Catching Up With Kandice From Simple Year 2

The following is a guest post from Kandice of The Simple Year Two, who shares what she and her family have been up to since her year ended, and how their decluttering and downsizing efforts continue.

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on my Simple Year and what has happened in the years following it. My family and I made so much progress during that year, which I sometimes refer to as decluttering on steroids.

The project, and regularly blogging about it, brought both accountability and structure to the process. I was stuck at home alone all day, recovering from major spine surgery, so the blog also functioned as a connection to the outside world. It forced me to break an overwhelming process into manageable pieces.

It’s Been 4 Years? What?

Since my year ended, as happens to everyone at some point or another in their lives, things took a turn for the worse. My physical condition deteriorated so fast and so drastically, I could not drive and I left my bed solely for medical appointments. My legs would regularly give out from under me and I would faint from second order effects of my condition.

Any extra bursts of energy were spent fighting my insurance company – they denied a surgery two surgeons said was necessary to treat my condition and that was my last possible hope for quality of life. I’m not being melodramatic — the situation was really that dire.

Momentum on our decluttering project ground to a screeching halt.

When you get knocked down, GET BACK UP.

Fast forward, I won my 2 year battle with the insurance company, got the surgery I needed, and now, 21 months post-op, I’m still in physical therapy. This may be as good as it gets, but I have around 3 (short) good days a week, 4 when I’m lucky. The other days aren’t awesome, and some entire weeks I function at a bare minimum, but I’m not complaining. My family isn’t complaining. A month or so ago, I went to one of my daughter’s sporting events, which was the first one I’d attended in 7 years.

I put this in my family room as reminder to myself during Simple Year 2. It’s still there.

At this point you may be thinking, “Well, thanks for the update, Kandice, but I don’t care about your back. What does all of that have to do with your decluttering project?” To which I say, “EVERYTHING!”

I’ll be brutally honest. In the last few years more stuff came into our home than I would have preferred, things were purchased for convenience that weren’t necessary, and the dreaded paper continued coming in faster than I could get rid of it. I was basically incapacitated, and our lives lived in survival mode, so I’m not beating myself or anyone else up over it.

Lasting Behavioral Changes: We Are All Different

One of the more big picture things we learned from the project is that each member of the family has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to stuff management. We now know what they are, whether it’s decluttering, refusing, or patterns to our daily living behavior.

By way of example, a few weeks ago, I heard a lot of activity coming from my daughter’s room. When I walked in to see what she was doing, I found her piling up clothes she’d outgrown. She had designated sell and donate piles, had a bag for recycle, and a bag for trash. She told me she’d looked around her room, felt like it was too full of stuff she no longer wanted, needed or used, and got to work. I call this a major win. Decluttering now is a strength of hers. Her weakness, on the other hand, is that she has to constantly battle a desire for stuff. So, she’s great at identifying what needs to go out, but she has a hard time limiting what comes in.

Our son is the exact opposite. He is best at not buying a ton of stuff or bringing random crap home. He doesn’t care about wearing hand-me-down school uniforms and asks for the bare minimum in school supplies — he’s fine using what we already have at home and being creative with it. His weaknesses are electronics, gaming gear, and gaming convention memorabilia. These are big purchases he saves up for, so they are less frequent. But, holy goodness, nothing ever goes out. We have to work on that.

Stephen and I are similar. I am more likely to buy stuff out of convenience or on impulse, and eventually designate excess for donation. Stephen doesn’t bring as much stuff home, but he has a harder time letting go of what is here. We both wage epic, ongoing battles with paper. We both independently take opportunities to declutter hot spots as we can, and when we simply get irritated by them.

Downsizing Our Home

If you followed along during Simple Year 2, you’ll remember one of our goals was to downsize everything, including our home. That goal was put on hold, but it is now back on the front burner.

Because our family has had, and continues to have, so many conversations about decluttering, needs, wants, mindless accumulation, recycling, the use of resources, and values, we are better equipped to look around and analyze how our home and everything in it is being used.

We have determined, as a family, that we never use our pool, our children no longer play outside in our huge yard, no one uses our formal dining room, sunroom or guest room, and while this house that served us well for a decade, it no longer fits our lives. We all would prefer that the resources (financial, energy, maintenance, etc.) currently directed to areas we don’t actually use instead be diverted towards travel, concerts and other experiential things.

We are starting the research phase with respect to neighborhoods we will consider moving TO, our strategy with respect to the sale of our current home, and identifying items in our home we need to process OUT in anticipation of moving.

I am grateful the entire family is fully onboard, as opposed to me being the driver and my family simply humoring me, as was the case during our Simple Year. The kids are excited about this change, which should make the process less difficult and stressful.

In Hindsight

Looking back on the project, it was unreasonable to expect we would accomplish all of our goals in one year, especially given our particular circumstances. But everyone has their own challenges, whether they are physical injuries or illnesses, a divorce, or something that brings them to their knees.

The fact that goals are audacious shouldn’t stop anyone from making them. Even if you only get halfway there, you can still be proud of the progress you made. And that progress can still improve your day-to-day life.

What wins, big or small, have you all experienced? I’d love to hear all about them. Let’s cheer each other on in the comments!

16 Responses to Catching Up With Kandice From Simple Year 2

  1. Wow, I am amazed at your perseverance through such trials, not to mention inspired! I am praying for your health and your upcoming move. Our family made the decision to downsize a couple of years ago, and it was really one of the best things we ever did. No more maintenance and upkeep on a lot of rooms that we didn’t use, not to mention a great incentive to get rid of stuff! Also, because our new house is half the size, we’ve saved so much on utility bills! Since this is our forever home (we hope), we made a careful list of things that were important to us, like having all the bedrooms on the main level, etc. Of course, no home is perfect, and we’re still trying to get rid of stuff that we shouldn’t have moved in the first place, but we’re making progress.
    One thing I would say that has made a difference is just trying not to bring stuff in that we don’t need. That includes Christmas presents. Our kids are older, so we decided to draw names rather than try to get everyone something. We do this once with extended family before Christmas, and then again on Christmas day with just our immediate family. Our rule is that it should be something useful and unusual and cost around $25. It’s fun to see what everyone comes up with, especially since this eliminates a gift card swap! It has also eliminated a lot of stress and made the holidays so much simpler!
    Anyway, I really enjoyed your simple year posts and reading this update!

    • Thanks, Jeanine, for the comment and prayers! Most of our friends are trading up, while we plan to trade down, so we are definitely swimming up stream comparatively speaking. But everyone has to do what’s right for them. To be frank, from the beginning I swore I would try to see the silver linings and show my children the importance of never giving up. I’d get bad news from a doctor, the insurance company or my attorney and I’d give myself a day to mourn, be angry, or whatever, then pick myself up, dust myself off, and start fresh the next day.

  2. So good to hear an update, and well done for getting through it all with such a positive outlook. With all good wishes for the future

  3. Along with others, I was very impressed with your honest update. Hoping for continued healing and physical therapy progress as you recover from such extensive surgery. Best wishes in your next steps. I hope we can get an update in the future on your progress.

  4. So good to hear from you Kandice – missed you. Thought you were busy writing a book! You inspired me to let go of my wedding dress to be made into “Angel gowns” – THAT was a big win. Best luck downsizing. Our small house was the 10 year plan. Now after 25 years it is our retirement house plan. One floor living is great. My husband has a great “man cave” in the basement. Keep getting better!

    • Oh, Pat, I love that you decided to make angel gowns! Did you take pictures? If so, I’d love to see them. ❤ Thank you for sharing your downsizing experience. It’s good to hear it was a positive experience for you. And, I am working on a book. Stay tuned!

  5. So great to hear an update from you, really enjoyed your simple year, I am still plugging along slowly with de-cluttering but I can definitely see some improvement, and I agree the paper stuff is hard work and little to show for it. Sorry to hear about your health but glad you are on the mend (so to speak) and exciting about the move, do please keep us updated!

  6. Kandice, what a pleasure to see an update from you! I hope you continue to see improvement in your health and that you and your family enjoy the process of moving to the new house.

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