The Simple Life – Part 4

It certainly has been a while since I’ve written anything. In fact, I thought I’d have a lot more to say about moving into someone else’s house …

Transitioning was initially a little bit rough. There is, of course, that feeling of losing my independence, as if not owning my own washing machine is a step backwards in adulthood. I’ve addressed the shedding of things and the emotional attachment to them, the consolidation into a smaller space, and fear of losing independence.

Now that we are settling in, the house is put together, things are unpacked and finally arranged, there is the inevitable period of adjusting to each other. What temperature should the air be? Who loads or unloads or runs the dishwasher and when? How long can I leave my laundry in the dryer? Who takes the trash out? Where can you kick off your shoes at? How loud should the volume be? What lights get left on or off? There’s an infinite list of idiosyncratic behavior that may or may not drive any one of us crazy. The beauty here is that I am realizing the exquisite art of rationality that is often hard to exhibit when settled within your all-too-often restrictive personal bubble. As mature adults, we want what we are used to, and we want it when we want it. We go home and let our guard down and get comfortable and relax. Some of us are more particular than others — especially those of us who have lived alone or with the same people for a very long time. We just get used to things.

After being married for a few years, living alone, then living with a quiet roommate with an opposing schedule, I have dedicated considerable mental energy into not being a stubborn, miserable pain in the ass. For a long time I was very, very particular about my home — a place for everything, and everything in its place! Living with new people meant letting go of that control and being open minded. I’ve found myself regressing to my own stubborn attitude at times, but I’ve been exceedingly happy with the result of just letting things go. Relinquishing control has served me well.

Over the last several weeks, I realized how much more open minded I was capable of being. I noticed that some things stop being a big deal when I simply decide that they aren’t. I’ve realized that patience, thought and rationality often produce reasonable, if not desirable results; and that a group of patient, thoughtful and rational adults will accomplish much.

My new living situation is achieving exactly what I had hoped for and so much more. I still have my independence (if not even more so), I’ve downsized considerably, and my new home is comfortable and inviting; I feel welcomed and at ease, and I have an amazing home-based, rational, reasonable, loving, motivating support system.

The Simple Life – Part 3

I did it.

I am moved. Sort of.

I’ve officially moved out of my 1000 square foot apartment with garage, and I am officially living in a 10×13′ bedroom with a very small closet. It’s in a large house. And I have really amazing housemates. But it’s just so different.

I took many things to the Salvation Army yesterday, and yet I’ve still managed to completely take over a large portion of my new home’s garage, spilling over into the living room, the hallway, the guest room; and yet my room remains an explosion of hangers and bedding and mismatched furniture pieces that don’t accomplish any of my needs. My clothes are disorganized; I don’t know where anything is. Nothing fits the way I’m accustomed to. I don’t even have sheets on my bed.

For five years, everything had a place. The same place. And now I need to find new places. I’ve already started another box of items to donate. I realize now I brought way too many hangers. I have so many things in my life that I still can’t let go of. I desperately need to rethink their roles in my life. Is it reasonable to hang onto something out of pure sentimentality? Where do I draw the line? How do I determine what to do with something that’s value is based on factors other than utility? I carry around with me furniture that my dad made when I was a child. I feel as if it would be a mortal sin to dispose of it. As the only child, I feel immense obligation to never abandon these things.

And so today, my first day officially occupying a room, instead of my apartment, I struggle with these feelings of familial obligation, feelings that I wonder what part of my brain continues to impose on me, and the constant wonder if I would ever forgive myself from moving on from these things. 

Perhaps time will tell. Things always seem to have a way of working themselves out, if only I’d allow myself to be calm and allow things to fall into place.

The Simple Life – Part 2

Downsizing is hard.

Packing is hard.

Moving is a hassle.

This is pretty much how I’ve been feeling every single time I walk through my front door. As such, I have been avoiding walking through my front door. It’s not helping. I have these moments where I plow through a ton of things, tossing and donating and selling and giving away like a mad woman. And then following these moments are long lulls in activity where I’m at such a complete loss of what to do that I end up just walking away … or zombie staring at an open closet for what feels like decades, eventually closing it with nothing accomplished.

I’m dedicating my entire day tomorrow to Getting Things Done. I have a simple (yet fairly long), easy-to-follow, step-by-step to-do list that outlines the things I am confident I can (and must) accomplish beginning tomorrow and ending on Sunday. I plan to break for exercise and nourishment, and end the day with a much shorter to-to list.

Game on.

In other news, I packed my parents the other night. I found slight humor in adding their urns to a box of things; this is the first time they’ve been out of the cupboard in my bedroom since they’ve been put there. I’m also snickering a little inside thinking about which friend will load this box into the moving truck and if they will notice the label that reads, “Mom and Dad.” Maybe they’ll think that it is full of things pertaining to Mom and Dad? I suppose, in a way, it is. Maybe I should reconsider my label … “human remains?” Maybe, “actual parents?” … “ashes?” This could go in so many directions.

And of course on a more serious note, I have shed that feeling of panic toward getting rid of things and am very happily looking forward to living a more minimalist life. I’ve come to terms with easing into things and really thinking through my purchases, sales and donations before moving forward.

And lastly, I wanted to share this podcast I listened to this morning:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/584/for-your-reconsideration

Act three was hilarious and heartwarming. Act one was interesting. What really struck me was Act two. I won’t give too much away, but this found me at the right time. I have been struggling with just doing things, setting aside my (often irrational) fears and just doing, and this really hit home.

Sometimes you need something to remind you to get out and really live. 

The Simple Life – Part 1

April 2016 marks the beginning of a new era.

All in one week, I made the decision to rid myself of the majority of my possessions, participated in my first running race, celebrated one year of dating my amazing boyfriend, and received word that my divorce was final. So much, all in one week. My head is spinning, and at the same time, I feel like the world is my oyster. After successfully recovering from the Ragnar Relay (and after temporarily swearing off running forever), I regained my motivation to grab the bull by the horns, if you will.

Piece by piece I am severing the sentimental ties to things that are just things, and I am disposing of, giving away, selling and donating the majority of what I own. In four weeks’ time, I will leave the place I’ve called home for five years with a few bits and pieces — some heirlooms, some books, some clothes, my laptop and my gear, and I will be a free-er woman!

“The things you own, end up owning you” – Tyler Durden

So what might I have in store for the coming year? Simplicity. Very few belongings. I want to know I can live out of my backpack when I want to. More running, more cycling, more hiking, more going. I have plans travel more, find the world, nature and myself as much as possible.

But let’s start with step one: untie these ties!

Downsizing is a quite epic task when you’ve fully furnished and occupied 1000 square feet of living space for a few years. I feel like I have so little, yet there are so many things here. I’ve broken it down into what I hope are easy steps. I’ve been making progress with friends and neighbors, pawning off things that people can use for the sheer joy of seeing something go to a new home where it will be appreciated. So far, I’ve collected $40 by selling my old backpack on OfferUp, and sold my Craigslist dining set to a neighbor. I’ve given away my patio chairs, tripod, most of my plants, computer desk, and a handful of other items — books, DVDs, art, etc.

I  don’t even feel one bit jaded by not taking money for all of these things. I acquired much of them long ago, for minimal cost, and this is my way to give back to the people who have provided so much support and encouragement, pure friendship and love.

Over the course of this last week, amidst all of the shuffling, the bartering, the giving, I felt two very distinct and extreme emotions:

Separation Anxiety. I woke up in a complete panic over the thought of not having a washer and dryer anymore. What if I need them again one day?!?! I’m going to be using someone else’s! I’m going be dependent! OMG I’M LOSING MY INDEPENDENCE!

Elation. As I handed off two large framed prints that have been with me for many, many years, I felt a twinge of regret that they were just ripped from my life so quickly. And then they were gone. And suddenly, I no longer felt attachment to them. Suddenly, the thought of having them again became so unappealing. My thoughts gravitated to the appreciation expressed to me by the recipients of my belongings, and it felt great. I felt like a successful matchmaker.

The panic is subsiding over the big changes that I am making this month. I have been planning this change for so long, and it is finally unfolding. My calculated plan for happiness and freedom is well underway, and I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have spent the better part of the last two years searching for what I needed to do to find my own personal happiness, and the determination is paying off. I’ve never been happier. I have so little, yet I have so much. My chosen family is growing stronger every day. My support system is overwhelmingly amazing. I am doing things I never imagined I could do. My fears are diminishing and my confidence grows. Life is good!