First, determine HOW MUCH SPACE YOU REALLY NEED AND ACTUALLY USE! This is not, "one day I might need"..... or "when company comes over I could use the"...... or "when Mom comes to visit she can stay"........ or "I might host the Holidays this year"!!! Nope! Each day, every day, what do you use and where do you live? When I paid attention to the idea of down sizing, I found that my daughter and I really only used the master bedroom (co-sleep), master bathroom, living room, and kitchen. Her room on occasion we played in but usually toys found their way to the common area to be enjoyed. So, that meant that we could eliminate the 3rd bedroom entirely, the entry/foyer/dining room, a part of her room and a bathroom. Not too bad! This also meant I would have less to maintain, upkeep, store, and furnish. Conceivably, we could live quite comfortably in about 800 - 900 square feet if it was laid out correctly. Duly noted!
Second, determine WHAT STUFF YOU USE EACH DAY AND WHAT STUFF YOU ARE PAYING TO STORE. This, like the above, is easily done in a week or two if you pay attention. If you are serious about down sizing, get active and get some boxes. Label one "donations", the other "recycle" and the last one "garbage". Hopefully the garbage has only a few unidentified chewed on toys and a sock or two and that is all. Green eco-living remember!! Most everything can be reused or recycled somewhere!! I promise to make a list of places and ideas and links to help with this a.s.a.p.! Put the boxes out of the way but accessible enough for you to be able to toss stuff as you come across it. Then, start purging!
Rule 1: If you haven't used or worn something in 30-60 days, donate it. The exception to this is off-season clothes and anything you do use but the need is only every few months (example, hair coloring products or hair cutting scissors, or ink toner or wite out). Stop storing crap you are not using, its hoarding, bad karma, stuck energy, and weighs down your house and your soul. There is a great story of the monk who goes out each morning with his begging bowl empty and returns each night with it full. If he went out again the next morning with the bowl full from the prior days gifts he couldn't receive today's. So, consider the idea that you too can not receive any new gifts from the universe if you are currently full up and over flowing with stuff you don't even use, need, or remember, but refuse to empty. Let it go (try not to sing the Frozen tune here) and let new come in to your life. Besides, my personal theory is that if you are holding on to something you do not use, shoved somewhere you can't even get to, it isn't yours and you are keeping it from the person it truly belongs to. They are waiting for it so put it back (recycle / donate) into the flow and allow what is yours to come to you. I can not tell you how many times I cleaned out my house, donated, and had something provided to me that I had been waiting for (a new lamp on the side of the road --- no I did not have to dumpster dive for it --- that I really needed because mine got knocked over). I believe stuff has energy and when you keep it or hoard it, you stop the ebb and flow to you! (I believe this about money too but more on that later!)
Rule 2: Only so much fits so determine what percent must go and what percent can stay in order to properly take up residency in your organized zen home! Look at your home, take it all out mentally, what percent or amount would you put back in to keep a peaceful, green, organized zen home?? 10%?? 25%??? 50%?? What ever the number is you now know the number that must GO. So apply the procedure above with the knowledge that only so much can stay. If it helps and you can, actually take the stuff out. When I organize professionally, this is my approach. People are AMAZED at what possessions they own when you lay it out before them literally---shocked and embarrassed too! It is a great technique if you can physically and emotionally do it. Take it all out, look at your space, determine how you want it to be and feel, put back only the items you use, need, and are willing to use good resources to store and maintain.
Respect and honor the feeling of purging and lightening and don't put back anything that tips the scales back to excessive. Give it a try......clean, donate, reduce. recycle, purge, and let me know how it feels!!!!
In some places, in fact, a significant number of other places both here in the U.S. and around the world, a 1000 sq. ft. place to call home is quite luxurious!! A palace really!!! So, to write about the process of how we down sized comfortably to a 1000 square feet of living space seems insulting, maybe even pretentious. But for those who have swallowed the "bigger is better" pill, maybe this blog will help shed some light on the process and plant a seed. For those who have the itch to minimize and purge, I can state for a fact it is refreshing and freeing to do, so onward my fellow minimalists!!
I started in an older home that I bought as a foreclosure, fixed up, lived in, loved and cared for and put much of my heart, soul, time and resources into. After a few years of that, and with the birth of my daughter, I found upkeep and worries tied to a big old home (no matter how lovely the wood work!) were weighing me down. I would literally wake up in the middle of the night during storms or rain and rush to the basement to make sure I was not the victim of a flooded wet basement (I never was I just worried about it as a responsible homeowner in Ohio!!). The maintenance was too much and I wisely decided to sell, simplify, and down size. 2 moves later I was in my 2nd manufactured home (LOVE these little gems with NO basement, great construction, easy maintenance, and open floor plan) with 1100 square feet and feeling like it was still too much space. When my sweet daughter was confirmed to have ADD, I again decided to simplify. I wanted open floor plan, manufactured home, easy living, only 2 bedrooms, and less time requirements on cleaning both inside and out. I was tired of spending all day "maintaining" my home when I really just wanted to play with my daughter. Enough was enough! I looked seriously into both Tiny Home living---too many zoning and legal restrictions on those in Ohio---and RV living. After much much much searching with many many times checking something off the list I was sure was the answer, I finally found a small (50 homes) Manufactured Home community on the shores of Lake Erie. A simple 1100 square foot, 2 bedroom 2 bath home just right for us.
The question is how does one down size??? Read on.............
I decided that 2016 was my LAST year with a cell phone! I called AT&T, set the disconnect date for 12-31-2016 and set up a land line with TWC which included Internet. I saved lots of money! Approximately $520.00 per year. But that is not the point. The point was the STRESS!! I am almost 46 years old and somehow survived all this time (barring the past 10 years) without a cell phone and that includes living in Los Angeles in my twenties! Why do people, a significant number of whom did not have one up until say 10 or 12 years ago, all of a sudden find it impossible to fathom life without a cell phone? Let's all remember back 15 or 16 years and recollect the life we had with a home phone....and an address book......we survived, I dare say we thrived, and we were the majority!! And with my land line I now have an answering machine which states that I will return your call a.s.a.p. usually within 1-2 business days. This is my way of reminding people that a 30 second response time is NOT NORMAL. Why did cell phones usher in the idea that you ARE ALWAYS SUPPOSED TO BE AVAILABLE? For those of us old enough to remember, a 1-2 day response has always been acceptable and normal allowing people to have a life not always under fire and on demand. We used to leave messages for people and not expect an answer or return call for days. No problem! But not now! Now, immediate isn't fast enough! And if you are a texter, please note the person you are texting may actually be busy DOING something, so again, practice some patience, stop sending more texts, and understand a 15 second response time is unrealistic, stressful, demanding, a bit self-centered, and contributes to the imbalance of lives. Seriously!!
It is completely possible and quite peaceful, to live with a home phone only, but no ad will tell you that one! Just me and I highly suggest giving it a try! I am on month 10 and I no longer jump when my phone rings, I have NO distractions when I am driving, no pressure demands from texts, and a lovely machine that answers my phone for me! Ahhhhhhh......bliss! I hope life doesn't change and facilitate the "need" for a cell phone ever again... for now I will continue to enjoy the simplicity of a cell free life!
I challenge you to try if for 1 week and let me know how it goes.
So, what does it mean to Live Authentically? Webster defines the word "live" as "to have life" or "be alive" while "authentic" is defined as "genuine" and my fave "(in existentialist philosophy) relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life". Easily put together these can mean exactly what it sounds like: being alive and living a life that is genuine and real, that respects and reflects the significant you, the purposeful totality of your body, mind, and spirit, your human life. Not a part or parcel, not a copy of a life, not someone else's life, and certainly not succumbing to what "should be" whether that stems from society, parents, family, friends, religions, or spouses (sorry that is a lot for a second blog!). Living Authentically literally means to live a genuine life, honoring the totality of your soul. A life that is genuine and real, respectful of yourself and what your inner calling whispers to you every moment of every day; to live a full life that you deserve and desire!
For some, it may mean living in a tiny home out in nature, off the grid, living and loving life in peace and connection with all that surrounds. For some, it may mean hitting the road in an RV, seeing the sights, learning and living all there is to behold in this world, not settling for any one location, being a friend to all. For others, it may be a home perfectly in suburbia, contributing to a small town vibe, owning a small business, having 2.5 children and 2.5 dogs!
The point is not what the life looks like to everyone else, the whole idea is that we women are finally acknowledging that an authentic whole holistic life comes in many shapes and colors and we deserve to live our life true to ourselves, whatever that may be!
So, Living Authentically is more of an energy or feeling rather than the physical of what it holds. It is being wherever you are in life, peaceful, happy, balanced and content. It is being able to slow down and enjoy your life!! It spends beautiful days at the park with your 2.5 children as opposed to running around like a chicken with your head cut off attempting to accomplish whatever is on that list! It is having a career you LOVE no matter its title or societal approval or wages. It is having the time and energy to live eco-friendly because, well, WE MUST!! (Recipes for great homemade stuff is forthcoming!)
Living Authentically is beautiful and as I have been practicing it (without the fancy title) for 25 years now, I want to share how to make it your life too!