In making our plans to downsize drastically from a 3 bedroom home to an RV, I find myself thinking about this daily. To be honest, I’ve had this question of “what do I need” in the front of my mind for the majority of my life, but I’m considering it now in a way that is almost 100% opposite of how I did before. Instead of wondering what else I need to acquire, I’m deciding what I truly need in order to live a happy and meaningful life. Instead of making a list of all the superfluous items and gadgets and pretty things I need, I’m taking an honest look at my life and determining what brings me joy, then deciding what I need in order to experience that joy.
For example, anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I’m a lotion addict. I LOVE lotion that makes my skin soft and smells delicious, so much so that at any given time I have 30 or more bottles of lotion on my dresser. I have them organized into seasons and varieties-fruity, floral, summery scents like cucumber and coconut, wintery scents like vanilla and cashmere. You name it, I’ve got it. And honestly, it does bring me joy to lather myself in it after a bath or shower. I have no intention of ever stopping that habit, but I see now that just because Bath & Body Works is having their annual sale does NOT mean that I need to buy another 15 bottles to bring home and add to my hoard. I’m happy to say that I haven’t bought any new lotion in several months and I’m in no danger of running out for at least the next year. When I do, I’ll go get myself a couple of bottles but for now, I’m good.
I also went through a stage the last couple of years of collecting designer purses. Coach and Kate Spade were my drugs of choice and boy did I indulge! I bought some of them new at full price (ouch) and many at resale shops around town. All total, I think I had about 25 of them before I started selling them off. Now, I do enjoy them and I did keep a handful of my very favorites but let’s be honest: those were the ones I used most of the time anyway. The others were purchased because they were cute or unique or on sale, but I rarely if ever actually used them. I loved the rush I got from finding a new one and the feeling of status I had when I carried one. How silly! I recently purchased a Kavu sling bag and I absolutely love it. It’s so comfortable and easy to carry and it holds literally everything I need. You know what’s funny? It’s my favorite and I have no immediate plans to switch back to one of my fancy bags.
The biggest difference is that instead of seeking to acquire more stuff, these days I’m actually trying to pare down my belongings to just the essentials, only those things that I use regularly and that are truly necessary. I’m purposely working to eliminate as many physical belongings as I possibly can so that I can focus instead on the other things I really need. What are the things I need? I need time, the time that I waste with shopping for the stuff and bringing it home so that I can fill my house with it and spend more time to clean around it. Time that I can spend in so many better ways like reading or riding my bike or meeting new people and having conversations. I need the financial security that comes from being free of the debt incurred to buy all these things, the freedom in knowing that I don’t have tons of bills waiting to be paid and that I don’t need to rush off to spend my time at a job I hate just so I can pay those bills. The freedom to spend my money instead on trips and experiences and giving to others. I need relaxation, rest and reflection. I need to play with my dogs, I need to go on long walks, I need to drink delicious wine and nibble on amazing food. I need to spend time with the people I love, to focus on my family and my friends in a way that I feel like I haven’t been able to do in a long time, maybe ever. I need creativity and fulfillment, to make a positive difference in the world around me. I need adventure. I need to wake up in the morning and feel excitement and joy and wonder at what the coming day will bring.
So in terms of what physical, tangible items I need the reality is that I have everything I could possibly need and then some. I no longer find myself shopping as a recreational activity like I once did. I don’t dream of all the pretty, neat things I’d like to have. Instead, I dream of the kind of life I want to live and how I can get there. And the life I’m dreaming of doesn’t include me sitting in my big house, holding my Coach purse while surrounded by all my “stuff” and pretending to ignore the stack of bills on the counter. My dream life is one of very little in the way of stuff: A home that is mobile, big enough to fit my family and dogs, with a bed, kitchen and bathroom. Travel and meaningful time spent with family and friends. New experiences and people, cuddles with my dogs, reading and writing and sharing ideas. Some comfortable, versatile clothes and shoes, a little makeup for when I want to spruce up, speakers and headphones to listen to beautiful music, my pen and notebook to jot down ideas and my Kindle to read all the books. These ingredients are key to my idea of the good life. Oh, and a couple bottles of lotion to keep me soft and smelling great. What about you, what do you need?
Copyright 2019, all rights reserved. All images taken by me unless otherwise stated.