My life is being distilled down to its essence. That’s a good thing but is challenging physical and internal work. After deciding several months ago to transition from my beloved house in the Appalachian Mountains to a tiny house on wheels (an ultra-light travel trailer with 200 sq ft of living space) the process of purging has been underway on all levels. The 1500+ sq ft house is up for sale, and I have cleaned nearly every inch of living space, either selling, trashing, or donating furniture and smaller items. When friends ask how long I plan to live in the trailer, my response is “For the foreseeable future. Maybe 10 years? Who knows?”
The small trailer I have my eye on weighs approximately 4,200# and can carry cargo up to 2,300#, for a combined total of 6,500 pounds. I gathered the possessions I couldn’t live without in the corner of my room, doubting they would total 1,000#. Due to several snow days last month, I had unexpected time on my hands so decided to do an experiment and weigh every little thing I plan to pack in the trailer, factoring in the “worse case scenario” of full propane tanks; and full clean water, gray water, and black water tanks. My weight limit was exceeded by 300 pounds. Yikes!
This started a rigorous self-examination of what I consider “must-haves” to live a happy life. Your list will be as unique as you are, but I don’t consider life as complete without books, art supplies, house plants, journals, and family photos. So I kept these things, but fewer than originally intended, distilling down to my favorites. Houseplants went to a friend who is building a solarium. Photos will be scanned in and saved digitally, with tangible photos and albums dispersed amongst family members. Art supplies were distributed to artistic friends. Journals were kept if they were bound, but loose pages were discarded. All in all, several large trash bags of memorabilia were gathered and discarded.
Throwing debris into a landfill is something I hate doing. So I will be much more mindful of future acquisitions, taking responsibility for not just the use of a thing, but for when that usefulness has passed. Altogether, several happy neighbors drove away with as much furniture, tools, and decorations as they could carry. Then I drove 5 carloads of metal to the recycling scrapyard, 3 carloads of plastic, shredded paper, and cardboard to the recycling center, and called a charitable thrift store to pick up a truckload of things with lots of life left in them. I considered it my “give back” to this community that has given me so much.
I am currently 35# under weight – enough to house a kitten, litter box, toys, and cat food. Yeah! Here is the revised spreadsheet after all the giveaways, which I hope will be helpful to those considering a similar move to an RVing lifestyle:
The externally cleaning house has been echoed by an internal purging of old grudges, unhappy memories, unfulfilled expectations, and unhelpful ways of thinking. What remains are life lessons, immense gratitude, a willingness to accept life on its terms, room for joyful experiences, and trust that I will handle what comes my way with equal parts fortitude and graceful acquiescence.
Today is the first anniversary of my dad’s death, and I am thankful for decades of his cheerleading, good humor, love of nature, and good advice. He would have supported me in this adventure, warning me about cheap tires and bad guys, and would have loved to have tagged along. Whether you are considering a gradual downsizing, more efficient living, or abject minimalism, I suggest you start by stepping on a scale. With all your baggage. Because what we bring with us on the journey can either weigh us down or set us free.
Think: What is weighing you down right now? Are they tangible things, a specific situation, or general ways of thinking?
Say: List all the components of what is heavy on your mind. What are you willing to chip away at? What must stay to make life worthwhile? Make a list of “must-haves” and “get rid of” items.
Do: Start working through your list. Today. Make a small change each day, or a bigger one when you gain some momentum. Your intention will inform your actions, and your actions will transform your life.
Please: Share this post with three or more of your friends. If it has been helpful to you, it may be what someone else also needs to hear right now. And, it will help me launch my upcoming first book. Thank you!