The half-way point of our Simple Year journey is nearing. I’ve been reflecting upon the progress we’ve made and what we still need to accomplish in the next six months.
What We’ve Done
In the last six months we have:
- Nearly finished renovating the house.
- Committed to the decision to sell the house and downsize. Preferably somewhere without a pool. And a smaller yard.
- Eliminated the housekeeper.
- Eliminated the lawn service.
- Eliminated DirecTV.
- Sold the Lexus.
- After three months of being a one-car family, replaced it with a more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly, very pre-owned Prius.
- Cut down our wardrobes by more than half.
- Decluttered the kitchen and everything in it.
- Completed several rounds of decluttering in The Girl’s Room.
- Completed several rounds of decluttering in The Boy’s Room.
- Decluttered the kids’ study area.
- Went from two dedicated rooms for offices, one for me and one for Stephen, to one desk in the family room.
- Donated boatloads of stuff to many different charities.
- Found homes for a variety of objects using Freecycle.
- Sold others on CraigsList.
- Reduced the volume of crap in the sunroom and garage by half.
- Challenged ourselves to pack minimally for our summer vacation last year.
I feel like we’ve done a lot, but we still have a long way to go.
Where We Are Now
Getting rid of the stuff has been simultaneously easy and hard. It’s been easy to say goodbye to stuff we don’t want or need. But sometimes I get angry at the stuff. Which really means I get irritated with myself. Disgusted by all of it. By the wasted money. Wasted energy. Wasted time.
And when it’s not easy or I’m not angry, I find it all very hard to face. Hard to dig up the energy to find a home for it. Because the irony is that there was a waste of time and energy and resources in the accumulation and then there’s a corresponding exertion of energy in the disposal. I could fill up my trash bin every week and send it off to the landfill. But I don’t want to do that. It’s not right. And it’d be a shame to throw something away someone else has been praying or hoping for. This has been one of the most eye opening parts of this entire project.
I also feel a lot of guilt. (Admittedly, I do that a lot.) Guilt not just about having acquired the thing (whatever the thing is) in the first place, but with such a lack of awareness and complete disregard. I know why I did it – I was working like a crazy person and was focused on just surviving. If there was a need, I’d go to the store and fill it. Usually because I couldn’t find whatever it was I was looking for in a house stuffed to the brim. It was quicker that way. But that’s not a good excuse. It’s just not.
What I’ve found during this year, though, is that when you start stripping away the stuff, it can be scary. Any time you start staring down your demons, it’s frightening. And humbling. Because at the same time we’re also tearing down the walls we’ve been hiding behind. Like, we’re no longer anesthetized by it and can really, truly see it.
Embarrassed. Flabbergasted. Annoyed. Dismayed. Overwhelmed. I’ve felt all of these. Especially with our dirty laundry being aired on the internet. But I’ve also felt relieved, hopeful and, dare I say, I am starting to feel free. Not dragged down by the baggage. And it’s these positive feelings that keep me going. My struggle has been real. But while I’ve been sincerely feeling all of these things, to put it in perspective, it’s also pretty shallow. And that’s hard to swallow. Because I hadn’t considered myself a shallow person before this. But I was wrong.
When I take a good long look at the shallow, I feel, I don’t know – ashamed? Because there are so many people that can’t feed their kids or don’t know how they’re going to pay their electric bill and I have to face the reality that my struggles, in the scheme of life, are so silly. I mean, really? I’m worried about stuff that’s pointless. Stuff = pointless. Which then sends me back on the roller coaster of emotions.
Sort of like the roller coaster of buying stuff. You just keep going and going and going and nobody wins. Except the manufacturers of the crap you’re accumulating. And this roller coaster of accumulation and emotions? It sucks all of your energy and leaves you empty. And my friends and family and I deserve more than fumes. We all deserve more than fumes.
What We Have Left To Do
I can’t even list what all we have left to do in detail, because this post is already way too long. But in big terms, we need to:
- Go through all of our Christmas decorations and keep only what we will use and what we love. Donate the rest.
- Finish going through everything in the sunroom.
- Finish going through everything in the garage.
- Declutter the master bedroom.
- Declutter the master bathroom.
- Finish the last of the items around the house from a construction standpoint. (The guest room walls need to be patched and painted, as does the mudroom. Punch list stuff like that.)
- Research neighborhoods with smaller houses. Make a decision as to where we will go.
- Prioritize volunteer activities and choose where we will spend our time.
- Practice saying ‘No.’
- Define what simple means for us.
- Overhaul our spending on food. It’s too high right now.
- Prioritize kids’ activities.
- Focus intensely on our health (nutrition and exercise) and prioritize healthy eating choices on a budget.
Thanks for sharing this journey with me. I really do appreciate all of the comments. A lot. Even the ones that challenge me. They make me better.