Here we are with two kids, two businesses, a husky/lab and a beautiful 2,500 square foot house. By all accounts we have enough. By our accounts, we have too much.
Jonathan traveled in India many years ago and came home to realize that he didn’t need all of the things that were filling his drawers and cupboards. When our oldest was 9 months old, we set off for 111 days with a teensy trailer (more about this adventure in a later post). As our dear friend and business partner Kate said, we lived in each other’s back pockets. We each had two 12”x8”x5” and one smaller bin to put our things in. We carefully chose what to take with us. I brought craft supplies that filled a whole bin and I carried those with us across the country and back again. We all have our priorities. By the end of the trip, which crept its way into the winter months, requiring the addition of a down jacket and a baby snow suit, we ended up sending two boxes of things home. First of all, how did we have enough extra stuff in our 25 square foot home to send two boxes full home? I don’t know for sure. (Well, okay we learned that the Vitamix didn’t run on the power from the battery.) What I do know is that we always had enough. We always felt like we were home. We were happy and free.
For many people who have kids, life with a two year old and a nearly one year old means an increase in stuff. More toys. More games. More clothes. More devices. More overflowing cupboards and closets. More distractions. We Americans have way more stuff (mostly cheap and dispensable) than others in the world and way more than our grandparents had.
Luckily, our parenting style lends itself to simplicity, so we began on a good foot with our children…but we’ve got some clean up work to do from our lives before these little beams of light arrived.
While it doesn’t seem like we had possessions in huge excess, in the past months I have had an increased feeling of claustrophobia. Confinement not literally, but I felt confined by our possessions. More stuff equals more need for cleaning. More clothes means laundry can remain unfolded for a week (or two! or three!) without us being in need of an outfit. I couldn’t and can’t seem to find the time to take care of all of our things. And for what am I stressing? How much joy do these things bring? How much stress? What are we missing out on? I found myself wanting, no, needing to nudge my way outside the box, to find some breathing space.
I have moments in life where I feel like I’m “in the flow”, others where I feel stuck, others where I feel this is exactly what I chose and others yet where I think, how did I end up here? The lines are fluid and sometimes one moment leads to the other or even becomes another. I think that’s what I have been feeling. I am exactly where I am because I wanted this. We made choices to land us right here! And now, we are thinking, how did we end up in this moment?
So, here we are with two kids, two businesses, and a husky/lab going systematically through our house and every last one of our possessions and asking if it sparks joy. (More to come in later posts.) Thank you, Konmari.
Does it really spark JOY? If not, it’s out. Our basement looks like a drop-off location for Goodwill. It’s full of bags and boxes of stuff that we will never miss. More importantly than getting rid of the excess though is our honest assessment of why we had it or held onto it to begin with. Holding on to the past? Holding the what ifs of the future? Guilt? Negligence? When it comes to buying things from here on out it must spark extreme joy. Not spark adrenaline or the thrill of novelty, but real joy. Beautiful? Functional? Just enough.
Remember when I said we lived in a 25 square foot teardrop trailer for over three months with a baby? People thought we were crazy. Or was it adventurous? Either way, we were beyond content. So, here we are preparing to embark on 25 square feet 2.0. This time, we won’t have the trailer and we won’t be on land. We are ridding ourselves of all the excess to focus on what really matters and are planning to move this year to begin another wild family adventure…living on a sail boat.