Five weeks. Five weeks of constant purging. Five agonizing weeks overflowing with stuff and memories and tears. We even hired professional help for a few hours to terrify us into submission. (Idk, is that anti-minimalist? Are there rules to this thing? Was I supposed to throw a purging party or something?) Plus my friend Tricia came in like a wrecking ball and I’m still trying to figure out what she threw away what I wasn’t looking. She is certain I hate her for it, but I’m actually grateful. I haven’t been able to identify a missing item yet…although most of our stuff is in a pod somewhere between here and San Francisco.
Regardless, here I am, after five weeks of purging, living out of a suitcase and a few boxes at my parent’s house (our temporary home while Scott heads north to do the dirty work of demo, framing, and y’know – adding walls – to The Tiny.) And dudes, the urge to purge is creeping back as my parents try to absorb two people (AND THREE DOGS!) back into my childhood home. (Reminder, this house was home to my nuclear family of four growing up. FUCKING STUFF.)
Moral of the story – because Scott has now come outside and mocked me for writing about my abundance of stuff instead of actually dealing with it – we had to get a storage unit and a uhaul to actually get the stuff we thought we’d need in transition out of the big house in time. Like, down to the minute. Like, we’re blasting our a #curbalert and scheduling large item pickups, and calling friends to pick up the items they claimed, and finally, Scott and I agree to *fuck it all* and load it into a uhaul van and “figure it out” when we got to my folks.
A necessary decision, but, fuck, the only thing we figured out is that we won’t even be able to fit the things we brought as the absolute minimum we thought we needed (plus a few brand new kid item donations that no one would take except St. Vincent DePaul, who couldn’t pick up until a month out. *Shakes fist at own bad planning.*) I’ve already starting tossing another 1/2 of my clothes in trash bags, knowing there’s another duffel-full awaiting me on the other end. (Capsule wardrobe my ass.)
All that to say, you can never get rid of too much. If you overdo it, at least someone less fortunate benefits and you’ll likely be able to reacquire the item in the future. (Also see: Abundance/KonMari)
Four years ago I made this post for BuzzFeed about Maximizing Your Life By Minimizing. It was a dream then. An aspirational post for myself as much as anyone else. Now, I’m taking my own well-researched advice, something I should have done years ago. Thanks, past-self, for writing something oddly useful while still compulsively purchasing everything you came into eye contact with. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Maybe one day I’ll become minimalish with words, too. #verboseAF
And we’re off.
It’s already been a week since we said goodbye our 2005 square foot home, donating about 80% of our worldly possessions to go along with it. 80% of everything we’ve acquired in our adult lives – and some that we’ve been hanging on to for even longer than that. Scott said goodbye to his first car in this transition (a 1962 Mercury Meteor he bought at 15) and I let go of the idea that I had to be wildly wealthy or enviably successful to enjoy my life. We all have stuff we hang on to.
The emotional pain of extreme downsizing is real.
I’ve thought of 180 profound ways to start this story off, but profundity and perfection are exactly the type of thing that will keep me from ever writing at all, so here we go. Chronicling this experience is something I need to do so that I never forget how hard it was to get here, the pain of choosing courage over comfort, and drastically taking back control of our lives from the flow of more is better, and bigger is best. The pain of extreme downsizing is real; having to examine the things you’ve purchased, consider hanging on to many of them strictly because of their cost, and eventually face the waste of not only your money but the most valuable, completely non-renewable resource you have: time.
All that stuff costs time. Like, a lot of time. Hours to clean and work to house ALL THESE THINGS. And all the while you’re paying for the privilege of its burden.
So we packed the remaining 20% of our stuff into this pod (and a 5×5 storage unit while we build our tiny house) but there’s no question we’re going to have to double down on this initial downsize before we can comfortably live in our mortgage-free 350 square foot abode-to-be.
I mean, I’m not as pretentious as I sound – I don’t Actually DO any of those things.
It’s been said that the greatest benefit you’ll ever get from a material purchase is the moment you buy it. It’s literally all downhill from there until even the most beloved item becomes something unpleasant you have to “deal with” – clean, sell, donate, store, what have you – negating the joy out of having acquired it in the first place. What if you never bought that item. Or what if you only bought half of those items. What if you put that cash in an envelope and eventually took a trip to Hawaii? Or Pompeii? Or The Valley of the Kings? Just…what if?
I mean, I’m not as pretentious as I sound – I don’t DO any of those things. I spend my money the second I get it, and I spend it on crap that absolutely no one truly needs. And, well, as a compulsive shopper in one of the most expensive cities in the world, something had to change. Instead, we’re changing everything. Our lifestyle is getting a complete overhaul from our careers to our financial habits, to our city. Scott and I found ourselves unemployed at the same moment in time and decided to jump.
Stay tuned as we figure out how to land.
Vulnerability and stuff.
This weekend, I heard @brenebrown speak about vulnerability and courage for the second time. I sat there mulling over the one thing I carry a lot of shame about. I try to be vulnerable and transparent with all of you because I know empathy matters and I never want you to feel alone. And you never let me feel alone, for which I’m eternally grateful. So I want to tell you something. ~
Our tiny house adventure is a move of choice, but also a necessity. I’m a compulsive shopper, it’s the C In that pesky OCD I always talk about. The obsession? My own financial failures. All day long I tell myself how much less-than I am. And when I can’t take it anymore, I buy useless shit. And I’ve been doing it for so long that I had to move into a bigger house to accommodate all of it. And now the big house and all the stuff are all I have, instead of savings, or property, or financial stability, or charitable acts. I cling to my stuff as a trophy of self-worth because I haven’t worked hard enough to find my self-esteem anywhere else.
That’s why we decided to go tiny. It’s not only a necessary mental reset but a financial one.
Dammit I hate admitting that.