We just moved across town. This is our 3rd home in 2 years. We went from a 4 bedroom 2000sq ft home sitting on nearly an acre in Grand Rapids, Michigan to a 1500 sq ft, 3 bedroom home on a tiny lot in Vancouver, Washington. And now, to a townhouse in an apartment complex that allows us just over 1300sq ft of living space, gratefully with an attached single car garage, in Beaverton, Oregon.
In the process we have said good-bye to many possessions. As we have sorted and agonized it has been wonderfully clarifying to see what we truly value, and to watch our home become less about things and more about people. It is also clear to us that we are well blessed beyond our net worth, as seen in the amount of things we’ve possessed, most of which was gifted to us. Taking moments to let this revelation sink in and to enjoy the love that has been shown us through these gifts has been a gift in itself.
We still have plenty of stuff, and could probably stand to say good-bye to another 3rd of what we currently house without a problem or inconvenience. And there have been some surprising challenges pop up in this process. Guilt over letting go of Grandma’s tea cup, sadness in saying goodbye to baby blankets we haven’t used for nearly a year, and fear of what So-and-so might think of us giving up such-and-such. Then, there is the challenge of well intentioned family and friends offering new treasures as they hear tale of our children’s woes over the loss of broken Mc Donald’s toys… And, of course, what to do about birthdays and holidays that traditionally celebrate with the exchange of gifts.
Realizing that we don’t need things to remember that we are loved, that the gifts we are given are not the true present, but that the love we are shown by the expression of these gifts is what we need to hold on to and remind each other of; this is a new family goal we have set for ourselves. Remembering that things have a place and are ment to be enjoyed, but can also be let go of or passed on for others’ enjoyment is a new mindset we are wriggling into. Weighing the emotion of the moment against the overall longer-term outcome is something we are practicing. Letting go of guilt over how others feel about our choices is something we are learning to free ourselves with. We are gradually working toward attaching the sentiments to people instead of items.
There are benefits in ways we didn’t expect as well. As we have downsized to a point where everything has a place we are seeing our budget loosening a bit. We haven’t lost things or needed to replace things. As we enjoy everything in its place we are experiencing a new kind of contentment. The pain of sorting and making decisions is a deterrent to bringing new things into the house to replace something that has already carefully been assigned a spot. Even my children’s insistence that they “need” something they saw in a store or on TV has decreased. Playtime has become more enjoyable because we know where all the pieces are. And I overhear my son saying, “No, we can’t do that until we put this away,” music to my ears!
As challenging and even painful as this process has been I am grateful for this season of downsizing. It has been as refreshing and uplifting as it has been humbling and hard. There is so much freedom in living more simply and maintaining only what we need and what we take joy in.