I thought I would be happier with more. I didn’t care if I had to work harder, or spend more to get it. I thought it was worth it. I rewarded long work weeks with shopping and after a bad day, medicated with spending. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing, but I can see my patterns quite clearly now that I’m not so busy and distracted.
Only a few, short years ago I had …
The Big Stuff
- house: 2000 sq. ft. home with yard, garage, attic, shed, fence, deck
- two cars with monthly payments
- dining table with eight chairs
- kitchen table with six chairs
- patio table with six chairs
- living room and family room furniture
- guest room furniture
- office furniture
- two more bedrooms full of furniture
- more furniture in the garage that didn’t fit in the house
(There were three of us living in the house and we had 20 dining chairs.)
- 3 closets full of clothes: mine, husband’s, daughter’s
- guest room closet full of clothes (overflow)
- hall closet full of coats and other clothes (overflow)
- boxes (many, many, boxes full of clothes) in the garage
- shoes, accessories, jewelry – too much to count, or wear.
(I wore 20% of my stuff 80% of the time.)
- books: in the office, family room, kitchen, living room and bedrooms
- board games
- jam-packed kitchen cabinets full of Tupperware, glasses, dishes, silverware, candles …
- office stuff – bulletin boards, printers, paper, shelves, in boxes, filing cabinets full of more paper
- exercise equipment
- sporting gear
- boxes of stuff we rarely opened in a storage area in the garage
- stuff I don’t remember that filled the shed
- all the stuff we needed to take care of all the stuff
- miscellaneous: the most dangerous category of all
(if you walked through my house, you wouldn’t have thought there was too much. It looked just like the typical 2000 sq. foot home full of stuff.)
Everything I owned resulted in paycheck to paycheck living, expensive insurance policies to protect it all, decades of debt, weekends of care taking (mowing grass, replacing fences, shoveling snow, cleaning, organizing), exhaustion … and the desire for more. I was so caught up in the work-spend cycle that I couldn’t envision another way.
When I started to declutter, and get serious about simplifying my life, I thought I owned so much. But when I looked at my bills, and realized how much I owed everyone, I realized that I didn’t own much at all. Banks owned my house, cars, and even my education. Credit card companies owned some of my furniture and even my shoes.
I really was walking around in someone else’s shoes. That realization was one of my many enough is enough moments.
Today, I rent a 750 sq foot apartment in the city and own a 1999 vehicle with 215,000 miles. I share one closet with my husband and have one additional small container for seasonal clothing. My daughter has a tiny closet full of clothes and we have one hall closet where we keep our shoes, winter coats, broom and dustpan.
We kept the things that contribute to doing what we love, like cooking, hiking and skiing. We still have art on the wall, and even a few things in the miscellaneous category. We have 5 dining chairs instead of 20 and 2 of them are folded up and hanging in the closet. We still have photos to scan and some sentimental items stored under the bed, but we’ve let most of it go.
Overall, I’d estimate that we kept less than 75% of the things in our previous home when we moved 15 months ago. We have 75% less, but we own more. We also …
- appreciate more
- spend more time together
- have bigger dreams about smaller spaces
- are less attached to our stuff
- understand the myth of ownership
I still want more
Through the decluttering and downsizing process, I’ve realized that it’s so much more than organizing your stuff, emptying your closets, or living in a smaller space.
It’s about creating a life with room for what matters most.