The Secret To Stuff {Part 1}


The Secret To StuffMy family has a lot of stuff. I’m sure yours probably does too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff lately. My family just moved into our new forever home about a month ago, and my husband and I have been busy unboxing, sorting, organizing, and editing all of our stuff. I realize that there are negative connotations to the over-consumerism in today’s society. Everyone is drowning in stuff. No one has enough room for all their stuff, yet they keep buying more and more. But as I’ve gone through my belongings recently, I’ve realized that I truly do love my things, and they bring me deep comfort and joy. My stuff has been in boxes in the garage for the past two years while we searched for our forever home, and the process of going through everything and finding a permanent spot for it has been unbelievably cathartic.

My stuff reminds me of who I am, who I once was, who I’ve become, and who I’ve always been. I often revisit old stuff that I’ve carried with me through the years.

When I’m feeling uninspired, I pull out my artwork folder from high school and I’m immediately reminded of how much I love to create things and how much I’ve always found comfort, solace, and peace in a blank page. I vividly remember the exact moment I put that red streak on the painting and was delighted with the result. I am taken back to those moments when I was truly present to life and the task in front of me. I remember the movement of my pencil on the paper, and how good and natural it felt to create.

When I’m feeling uncertain about my career choices or uninspired at work, I pull my first suit out of the closet, and it takes me back to my early career days in architecture. I can feel the fear and excitement and anticipation like it was yesterday. I can relive the purpose and passion and dedication that I’ve given to my career and the thousands of hours I’ve poured into learning and growing and bettering myself. I remember the places I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, the lives I’ve helped change. I am transported to every long road trip to rural Tennessee to tour an elementary school or visit a construction job site or attend a school board meeting. I’m reminded of every meeting with local business owners, talking through their dreams and goals and plans and helping them bring them to life. I feel the excitement of each time I pulled through the gates of a military base and walked through offices and dining halls and barracks. I’m reminded of the people and places and ideas I’ve been exposed to and why I do what I do.

My large collection of books reminds me of my passion, my hobby and my most favorite thing to do since childhood. They provide a tangible reminder of my lifelong love of learning, every spark of curiosity I’ve explored, and my deep desire to understand myself and others.

My collection of wreaths and other seasonal home décor represents my ideas of home, a product of being raised by generations of homemakers and a mom who is a master at creating a cozy, comfortable home for the people she loves.

My cabinet full of Mason jars are there to remind me that in the not too distant past, my family grew and canned their own food. I like to make strawberry jam and apple butter in them every year, and reminisce about my grandma canning stuff when I was a kid. I can just taste the delicious home canned green beans that simply cannot be replicated in store bought canned food.

I’ve accepted and embraced the fact that my home will always have a lot of stuff in it. I’ve decided that there is no shame in having stuff and finding comfort in it. There is so much beauty and history and love in the things that we choose to carry with us through life. But I’ve also learned that the key to managing and controlling your stuff instead of allowing it to control you, is to keep it organized. The secret to letting stuff be there for you when you need it, without it being a constant source of frustration and annoyance is to Keep. It. Organized.

Since we’ve moved into our new house, my husband and I have been obsessed with finding ways to organize our stuff. We insist on everything having its proper place, so that we can live comfortably in our new home. Next month, I will share several of the organization systems and hacks that we’ve come up with to manage all our stuff. See you then!

Click here to read The Secret To Stuff {Part 2}.

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Haley McManigal
Hi there! I’m Haley, a middle-aged-momma to Lukas and Laney, and wife to Dan. I’ve lived in East Tennessee my whole life, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. After moving all over Knox County and surrounding areas, my family has settled in Hardin Valley where we intend to stay at least until the kids graduate from high school. My son was born in 2017, changing my life forever, and my daughter completed our family in 2020. I work as an architect and project manager at a global design firm. I think it’s pretty cool that I get to meet with people from all over the world from my home office on a daily basis. I am happiest when I’m able to strike just the right balance between home and work life. But my family is my greatest treasure and my most fulfilling role in life so far is Mommy. My favorite things are reading, writing, cooking, exploring, and making things. I don’t have much free time these days but when I’m able to squeeze in a few of these activities it really pays off. I love being a part of Knoxville Moms and I cherish the opportunity to share this journey of motherhood here with you!


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