Friday, January 18, 2019

Minimal Living: Forced Version

Minimalism is everywhere these days. It's very in style, if getting rid of all your belongings and living with the bare necessities is your style.

Don't get me wrong: I've toyed with the minimalism idea for several years now. Even as an extrovert who loves owning lots of "things that spark joy", there is still a threshold of "too much". I'd started paring down before we made the big move from the Triangle to the Coast and made sure to not RE-accumulate random things while we were in Morehead City.

So when it came time to pack all our belongings again for moving, I embraced the opportunity to live with even less. I knew we'd be "in between" homes for a while and that what ever I kept had to be packed into two vehicles, along with my kid, dog, and cat. I looked up long-term travel on Pinterest, followed minimalist accounts on Instagram, and made sure I knew what self-care was non-negotiable for me during this time.

And we'd already done this on a trial basis: when we evacuated for Hurricane Florence and spent a week at my folks' place. So I thought I knew what I was getting into.

Extended-stay "Suite"
We are now in month three of minimal living. November and December were still in our old home, but January has mostly been in a 400 square foot extended living hotel "suite" (I use suite lightly: it's basically a hotel room with a 2 burner stove and full size refrigerator).  When the minimalism aesthetic is forced upon you, you learn a lot about exactly where you fall on the style spectrum.

Here are a few things I've learned during our time without stuff:

1. Most homes really are filled with simply too much stuff. There's a reason why the before and after pictures on any HGTV show are so starkly different: there's the perfect amount of stuff. Since we were living in our home while it was on the market, we staged it with our own stuff. 90% of our worldly goods were in storage, but the 10% we had left were enough to be comfortable with. Did I have choices? No. Did I need choices? Again, no. Not really.

2. Speaking of choices: How many clothes do you really NEED? This is one of those areas where the long-term travel folks are right: you learn very quickly that you can indeed thrive on 3 shirts, 2 pants, a jacket, and a few odds and ends. My husband's entire work wardrobe is in a suitcase. My daughter packed 1/3 of her wardrobe and STILL has shirts she hasn't worn.

Now, will I want to burn every item of clothing after this time is up because I'm tired of seeing/wearing it? Most likely, yes. BUT, the point is that you don't need a bedroom-size walk-in closet because it's 99% unlikely you wear all those clothes on a regular basis.

3. Close quarters are truly close at night. Sleeping is the one activity that I legitimately do want my privacy and hotel living does NOT provide it. There's the kid in the bed right beside me. There's the cat who wants to be nocturnal. There are the other hotel patrons who are keeping vastly different hours. I don't recall reading anything about this in the long-term travel research, so let me be the first to say that if you're going to sleep in close quarters for a long time, figure out really quickly whether your tolerance level is "eye-mask and earplugs" or "sleeping pills." I don't care if you're in a hotel, BnB, travel trailer, or hosteling your way across Europe: sleeping normally won't happen.

Paleo chicken parmesan with
non-paleo whole wheat
angelhair pasta. All done on the
2-burner stove.
4. I miss my kitchen, but I've learned to be vastly more creative. I consider myself a fairly decent home chef, but being forced to rely on one knife, one skillet, one pan, and an old 2 burner stove has ratcheted my kitchen creativity up 100%. Long-term travel folks will tell you quickly that eating out is more affordable overseas, however, you still don't want to eat out every meal.

5. Home is truly where the heart is. As frustrated as I can get by this situation, it's vastly better to be together. I missed my husband so much when he was on the road and I was in an empty house waiting for an offer to buy. My daughter has been a champ throughout the process and, rather than the nightmares we've experience in school vacations before, this has been a growth experience for both of us. Even the dog and the cat--as bored as I can tell they are--have been good about being cooped up in a small space together.

I'm thinking I will wait on unpacking once we are in the new house. I know I can live without that stuff for a while longer. Maybe forever.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your earnest report of life in between the old and the new abodes. We are in the process of downsizing and I can tell that there are things that I may never miss as I gift them, toss them or store them. It feels refreshing to stage the house and a bit disorienting too living in the guest room while work is being accomplished in the Master bed and bath. It all seems good as preparation for the transition we are entering into. Staying in the flow of joy for new possibilities! 🙋💕✨Elana