Minimizing: The Struggle is Real

Surely by now, you’ve heard of minimalism: a movement of letting go of the things, people, and ideas that no longer bring you joy and replacing them with real space for healing, love, and happiness. If you haven’t, I encourage you to check out Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix. Yes, I know what you might be thinking.

Why would I willingly part with all of my stuff??

For me, it’s simple. I want to declutter my life, which helps my anxiety immensely. I want to live simply so I can afford to live a full life – not full of things, but of people and experiences.

For Lonnie, it’s not that simple. They love clothes and shopping and things. They’re treasures to Lonnie. The worst part about minimizing is getting rid of clothes, bags, and shoes. Oh, and books! Lonnie is a writer and Shakespeare admirer, so getting rid of those precious words is difficult, to say the least.

And, no, we aren’t total opposites in every regard. (If we were, wow, life would be hard!) We do have a common goal in mind, though. We want to live on a bus. We both understand that we can’t have a 1,500 square foot bus and are working on it. I like to say that I could live in a tiny apartment with a chair, TV, and one lamp, but I find that giving away things is actually hard for me. Not all things, but some. The first pieces of furniture that I bought myself were very difficult to sell, but I know that it will be worth it in the end.

With that being said, I have some tips on minimizing if you’re a maximist.

  1. Go through all your forgotten, hidden, stored away boxes first. You’ve probably forgotten what was in that dusty, busted cardboard box anyway. It will make you feel accomplished and get your momentum going.
  2. For clothes, try it on. Take into consideration the following things: how does it make you feel, how many times have you worn it this year, is it in good condition? Use ThredUp to sell your gently used clothes, shoes, jewelry, and bags! Not only will you get rid of some things, but you’ll get paid! (Also, if you shop from there, it’s more eco-friendly because you’re buying second hand, and if you use my link, you’ll get $10 off our first purchase!)
  3. Books! Ask yourself if it’s an absolute favorite, ask yourself if you will ever read it again or read it period, and, lastly, ask yourself if you can borrow it from your local library. That’s how we purged from two overly full 5 1/2 foot bookcases to two small boxes. What to do with your discards? Donate them to your local library!
  4. As for kitchen items, cut through everything in your utensil drawer first. Do you really need 5 ladles, 4 whisks, and 11 spatulas? Do you??
  5. And for everything else, it’s simple. Ask yourself how many times you actively think about the item, ask yourself if it’s sentimental/brings you happiness, and then ask yourself if you really need it. Sometimes things blur the lines, so I leave it and get rid of other things until I come back to it later to make the decision.

I know it’s hard. Believe me, I know. But you can do it. Start small. Start with old stuff crammed into closets that haven’t seen the light of day in years. Think of all the space you’re freeing up. Think about the life you want to be living. Think about all the money you’ll be getting from selling your stuff on Ebay, ThredUp, or Facebook Marketplace! I have a spreadsheet for selling our belongings and we’re well on our way!

Good luck, friends!

xxx

Two Kids + A Bus

Advertisements

Where will You be in 5 years?

This standard interview question always brings an exasperated groan to my internal monologue. At least it’s not external while I’m being grilled about my professional career, what my weaknesses are, and how I like working in a team environment. That comes later. While I’ve always loathed the question, I have to begrudgingly admit that it is a good way for a potential employer (or anyone) to get a good idea of who you are and what motivates you.

So, where will you be in five years? Traveling the world? Married with a spouse and three kids? (goat kids or human kids?) Working your way up the corporate ladder? Starting your own business? Kickin’ it with celebrities? Hanging out with friends? Rescuing puppies? Making babies? Hm? What are you going to do with your life?

As I read these questions, my heart starts racing and anxiety shoots through my veins. It’s almost impossible to know exactly where you’re going to end up in five years. There are thousands upon thousands of factors that could potentially shift your ‘ideal’ from living one way to another, and that’s okay. I promise. You don’t need a strict five-year plan in order for your life to be a success. Your plan can change. Your life can change. And, honestly, I encourage change. Change is a catalyst for growth. Growth leads to success.

And now you’re probably wondering what in the hell does this photo have anything to do with what I want to do in five years. Well, let me tell you a story:

I’ve always loved having a plan. I’ve had a plan about what I want to be and how I’m going to get there from a very young age. Plans give me a feeling of comfort and self-confidence even when I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. My plan shifted in my fourth year of college when I realized that I actually hated getting up in front of people and performing (I sing…sang), and that was a major component of becoming a music teacher. I have anxiety. I have always had anxiety, and though it went undiagnosed for most of my life, it was still ever present.

So I dropped music education and started my degree in accounting. Yes, in the last semester of my fourth year, I started a new major. Was I crazy? Probably. Did I take on a lot more student debt because of it? Oh, yeah! Was it worth it? I don’t know. I still don’t know. Do I enjoy my job? Sure. There’s something comforting in accounting. It’s based on rules, regulations, and balance. I like that. I’m good at that. Is it boring? Sometimes. Sitting amongst a sea of pale green cubicles while men only ten years your senior go golfing all day is grating, to say the least. Our CEO makes an ungodly amount of money. It’s maddening. But it’s a job. It pays the bills, so I’ll take it…for now.

I’ve been an accountant for several years now. I have my bachelors and masters in Accounting. I make a decent living. I’m married to my best friend and we have two cats. Lonnie and I are, in so many ways, the same person, but, also, so vastly different. Lonnie is from California: free-spirited, an English major who loves working out, obsessive about certain things, loves oatmeal raisin cookies and doesn’t have a plan (typically). They kind of went along with my plan when they came into my life. I was getting my masters in New England while working and wanted to get my Ph.D. Then I was going to teach. Well, the latter didn’t work out. Lonnie’s changed jobs a couple times since then. I’ve changed jobs and my mind about my Ph.D. (someday, just not today). Our plan was simple: move to California to be closer to Lonnie’s family, get jobs, live our lives.

And then…

Sitting on the couch one day, Lonnie waxed poetic about the idea of living in a 1970s VW bus and traveling the country. And it stuck.

Now, this may sound like an off the cuff or whimsical idea, but you don’t know us. When we decide on something, we research and research and research until we know for sure. I actually have friends who live in converted school buses, aka skoolies, so I was able to go through her and learn about her and her family’s journey. We found Facebook groups and communities full of like-minded and friendly people who were willing to share their knowledge. It’s beautiful.

I’ve always been passionate about the tiny home movement, minimalism, and traveling, so this skoolie idea was the perfect fit. We’ve created our plan together. It’s more of a two to three-year plan, but we did it. And it’s Our Plan: not my plan that Lonnie is hitching a ride on, not Lonnie’s plan that I’m settling on. Our Plan. That we created ourselves. Our goals, dreams, passions that we can cultivate together. I love that.

So, where do we see ourselves in five years?

Living free of the shackles and conformity of the unobtainable American Dream. Living out our dreams of traveling full time. Helping millennials kill even more things that baby boomers think are essential. Crushing capitalism by living off the grid. Being happy.

What about you?

xxx

Two Kids +A Bus