Living out of a suitcase for a week will remind you just how little you really need day-to-day. Now that we’re home and beginning to pack for the big move, it’s time for us to make some decisions.
What do we really want to take with us?
Every time we move, I go through this. It’s amazing to me how much I accumulate without noticing! Scraps of paper, notes, books, receipts, keepsakes, old coupons, yarn, art supplies, shoes, plasticware… the list goes on. I understand how it happens in the moment, but when I start thinking about having to pack and move whatever it is the meaning begins to dwindle… and that’s when I know I don’t need to take it with me. Who really wants to lug all this crap around with you everywhere you go?
I remember the first time I really had to minimize. I was moving out of the first place I’d rented. I had been there for three years (looking back that’s the longest I’ve lived somewhere until we move into our new house… whoa…) and I was moving from a townhouse into a one bedroom apartment. From 1600 sqft to 790 sqft. The thought of downsizing scared me. I was going to have to throw away all of these things, these pieces of tangible evidence that I was here for the last three years. These things when I looked at them represented all of the growth and independence and experiences I had. If I threw them away, how would I still hold on to those parts of myself?
Room by room, I lamented each scrap of paper, ticket stub, and magazine filling bag after bag for trash pick up. I donated all of my clothes except what would fit (neatly) in my dresser and closet and any pair of shoes that didn’t fit in an over-the-door organizer reserving two rows for belts, gloves, and hats. Once I realized that most of the clothes I donated either didn’t fit or hadn’t actually been worn in a year I started to feel better. I only packed what was coming with me in bankers’ boxes because they’re small and easily stacked. The things for the storage unit got the bigger boxes and I limited the furniture to whatever would fit in the 5’x10′ unit. The more I was able to organize and see the spaces around me, the more I started to feel powerful. I felt less like I was losing control and more like I was taking control of what was going on.
I started to realize that all of these things were anchoring me in place. WIthout them I could go where ever I wanted, whenever I wanted. They were crutches keeping me comfortable in that place and I didn’t want that for myself anymore. I wanted to feel the uncomfortable spaces!
My next move from the one bedroom apartment to a spare room in a friend’s two bedroom apartment, I downsized again. This time it was 790 sqft to approximately 100 sqft. I got rid of the storage unit, put any kitchen supplies I had in my dad’s spare room. Everything else I had would either fit in my four drawer dresser, my nightstand, my over-the-door shoe organizer, my 4’x2′ closet, or under my bed. That’s it. I’d done it. I’d pared down to the bare essentials and was enjoying it. If I wanted, I could load everything in my car and go someplace. If I wanted to buy new clothes, I had to switch out old ones. No new hangers. No shoving clothes in drawers.
I could look around and breathe and it felt amazing.
It’s not just about organization though. It’s knowing your priorities, knowing your needs vs wants, knowing what you’re capable of, and knowing how much you have to be thankful for. There’s a bar set when you know your bare minimum where you realize that everything beyond that is a bonus. Like the gravy on your mashed potatoes! I looked around my hotel room last week and realized I was content with a suitcase and a few toiletries. I’m blessed that I have those things. I’m even more blessed for the gravy at home.
I look around our rented condo. We’ve only been here for a year now, but I can see the piles of things, of evidence that lay around like little arranged still lifes reminding us of various moments. Free duffle bags, old wine bottles, tupperware, cards, clothes I don’t wear… ugh! I can’t wait to minimize. Our move is more than just relocating. It’s a whole new life that we’re starting together. If we’re moving forward, why take every little thing from the past with us? How can we be thankful for what we have when we don’t know what we need?
Let us cast these anchors, set sail, and be grateful for the waves that carry us along.
I was blessed last week to be able to cast off my extras, experience new people and places with my best friend, and to have a home to come back to… and my dog, of course.
The affirmation this week: The less I have the more grateful I am.
I have about three weeks to pack this place up. Let’s go!