When my kids took off to start their own lives, things took on a very strange momentum. My marriage was in it’s 25th and final year (unbeknownst to us) and we were planning a grand adventure to Central America for a month. We had been saving for a couple of years and we thought there was really not a better time to go.
But the house.
The house was too big and too full and just TOO much. Paying to maintain it for a month while absent seemed silly. We wanted to move. We wanted something smaller and manageable, with completely different creature comforts. The school district we were in no longer mattered so the sky was the limit. My husband and I had never purchased a home so there really was no reason not to cut ties with this giant house other than the massive amount of personal belongings. Thus began the journey from a full 4 bedroom home to a 10×10 storage unit and absolutely no home to come home to! Yes, we voluntarily became homeless and got rid of 80% of our- dare I say it… JUNK.
I decided to go through one room at a time starting with the kitchen, because it was completely apparent that I no longer needed nor wanted to cook for 7 people. I have no idea why I had 7 cake pans, 4 pie plates, and 6 sheet cake pans. I had never considered opening a bakery, nor did I go to the trouble of baking for bake sales (I mean, Fred Meyer cookies are so good. Why bother?) much to my children’s chagrin. I did use the cookie sheets every year for my Christmas cookie baking week but other than that, it was perplexing. I had two crock pots (two!!) with a healthy layer of dust on them, air poppers, salad shooters, 2 blenders, margarita/rocks/wine/martini/shot/champagne/pounder glasses aplenty, a waffle maker, corn skewers, taco holders, gravy boats, butter dishes, kool-aid pitchers, mismatched plastic containers (SO many), 3 full sets of silverware and enough plates to host a block party. Why? I sat on my kitchen floor filling bag after bag of unused appliances and kitchen crap and wondered how did it get this far?
As I went through each room it did not get any better. I donated bags and bags of clothing. My family are avid thrifters, so I consoled myself with the knowledge that I never paid full price for anything other than intimates and shoes, but I watched thousands of dollars worth of purchases go out of the house in black plastic bags. There were listings made and furniture sold. All five of the children were contacted and offered things, but we were rarely taken up on it, because no one actually wants your junk. I gave each of my children 2 weeks to come get their things left at the house and they really could not understand ‘why I could not just be like a normal parent and keep their crap forever’?
But I soldiered on.
It actually took two sweeps in each room to get down to a manageable amount of belongings. I feel it would have been easier if I would have had one hour to get 5 bins of what I could not live without in my new home. It is easier to decide what you can’t live without than it is to decide what to throw away. It’s a mindset. A paradigm shift, of sorts.
I began to notice with each carload I dumped off at the St. Vincent DePaul I began to breath easier (they pay power bills for people down on their luck and make toiletry bags for homeless people). I felt free and untethered. I began to get a rhythm in my thinking, “Do I love it? Do I use it? Do I need it?” I began to feel euphoric with each goodbye. I was letting go! I was saying no to my worldly goods! I felt so bohemian, so hippy, so one with the earth. My love of ‘Less is Better’ was born.
I managed to whittle a four bedroom house down to a small storage unit. I kept my washer and dryer, mattresses, TV, 2 lawn chairs, the computer and desk, a dresser, and approximately 10 bins of clothing and household goods. My husband and I put in our 30 days notice and wondered if we were actually planning on coming back from Central America. Like I said, the sky was the limit.