My mother-in-law and I recently discussed collecting too much stuff.

As you can imagine, after 20 years of marriage and two children, stuff was definitely collected. Too much stuff, that is!

“We have so much stuff to pack!” I remember thinking to myself when we first put our house on the market to sell.

When planning to sell and downsize drastically, you must let go of things. But it helps to remember that they just are things – things that take up space and collect dust. So I began by questioning everything. What stays, what goes … and how did we end up with all this stuff?

Now, I completely understand wanting your home to look and feel like a tastefully decorated home. I also understand the need for clothes, and by all means, please wear them! But I think sometimes we could skip the shopping spree and spend our time baking instead, or learning a new hobby that brings us joy rather than adding to our collection of things to dust or donate after a few years of not wearing it or staring at it for so long.

And if you are like me, you question why you wasted money on all that stuff in the first place. Man, if I could go back in time and talk to my newly-married self, a woman with two small children about to purchase a home with her husband that had way too much space for us to fill, we would have a stern conversation. But I can't, and I appreciate the lessons learned now that I am older.

Now that we have been out of our house and our focus has shifted to homesteading and living a simpler life, that stuff doesn't matter anymore.

When you have nowhere to put things, it makes you stop and think very hard about bringing them home. I appreciate that! I am learning to find joy in the many things I have missed for many years. A few of those things are seeing the beauty of nature and the feel of the little hand of my grandson that reaches up to me almost every day to go for a walk or see the chickens.

I spend less time cleaning, organizing, or visiting the local thrift store. I spend more time gardening, collecting eggs, playing with grandkids, trying to learn new recipes, and watching sunsets when I am not working.

No, my life isn't perfect, and my days never seem long enough either, but I have found more joy in living a simpler life.

Time moves so fast, and life is precious. Fill it up with memories and not things.

Ashley Carter is a wife, mother, and grandmother living in Elmore County, where she and her husband run Farm to Table Living and Carter Farms. Ashley serves as Controller and Executive Assistant at 1819 News. She is currently working on an inspirational book of short stories. To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.