I began downsizing seriously when we sold our house in Highland, Illinois and moved to Michigan. I'm still working on my blog entries for "My Story...God's Story", and my next chapter will be on the move to Highland, so I'm jumping a little ahead of my story right now. The reason I am inserting this, which really has nothing to do with that particular blog series, is because I wrote an email to a friend this week regarding downsizing. It just seems to be appropriate to record it in my blog, to remind me and my heirs why I have been and will continue to downsize. Getting rid of the "stuff". "Stuff" that used to be very important to me...it was part of me, of who I was/am. It sort of brought my history forward with me. There was even pride in all my accumulations. So not only have I been dealing with getting rid of "stuff" the past ten years of my life, I have been dealing with breaking down the pride. God hates pride! It is the deadliest of sins. I desire to live pleasing to Him!
Therefore I am inserting a copy of my email to a friend, explaining what I had been up to since moving to Michigan in 2004. Here it is:
Downsizing as drastically as we did, was definitely a comedy! (Insert...we moved from a 2800 sq ft ranch house with a 2800 sq ft walk-out basement and a three car garage to a 400 sq ft cottage with a screen porch, no garage.) But we have been learning to let go of stuff and not be so concerned about hanging on to things, or having more than we needed. Even as we prepared to sell the cottage and house here on the campground we started selling stuff on Craig's List and having yard sales. We are almost down to the basics! Feels good. Now if we could only eliminate the mortgage!! The three major "things" I have unloaded since we have been here, and it has taken me ten years to do it, are:
1. My household files from since my first job...before I even met Paul. All of our bills, receipts, tax papers. I had large bins full of over 30 years worth of accumulation. Now I am down to just keeping the last seven years, and shredding each year the 7th year papers.
2. My library. I was so proud of it, as I had a lot of good books I had accumulated over the years, mostly theology and inspirational...not so much fiction or fun books. I looked like a scholar, so I thought. If the book was in my library, it had been read at least once. But I was tired of lugging those bins of books all over the country, so I knew before we moved again, I wanted to go through them all one more time, and after the book was read, I would give it away if it wasn't something I knew I wanted to read again. That was most of my books. Early on, several years ago, I started taking them to preachers' retreats and putting them out on tables for preachers to take home. Sometimes I unloaded them to a church library, or the camp library. They were on my summer "give away" tables in my yard. Last fall I finished the last book. I mostly kept my commentaries, and biblical study books and Greek texts. I had also kept all of my college and seminary papers, and I have downsized those to just my sermons/Bible studies. I feel good about this.
3. This winter I tackled the hardest bins to get rid of. My memories/mementos bins from my life..accumulated since my early 30's. Every card, letter, flyer from events I attended, travel brochures from our trips, small gifts, pictures my grand-kids had drawn...you name it, the bin held it. Sometimes I had 3-4 bins for the same year. I'm talking large shoe bins. (My household files and books bins were the larger, deeper storage type bins.) So I would take each "shoe-box" and go back through the items, look at who sent the cards and letters (some people I don't even remember!), and then discard it all. I only kept any pictures and cards from my kids and grand-kids. Now I have a manila envelope for each year. Much easier for storage. What a walk down memory lane! Some happy, some sad.
I'm just thinking "condo", and if it isn't going to fit in a condo (without a basement), then I don't need it...and my kids don't want it! I've also gone through the family photo bins from my Mom's side of the family and Dad's side of the family. Gave a bunch of that away also. I haven't gone through those for over ten years, and I probably will do it again in ten years. So it's been a walk down memory lane, preparing for the senior years, knowing my kids don't want any of my stuff. It's sorta sad, yet it's very lightening! I want to know I can pick up and move and not have to worry about storage. I weed out clothes and shoes every year in my yard freebie "sale", so I can fit everything I wear into one small closet, both seasons!
So...why am I telling you all of this? I don't know...just something to talk about. And as I tell you, I feel good about myself for being brave enough to let go of all that accumulation. I just gave two bins of fragile glassware to my niece. They were my mother's fancy glasses from her wedding. She never used them, I never used them. My niece was very close to Grandma, and she loves dishes, so she has inherited them. My granddaughters never met my Mom...she was already in heaven when they came along. So no need to pass them along! When we left Highland, I had gotten rid of most of my dishes, knickknacks, and lots of our furniture. However, I still had a lot of "stuff". When our house in Highland sold, we moved into a 1200 sq ft ranch, less than half the size of our former house.
It has felt very healthy to down-size. Thus far, I haven't missed a thing, and truly, I still do have too much "stuff". Each summer I unload some more on those freebie tables. I have gotten rid of almost all of my Christmas decorations. I used to have four Christmas trees. Now I have a wreath for the door.
Well, this downsizing has all been part of trying to live simple and finish well...the catch phrase I came back to Michigan with last spring after having spent our winter with our son in St. Louis. I started a blog about Living Simple, Finishing Well (you can see it on the sidebar), but I haven't had much to add to it after my initial burst of starting the blog. Now I'm back trying to catch my Slice of Journal Pie blog up to date. And this, my friends, has been my entry for tonight. Have you given thought to Downsizing??? It will make your life simpler, I promise!