Today I'm excited to share a guest post from a Tiny Transition and Downsizing student, Freda Salatino. She's been downsizing for a long time and has so much wisdom and experiences to share with you! I hope her story inspires you to take action and seek out that freedom you desire!
Preparing to transition into a tiny home, RV, trailer or cabin? Just want to clear your space and get some sanity in your current home? This is for you. You'll be in supportive group of like minded friends and kindred spirits! Register here and join us for the next session.
I'll hand it over to Freda, who shares her story below:
Every week I prep for the laundromat by gathering my weekly giveaways.
It's convenient; there's a Goodwill truck parked permanently in the Laundromat parking lot. I bring clothes to be washed, magazines or books to drop at the free book exchange outside the laundromat, and usable items that I no longer need or want, to the Goodwill truck.
There's nothing dramatic about the process, really.
It feels as natural as going grocery shopping.
My first Purge came when my husband died, insanely early (45!), of stomach cancer. That was a purge that felt more like the opening of a gaping hole in my life, and in the lives of our two daughters, then 15 and 7.
In the months after Steve's death, the stuff of Steve's life that was no longer relevant, got reorganized, consolidated. I still have a couple of long-sleeved Ts that were once his, some books, many photographs; the girls each have some keepsakes as well. However, nobody wanted to keep the clothing that rapidly became too big for him as he declined.
My second Purge came when I lost our very small two-bedroom house during the Great Recession. I moved immediately to a two-bedroom triplex just three miles away, which was actually larger than our home was. However, there’s nothing like an impending lockout to help you decide what’s important: the irrelevant was given away or dumped.
This is really my first voluntary Purge. It’s barely visible to the naked eye. Even people who visit quite frequently don’t notice that I’m thinning out my stuff. They just think I’m neat.
So it’s a Stealth Purge. And it’s entirely liberating.
What prompted me this time?
1. The realization that I have no excuse to hold on to a lot of this stuff.
Both daughters took their most meaningful possessions with them when they left for college. I know they like having a comfortable room to sleep in when they come to visit me, and seeing some familiar things from our family history. However, those things are more associated with ME now, than things that they actually "need" for themselves. The things are imbued with memory, but the memories are already part of them.
(Strategies for older people to keep the memories but purge the stuff, in a different post coming soon.)
At this point, my home exists mainly for one thing: to create a comfortable space for myself and my loved ones. Nobody else lives with me full-time, so most of the time the space is just for ME.
I am free to browse amongst my Stuff and ask the draconian question: do I really still need this?
It's amazing, the clarity that this freedom brings.
2. My long-cherished notion of walking gently on this earth.
When I was little people still gleefully cleaned out the insides of their cars by chucking the garbage out the window as they sped along the highway. When the famous public service announcement about "pollution" aired in 1970 (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7OHG7tHrNM), I was already 16 years old and aghast at the waste in my environment.
I have always hated "disposable" ANYTHING, reasoning that even if it's out of my sight it's got to go SOMEWHERE. Still, I haven't always been as vigilant as possible, about not accumulating extra copies of stuff I don't need/use, or giving away things I no longer want.
I'm beginning to feel that every dollar I spend on something frivolous is one more item on the pile of shit I personally have created on this planet since I was born. Living in drought-wracked California makes me especially conscious of this.
3. An accumulation of dead people.
My mother "downsized" as she got older, moving first to a smaller house with my father, then to a really beautiful mobile home when he died (yes, she moved all those clothes with her). Finally she lived with my younger sister. It fell to my sister, finally, to get rid of Mom's clothes after her death.
My significant other is 13 years my senior. He's retired. He lives in a million-dollar, 2,800 square foot home that has been thinned of the Dead Wife's stuff painstakingly in the nine years since her death, but the garage is still crammed with old electronica, multiple suitcases, construction flotsam, old bicycles.
The walls are crammed with art. Books are piled up on every single flat surface except for the kitchen counters. I will never, ever live with him (we're both much happier that way), but I'm his executor. There is not a single hour I spend in that house where I don't flash-forward (briefly!) to the day he dies and I donate the entire contents of that house to the Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale.
4. Goin' mobile.
I doubt I will ever be able to afford to retire completely, but as my credit recovers from the repossession of my home and I become ever happier with my conserve-ative, low-environmental-impact lifestyle, I have fallen in love the idea of traveling gently on this planet, seeing the Americas and possibly beyond.
I may be able to remain in my beloved California living full-time in a tiny home, but I may also decide to fix up a trailer or camper, and travel with my home on my back. My 60's are now a fact-finding expedition for that dream, which I'm already beginning to live.
I studied up on motorcycles before I bought one and learned to ride in my mid-40's. I justify my long commute to work partially by my willingness to reduce my carbon footprint, riding (60mpg) or taking public transit to work at least as often as I drive. Easy enough to shlep a motorcycle trailer in back of a trailer.
Maybe I'll wind up in a tiny home WITH a camper for mobile adventures, in my mid-60's.
The future is not yet written. Meanwhile I live a more deliberate life, with joy, and explore the world around me.
I want to thank Freda for sharing her experiences! It's never too late to start downsizing and finding some peace and freedom. I hope you will join Freda and I in the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course!