Downsize & Minimize

Aside from selling our home and vehicles and purchasing our new RV, the biggest project we’re tackling right now is the purging of all the stuff we’ve accumulated over the last 20+ years but don’t actually need. Facing the transition from a 1600 square foot home with a 2 car garage to an RV with anywhere from 150-400 square feet is, well….daunting. For two reasons, really:

  1. Practical – We’ve spent all this time and money obtaining all of the necessary items to make our lives manageable and comfortable. We’re adults and we are supposed to have all these things at our age. It’s just not acceptable to be without these things. And not only one, we should really have several of varying sizes and shapes. We should have a backup as well, in case it breaks or gets lost or is otherwise inoperable. The “stuff” that falls into this category includes: kitchen items (because dinner service for 8, enough cups for 50, 20 cooking pans, 12 spatulas, 16 cooking spoons, and 60 pieces of mismatched tupperware seems logical. Plus, those 5 “pretty” bowls and dishes that we use when company comes to give the illusion that we don’t always use the same stained and half-melted favorite plastic bowls), towels (27 towels for 2 people), sheets and bedding (enough for 10 beds even though there’s 2 in the home and only 1 that gets used regularly), clothes (there’s 5 usable closets in this house, FILL THEM ALL! I haven’t worn that in 6 years and I’ll never be that size again, but save it just in case!), decorative items (fill every available space with cute stuff to set the “theme” of each room and bring it all together, then move it all around constantly and dust under it) and tools (the garage is really Ron’s area of expertise but I know there’s at least 3 of everything if we really look.)
  2. Emotional – These are the things that have sentimental value, that remind us of a cherished memory. Mementos collected in our travels, knick-knacks that we never really liked but were gifts, hand-me-downs that we feel guilty getting rid of, all of the hideous yet treasured artwork created lovingly by our children, the trophy deer mounts that Ron is so proud of, collections that meant the world to us for years (like my 400+ CDs and DVDs) but are now mostly obsolete, and thousands of photos, my own personal Achilles heel.

So we begin with the stuff we don’t use or need immediately. About a month ago, we listed 30 or so items on Facebook Marketplace and we were shocked at how quickly they went. It was great, almost like a drug and of course after the initial fix we wanted more. A couple weeks ago, I purged my closets and downsized from 3 to 1 that is half full. I got rid of 8 garbage bags of clothes and 2 of shoes and I have a feeling that another purge is coming before we embark on our journey. We have 4 vehicles at the moment (Ron’s work truck, his regular truck, my car and an old plow truck) and there’s only 2 of us. The car and the plow truck are currently for sale. Our first smaller boat is for sale, we never use it anymore. Ron’s got lawn equipment, trailers, a generator, saws and other tools up for sale as well. And today, I went through our kitchen and removed 8 boxes worth of stuff to be sold at a yard sale next month. I have to admit, I have so much less anxiety about it than I anticipated. I actually love it, it’s incredibly freeing.

I have been listening to and following The Minimalists recently and they are definitely a huge source of inspiration for me. I highly recommend checking them out, see if their ideas resonate with you, too! I love the practice of being intentional about what we fill our lives with, both tangible, physical things as well as our time and attention. I know so many people that sit in huge homes surrounded by all the “stuff” that’s supposed to make them happy and yet they’re unsatisfied. Stuff shouldn’t make us happy. People, relationships, memories, adventures, LIVING should make us happy. I accumulated a sizable collection of designer Coach and Kate Spade bags for a few years, I loved them. Guess where the majority of them are now? No idea, I sold them.

When Ron and I first started discussing our upcoming move, we contemplated whether or not we could feasibly live together in an RV and Ron’s take on it was spot on. He said we should think about it rationally, how much of this huge house do we actually use regularly? We use a few spots in the kitchen to cook and clean up, we occasionally use the dining room table but mostly just the same 2 chairs out of 6, the same 2 spots on the living room sofas to watch TV, the bathroom and our bedroom. The rest of our house is largely unused, wasted space that is only needed or used when we have the rare company, maybe a handful of times a year. We only employ that unused space to hold all of our stuff, so if we got rid of the stuff we wouldn’t need the space. Based on the amount of house we actually use, the RVs we’re looking at have more than enough space. He’s so right!

It’s an ongoing process. Every time we think we’ve got it figured out and know what we’ll need to go full time, we find that we’ll actually need less. I imagine that once we’re officially out there, we’ll purge even more as we’ll find that it just gets in the way. We’re planning on renting a small storage unit to store the items that we can’t take but don’t want to part with, like the photos and deer mounts. At some point, we will likely settle back into a permanent home and we’ll want those. But otherwise, I am embracing and LOVING the minimalist lifestyle. I no longer walk into stores and get overwhelmed with desire to acquire all the new things I see. I can appreciate them but the need is gone. In fact, the more I get rid of, the more I want to get rid of. I want to be free of all the clutter, all the debris that has accumulated around us like the cloud of dust around Pigpen in the Peanuts cartoons. My goal is to get us down to just what we need to live day to day and nothing more. If we find that we need something, we’ll get it. But we won’t be slaves any longer to inanimate objects that we used to feel obligated to have and anxiety to be without. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Copyright 2019, all rights reserved.  All images taken by me unless otherwise stated.

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