In part one of this series, I talked about the story so far: ditching the city and our stuff, living in an RV, and our decision to build a tiny house on wheels.
Now I’d like to talk about putting our house in order, because it isn’t as simple as deciding what stays and what goes. I’ve had some moments recently where I got really fed up with everyone else’s stuff, and their lack of tidiness. Colder weather is upon us, and we don’t really have the space for the gear required to manage all of Ohio’s weather.
In short, I always feel really anxious around clutter.
Before I started snipping at everyone, however, I realized I was experiencing another instance of fighting reality, and I had stopped examining my own stuff.
I recently read this book by Marie Kondo, and she states that, “If you let the temporary relief achieved by tidying up your physical space deceive you, you will never recognize the need to clean up your psychological space.”
That statement is truly the essence of the minimalism challenge.
She recommends strict discarding by categories, rather than location, and to put all the things in the category out where you can see them. Why strict discarding? She says to touch each thing with your hands to see whether it is still serving you. Does it “spark joy?”
I needed to get MY house in order.
My first couple rounds of minimizing in our 1900 square foot home were by location. I believe I went through our house from top to bottom about 3 or 4 times before we moved. This process took years. I would start in the master bedroom, and work my way through the house until I reached the basement. In hindsight, I think it is very possible I could have cut down on my time pulling everything out by category.
I tried Kondo’s method today, dubbed the “KonMari method” with my clothes, books, and then documents. I ended up with two garbage bags headed for the thrift store, and one whole bag of trash! I was truly amazed after all the previous downsizing, and living in a 31 foot RV, that I could still get rid of that much! My sustainability lifestyle wasn’t feeling all that sustainable.
When I pulled all my clothes out onto the bed, my capsule wardrobe didn’t feel like a capsule at all. When I began pulling things out, and touching them, I decided to really get down to the details, really examine my relationship with these things. If I had already spent so much time discarding things, and was doing it yet again, maybe it really was my psychological space that needed cleaning up.
What I found was excess stuff due to mental clutter. If I’m keeping something because I might use it someday, and that day is not today, then I don’t need it.
When I purchase clothes, I tend to keep things that I didn’t love because I think I’ll fit into it someday. I had also been hanging onto a few items from the past that I could wear again…someday. This means I was buying and holding onto stuff for an entirely different body than the one I am in now. I was purchasing clothes for the way I should look, not honoring who I am now. This also makes the frugal part of me very unhappy.
I have been holding onto the past and people through stuff. I literally found an envelope of my kid’s hair from a younger age that survived all the other purges and made it to the RV. I decided I should spend more time honoring the people I care about in my life with my attention, rather than being weighed down by managing such things.
I also found that I have been surrounding myself with things that constantly reinforce a perception that I’m not good enough, I’m not doing enough, or I should be something different than I am. This included the aforementioned ill-fitting clothes, but also unread self-help or informative books. I only have so much space for my beloved books in the RV, and I still brought this kind of stuff with me! This also included homeschooling materials that we might use someday, items from past relationships where I wasn’t happy with my choices, and a box of “keepsakes” that weren’t really that special.
Now that my house is truly in order, I feel lighter, and better able to manage a comfortable, liveable house for my family.
Excess mental clutter can make modern tiny living difficult. I feel better able to manage a comfortable, liveable existence. When I discard the “someday” things, I can focus on the present and what I am doing well, rather than all of the stuff I’m not getting to.
Now, onto the tiny house…and those crates full of stuff in my Grandma’s basement. Have you done any downsizing: mental or physical? Are there any books, methods, or thought processes that helped you?