so… why?

The first night in the Townhouse

Once upon a time…

A girl managed to carve a niche for herself. She was an instructor, a wife, a friend, cyclist and budding Buddhist. She lived in a big 4 bed, 2 bath house with so much stuff in it that she and her husband could not park a car in the 3 car garage. She was very happy sometimes and not happy other times, but overall life was good. Still, she always felt she was going through life clinging by the skin of her teeth. A lot of that was Anxieties (yeah, capital A ones). She’d had them since she was little, never feeling safe was something she’d had to work around her whole life… she was always finding ways to cope, some healthy, some… not so much. Still, overall things were ok, then suddenly the bottom fell out of life as she knew it…

And so…

A divorce, a new job and move across town later, I sat in my townhouse and felt deeply uncomfortable and unhappy. I had already had a huge purging of so many things, moving from the large 4-bedroom home to the small but lovely 2 bedroom townhouse I now owned. The purge had been very freeing in some ways, but also horrifying to me just how much detris and junk I owned. I spent my whole life buying and owning things to identify who I was and to soothe, or entertain myself. At that point I was paying over $80 a month on a small storage place that was housing boxes of my most beloved possessions, books, and some other things I had felt I needed to hang onto, like my wedding dress, and family china.

It felt good to get rid of so much, even though it was due to necessity in my new, much smaller home. The feeling of having less felt good, and yet there I sat, still feeling deeply lost in chaos. If anything, things were worse, the organizing influence of my ex-husband and accountability of not living alone was gone, and the much smaller space got dirty and cluttered MUCH more quickly. I’d gone from having tons of drawers and cabinets in my old kitchen to TWO drawers in my new one, I had almost no storage space anywhere. I finally cleared out the storage and closed that down but now boxes were piled ceiling high in my office. I was feeling out of control and simple tasks didn’t get done because everything was overwhelming.

It was bad enough that I lost and had to re-apply for my homeowners insurance because I’d let the policy lapse. Not intentionally, I just was stuffing mail into piles to be “looked at eventually” so the bill didn’t get paid. For a while since I’d moved I’d wanted something simpler, I was seeking a happiness that no amount of things, or food or TV could really satisfy. I had been using Buddhist practices like meditation, and mindfulness in a half-assed way for over 6 years at that point, but like everything else it was being done sporadically and without real commitment.

I was surfing around Amazon when I saw a book on minimalism for only three bucks. I had heard about people who went all radical, only owning 25 things. Though I thought that far to extreme for me, I remembered reading something about it and finding the basic principle appealing. So I bought the book for my Kindle app, chewed through it in a couple evenings and had a real aha moment. When I read how we don’t own our stuff, it owns us, there was a real resonance for me.

picture of the townhouse

So empty! But it was QUICKLY filled up with stuff!

So now I am in the middle of “cleaning up my act.” I doubt at the end of the day I will be classified as a minimalist by many in the movement. I feel getting extreme about having as little as possible can be almost as clingy a “thing” as being attached to consumerism… the goal for me is fairly simple and straightforward. I want to have a simpler life. I want to be more at ease and have time to do the things that are most important to me. I want to live in a space that supports this and my practice of mindfulness/metta/meditation. I’m going at this both from the inside-out and the outside-in. I want to have no more items than comfortably fit my needs and my new smaller home. I want to have only what I need and what I truly take pleasure from owning. I want to consume less so I can spend less, and hopefully work less and focus on both work and play that I feel really passionate about. I want to live more simply, and frugally with more meaning. So this is my place to hash through my work on this. I will be doing this largely as an accounting to myself, as well as hopefully having some accountability to whomever might glance at this blog from time to time. And if I inspire or help others in the process, so much the better.

~ Respectfully Submitted, K