All of us who feel like we’re fighting a losing battle with clutter in our homes will find some inspiration from our latest “Go West Mom You Should Know.” She’s Suzanne Thibeault, and she lives in Naperville with her 18-year-old son Sam and her husband Paul Deffenbaugh.
Thibeault has a blog called the "500 Things Project.” Each day she chooses to get rid of something and then explains its history, value, how she feels about parting from it and where it went. It sounds like a fun way to tackle clutter, right? But for Thibeault, there is a lot more behind the project than just having some clean shelves and extra closet space.
Thibeault, 49, is a writer and editor who volunteers extensively withFamilies Helping Families, a DuPage County charity that provides transitional housing and other resources for formerly homeless families.
Her husband is a writer and magazine editor with over 20 years experience in the housing industry. When both the journalism industry and the housing market nosedived during the Great Recession, Deffenbaugh lost his job. They were worried about losing their home. Meanwhile, they faced the prospect of sending their only son off to college. Suddenly, it was very clear how little their “stuff” really mattered.
Read on to find out why we think Suzanne Thibeault is a Go West Mom You Should Know.
Q. Can you describe for a reader who has not seen it yet your "500 Things Project"? The inspiration for it? And how it is organized each day?
A. My family has been in a vulnerable position over these last few difficult years. In 2009, my husband was laid off, and our son would soon be applying to college. We faced losing our house and launching our child. I decided to chronicle this time of crisis and opportunity by creating a blog about the downsizing, both expected and unexpected, we were confronting. I call it the “500 Things Project.” 500 was simply a calculation I made in March of 2010 for how much longer Sam would be living with us. Each day for 500 days, I choose something to get rid of, to downsize, and explain how it relates to what we are experiencing in our lives and what we have learned.