Having lived in our house for approximately 23 years, moving out with the plan to put things into storage and live in a small trailer was quite an adventure. There was so much we had accumulated during those years that decluttering and minimizing was a challenge. I believe it was a necessary challenge as a number of those things we just didn’t need or weren’t using much if ever. It is so easy to “collect” in a home and let things pile up. Some things were easy to get rid of and others took more thought. Those things with sentimental value or would be hard to replace I found difficult to discard. Some things were a big question as to whether to keep or let go. As I started to make frequent trips to the Hope Chest to donate or gave things to neighbors and friends, Mark and I noticed a peculiar phenomena. Although it seemed we were doing a good job minimizing, we had the same amount of stuff in the house as before! Mark made the comment that he believed at night when we were asleep the Hope Chest was bringing back some of the things we had donated!
As we cleaned out one room, the pile in the other rooms seemed to grow. The process of minimizing was slow, constant and toward the end desperate. At first we thought we would sell some furniture but then decided it would be better to donate it. We discovered that some things might be difficult to find a home, including our oak entertainment cabinet that was probably no longer in favor with most people. It was large and unwieldy and we needed someone strong to come get it. Donating it to Habitat for Humanity proved unsuccessful when two people from that organization came out with a small truck and stated they were unable to enter the house and pick up furniture. Eventually our neighbor’s friend came and took this cabinet and it was a happy day when it was finally out of the house.
Although minimizing and getting rid of things was the hardest part of the move, I found it was also the most rewarding. I read something once that if you no longer need or use something you own, you should give it to someone who will appreciate and value it more than you do. It was great to give things away to people who would enjoy them.
For example, we had an old windmill in the backyard garden that was rusted, in some disrepair and needed a little TLC. When we found out our daughter-in-law’s father was interested in having this windmill I felt a little embarrassed giving it to him in the shape it was in. When Ron came to get the windmill I apologized for the rust and missing screws and he said that he loved the old “patina” on the windmill blades. I realized than that yes, the windmill was much more interesting with rust and wear than when it was shiny new. It had character and he had wanted a windmill in his yard for some time. This was just one example of someone who was happy to get something of ours that we were able to part with. Although it can be comforting to have our possessions around us like a security blanket, the ability to let go was freeing for me and allowed me to see a new beginning.
When I first saw our small storage unit I was dismayed and felt there was no way we would get everything in there we planned to save. It is amazing though how much you can fit in a small space if you organize and pack efficiently. I have my husband to thank for that. He came up with a great way to stack all of our boxes against one wall. Most of the rest of our furniture and belongings were able to fit in as well. Our challenge now is how to organize and manage the belongings we brought in the trailer. It looks like we have brought too much and minimizing will continue as we become more proficient living full time as nomads.