My Dirty Secret

I have a dirty secret.
It started in high school. Then I brought it with me to college, and then into my marriage. Since then, it has grown and multiplied with years of neglect. There are a select few who know about this secret, and when they found out, they were shocked! “Alana, I never would have imagined you would allow this.”

This is my dirty secret (literally).

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Welcome to our basement. πŸ™‚ I have put off going through this jungle because 1). Other things were priority 2). Rehashing old memories may hurt too much 3). It seemed simply overwhelming.

The other day my dear friend Joy put out a challenge on her blog at It is called 31 Bags.

Beginning May 12, she is going to take 31 days to eliminate 31 bags o’ junk from her house! She invited others to take on this challenge in their own homes. Given the fact that our basement has now become a hazardous zone, I gladly accepted!

Purging is a good thing.
I am looking forward to this challenge because: 1). It will eliminate clutter in our home 2). It will be energizing to slough off “the old” 3). Conquering this area will give me confidence to conquer other areas in my life that may need some “housekeeping” 4). It will provide room for new clutter. Just kidding. πŸ˜‰

To make this challenge even more exciting, Josh has agreed that any money we make through eliminating our junk can be put toward a family vacation!

Want to join us?
Check out Joy’s challenge at

If you plan to participate, let me know in the comments section. Take some before and after photos and e-mail them to me at I will post them once the challenge has ended!


23 thoughts on “My Dirty Secret

  1. Rock on, lady Jane! Can’t wait to see this basement come together! Are you breaking this space up into 31 areas, or will it just be a hefty portion of the 31 days?

    • I’m still coming up with my game plan, but I’m thinking the basement will end up being 10-12 areas and then the rest of the areas will be throughout the house. A couple items/areas I have in mind for the basement:

      Area 1: Go through book piles. Determine which ones I would like to keep. Give the rest to my Mom or sell.

      Area 2: Go through magazine piles. Keep a couple for Vision Board projects. Eliminate the rest.

      Area 3: Break down unused boxes and recycle.

      This is as far as I have gotten in my planning phase. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your challenge!

      • Sounds like you’re ready to go! And then when it’s all done…Joe and I can invite ourselves over for a tour and some much needed catch up time πŸ™‚

      • YES! Joy, I would love to give you a tour once we are finished!! πŸ™‚

  2. Mon dieu! You are trashy, girl! Good luck with the purge. Once you start, it becomes easier and easier. The upside is that you will feel FREE…unburdened by a lifetime of hoarding, moving, protecting. I discovered this when I “counseled” people on how to empty their garages of meaningless crap so that they could store their second- and third-most expensive investments where they belong.

    • Joe, yes – there will be a few things I may have trouble parting with, but the main reason I have not yet taken care of this biz-nass is because there is a lot to go through and there are sooooo many other things I’d rather be doing – like writing on my blog! πŸ™‚ But, it is time, and now that a friend has proposed this challenge, I am motivated to do it!

  3. P.S. Another tidbit I discovered: If one decides to donate unneeded items to charitable donations (for people who could really use the stuff), it makes the “release” easier.

    • Joe: Does it bother you? If not, then you may not have a “problem.” If it’s causing you the least degree of stress, then you need to do something about it. I’ve heard that you should divide the stuff into three piles: The stuff you need and may have used within the last 12 months; stuff to donate; and stuff to throw out. Since most people are overwhelmed by the task, look at it this way: You don’t HAVE to get rid of anything. (But, chances are good that, once you start organizing, you WILL divest.) I am giving you “permission” to start that project.

      • Joe M: I have also heard that dividing belongings into three piles works. Joy posted this quote on her blog. I like this as a rule of thumb!

        β€œHave nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” – William Morris

        I’d like to play devil’s advocate and suggest that even if “clutter” does not bother a person, it can still be a problem. I have heard stories of those who cannot part with their belongings although there is no logical reason to an “outsider” why the person would not be able to get rid of them. Examples: napkins, candy wrappers, broken dishes, etc.

        This process is definitely going to be freeing! Even though I do not really struggle with releasing memorabilia, it will be freeing to actually be able to walk in the room again! πŸ™‚

      • Some years ago, we tackled our garage. It’s amazing to me that we park our second- and third-most expensive investments (first being our homes) out on the driveway in all kinds of weather while keeping worthless items in their place, dry and warm inside the garage.

        Once we started divesting, it did become “freeing.” Easy to get rid of everything at that point.

        People driving by our home would slow down to look into our new garage (which we painted, along with floor, hid wires, etc.)

        For awhile, we considered “consulting” people on their garages. Kind of like a clothing consultant who makes recommendations on one’s closet.

        But, unfortunately, the garage is a man’s domain. And, while women LOVE the idea, NO MAN wants to pay people to tell him to get rid of his prized possessions.

        Great blog, Alana!!

    • Joe L…. If you knew other people were going through the same journey during the same 31 days, would you do it? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ I’m just messing with you. Yes, when it starts piling up it can get REALLY ridiculous! Joy (mentioned above in this post) at one point suggested doing 15 minute increments – 1 or 2 per day. Now, that is something I can handle! I am really motivated to do it right now, so I think this first weekend I’m going to try to bang out as much as I can.

  4. Thanks for sharing your “dirty little secret.” Kathy and I won’t be joining you since we are pretty good at filtering junk out of our lives. If anything, we don’t hold onto enough stuff. Pack-ratting isn’t our issue; but throwing things out might be πŸ™‚

    Anyway, welcome to our world. I think you’re going to love it.

    • Kent, I am becoming more and more intrigued by the “minimalist” lifestyle I am reading about in blogs, this may be the first step in moving to that lifestyle. πŸ™‚

      • My son and I recently had the same discussion: get rid of EVERYTHING we own except the books we love most, buy a 800 square foot shack in the middle of nowhere, and live the good/simple life. I think I could do it and be very, very happy.

  5. This is such an interesting post; just recently, I cleaned our bedroom. Not just dusting and vacuuming but .. purging. You see, I live so far from my family that I tend to save anything and everything they give me. I have an emotional attachment to it; especially anything from my Mom. I don’t feel like can throw it away (like they’d know). But .. none of the items I’d saved would be things I’d run back for in a fire … You made me think about this in a whole new light.

    I am sure interested to know what you’ve been surprised by in this cleaning journey πŸ™‚


    • MJ – If I lived further from my family, I think I would be more likely to hold on to things as well. That may be a good way to gauge how many “memory” top items to keep. “Would this be one of the top 10 things I ran back to in the event of a fire?” If not, maybe it needs to go. I definitely believe that each person needs to do what is comfortable/right for them.

      So far, I have come across a lot of good memories (in photos, awards, etc.) I mentioned above to Kent that I am intrigued by the minimalist lifestyle (this story in particular: I’m beginning to wonder what something like this – maybe not so drastic – would look like for Josh and I.

      I determined today that my goal is to whittle down all my childhood (newborn-high school) memoirs to one Rubbermaid tub. If I can also include any college memories in that tub too, awesome!

      It has been a worth while task, and I’m still not finished! πŸ™‚

    • Cool Dan! (sorry for the slow reply, for some reason this got caught in my spam folder).

      Did you focus on a specific area in your house or do a general purge throughout? As I mentioned in the post, I am focusing on the basement, but it is turning out to be a much larger project than I anticipated! Slow and steady wins the race I guess. πŸ™‚

  6. Pingback: Back to the Basics: Rediscovering My Loves | musings of a shiny penny

  7. Pingback: My Dirty Secret: Update | musings of a shiny penny

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