check this site out Sometimes in life, an otherwise mundane and uneventful act can evolve into a life changing realization. You see these boxes?


These boxes are the result of my futile attempt to organize my children’s rooms. It happens every year, right after the holidays.

After a slew of toys, gadgets and gizmos make their way into the hands of my well-deserving (yet sometimes overindulged) kids every holiday season, Mom—that would be me—has to figure out a way to get it all to fit into their already jam-packed rooms.

The end result usually involves me shouting obscenities, assuming the fetal position in a corner for a while, then eventually throwing about 95% of their toys into a heap of boxes—much like the ones you see here—until I muster up the energy to sort through the stuff.

This year, that “mustering of energy” equates to about seven months time.

For seven months I’ve sat in disbelief, trying to wrap my head around how my kids have managed to accumulate so much stuff over the years.

For seven months I’ve stared at the boxes, contemplating the notion of just taking the whole damn pile out to the backyard and setting it ablaze.

For seven months I’ve been putzing around the house, frustrated and overwhelmed by the thought of even beginning the arduous task of organizing the boxes—only recently realizing that, for seven months, my kids haven’t asked for a single item in the boxes since I’ve packed them.


SEVEN MONTHS. And they haven’t missed a SINGLE THING.


And that’s when I asked myself—why, exactly, are we keeping all of this stuff?

While pondering this question, I pan over to the rest of the house and realize it’s pretty much the same story.

Take the kitchen for example. There’s got to be at least 20 or so gadgets in my kitchen that I’ve never laid a finger on. And 20 or so more that I’ve used maybe a handful of times. Let’s face it—do I really need four cheese plates? How about twelve wine stoppers? Do I really drink that much wine? What am I, a lush? Wait, don’t answer that.

Then there’s the living room/dining room. Why do I have 550 million tchotchkes on my end tables/coffee table/bookshelves/china cabinet? It drives me bananas to have to move the damn things every time I have to dust, never mind the fact that every other second of any given day I have a cat/dog/child knocking one of them over.

And then, there’s the garage. For the love of all that is good and holy, the garage. Walking into our garage is like walking into an abyss. Aside from the tools, sports equipment, bicycles, and various other effects, there are more boxes. As if there aren’t enough of those lying around. What’s worse is some of those boxes originated from our previous home when we packed them to move into our current home. That was two and a half years ago. Yet there they remain, unpacked, collecting dust.

Again, why exactly are we keeping all of this stuff? After pondering this question for a while longer and not coming up with a good answer, I decided enough is enough.

And now, “enough is enough” has brought me here.

It has brought me to a place where I’ve shifted my perspective. To a place where I’ve decided maybe the answer isn’t reorganizing the stuff, but rather unloading it. And while I’m at it, perhaps we need to “unload” in other areas of our lives as well. Maybe our family doesn’t need a 2300 sq ft house with a 2 car garage and a pool. Maybe our family doesn’t need two cars (which of course comes with 2 car payments and 2 gas tanks to fill). Maybe I don’t need 3 Coach purses, 2 Michael Kors watches, and 37 pairs of shoes.

You see, I‘m beginning to realize that maybe all of this stuff isn’t making me or my family any happier. In fact, it might be doing the opposite.   That’s what A Simple Life in Progress is all about.

It’s about my family and I and our progression toward living a simpler life. It’s about us exploring the idea that real happiness is achieved by having less and doing more. It’s about unloading some of the excess so we can focus on what’s most important in life—health, relationships, living life and being happy.

I’m not sure how far we’re going to take this, but I’m looking forward to the experience. Are we ready for the change? Absolutely. Will we have setbacks? I can pretty much guarantee it. But as the old saying goes, “Nothing worthwhile is ever easy”.

10 thoughts on “IT BEGINS WITH THE BOXES

  1. Stacy

    Wonderful post, Fran! I have been having a similar struggle so I look forward to the inspiration and tips this blog will surely bring! X


  2. Roseann Pascale

    Guuuurrrllll! Congrats on the blog first of all…but can I tell you, how appropro this blog post is right this very moment in my life! You see, I am purging the boxes in my garage, in the rooms…trying to sort and decide what to store. Because after 18 years in this Hlwd Hills home, I am moving! Yeah, so exciting right!? Well it is, except this part..preparing for the move, and for the pending garage sale this Saturday…well lets just say there have been several moments of curling up in a corner in the fetal! But like you babe, I am looking to lighten my load. SIMPLIFY and live with less…for all the reasons you stated. I am moving to the beach! My dream…to wake up every morning and see the ocean, the sunrise and the sunset! I’m so happy about this. But…about those boxes…for me the hardest part is the kids drawings, early writings and PHOTOS! Like you, I am a photographer, and back in the day of FILM, I shot about 7 rolls a week of my kids…and back then, perhaps you remember…publix had a 2 print special for .50. Who could resist two copies! lol. Yeah, I have about 5 bins of photos..and I just don’t have the heart or time to go through or purge. So this will be left to a future purge, when I am more committed to letting go. Because like you, the burning question has been “WHY am I keeping all this stuff?” I think it has to do with accepting the impermanence of life…that time goes by and we cannot really capture it, but we try, oh Lord do we try. By holding onto these things. And trust me, going through the photos of my 24 & 18 year old when they were babes…nothing more beautiful and cherished. So for now, that is the answer to my why. Because they are grown, and those memories are so full of joy. Sorry for the looong post, perhaps I should be writing on my own blog that I started last year…lol. But this was so spot on for me…so good luck in living with less…sounds like a tiny house is in your future! Looking forward to your posts along the way! xoxoro


    1. Fstoyer Post author

      Hey Ro! Congrats on the move!!! So excited for you!! 🙂

      I am so with you in the struggle of purging the various kids effects (drawings, photos, awards and the like). I have yet to tackle those boxes and to be honest, I am DREADING it!!! I’ve kept so many of these items over the past 10 years and I’m going to have a difficult time parting with them, but alas, I know it has to be done.
      Most of our pics are saved on my computer, but there are a few that are actual film photos. Luckily there aren’t too many, so chances are I will scan them on to my computer and back them up. I will probably do the same with some of the artwork and stuff. As for their awards and the rest of the artwork, my plan is to create a scrapbook for each of them, put whatever I can fit into each and whatever doesn’t, out it goes. It’s going to be hard, but I think I can do it. 🙂
      As for your blog, you should totally get back to it! I would love to read it!! xoxoxo


  3. Beth Aronson

    I love the blog!!!!!
    I love what you wrote and I am inspired!!!!!
    Totally agree with everything you said, why do we need so much damn stuff……
    The memories of the kids will always be the hardest to part with 😉 I know I will forever keep all of that. But the rest of the stuff….. I want to start today 😉
    I just love you Fran and I wish you the best with this blog!!!!


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