being sentimental. But by understanding and accepting those thoughts, and separating the stuff from my emotions, I was also able to let that stuff go this weekend.

Thankfully the yard sale was relatively successful. It was a beautiful day and I had the added bonus of watching my kids enthusiastically try to sell a few items they had cleaned out from their rooms. We only brought home a few things that didn’t sell, and they will likely make their way to a donation site sometime soon. But the best part is the free space in my basement that is ready for the next phase.