Just be ready to go when they call.
I kept hearing those words over and over as I sat looking at all my belongings. I was facing a dilemma. Get rid of everything or pay to have it stored?
I had worked so hard to accumulate what I had. I started from zero. Literally, a blow up mattress, a few kitchen supplies, and a 5 cd changer stereo I had gotten for Christmas when I was 12. These were the only things that occupied my first apartment after college. I now had (somewhat) respectable things. And I was proud of my things. A small measurement of the success I had slowly gained. Proof that I had been able to provide for myself! They also offered me the occasional gloat and superiority to hold over my “less achieved” adult friends. And now all they seemed to be was a giant weight that I must figure out how to carry up the mountain in front of me. A weight I was not yet willing to relinquish. Scarcity thinking slammed the breaks on me multiple times when I started to scream BURN IT ALL!!! in my head like some mad woman. If the job didn’t work out- or I decided after 6 months or even a year to move back I would have nothing and have to start all over again. No. It would not be wise to get rid of my things. I would find a way, but I would compromise with myself and downsize.
I started the thinning process early. I posted on Craig’s list and Facebook to see who was willing to pay the big bucks for my possessions. And while I lightened the load I did not make the big bucks- but I did manage to learn how let things go. I would go through multiple thinning processes through out the next few months and years to come. Setting up garage sales every weekend, taking loads of old clothes to donation. It became easier. The more I let go- the more I felt I still had too much.
At this time, I was rooming with a good friend of mine
and luckily was not under any sort of lease. I decided that I would move to Arizona and move in with my mom for a few months while I waited for the call from ClubMed. I would quit my job early on, move across the country and live off my savings and parental support for about 3 months. That’s how long I needed to survive before the winter Club Med season began. I would be jobless, homeless and penniless....but I would be ready. A few tricks to downsizing.
1. Ask yourself, “does this still serve me?” I had lugged my 5 cd changer stereo around for 16 years. I felt a deep nostalgia for it- even though the world had already begun to surpass the era of cds and giant stereos. I had taken care of it and kept it well for many years. Before I listed it on Craig’s list I asked myself this question. And when I made the exchange with the parents that were purchasing it for their young son I knew that it could better serve someone else. I had kept it in great shape so a young kid could feel awesome about it and place it in his room-and probably get made fun of by his friends because it also had two tape players. I never got to show him that he could record his favorite songs from the radio on a blank cassette. I hope he figured that out...
2. Ask yourself “could this serve someone else?”
3. Take a picture of it. Okay, this one helped me immensely. I don’t really know why it worked so well but it did. If I had a hard time letting go I took a photo and I felt like I captured its memory. Now, I could just look at the photo of it and remember without it taking up space. Sometimes I continue to come across these photos- and most of the time I’ve been content to delete them.
The pressure of the journey in front of me was also very encouraging. I had looked into renting a u-haul and then I looked at my bank account. Hmm. Well, I guess that’s not happening. I had also looked into the cost of storage units, and then I looked at my bank account. Was my stuff really worth the financial bleeding? Although I was afraid of not having the money to start over it seemed inexpensive compared to the cost of storing and caring for items that would eventually be outdated. The thought of eventually getting NEW things was becoming more appealing and the scarcity mindset slowly started to change. How could I predict that life would be the same? That there wouldn’t be enough? That I was broke now and years from now I would still be broke? If all that was a belief- couldn’t the complete opposite also be believed?
I whittled my possessions down to about the size I thought I could fit into my Ford Escape. It was an exhausting few months of problem solving, change, letting go and psychological deconstruction as I faced questioning and interrogations by many. But every step I took in the direction of my goal brought rewards. Opportunities opened and friends and family showered me with charity that I couldn’t imagine. My confidence grew and I evolved out of a life circle I had been trapped in for many years. My awareness of personal autonomy deepened, and I began to understand what it meant to take on responsibility for my life choices.
A very peculiar thing happened. I would have moments of pure joy and even experienced states of bliss. Real bliss! I know it was bliss because I felt so high- so unrealistically stoned out of my mind! Everything and everyone around me was beautiful. I visited everyone of my friends and family. I forgave ex boyfriends and threw parties and soaked up every experience and encounter like a sponge.
I remember having a thought that might otherwise seem terrifying. I remember thinking, “I wonder if I’m about to die?” And then thinking, “This would be the perfect time to die.” This was not from a place of depression or dispare. Rather, from the blessings of impermanence. I could die empty at this moment. Empty of love and kindness because I had used it all up. I had told everyone how much they meant to me and I was kind to every person I came across. I said all my goodbyes. I felt content in what I had given and received from this world and thought it would be the perfect note to leave on. I must have known that I would just be gone a very long time....
Photos from my last months before leaving. Saying my goodbyes and spending quality time with fri