Remove The Old Debris in Our Lives


Pandemic Garage Syndrome. 

That’s what we can call it.

Have you found yourself drowning in clutter, as we have?

It’s not that we bought a ton of items, quite the contrary.  During the pandemic we hunkered down, digging into every little corner of our house, restarting projects we’d meant to do for years, pulling junk from the attic and opening every bin we’d ever stored.

Next thing we know, we are swimming in…stuff!  OUR STUFF!

To the point of being unable to park in the garage!  (I believe cars are supposed to go in there – at least, that’s what I’ve heard, and seen others do – like some weird kind of envy – suburban parking envy – few things rival this dark Keeping Up With The Jones feeling.)

Recently I was looking for the number to call the TV Show “Hoarders” to see if that might embarrass our family enough into cleaning out the garage…

But I guess all it took was getting angry enough at ourselves for having to look at that mess every single time we opened the garage door.

And then, last Saturday, I finally had enough.

I took a photo of our horrific garage, grabbed a box of matches, a can of kerosene, and then slowly set the matches and kerosene down, and one by one began taking each solitary item out of the garage.

What had been The Great Clutter Catch-All Garage soon became The Embarrassing Driveway Disaster Scene.  

People driving by would slam on their brakes, and then back up, laugh heartily, and then drive away.

Neighbors came over to make sure we hadn’t flooded the house.

2 robbers stopped by and looked at each other, shrugged, and could be heard saying, “Well, I guess someone else got here before we did!” 

It was such a mess.

Everywhere, a disastrous and necessary painful mess.

The kids were doing snow angels in reusable COSTCO, ROSS and Trader Joe’s bags, of which we have 187.

We lost the dog 13 times in the pile of helmets.

I realized I could rappel from the rain gutter of my home to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, 366 miles away, just using our collection of extension and bungee cords.


As my wife and I slowly chopped away at 16 years of living in the same home, we determined we had to reorganize a few necessities (such as taking cabinets off the walls in order to free up wall space for kids bikes, consolidating multiples of old items for perhaps just one of each, and even going through every tool bag and nail/screw box, getting it down to one section of the space), and most importantly:


That’s the tough part.

We like our things, even those we don’t use, because, “someday we will”.

Someday has arrived, and we have survived, without most of those things.

As we loaded the cars to drive to goodwill, it felt not sad, not nostalgic, not felt liberating.

Soon we were having fun seeing how much we didn’t need.

Ordering a dumpster wasn’t even an option, as others must be doing the same thing, you can’t get one until mid-May.

No worries, the matches and kerosene are on standby in case we just absolutely go for the glory!

Pretty soon we had a garage that was – CLEAN!

How long will it remain like that?  Who knows.  Probably a few days.  But for now it’s amazing!

We are determined not to let it get back to the way it was, and we’ll see, but gosh, it sure is awesome right now.

The Question was: Why didn’t we do this earlier? 

The shame and sorrow and embarrassment of having a garage looking like this, even if no one but me and the birds and that one pest control poison sprayer guy saw it, just the thought of our garage was enough to make me shrivel.

Truth is: Removing the debris is not easy.

Actually, let me put it this way: STARTING and CONTINUING the removal process is not easy.  

However, once you begin, and the spirit of what you’re doing kicks in, it becomes FUN!

And then you come up with great solutions to make things better.

And next thing you know, you’re putting the matches and kerosene in the perfect spot, at the ready for the next time you have the thought.


Recently I heard a talk from one of the wisest men I’ve ever known, 96-year old Russell M. Nelson, as he pondered profound lessons while watching a sacred building being remodeled, and which gave me the prompting for this blog post:

Nelson says, “As I have watched workers dig out old tree roots, plumbing, wiring, and a leaky fountain, I have thought about the need for each of us to remove…the old debris in our lives.”

A simple, yet powerful thought – and what can it mean for each of us in every aspect of our lives?


Your Promise Prompt for the Week:

Write in the Comments some old Debris you Promise to Remove from your Life this Week!  

Not only am I cleaning out the garage and re-organizing, but I have also removed 2 apps from my phone that have been distracting me.  I just load them back on the phone when I need them, and have something to contribute, rather than having them on there all the time, and then remove them again.

I also went through a huge virtual stack of emails, deleted the least important, extracted the essential details, and entered what is needed in my CRM for future reference.  Wow I feel so much better!

How about you?

How are you Removing Old Debris from Your Life?

~ Jason Hewlett

The Promise Institute Co-Founder

Promise Culture Keynote Speaker

* Speaker Hall of Fame

Author of “The Promise To The One”


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8 thoughts on “Remove The Old Debris in Our Lives”

  1. You are hilarious…and once again, so authentic! Loved the picture of the garage!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The old debris I will remove from my life are some of the details from my divorce after 43 years of marriage even though many of them are true and documented. They will stay in the category of lessons learned and items that get in my way of moving forward.
    Many blessings, Louise

  2. I had a similar project end of the year where I removed half my apartment to the garbage and goodwill, donating clothing and old photo equipment, and immediately, I felt liberated myself. It’s really interesting to see how much stuff we accumulate over the years only to get rid of it. Makes me more mindful of what I buy in the first place now. Thanks for sharing your story – glad you got that garage in order!

    1. Yeah man, well said. That seems to be the general feeling we get when doing this process. Good for you and thank you for the continued encouragement. Now for a digital clean-out! That is the real kicker once the physical stuff is knocked out.

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