Decision made. We were going to sell the house. Next came the almighty question of, “What to do with our “STUFF?” We refused to put anything into storage as we wanted ultimate freedom; emotional freedom from the pull of possessions, financial freedom from the cost of storage. (Our good neighbor Bob figured he’s spent over $20K on storage fees over the past 20 years holding on to furniture he thinks his kids might want.)
Thirteen years earlier, having accepted a teaching position in the Middle East, I had struggled with this same question. At that time, I decided to store everything in a dear friend’s basement for the year, unsure if I’d like the expat lifestyle. A year later, infatuated with my new lifestyle, I decided to get rid of most of my STUFF. What I learned in that process was that once you give something away, you rarely miss it. “Out of sight; out of mind” worked well for me.
Fast forward to the first 3 months of 2017. It was more difficult this time. For 13 years of teaching and traveling, I had been on a mission to collect things from the places I’d visited: works of art, culture, and crafts, as well as items from nature: shells, rocks, sand, feathers, porcupine quills….! Needless to say, I now had more STUFF to get rid of. I could often be heard muttering to myself, “This has been sitting in a tub in the garage for the past 2 years. I haven’t looked at it once. Do I really need to keep this?” That realization helped me.
What also helped me was connecting with a most special young woman through an online app called Nextdoor where I had posted some of the things I was trying to sell. With her, many of my spiritual, emotional, ’meaningful-to-me’ treasures found a home. I learned that it was more important to find a good home for my treasures than to get a good price for them.
My solution to downsizing started with online research. I had been following the blogs of several fulltime RVers. On “Wheelingit” I found lots of very helpful information about this topic – http://wheelingit.us/2016/01/26/selling-your-stuff-part-i-4-basic-selling-tips/ . I did a lot of research to see how I should price the “big stuff’. Our big stuff included a utility trailer, motorcycle and equipment, a car, furniture, and antiques handed down to me. Once priced and posted, the sales began.
Was it easy? NO! Was it rewarding? YES! My priority was down-sizing and that is what I did. When things became tough, I remembered what my mission was. I started early. In retrospect, that was one of the most important things I did. It allowed me to gauge what people were willing to pay for my STUFF. It allowed me to talk to the people who did come and to listen to their suggestions about which charity to donate to, which consignment shop was trustworthy. It allowed me to come to terms emotionally, with the process. It not only made the process possible, it made it bearable and sometimes even enjoyable. In the beginning it seemed to be an insurmountable task; one that created many sleepless nights as I pondered what to do with this or with that treasure. Now, on the other side of the process, I am ecstatic. I have everything and more, that I need or want.