Going Small ~ A Three Part Love Story ~ Part Two

Part Two ~ Downsizing Our Lives 

Have you ever stopped to take inventory of your possessions? Have you taken the time to thoughtfully look at the things around you and ask yourself if they add joy to or simplify your life in any way? I have always been fascinated by hoarders. Me, being the opposite in that I have no issues reducing clutter, donating things I no longer need or stopping an impulse buy in it’s tracks.  But regardless of all of that, I realized I still had an abundance of stuff. Stuff that added no value to my life. This realization became even more apparent when I entered a relationship with the King of No Stuff. Clothes & books were really all he had and it was kind of refreshing.

As I took inventory I started to really question myself. AM I a hoarder? Why do I have six serving bowls? Do I really need five sheet sets? And as I looked deeper I realized I had feelings attached to all of these things I held on to. I had nice dishes, and everyday dishes…because I’m a grown-up now and I need fancy dishes in case I have a holiday meal at my house or even a dinner party. What would people think if I served them on my everyday dishes? After a lot of soul-searching, I came to the answer. People are concerned with the company (and likely the food), not what dishes I serve them on. Seems simple enough a concept, that people are there to spend time with you and not your dishes but even people who are not generally materialistic do things “for show” without even thinking twice about it.

The first big sweep came when I went vegan.  Out went the leather, the silk, the wool. The number of shoes and purses was obscene. I looked at the pile of things I once loved and all I saw was death. I know that may sound dramatic to some, but it’s true. How many animals lost their lives so that I could decorate myself? I felt sick. Rather than those lives being taken in vain by me tossing the death-wear in the trash, I donated it all.  Off it went and it felt good. Actually, it felt great! Not only do I now have a compassionate closet but also a deeper sense of accountability for my choices than I had before.

After the first closet sweep and my son moving out unexpectedly, everything in my life started to feel excessive. I continued to rid my closet of an additional six lawn bags (yes, the huge black ones) of apparel. Housewares came next. I donated more and more until we had only enough to live comfortably. Nothing more, nothing less. For the first time, our dream of moving into an RV and having the freedom to roll our lives anywhere we wanted seemed possible. It’s truly amazing how stuff creates an emotional weight that you don’t even realize you carry. It’s paralyzing in its own way. For us, shedding stuff translates to fewer chores, lower bills, and more freedom.

Off we go!

(Cue theme song)

By Jessica Caviness New Camera 039

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Going Small ~ A Three Part Love Story ~ Part One

Part One ~ The Awakening

It’s not the most comforting feeling to wake up one day and realize that everything you have been working towards is light years away from where your true joy lies. But it happens. And it happened to me about seven years ago. I wanted a second child. I wanted to purchase another home. I wanted to climb the ladder. I wanted all of the things that I had been told would make me “successful”. And I was getting them! But the more those goals were realized, the less fulfilled I felt.

I started to do the math. An average house in Los Angeles is over $400,000. With a 30 year loan that is $2,000+ a month on the mortgage alone. That’s not including insurance, property taxes, and all of the other lovely expenses that come with being a homeowner.

And then there is upkeep. Not only would I have a huge pile of bills chipping away at my bank account and more importantly, my entertainment fund, but who will take care of the house? Surely with a $2,000+ mortgage I won’t have much left over for a housekeeper or gardener. Then who? Ding, ding, ding! Me, that’s who!

In comes that sinking feeling in my stomach when I imagine of having all those bills and working for pretty much the rest of my life to pay them. So, let me get this straight…I’m supposed to bust my ass 40+ hours a week working to pay for a home that I will likely be paying off the rest of my life and spending all of my free time cleaning and gardening? Where is the real benefit over renting if I won’t own the house outright until I’m over 60? Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? Where does the joy of retirement come in? Social Security is certainly not going to cover bills of this magnitude.

This image of my future not only didn’t appeal to me but quite frankly scared the crap out of me. It all felt SO WRONG. Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll pass on your “success”. So, now what?

By Jessica Caviness

New Camera 178