operation: use it up!

I’ve been in an off-and-on funk lately. A wilderness-wandering kind of deal. In between the awful and the all-better, waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for relief and reprieve and the go-ahead to forge onward and upward.

And when the waiting gets to me and I feel lost in the same-old same-old same-old drudgery, I get paralyzed. And play Settlers of Catan Cities and Knights on my iPhone.

I’ve got a little bit of an all-or-nothing problem. Go big or go to bed. And I need to do a little adapting.


Enter Operation: Use it Up!

Some of you might know of my slight obsession with purging things we don’t need. Sometimes it’s to liquidate and get us to Cambodia/help our friends in Cambodia, and sometimes it’s because I’m easily overwhelmed. And here’s Gabe’s take on it (a post I wrote just two days before he up and had a heart attack).

I’m living in a Land of Limits right now. Limited funds, limited options, limited resources, limited patience. So I’m on a mission to Make The Most Of. This little project could also be called Operation: Tie Up Loose Ends or Operation: Finish All the Things I’ve Started.

Whatever the title, here’s the plan:

For the months of September and October, I’m going to use up, finish up, write, mail, clean, de-clutter, organize, gift, re-purpose, recycle EVERYTHING. All of it.

Each little thing I do won’t seem like much, but it’s going to add up to BOOM BAM AWESOME.

And on my birthday (the last day of October), I will celebrate and rejoice with the angels as my entire home and life are 100% simplified, organized, and READY TO ROLL (whatever that may mean).

Ambitious much?

(please, God, help this not to fizzle)

And there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye. Maybe I’ll wax eloquent about my philosophy when it’s all said and done.

Here are some ideas off the top of my noggin.

Operation: Use it Up!

–use all the hotel shampoo/soap we’ve got lying around/stuffed in cupboards and drawers.

–empty all 31 (!!) photo albums, choose the very best pics to put back in.

–use up all my random note cards/envelopes to send encouragement notes to people I haven’t talked to in awhile.

–send some pics to old friends as a fun trip down memory lane.

–use up all the random food in the cupboards/fridge. (I’ve actually already pretty much done this.)

–use up all my scrap paper.

–and craft supplies.

–get rid of all the clothes people don’t wear. (I’ve mostly done this too.)

–pass special things on to friends who will appreciate them.

–go back through old journals and find things I want to blog/write e-books about.

–use up all my Scrabble tiles.

–use up all the bathroom stuff I’ve bought and didn’t like.

–get rid of the rest of the Christmas stuff. (I’m done with Christmas)

–scan the photos we took before we got our first digital camera.

–clean out desk drawers/junk drawers.

–get rid of every single thing I don’t use in the kitchen.

–write to our Compassion kid, Gabriel.

–give away things we used to love and now we don’t.

–finish my Cambodia e-book/the girls’ zoo e-book and write the one about unschooling.

–dispose of the baby turtle that died in our basement. (just checking to see if you made it this far)

–wax eloquent about my philosophy about all this when it’s all said and done.

–that’s a good start.

Any questions? Anybody want to join me in the insanity? What are some things that would be on your list?

19 thoughts on “operation: use it up!

  1. Sharon


    I do remember that I have the book, but was way late to the game today for the read-along intro. I’ve been so busy decluttering thanks to this post, that I hardly looked at my calendar. But, on a positive note, I found a business card I’ve been looking for while cleaning up my desk. So thank you for that!

  2. Amanda Espinoza

    One more thing. I agree with the other commenters. I want to hear your thoughts about Christmas. We did a “season of no” two Christmases ago. We said no to a lot of Christmas events. It was so freeing! I think we are about to tell the 6 year old that Santa isn’t real. :-/

  3. Amanda Espinoza

    Go Marla Go! I wanted to encourage you. I started purging and cleaning last Summer when we had no vacations and were just getting started on our debt-free journey. Little did I know how fast things would progress and here we are trying to sell our home. I am so glad I began working on the stuff last year, because it would have been too much for me this year. Each purge gets easier. You never what will happen. Good for you for being faithful where you are!

  4. Lisa Basner

    Simplicity!!! What a glorious thing! Since moving I have simplified tremendously, but I still have so much excess! Where does it all come from! I am slowly working towards selling, donating, tossing, handing down stuff we aren’t using and certainly don’t need. I too have a ton of toiletry items that have been sitting for months/years – they must go! Your enthusiasm is contagious! Keep it coming!!! Love you, Roomie!

  5. Rachelle

    Let’s talk more about being done with Christmas. I am now imagining all sorts of personal freedom from that holiday.

    I have had to learn personal discipline in not letting all the stuff overwhelm me and make me feel hopeless. I keep our house simple and decluttered but as for the outside spaces,home on the range, it cannot be done. Our barn is a collection of overwhelming…things that might be needed later. I am not allowed in there. My choice. I freak out. I risk not being a kind wife. (-:

  6. Laura

    Ugh, I have a huge pile of clothes that were given to me that I need to do something with. Really, I want to take it all to the consignment shop, but it’s just so much wooooooork. (did you hear the whine in that?) It all needs to be wrinkle free, on hangers, blahbityblah. So therefore, I need to just bag it up and take it to goodwill and let it be someone else’s problem/blessing. Right? It’s at least a free tax deduction, right? There’s my start!

  7. Jeanine

    This is a great idea, and I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes as well as simplifying along with you. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff because we’re trying to sell our house. Also, my youngest son moved out a week ago, so I gave him all of my extra kitchen stuff as well as the all the hotel shampoo and soap. I know he’s going to need it, because he’s sure to run out without me buying it for him:)
    So, I know you’re not done with Christ, could you explain what you mean by being done with Christmas? Will you have any decorations and/or celebrate at all? I know that for several years, all of the commercialization has made me a little nauseous, and I haven’t been into a lot of decorating. I always say that things will be different this year, and we won’t get caught up in all the busyness, but it’s hard to go against the flow. Your thoughts on this, especially with children involved, would be appreciated.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’ll attempt to crystallize my thoughts on Christmas at some point. Yes, it’s the commercialization. And I just feel like we Christians do commercialization + Advent calendar and call it all good. 🙁

  8. Bethany

    1. I love this! Can I join in???
    2. Could I maybe have some of the photo albums you get rid of?
    3. I can’t wait to read your book about unschooling!
    4. I have been slowly using up our toiletry products also. Even the giant body wash container that made me want to vomit during my first trimester with Lila. It still kinda stinks.
    5. I love you!

  9. Sharon

    What’s the being done with Christmas about? And, hmm, we haven’t heard about your turtle lately. But it wasn’t a baby, right???

    My list:
    Take items to donate to crisis pregnancy center in
    Shred the giant stack of papers (okay, not a stack, giant mess all over the floor right now)
    List stuff on my desk on eBay already
    Go through clothes to see what all fits me right now
    To be continued, I’m sure.

      1. Sharon

        Aha, was trying to remember his name. Glad he’s good. So, have been working on cleaning off my desk and came across some Jolly Ranchers (out of bag) from a care package someone sent me MONTHS ago! Also came across a family heirloom type thing that I’ve had for several years. Have no use for it and don’t want it, but know it was important to person who gave it to me (it wasn’t hers, was her Aunt’s). I recently read somewhere about not keeping stuff just b/c you think someone’s feelings will be hurt if you don’t. Would love to give it back to person who gave it to me, but am sure she’d be hurt. I asked my sister if she wanted it and she said she’s purging now too, but it should def stay in the fam. So, it goes to my Mom for now.

  10. jess

    sounds like a super exciting adventure! 🙂 I’m gonna start organized simplicity tomorrow. (again for the 45th time.)

    also. some words from the hymn (of the same name) hit me over the head like a 2 x 4 yesterday and they were these: “be still my soul.” maybe we could have matching forehead goose-eggs. 🙂 prayin’ for some stillness in your soul.

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