I loved the idea of a tiny house, as I comfortably lived in my 3,700 square foot custom built home on 10 acres. I followed blogs on tiny living, perused articles on downsizing and reveled in the idea of simplifying my “stuff.” All the while continuing to enjoy my soaring ceilings, vast expanses of space and three car garage. But life has a funny way of delivering on your meditations when you least expect it.
In the blink of an eye I left this:
And moved to this:
The phrase “tiny home” is relative. Moving from 3,700 sq ft on 10 acres to 1,500 sq ft on a city lot is my personal version of tiny home living. This may not be 300 square feet on the back of a trailer, but for my family of four, 1,500 square feet was a new reality. The choice to move into this smaller home was a conscious decision. We could have chosen a larger home, but for the sake of community, character and happiness, we chose tiny.
“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” – Tim Ferriss
The articles I had read on how to get rid of stuff, reduce clutter and downsize your belongings, came rushing back to me. However, when it comes to actually eliminating years of accumulation and sentimental belongings, it is not as easy as the ten step articles lead you to believe.
So where to start?
Room by room.
Day by day.
Item by item.
I started with the easy things like clothes that have not been worn in five years, dishes that are only used once in a blue moon, furniture that would obviously not fit into our new life. Then came the harder things, like my kids’ toys. We made toy downsizing into a game that I had read about on The Minimalists blog . We started on Day 1 and the kids, as well as myself, chose 1 thing to donate. Day 2, 2 things, Day 3, 3 things. You get the picture. Day 20 was hard, but I found a box of old pictures in frames and removed all the pictures and got rid of 20 frames that had just been sitting in a box! The kids got into the game and loved the hunt each day for something to discard. So the angst and dread of downsizing turned into a family game and from my viewpoint, our continuous downsizing has become a form of Art.
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” – Pablo Picasso
If you question an artist about their artistic process, they may tell you it takes perseverance, dedication, thoughtfulness and a unique perspective. All of these traits I see in the act of simplifying and downsizing. There is an art to living simply and reducing what you accumulate. You have to have a mental plan and resist the temptation to stray from the plan. No new decorations for holidays, no cool dishes or tableware each season, stop going to TJ MAXX!
If my children are given something new or even something used, they have to choose one item to get rid of. I hold myself to the same requirement. If I get a new piece of clothing, I have to get rid of a piece. This keeps the “stuff” load manageable in a small house. I have a very small root cellar basement that still contains boxes of stuff that need to be purged. But good art sometimes takes time to create! My art is constantly evolving and as I become a better “downsizing artist,” I do feel dust and weight being lifted from my soul.
Nicole Brooks is a marketing consultant and holds a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from Roosevelt University. She is passionate about organic whole foods cooking, enjoys gardening, urban chicken farming and skiing with her family. In her spare time she repurposes and “vintagizes” discarded furniture which she sells in her Found Booth at the Lafayette Collectibles Market.