August 9, 2017
Tears filled my eyes as the red Ford F-150 turned left out of our driveway onto 550 East. Is this really what I want? The “House for Sale” sign in our front yard represents an end to a chapter in our lives. But the end prepares the way for the next chapter to begin. One must end before another can begin.
Minutes earlier, our realtor had pushed the sign’s legs into the soft ground before climbing into his truck, driving away. Little did he know the turmoil in my mind and heart. I love my cottage-like, yellow house with matching garden shed; flower park complete with bird feeders and park bench; towering maple trees standing as four established sentries in a straight line with two swings hanging on a large branch from tree Number One (yes, we named them); and three acres providing room for our beagles, Lillie and Olive, to run for hours. On that three acres each of our younger grandkids learned to ride the blue Yamaha PW 50 the summer after his or her second birthday. John would run behind while grasping the rope attached to the fender of the bike in order to drag the bike to a stop if he found the bike and its rider heading towards buildings or other immovable objects. Memories of the hours spent sitting at our pub-height dining table staring out the bay window as the snow created unique mounds are stored in a special place in my mind. How can I leave the sanctuary John and I chose and bought together? Not easily!
How can I leave 2800 square feet of stuff? The stuff that owns me. The stuff that requires a significant portion of our income for upkeep of the stuff. The stuff we don’t use. The stuff taking up space without adding any value. The stuff. The stuff. The stuff. Not easily!
Since our kayak trip two years ago when we thrived for three and a half months with the possessions packed into our two boats, I have claimed my longing to downsize, ridding ourselves of unnecessary “needs” from our home, redefining “needs” and “wants.” Deciding to take one step further, we are decreasing our living space. Currently having room to store our stuff, we don’t take the time to rid ourselves of the frills, continuing to add more because “there’s room.” Taking away the space will force us to take time to give away, sell, or discard clothes, appliances, dishes, etc. that we haven’t used in a year, or years. I won’t be able to keep the cute shirt I refold and replace on my shelf over and over just in case I lose a few pounds. (I just thought of something. I don’t ever refold and replace any clothes just in case I GAIN a few pounds. Apparently, I’m not an equal opportunity hoarder.)
Once “Sold” replaces “For Sale,” we will take steps away from this complicated way of life with its plethora of enslaving possessions and walk into a simpler way of life with fewer possessions. Moving from 2800 square feet to 600 square feet will require a strategic plan for how to utilize the space. So much less. Taking these steps requires some sifting. The holes of the sifter are small, preventing the things I don’t need from passing through. I’m afraid I will try pushing some unneeded items through even though they are too big, clogging the holes, not allowing real needs to pass.
Contemplating the stress of this sifting process, I have realized how important perception is. The other day, I was canning green beans, feeling sorry for myself that I was giving up so much. How am I going to preserve my produce with less counter-top space? How am I going to…? Then, I had an epiphany. I shouldn’t be trying to fit my 2800 square foot way of life into 600 square feet. Instead, I should be entering a new way of life. An out with the old and in with the new sort of thing. With a change in my perception, some of the stress slipped away.
I discussed my mixed emotions with a friend who recently eliminated all extras from her life and moved from a seven-bedroom, 3400 square foot home to a three-bedroom, 1000 square foot condo . She admitted, “It’s hard but when you are done, you feel relief and free…and ready for next step. I kept saying to myself…who needs all this stuff?… It felt almost sinful to have so much extra stuff. I really only want the basics and what I truly need.” Her words inspired me to pry my fingers off the dusty sandwich maker I haven’t plugged in in over sixteen years, despite moving it to three different homes. I’ll need to remove bags and boxes of the “unneeded” quickly from my reach, avoiding the temptation to take that pretty, serving platter and relabel it as “needed” just in case I serve a gourmet meal. The “just in case” syndrome. Can a doctor write a prescription for a drug to cure me?
Work fast. Don’t think. Don’t look back. Maybe that is the prescription. Whatever the magic method, I am eager to start. Eager to cleanse. Eager to be free. Eager to move on. Eager to put feet behind my words. Eager to live out my words of wisdom.