|borrowed from: reSPACEd|
In late 2009, just 3 weeks after tying the knot, the mister and I packed up everything we owned and put it in storage, moving with only 2 suitcases a piece, to South Korea. Our original plan was to get rid of a large portion of our belongings (and the portion was large) to keep our storage needs to a minimum, but with a wedding in the works -- and then the post-wedding exhaustion -- combined with living out of family member's houses for the last month of our time in America, things didn't go exactly as planned.
Korea was incredible, though, and arriving with only what we could cram into our four suitcases made us really evaluate our belongings. We were on a pretty limited income for the first few months, and that, coupled with a higher cost of living than what we were accustomed to at home, meant that we were simply incapable of accumulating more than we needed. Very, very carefully and thoughtfully, we prioritized a toaster oven over a microwave, a new skillet over new shoes, and blankets over bath towels. For the first time, I think I really began to realize how much I valued what I had. We didn't take these simple things for granted anymore, because we'd had to wait so long and save up for them.
Of course, by the end of our time there, we were actually quite comfortable (although we'd paid off all our debt!), having acquired a couch and two chairs, a real, sit-down-on-chairs table, a well equipped kitchen, crockpot and water filter pitcher... but the seed was planted.
When we returned to America last March (2011), the original plan (again) was to go through our stored things with a renewed sense of detachment. We'd only been gone for 18 months, but it was long enough that we knew we weren't as attached to what we'd left behind. Also, many of our things had been sold in a yard sale due to an apparently huge miscommunication, but that's another story. We did do a lot of giving away (which I guess is a testament to how much we actually own/owned), filling the whole back seat and trunk of our car, plus a little more. So, we felt good about it.
Flash forward to almost a year later.
We've moved into a small, cozy two bedroom house. I like small houses. I really always have. And this one is the kind of small, cozy house with built in drawers and shelves, where everything is painted white. It even has little turquoise knobs on all the cabinets and drawers! I love this house (apart from the earth worms in the kitchen during summer, and the ants, and the mold... but I do love it!).
At first, our little house was the perfect size! We even had empty cabinets and drawers leftover in the kitchen when we were done packing. It was cozy, just as we'd hoped, and not overly furnished. We picked up a very inexpensive, (pink!!) vintage couch at the thrift store, as well as a couple of living room chairs. We crammed our king sized bed into the smaller of the two bedrooms and I set up my sewing/knitting/all-things-crafting room in the second, larger bedroom. It was perfect!
...................but things just kept coming in!
First there were the five or six boxes we forgot we'd left at the mister's parents house. Then the fabric and yarn my mom found, still in her garage. Plus more fabric and yarn that she was decluttering (taking it off her hands seemed like such a good idea at the time!). And we love thrift store shopping. It's so cheap, right?! It's such a good deal!!
Oh, take that smug look off your face. It can be a good deal!
We started school in August. Mister went back to get a BA in computer science. I went back to... find myself. At 28. Because this is America, okay? And for other, more complicated reasons.
We had plans to cook at home. I had plans to finally learn to keep house.
But, I am telling you, the stuff just kept walking in like it owned the place. Before we knew it, we both felt like we were drowning.
To be perfectly honest, it seemed to be mostly my stuff; sewing/knitting/crafting... but now that that's gone, I guess it's both of us. Like the two colanders in the kitchen. And our shared closet, packed full of clothes.
I've felt the urge to completely declutter my life since I was in high school. I always thought there just had to be a better way. But as I got older it started to feel like being an adult meant that there would inevitably be more stuff and I just needed to accept it. So, I tried.
Then Christmas break came this year and I was just sick of it. My side of the family did what we called, "Homemade/Second-hand Christmas" this year. Everyone, including extended family, hopped on board and, at the end, everyone agreed it was the best Christmas we'd ever had! It was tons of fun. But, by the end of it, our house was a wreck.
I've never been good at keeping things clean.
And this time was no different. Despite cleaning the house on Christmas Eve-eve (the day before Christmas Eve), stuff was just everywhere. The sewing pile from the oven mitts I'd made for extended family, the pile of printable Christmas tags that were leftover, packaging from gifts, wrapping paper. But not all of it was seasonal. A lot of it was just STUFF.
From a very young age, my room has been a mess. I'm a sentimental keeper of... all things, really. Seriously, in one purge, I found this crazy-scary-dagger-knife thingy that had belonged to my grandpa. So, I had kept it for quite a while. Because I totally needed a crazy-scary-dagger-knife. It was my grandpa's!
It's not like this situation was new. It's just that, this time, I was finished with it being my reality.
I started reading some of the simple living blogs that I google sometimes when I want to gain momentum to organize my clutter (which means shoving stuff I don't need into pretty baskets), but this time I started reading them with a dark sense that they were meant for me.
I read Organized Simplicity, by Tsh Oxenreider. It was invigorating. And I dare say, it may have changed everything.
I hope it changed everything.
So far, we've taken one full load of STUFF to the thrift store. Our back seat is, right now, stuffed to the brim with the next load, waiting to be taken. Our trunk is, too. Tomorrow is my first day back at school for the Spring semester and I am actually feeling pretty good about this! Our house has been STAYING clean! And it feels like it's been doing it all on it's own.
I always read that decluttering was addictive, that once you got going, you just gained momentum and kept going. Well, I think I'm addicted.
My sewing/knitting/craft room is almost completely done and I now own about one third of the sewing/crafting supplies I did before. My yarn and knitting supplies have yet to be purged (I'm terrified of that PILE), but they will be soon.
So, this is the story of me and the mister, living in a tiny house, with aspirations to make it feel less and less tiny.
I am loving the feeling I get from being in a house that keeps itself clean! I may never be a minimalist, and I'll never be perfect, but I am determined to find out what it means to be me and to live a simpler lifestyle.