I continue my march (shuffle?) on towards a return to living closer to the natural world, with a lighter footprint, more mindful consumption, growing more of my own food (leaf and limb) and trying to reduce what I already own. Egads, you simply don’t know the cycle, the pressure of it on those around you, and yourself, until you get off the bus!
The wrestling with this issue has been going on for more than a year now. I’ve already moved from over 2K square feet to just around 200 square feet. The space isn’t the issue. It is perfectly livable, even workable for entertaining my children and grandchildren (when there were only two!) in a pinch, using the extension to the outdoors. However, since leasing my forever house out, selling it really, on a lease contract, I had to haul the stuff I intended to keep down here to the micro-haus. I have stubbornly refused to rent a storage unit for my stuff, instead, forcing myself to live with it in this tiny space, until I figure out what to do with it all. If this space had originally been designed for long-term living, I don’t think there would be such a problem. But it is a vacation rental turned into a several year living place. You don’t need things like a regular closet, good kitchen storage and bathroom storage, when one is just going to suck up sun and surf for a week, or even a month. Living long-term though, those things get rather crucial.
As much as I’d like to put all the weighty blame on the building, I just can’t. It’s hereditary, in part; or I guess I should say it is learned behavior in part. Retail therapy is big business, and among my relatives it’s almost a badge of honor. Since I’m still stubborn about spending an equivalent amount of money to store the stuff as I possibly would spend to replace it, I’ve decided that I will divest myself of 50% of what I own, except in some can’t-touch-this arenas. Books for instance. I’ve already culled over 75% of the books I owned, leaving behind wildly expensive tomes, parsing them out to other bibliophilic friends, or donating them. I suppose there might be a few remaining ones that I could get rid of, but not many. And while I’ve shifted to much of my reading via the Kindle app on my phone, I’m mildly paranoid enough about our infrastructure security that I like having actual, physical books around. Some don’t lend themselves to the format either. Plus, there is still the pure, visceral experience of a physical book, tossed in a backpack or such, and hauled out as a companion to a temporary place, feet dangling from a log (okay, swinging), next to a stream or a big rock, and reading. I have three small bookcases tucked behind doors, squished into wall space, and there’s still room in them. So, books probably won’t suffer another haircut. As such, I love this idea from HiddenPassages.com
However, considering the layout of the shed-to-home conversion I plan on doing, I don’t know that I’ll actually have any other doors than a front door. While aesthetically pleasing and sensible, it probably won’t work for my planned space. Sigh. In one Zen home, the artist/builder simply ran shelving all around the loft space bedroom, and stored books there. I suspect that will be my solution, plus a bookcase or so in the main living area.
Then there are CDs. Now, I have most of my music stored digitally. But again, that’s worrisome to me. Although reality check says if the infrastructure to access digital files doesn’t exist, possibly there won’t be juice to run a stereo either 🙂 A solar panel or two can alleviate that worry though. I simply have a difficult time fathoming life without access to music, so I am loathe to get rid of my extensive, but also already culled, CD collection, even if I never purchase another one. This doesn’t even take into account the certain potential that eventually there will be nothing to play this form of media on, just as 8-tracks and cassettes have gone by the wayside in my own lifetime. I guess at that time, I can use them as deer fence deterrent objects or make some form of art from them, lol!
Home decor objects is next on the list. There are certain prints, signage, knick-knacks and such that I’ve toted around the country for over ten years now. Some became more important after my husband’s death. Some are just relics of memories; visual mementos of time slices in my life. Many of them have lived in boxes for so long, I don’t recall where they are, or in some cases, what they are! For those of you new to this blog, since I left home at seventeen, I’ve moved 24 times, and the longest I ever lived in one place is six years. As such, it takes me a while to haul out home decor when I land somewhere.
On from there, kitchen stuff, clothing, shoes, computer equipment, photography equipment, camping equipment, ‘girl’ stuff in the bathroom, well, you get the picture. I realize part of my reluctance to divest of some things is related to being on my own financially. What if I don’t HAVE the money in the future to replace something? I’ve never faced that potentiality since I married the first time, over thirty years ago. Always there were two of us to pitch into the pot.
Do you see here, the part about worry, now? This is a first world luxury, to worry about ‘stuff’. I quoted Blake a few posts ago, about knowing what is enough, only by having had more than enough. Blake was obviously way smarter than I, because I’m still playing with it in my mind, lol! There is also the stress of maintaining the stuff, keeping things in good condition while not in every day use. Lots of energy expenditure, really, around stuff.
I don’t buy much any more, as there is no place to put it, and I don’t want to have to store it for the next 18-24 months. People want me still though, to go shopping with them. I resist. There’s nothing like another shopper egging you on to make that new found resolution fly out the window with the thought “Well, yes, I could use a (insert whatever here), now that you mention it.” I try to talk to my children about over-buying, buying quality, looking to used items first, etc. They don’t listen much; similar to me at that age I suppose. As times tighten financially though, I do hope they will heed my words at some point later in time. They are all pretty good at living small, since two of them are stay-at-home Moms. The oldest, more financially flush child is also very wise with money. She didn’t get that from me, that’s her Dad’s example. I still struggle with it now, although I’ve gotten much better over the last five years, mostly by necessity. Great teacher, she.
If you’ve dealt with these issues, I’d love to hear how you have approached it. What methods you used to pare down, evaluate, re-assess. I’d love to hear your comments, what works for you, and any tips.
In the interim, I’ll keep designing via my Pinterest boards, focusing on storage, wood heat and cooking, solar set ups, and dreaming of my return to the woods; unless some marvelous person who could love an eccentric, over-thinking, introverted, writing, photographing, goofy female drops into my life and changes my direction (hey, it happens in books, don’t laugh!) I look forward to documenting my progress as that time nears. For now, it still seems far away, but the dream keeps me moving forward, gently nudging me when I would flounder or flop or cave in.
A note to think on, that I wish I could impart to some people close to me:
You may get an emotional thrill when you first buy something, but emotions are fickle. You buy that one thing you think will complete your happiness, but after awhile the feeling goes away and you have to go to the next thing. You just keep going from purchase to purchase looking for the one thing that will finally satisfy. But stuff can’t satisfy.
Be well. Pare down. Learn what is essential for contentment. Start with your insides, then move outwards.
I’ll be over working on my photo blog for a while, please drop by, and leave your feedback. My Digital Eye Queue.