Thursday, April 30, 2009

Our Year of De-Tox

So we're considering looking for a house.

A year ago right now I was sorting out, giving away, selling, and generally getting rid of any and every non-essential item in our home. The classic criteria: is it useful, meaningful, or beautiful, were the parameters through which I scrutinized every single thing we owned.   

We probably still have too much, but aside from a few stacks of boxes and bulky toys in the basement we have lived clutter-free for one year. Back then, I blogged about some of my fears of downsizing from a large home to a small apartment. We were leaving a very spacious church parsonage and moving into a small but new two-bedroom, one bath duplex. As in any leap of faith, it felt right but didn't make sense. I wondered where I would possibly put everything that goes along with kids-- the baby equipment, the toys . . . not to mention the parents' affection for books. Having people around I find really necessary- would we feel too cramped for company? And it seemed like such a tiny kitchen . . . where ever would I put everything and still find room to cook?

And, as in any process of letting go, rather than limitations we found so much freedom in our small home this year! In fact, out of three homes we have lived in this has been our favorite.

Along with a smaller home we have had to cut-back and be creative with our finances. Once again, surprising freedom.

I have been thinking of this as our year of de-tox. Putting restrictions on ourselves, limiting our intake, curbing our cravings (Ok, we were miraculously supplied with about ten pounds of free Starbucks coffee, so I don't know if I can say that we've had to truly sacrifice!) . . . finding ourselves healthier, happier, more satisfied.

I have found such satisfaction here that now, my fears are reversed:

I am totally freaked-out at the thought of owning a home that I have to decorate. Currently, it's not even a consideration and I find I save so much time and money by not even thinking about fixing up my house . . . plus I'm just not that good at it, and it makes me nervous.

I hate the thought of having more space to put junk. I found that I actually need about one-third of what I had, and I kept it only because I had closets and basements in which to store crap, never to be thought of again.

I'm afraid of the dissatisfaction factor . . . I'll wish we had money to fix this up or change that, I'll have more rooms that need furniture and accessories and just . . . more stuff.

Doesn't it seem that when you get a little bit more,  you wish for a little more than that? You finally get this but then there's this other thing that you still can't afford and wish you had . . . and it just goes on. On the other side, finding creative ways to make do with less can be more satisfying and just as addictive.  

I am definitely not a financial guru, and I am far from doing everything right with our money. But after our year of simplifying, and considering what our next step may be, I am thinking a lot about the power of less, and how to maintain that wherever we live.   

(This may turn into a series, but I am learning not to promise anything.  If not, just read these links.  They say what I've been thinking but better).

Anne Jackson at Flower Dust(this is so good)


Forest said...

i enjoyed this post Jess!

We've lived in our house for 5 years now and I just painted the kitchen/dining room/ hallways. I saved the money first so I could pay "cash" lol!

I'm like you in the decorating dept. It's slow going. About the time I finish decorating we'll have to remodel b/c it'll be falling down.

charrette said...

I love your perspective on what that year has done for you! I look back so fondly on the times we've had to be extra creative to make ends meet. (We may be entering into another detox phase again soon.)

we have some friends who moved from a multi-million-dollar mansion to a 2-bedroom duplex for a year while they were building the NEXT multi-million-dollar mansion. She said it was one of the best years of their lives because the small space actually brought them closer. Like the physical proximity actually made them emotionally tighter as well.

Heather of the EO said...

Maybe you won't feel the need to fill it up, or even decorate all that much.

My best friend has a beautiful home, an old four square two story. It's not small, but not huge. I LOVE going over there because they have NOTHING. A table, a couch, a chair, that's IT. Nothing on the counters, nothing on the tables, nothing anywhere. It's so peaceful and relaxing over there.

Betty said...

I hear ya Jess. We have had that same "detox" experience with stuff since we moved into a smaller house. We've actually talked about maybe getting something bigger again but I love the simplicity of not having extra storage. i, like you don't want to loose the perspective I have found of having less. You need to post this on the HOME page of tuscmom. Great post.