Today, wasn’t exciting but it was productive. We were so ready to get on the road that we began to just pile stuff in boxes and fill our trailer as if it were an U-haul. In hindsight, I’m not sure it was the best idea.
Today, we combed through what’s left of our possessions again.
I wish I was one of those people who could just easily get rid of stuff. I am not. When we began to get rid of things I thought I had little attachment. The first “round” was easy but with each consecutive round it got harder and harder. For instance with my clothes, I finally had Brent sweep through my closet once last time and pull out the things he liked. I bagged the rest.
We have had to remind ourselves over and over that’s it’s “just stuff”. One of the bigger challenges has been letting go of stuff after calculating how many hours of life it cost. Not a good idea. It’s better to just get rid of it but it seemed I couldn’t help it. Every time I loaded up the truck for another trip to the Goodwill I found myself tallying up numbers Rainman style. Not only do we trade hours of our life to buy it but then there are the hours spent cleaning, fixing, and managing it. The cost of stuff is steep. As hard as it has been, it feels amazing to have less.
As we were deciding what to take we asked ourselves these questions-
1. When was the last time we used it? (Duh) If it hadn’t used it in the last yea then, in most cases, we got rid of it.
2. Does it have sentimental value? If so, is there a way to preserve it digitally? For instance, Brent and Nathanael, together, threw away two paintings after taking pictures of them. We also burned all of our cds.
3. Since we are coming back in a year, we didn’t want to get rid of everything…especially Brent’s work equipment. It would be very expensive to replace and we will use if we come back to Ventura for future projects.
My advice to people who want to downsize but have emotional attachments is to take it slow. Go through each room once and get rid of the things that are easy to part with first. Wait a few days (or weeks), then go through the room again. And again. I found that with each pass not only was it easier to “let go” but I learned more about myself and what I truly value. This information is going to affect my future choices. For instance, I have an old art box filled with painting supplies. I haven’t used it in years but as hard as I tried I couldn’t part with it. What it represents is simply too powerful and to get rid of it would have been throwing away part of my dreams. I found other things that I “thought” I loved but ended up getting rid of them so I would have space for my art box.
It was a little more challenging with the kids. In the beginning, we told them we were going to just “get rid of it all” that it was “just stuff”. Then we changed our minds. We didn’t want them to feel like everything had been “taken away” from them. Together, we went throughout their stuff item by item and asked the similar questions. They put things in four different piles- 1. RV 2. Store at grandmas 3. Give away 4. Throw away. It was tedious but it was amazing how it gave us the opportunity to talk about things we may have not talked about otherwise. Thing 2 had a few a teddy bears and I couldn’t figure out why for the life of me he insisted on keeping the ratty one. Finally, he told me it was because it was the only thing he had that Lucille, a lady we used to visit in the nursing home before she died, had given him. I had assumed he had forgotten all about her. Of course, we also talked a great deal about how we want to spend money in the future.
It’s been hard but I’m certain in the future it will be worth it. Probably one more day of organizing and then we can get on with the fun stuff!
Love and Laughter,