Sunday, May 29, 2016

Something Brand New

We are still plugging away at our master list, still lining things up to sell our current home in the best possible condition we can make it before we move on to our new home in less than two weeks. We close on the new place in five days and will be sleeping there in twelve and we are so ready to be at that point.

Items have been leaving our house quickly and in abundance. The loads to the thrift shop are less frequent these days as we do the fine tuning, but one did go this past week and another is currently accumulating in E's car. Our curb also regularly looks like a free sale where everything must go, allowing us to remove eight large items quickly in the past twenty-four hours alone. A few things make their way out via craiglist sales, putting a bit of useful money in our pockets as we prepare to own two homes for a stretch and while we do need that cash we are getting closer to the finish line so whatever doesn't sell soon is making it's way out to the curb as well to surprise someone with something they might need. It feels good to get to that place of detachment and letting go.

Seeing how much we are getting rid of is still shocking to me. Yes, I know how it accumulated over time, but it's still so completely shocking as I see the quantity of it all and think back on all of the loads and pick ups and sales and trash and recycling that has left our home in the past month alone. Never will we get to this place again, but I will choose to be grateful for the experience, for this knowledge and insight we have gained. But yes, NEVER again. 

Meanwhile my health is suffering and I am antsy to have more time for self care in hopes of healing my body and allowing it to the have rest it needs while providing myself and my family with better nutrition. With the stress, lack of sleep and decreased nutrition my body is revolting and screaming at me to pay attention. So, for now I do what I can and try to hang in there just a little longer while allowing myself to do some non-house related things when I can, during those times E is working on the things he has to do himself. This week that meant lots of letters to friends to fill up my cup and sewing a sun dress for my oldest daughter which filled me up all over.

Knowing more of that creative time is on the horizon, not much further along, helps pull me through. I can see my new creative space now, I can envision it and imagine all of the time I will spend there making wonderful things and filling my heart. Not much longer. Not much at all.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tying Up Loose Ends

Right now we are in a place of tying up loose ends. We are two weeks out from closing on our new home and three weeks out from our first night of sleep there and about three weeks out from listing our current house as well. With the market as it is around here right now it's nice that we were able to buy before selling to be sure we secured a house that we love, but that also means we need to get this one listed as quickly as we can to not have more overlap than we can help and that means tying up a lot of loose ends and continuing to do the work needed to make this house shine and to give it the love we wish we could have over the past many years but weren't in a position to. We are realizing more and more how much of it we could have done previously, all of the smaller very low or no costs items on the list, but we have lived, we have learned and now it's crunch time and we are crunching hard.

We still aren't sleeping much but every time I cross an item off our master list I feel that much closer to the goal and the big break we are going to take after the initial settling in. Tonight that means E wrapping up some things in the basement and me making curtains for the basement windows and our plan for meals and groceries for the week between baby wake ups. So many lessons in all of this, this huge change we are experiencing right now and not enough time to process it all, but at the root of it all I am just so grateful for everything we are going through, for although it is intensely challenging right now, we are learning something and growing in some way from every single bit of it. 

I am also grateful to have had the forethought to start some of my tomato babies in pots so we could bring them along to the new place. With those and my basil planter and our potato bags we will still be able to have our little mini garden for the rest of the summer and since we will still own this home for a bit we can also harvest what we can as we come to check in on things here. Being without a garden for the year was really sad for me to imagine so I just carried on as if we were going to stay, but with planting a little less, and then adapting once we knew we were leaving and it turns out we aren't going to be without a garden at all, it's just going to look much different than it has in previous years or will in the future - a bit hodge podge but it will do the trick!

It's all good and will all work out as it should and while there is still much tying to be done, each day it becomes a little less and before we know it we'll be sitting in our new home amazed at how quickly we made it happen and embracing the change we have been anticipating for so long.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The End in Sight

We have been working so hard for so long and we are finally seeing the end in sight. While there are many more nights of work ahead and things to go through and areas to clean, in just a few weeks it will all be completed in one way or another and that thought is one of the biggest motivators as we trudge forward through the work every single night and every weekend day. It's coming and soon. Our hard work is finally coming to fruition and soon I will have more time to put all of the energy I have been directing toward this transition toward something else and I feel so excited at that reality.

Soon. Soon I can settle into a new space and let go of the last bits of things we find we don't need or don't work in that space. I can start the groups I am wanting to. I can write every night if I choose and I can do the same for sewing and knitting. I can have time to prepare food at night rather than scrambling every day to get food on the table and manage it all. I can work toward reducing our waste in all the ways I am dreaming of. We can make a plan for our new yard and start putting it into action. We can gain back time as a family, taking walks, relaxing, being together as us four rather than one of us with the kids while another completes housework.

We are almost to the finish line. We are almost to that life-changing transition we have dreamed about for so long. Sure, there are loose ends that will take time to tie up. Sure, it will take time to settle in. Sure, there's the whole moving an entire house and four people and three pets and some plants part, but again, that will happen one way or another. Mostly there is excitement and anticipation and so much good to come and I am looking forward to documenting much of that here as it does.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Relief With Release

As we prepare to go through selling our home and moving into our new one we are going through every crevice of every room - each closet, drawer, shelf, nook and cranny and as we do we are taking everything out and choosing to keep only the things we love or that are regularly used and needed. In doing so we find most areas are cut down by around 50% and we are amazed every single time, amazed at the fact that there is so much extra and also amazed that we are then able to live with a functional space with a small amount of effort and upkeep. 

Releasing those extras always leaves me feeling a huge sense of relief, realizing that hard work is complete and that I will get to live in my home in a way that is less stressful. The rewards are so large that when I realize there is another nook I can get at I feel almost giddy, knowing that I am about to get that wonderful feeling. 

Those nooks are becoming fewer and farther between as we make our way through, but tonight I attacked the kitchen one final time and came out with the equivalent of 4 paper grocery bags full of things that were either put into the giveaway pile, set aside for family, recycled or put into the trash. This after having already done a quick sweep a couple of months ago, getting rid of the obvious extras at that time and already having purged and organized the pantry last week. It's amazing, the knowledge that we can really make do, and happily, with so much less, and I know that we will let even more go as we settle into our new place and have an even clearer idea of what we will need. Plus, there are a few boxes of things E wants to sort and sell on Ebay once we are settled since we don't have the time to do so now in the hustle, and I have a tote of photos and negatives I still need to minimize and find a solution for, but again, need a little more time before I can sit and cut, scan, organize all of that, but you better believe I am itching to do so the first chance I get and through that process we will find our way to having even less in our home. There are also some items we want to find a better less space-sucking and more functional alternative for in the future but we have chosen to keep certain things (some camping gear more specifically) that we already have and can make do with until we make those decisions.

As for the items we are getting rid of, much has gone to a thrift store due to the fact that we need to get it all gone and out of our way quickly, some specific items have gone to family or friends who need or want them and a few things we are choosing to sell. It's too bad we haven't had time to do that with more things, but I think we struck a nice balance in deciding when it was worth our time to sell and when it was time to just get it the heck out of here. I do like this selling business though and this weekend I am going to be adding a few hundred much needed dollars to our fence-for-the-new-house-fund by selling some pyrex, newborn cloth diapers and an infant car seat and my awesome mom is going to take a handful of items with her to try to sell on a buy/sell/trade site for us as a way to help while we hustle to get everything finished up around here in the next couple of weeks. All of that added to the items in the garage we hope to sell (a large heater, some bikes, some various tools) should get us to my $1,000 from sold randomness goal and closer to having that fence up so our pooches and kids can safely run wild in our beautiful new space. 

Now...what cranny can I empty out next?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Moving On and Sizing Down

E and O at the new place during inspections. Smaller space, someone else's stuff, lots of potential for adding our own greatness.

We are a family of four, there's me, my husband and our two young girls, plus our brood of three furry-four-leggers. Currently we live in a three bedroom and two and a half bathroom home, around 1,200 square feet plus a relatively finished basement. We have more room than we really need and while we make use of our spaces we have often found all seven of us all piled on top each other in ten square feet or so of this space at a time and laughed about how it seems we don't need much space at all if we are always going to end up like that.

Well, we are about to have a bit less space and to try it on for size and we are really excited about the change. We'll lose a bathroom and some square footage of upstairs living space but the basement is still partially finished to leave room for E to work (he works from home) and for a family room area which I consider a nice perk when living in a state that is no stranger to tornados. These spaces, office and family room, are one in the same, without a separate office space as he has now.  This will take some readjusting in how we use the space at certain parts of the day, but we are definitely capable of doing such.

We will still have three bedrooms upstairs but the third has the only backdoor off of it so feels more like a family room kind of space. That works well for us though as we have always planned on the girls sharing a room and plan on continuing to keep our third room as our family art room with our art/craft tables and supplies. This room? So perfect for that. My idealizing mind pictures me sitting at my art table sewing while looking out one of the many windows at my girls running around out back as they grow. That's probably a few years off yet, but our dreams are what give us fuel, right?

Our bedroom will be smaller but that's perfect. All we have in it is a bed and a dresser now and a small nightstand for our youngest's sound machine and our clock and all of that will fit perfectly, leaving little room for things to build up. That being the thing I'm most excited about - the lack of room to allow things to build up. After digging ourselves out of the excess that has accumulated in our current home, it is encouraging to know that won't be able to happen. One, it won't happen because we've felt how hard it is to do this minimizing, how time consuming and life sucking and we know we want to spend our time on more important things than doing that again and two, without room for things to pile up as much we will have to tend to them as needed and get them out of our way which will help us in maintaining a minimized home.

Some people have been surprised when we've told them about moving to a smaller home. I understand that. Most people in our stage of life, with a growing family, would be looking to size up, but that sounds absolutely overwhelming to me. The last thing I want is more space. More space outside? Yes! Please! And we will be gaining that. But inside? Nah. I'll be happy to have only one toilet to clean on a regular basis, a smaller but more functional kitchen to work in, a smaller space that will allow me to more easily make things feel cozy and defined in a way that I've been craving but unable to make work in our current set-up.

Will it maybe sting a bit at first, to lose that extra space? Yeah, probably in certain ways, but not really. It will be a challenge having to reconfigure and to make hard choices, but we are doing much of that decision making now and I am so looking forward to the challenge. I'm so antsy to get there and get started, to continue our journey in simplifying in a new space and to settle into a more minimized home while we continue to regularly challenge ourselves to let go and to find more ways to reduce our waste, waste of objects, energy, time and resources. This all ties in so well to where I am in my mind and my heart right now and in a way where I have always been and to be fair it's not like we're moving into a 600 square foot home on wheels, we are still going to be living in a modest but comfortable home with a one car garage, a small shed and a spacious yard and porches, it's just less than we have now and that's still an adjustment, but one we are looking forward to with a huge load of excitement.

We're moving where we are to be close to our community of friends, to be close to the nature areas we love, to make trips to the farmers markets and our preferred grocery stores and local shops for essentials significantly more convenient. We could spend what we are on this house in a different area and get twice the amount of space, but even thinking of doing so makes me sad as we would be missing out on all of that good stuff that we have already been missing for such a long time.

This feels exciting. This feels right. This feels a bit challenging in the best ways and it's all good. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

And it Continues

All of that and many more loads like that and so many things with free signs on the curb or curb alerted through craigslist and a craigslist car sale and so many more items to list for sale. That is what our lives look like right now.

The first load or two feels refreshing, the third feels like a nice load off, the fourth, fifth, sixth and so on start to feel a bit embarrassing and overwhelming as we ask ourselves how we got to the point where we have so much extra. Knowing us I don't think you would expect to find us in this position. We generally live a pretty simple life, we don't want much and we are the last people you will find at a shopping mall on a weekend, yet here we are.

So, how does this happen? Differently for everyone I'd say and for us there are many factors. E has lived in this house for 13 years and I have been in it with him for 8 of those and a big part of the extra being allowed to accumulate is that we have more space than we need. Our house is just at around 1,200 square feet, not large by most peoples measures, but comfortable and spacious for the four of us and our three pets and with the addition of an oversized garage the size of a small house itself, well...things have plenty of room to be pushed to the side to be dealt with later or held on to "just in case", but life gets busy and without setting aside intentional time for the dealing it just never happens and neither do the just in case moments, for even if there is something held on to just in case, when that time comes it's easy to forget the item ever existed and hard to find the item even if you do have it.

And so the story goes, my mom moves house and I take anything of interest or that used to be mine and tuck it away to look at later, the family farm is lost and I take on whatever we can scrape out of that might be of interest and stick it in the garage to deal with later, my dad passes away and more comes along and on and on. That matched with my own life's accumulation, E's accumulation and the items we've accumulated together many pets and two children later has left us drowning in just too much stuff.

And now, we dig ourselves out. We started this process long ago, sorting through things here or there, but in the past few months with our plans to move house we have been purging in a pretty huge way and the rewards have already been enormous. Each time a room is complete and feels minimized and functional it makes me feel calm and capable of functioning better throughout the day and with it being in such a simplified state it is no trouble at all to maintain it in that state. That has been the biggest difference I have seen between general decluttering and such a huge surge of minimizing, the maintaining. With less stuff in general it is just so much easier to live our day to day lives in our space and so much less time is wasted.

There is plenty left to do but we are nearing the current finish line with just a few small areas in our home to poke through before tackling the garage and listing all of the extras for sale before moving forward. This work is exhausting on both physical and emotional levels but it will all be worth it. Feeling the weight of it all, holding each item in our hands, having to haul it all off, seeing it all and being fully engrossed in the process, all of that is important as I know it will keep us from ever getting to this place again where we have to spend our precious hours dealing with stuff rather than snuggling up together or pursuing all of the things that tug at our hearts.

We know that having less will open our world to so much more in the areas that matter most. Adventures with our girls rather than our weekends eaten up by this process. Nights reading and crafting and dreaming and being rather than buried in bags and boxes. Sunshine on our cheeks, dirt on our hands, smiles on our faces and a simple happy life with our people. That is what we are working for.