Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Moving (on)

There are things in life that I've expected to be certain or unchanging - maybe not "forever", but for a lot longer than they have turned out to be.

I'm getting a little tiny bit better at rolling with the punches. Well, at least in my own opinion. On good days. When the sun's out.

When I bought our "big" house 10 years ago, my plan was to stay there. I wasn't married at the time, but I imagined raising my family there, watching my kids play in the back yard. It's a two-family home, so the thought occurred to me that there was enough space to share with family members as we all grew older. Or, we could bring the home back to its original glory as a turn-of-the-century single family home for us to enjoy all together.

My husband (first boyfriend, then fiance) and I lived in 700 square feet there for about six years. When our family expanded, so did our space when we moved into the larger of the two apartments at 1,300 square feet. We lived there for two and a half years before our plans took us out of the area and into the small house we have now.

When we finally moved here (I swear - for the last time!), my plan was to be a landlord from afar. After all, I have almost 10 years' experience now, a budget, and a bit of gumption. I found a respectable, professional, employed tenant to take over our apartment with her self-imposed one-year lease. I could rest easy for a little while.    

Yes yes yes, I know - I hear you laughing already!

You can tell it didn't turn out that way. Within two weeks, I'm getting calls asking for changes to the terms of her lease, a tangle of unhappiness over situations that have no relation at all to me, the house or anything that I have control over.

But instead of shaking my fist at the sky, shouting, "WHY is this happening to me?!" (which I admittedly wanted to do for about 30 seconds), I began to ask the question: What does this mean for me?

It didn't take me but a few minutes of introspection to figure out that it means another step in the letting go process. And this time, it means letting go of the house. The place that I had called home for an entire decade, loved with my heart and my pocketbook, and hadn't planned on giving up. Another (big) step in our downsizing process.

The house represented a type of security for me. What if this small house living business, away from our established friendships, away from our family, doesn't work? What if my husband's business doesn't take off? What if we don't like each other after being in such a small space? No worries - we always have the old house to go back to, the familiarity of our old neighborhood, the comfort of our favorite coffee shop, our (comparatively) immense amounts of space.

The other side of these revelations was that I had been limiting myself by thinking, "What will we do if we need to move back here and we don't have this house?" Which is another way of saying: no new experience could be better than the one I've already had.

Right. So the truth is, I wasn't jumping into our new life with both feet. I was dabbing my toes in the water all the time pretending I was swimming. And now, it was becoming clear that I needed to dive in and get my hair wet.

So now, instead of kicking back in our small home, I'm in real estate mode: we are selling our house.

This will be the first letting go decision in our downsizing process that I really don't have a lot of control over. All the other decisions on what to keep and what to give away were mine to make and mine to execute. I completed the process every time we had a yard sale or dropped off a bag at Goodwill.

Now, I have to put my self out there, put my house out there, and hope and ask and advertise for someone to come and help me downsize my life. My process is now intricately connected with someone else's goals, finances, and life situation.

One of my downsizing/simplifying goals has been to get out of debt. I always figured that just meant putting extra money towards our mortgage every month until it was paid off. I had no idea it would mean selling the house. Insert forehead slap here. In retrospect now, it makes way too much sense!

So that's what's happening in our downsizing process today. And I am fully certain that I am completely uncertain what tomorrow will bring! No matter what, I'm going to do my best to roll with it and learn.

Peace and happiness to you all! May downsizing bring you more joy, more freedom, and more closeness with those you love and who love you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ebbs and Flows

So, no - I did not fall off the face of the earth. But we have had quite an adventure over the past several months and had to put our downsizing/moving work on hold for just a bit. Things don't always (or, more honestly, rarely) happen as I plan them!

As you know, we moved to our small house in the middle of September. I, of course, had grand ideas of neatness and minimalism and fitting everything in. And, as you also know, that didn't happen. We moved our boxes to the edges of the rooms and just kept on living.

Then, all at once, we got a few calls - a change in tenant situation, a new job, a broken down car - that ended up bringing us back to the apartment we'd just deliberately and intentionally left, except now it was devoid of just about everything save a few pieces of now very useful furniture - a bed, a kitchen table and chairs, a futon. We brought back some blankets and pillows, a pot, a pan, and got some plastic silverware and paper plates from the dollar store. It was all just enough to get by.

We ended up staying there from the middle of October through the end of 2014. Our downsizing stopped, and instead we were now living a truly minimalist life, without the attachments to our things. And I have to tell you, it worked out just fine! My husband and I both agree that, after getting rid of about half our stuff, we honestly don't miss any of it at all. I have two regrets though: I mistakenly sold one DVD that I kinda wish I'd kept (because, no, I can't watch it on youtube or netflix) and I wish I'd gotten rid of more.

We  f i n a l l y  got back to living in our small house December 30th to celebrate the new year in more than one way. We packed some stuff from our apartment into the basement, because we weren't able to make every single stay-or-go decision yet. We sent a bunch of it on to Goodwill. We packed the rest in our cars and made our way north. We're here, it's official, it's permanent (well, as permanent as anything can be) and things are moving!

John incorporated his rock and ice climbing business at the end of the year, so one of the main reasons for us being located here is now officially happening. I'm supposed to be working on his website right now, so maybe by the end of the week you'll be able to find him as Tamarack Mountain Guiding, Inc.

The best news to give you today is that our closet is nearing completion! Floor to ceiling, six shelves on one side, five shelves on the other. You can't imagine how excited I am to be able to put things away. It will be another round of asking questions, ascertaining the value of what we've brought with us, and filling bags (and bags and bags, hopefully) with things to give away. And then finally finding a nice, clean, organized spot for the things we have decided we actually NEED.

Here's one last thought to share with you today. 2014 was an absolute whirlwind for me. I spent a lot of time trying to sort through the mire of not only our things but also of my lifestyle. I had a lot of decisions to make, then sometimes remake. I faced what felt like infinite changes - some easy to make, but many stressful and a few difficult and stretching. I feel like 2015 will be teeming with new opportunities, new ideas, new ways of living, and lots and lots of changes that will bring many good things into our lives. I hope that sharing our downsizing process and what has worked for us will help bring many good things into your life this year, too! 

I know we're already 13 days in, but - HAPPY NEW YEAR!