I always like to start any story with “Back in the Day” when I am talking to someone under the age of 30. It makes me feel older but people always smile when I say it. I may rehash a little in this post, hopefully not too much. I moved a lot before I met my current husband. I also didn’t have a lot of cash before embarking on my journey to keep your lights on. My life before nuclear power yielded 0 extra dollars per month of spending money. I owned less than two boxes of belongings during my entire single life. I took them everywhere I went as if they were a blankie. After all, they held the most important things to me in the world. My clothes, pictures, things my kids made me, and a few dishes. My sad life encased in eight medium cardboard walls. The year I met my current husband, my two boxes joined his two and made four.
We moved from place to place 27 times during our traveling days. Always keeping our stuff at a minimum. We acquired new things when we settled into each temporary home, but during the next move, we replaced and downsized our items. When we moved to Chicago, we had a new version of our original boxes mailed to us. We shed our other things as we flew to our new home. I remember feeling free and not so weighed down, but I didn’t pay too much attention as we didn’t have to let go of much. In 2003 we finally settled down into our first real house together. I have never seen so many cabinets and closets! For the first few years, most of them remained lonely. Their shelves unfilled and unappreciated. After my promotion from JR to SR Radtech, there was more money, but we were always in debt to someone. Keeping that thought at bay, I shopped to fill those shelves and so much more. Financial crisis set in again when we bought our rental house. Our payment was double our rent for the same house! However, the credit sharks are waiting and we happily filled out their applications. Our income on paper looked good, in reality, we were broke. In the summer, we were desperate for money and often took on extra work. Then the cycle would begin again.
I wanted to shop during our off times too, but I had no income. Mr. Credit was always happy to oblige, take it home now, pay us later. In 2010 we went to Washington state for a little under a year. Having a permanent home made it easy to leave everything behind. We rented a small U-haul full of our favorite things and moved into a furnished corporate apartment. Our grown children cared for our home back in Mississippi. Not having lived in an apartment for a while we tired of it quickly and rented an expensive house. We filled it up with a few things but still didn’t have much. This is when I finally noticed we had free time. We had nothing to manage, everything was back home, for the most part, so every weekend we went places. It was the happiest time of my life. There was so much to do! We were off work practically every weekend. We even booked a trip to Hawaii for Thanksgiving.
During our work seasons, my weight also fluctuated. I gained and lost weight all the time. I would gain during our off season and lose during the on season. Trying the latest and greatest reduction programs and sticking faithfully to them. Shedding loads of pounds and stuffing my closets with new clothes. I started collecting clothing that no longer fit by hiding it in a box. A girl needs insurance for random size changing, I got rid of some things but kept most of them. I probably bought 15 wardrobes in eight different sizes. I could have opened my own plus size consignment store. In 2013 I quit work and went back to school, I gained 58 pounds. I also got a new wardrobe with every twenty pound gain. Each time I would continue to keep a few of my favorites. In 2014 when we decided to rent out the house out and cut down on expenses we had to face all of our belongings. We gave away (38!) Boxes of stuff. I took eight medium bins of clothes with me. Midway through our two-year rental, I gave away another 14 boxes of just my belongings (some contained clothes). Why? Because I was still adding to the pile. I could not stop shopping!!
When we moved back here, I downsized my clothing by two boxes and the rest of our belongings filled an entire room (12×14), stacked three high. At first, most things stayed packed. We were remodeling and most rooms were inhabitable. As I started to unpack each half completed room, I wondered where all this stuff came from. I would give up frequently and become depressed. Too much stuff = not enough space to unpack it in. I started to feel the house closing in, the repairs not being completed as quickly as we hoped. I went on another diet, I needed to control something. I dropped weight quickly and started buying more clothes. Then I went on extravagant shopping trips. Buying things for our still incomplete house (visualizing the completed look, and decorating it) and leaving little money to remodel. Finally, the master bedroom was completed and I started to feel whole again. But what of that room that contained all my purchases and transferred belongings? Well, it’s on its way out. I abandoned my own personal treatment program and enrolled in the life lessons of others.
I saw a documentary about happy people with few belongings weighing them down. I started researching travel trailers and Project 333 created by Courtney Carver. I shared these ideas with my husband and he was surprised that living tiny wasn’t as expensive as he thought. I picked people out from the documentary and read their books. I listened intently to their podcasts. Now we are about to embark on a journey. We are halting the creation of new debt and banning new belongings. As I type this letter to you I am sitting in a nearly empty office for the first time ever. It is now stocked only with office supplies and a few other random items. Things that we use and need to write, stamp, mail, and relax. The boxes that used to line the walls of this room, mostly gone and it will soon be the first completely downsized room. Soon we will be trading in desktops and desks, for laptops and RV dinette space. I look forward to that day, even though I know what has to happen before it arrives. We have to sell the house. I know space will be limited but at least it won’t be overflowing with junk. Now you aware of what cleaned out my closets in infinite detail. So, what keeps your closets cleaned out, or full? I look forward to finding out.