makeunder step two: exfoliate stuff

[originally posted May, 28th 2009]


Okay, on to the dirty work of making under. This is where your space, reality, and life really start to be driven by your vision rather than the other way around. I’ve already covered how I came up with making under and before I get into the details of step two, let’s recap the makeunder process:

  1. Create a vision
  2. Exfoliate stuff
  3. Identify intentions
  4. Reflect and evolve

As I mentioned above, this is the step where you dump the stuff that isn’t needed for the life you want to live. Depending on your focus for the makeunder, whether your zoom is large or small, this process can happen fairly quickly or take place over several months.

I apply the word “exfoliate” to stuff in a makeunder because it is a great visual. Just like our skin, there is a lot of dead ‘skin cells’ in our homes that are clouding the healthiest, best life we want to live. And by sloughing off that unnecessary layer of crap, we emerge brighter and more purposeful.

Bring in the Troops

If you worry about making the right decisions to make real change in your life, have a friend over who knows your vision very well. The best kind of friend for this is the one who will actually tell you if you look fat in something, without hurting your feelings. Someone who says, “that designer must have been smoking something when they designed that dress’ bust line” is someone you want on your makeunder team. This person can help you with the tougher objects and can push you to make more fundamental changes. In a large scale makeunder, they also are a second set of hands to exfoliate.

The Need/Use/Love Rule

Whatever your time line, if you are focusing your current makeunder on some aspect of the ‘stuff’ you have (makeup, clothing, decor, garage storage, or computer files) the end goal is to only have those things you need, use, or love. As long as the object falls in one of these three categories and fits with your vision, it has a rightful place in your life. If it doesn’t quite fit any of these categories, chances are, it is actually causing you undue stress (consciously or otherwise) and is desperately needed by someone else in society.

Or, as my friend Amy explained, it could be considered selfish to keep things you don’t need, use, or love because there are so many people out there who don’t have basic necessities… or super fancy unopened coffee grinders. I’m sure some cash-strapped co-ed could really use cheap lattes right about now.

Let’s Get this Party Started


Armed with your mantra, vision board, or letter to yourself, systematically go through the objects in your life and hold them up next to the vision board or letter, or repeat your motto. Does the object in question fit this vision? If the answer is yes, then move on to step two: Is this object currently needed, used, and/or loved? If the answer is yes, it stays in your life. If the answer at any point is a no, it gets tossed, recycled, donated, or passed on to a friend. If you find yourself unsure about something, it goes in a special Stretch Zone pile to be dealt with later.

The Stretch Zone

Once the makeunder is complete, it’s time to deal with the Stretch Zone pile. Generally speaking, the objects in this pile are really unneeded, but we don’t quite have the gumption to let them leave our lives… yet. I suggest putting them all in a box(es) and putting them out of sight. Taking them to a parent’s house or storing them are great options. With a big marker, write the date six months out from today. By that date, if you haven’t needed to open that box, it goes straight to donation – unopened. There’s no reason to open the box and see what you ‘might’ someday need, when reality says you haven’t thought about it for 182 days. If you can’t trust yourself to not rifle through the box, have someone else donate the box for you.

A Sweet Ending

Personally, my favorite thing to do is take the unneeded clothing to a consignment store and see how much money I can earn. [Hint: Never watch them go through your clothes, I generally find myself offended by what they don’t buy… even though I don’t want it either.] Then I head straight to a donation location with the unsellable items. After that, it’s time for a trip to Molly’s Cupcakes and treat myself to a Cookie Monster Cupcake using the consignment money.

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  1. Cathy

    Jess, I totally have to laugh about taking things to a consignment store. I felt really motivated after our run on Sunday and threw a few things in a bag to take over to Buffalo Exchange. Unfortunately, I must not be hip enough because they didn’t take anything! I guess I’ll be taking things to the Brown Elephant or somewhere else from now on.

  2. Sarah T

    I did my whole bathroom and bedroom today!! I think that’s enough for one day, but I have a bag full of clothes to give away and even put some of my old jewelry on my facebook for anyone to take ūüėÄ I feel soooo good!

    Thank you again Jess


  3. Jessica

    I love this. You are so inspiring. I’m moving into my 1st house in just over a month and I think I will use this plan to make it a beautiful home with intention!

    Cathy – I also did that once with a similar place and they didn’t take anything either. Now I just donate it!

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