Downsizing

I’ve been thinking a lot about downsizing recently. Not in a “Honey, I Shrank the Kids” kind of way, or a “let’s sell everything and live in a yurt” way either. More along the lines of “do I need a crockpot and an instapot, along with two types of coffee makers and a water seltzer machine” kind of way.

Tiny house, Portland
Tiny House, Portland (creativecommons.org)

As we were putting away the ornaments from this year’s Christmas tree, we began asking each other questions. Smaller tree, fewer ornaments , which ones do we think we’ll use next year, what to do with the ones we won’t? At dinner with the kids that week we asked them, and got the answer we were expecting: no, but thank you.

How many of our possessions and collections of things accumulated over the years have just been taking up space in our homes and in our lives? Bought for a purpose at one time or received as gifts, but now adding to the massive truck load of Stuff that gets boxed and stored each time we move. It seems as if new things come and take up residence in our lives on an ongoing basis, joining old things that never seem to move out. 

A brief Google search returned an overwhelming number of blogs dedicated to simple living. With so much written on the topic, one would think we were all living in tiny houses, growing fresh herbs in our pocket gardens while we shop local at the Farmers Market. Somehow, I don’t think that is the case with many of the people I know. But for what it’s worth, simplify and minimize sound like attractive goals in our materialistic, fill up the house with stuff, lives.

Most of the blogs started to sound alike: 8 Essential Rules For Living With Less; 22 Ways to Simplify Your Life and Make Time for What Matters; 19 Ways to Simplify Your Life…you get the picture. More rules than any of us have time for, really.

An online article (www.wsj.com) at least gave us a place to start.

  • Find someone who can help you sort things out, who doesn’t have the emotional weight of ownership and can help you make hard decisions. A friend or coworker perhaps who can Help Organize. I found this extremely helpful at work when it came time to pack up my office.
  • We are all familiar with the Keep, Give to Family, Donate, Throw Away rubric. Whether you place it into bags for donating, or simply mark it with color-coded stickers for action later, the goal is to make a decision now.
  • Don’t tackle it all at once. When we decided to move to a smaller home, we took the three months prepping the house for sale to also begin pruning our stuff. Much of it went to Salvation Army. Some of it we sold online. But truthfully, a lot of it went to the dump.

It’s hard to fight the urge to buy new; we are constantly being fed media messages to replace, acquire, increase, purchase: a steady diet of materialism. In our case, we know that one day we will downsize again. But with each move, I’ve found even more freedom from the grasp of our possessions. We actually can live smaller, and enjoy it too.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24

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