You may recall that I chose a word for 2011. Home. You might even recall that I participated in Ali’s 2011 One Little Word class. To be honest, while I participated, I didn’t keep up with the album this year. And, I really didn’t blog about Home as much as I wanted to. But, the one thing that stayed constant was a focus on Home.
In fact, so much of the focus was about Home- especially in the past 6 months that I haven’t even blogged much!) (How could it not? We spent so much time thinking about it, putting plans into action, sold our house, and moved last month!)
We’ve taken a long hard look at what home means to us, what we need for a home, and what we want. I think it had been on my mind for last few years but it became so much more prominent this year. Not long after my appendix and I parted this year, I made a discovery that after some thought and discussion, has led to Cody and I to start on a new path. And Home was the center of that start and that path.
“Our” home was on Alania Ave for almost 10 years. I realized that it’s almost the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. When we bought our Alania home, we were planning for a family. We thought we needed a three bedroom home and a yard. Even then, I thought the 1600 or so square feet in our home was a little too big- but our home had great potential for raising a family. I’ve always believed that love grows best in little houses. I’ve never really understood the fascination for huge homes.
Of course, the plans we made when buying our Alania house were the result of planning for dreams that turned into pipe dreams. So, we were left with a house for the two of us that we planned for a much different life. You know the saying about hindsight- we see clearer. But, we simply didn’t bet on the life we would have just the two of us. We’re getting used to that idea but our Alania house was one of the last relics of those bygone plans. And, to be honest, not only was the house way too big for the two of us, but it’s a constant reminder of what wasn’t to be. In fact, I could barely stand to be in the two spare bedrooms- too many fantasies about those rooms.
”Our” Alania home just didn’t feel like our own home. It hadn’t for a long time. I was going through some old pictures including gatherings with the student fellowship group at church we used to host. I was reminded that there was a time that we felt we belonged in our home. I haven’t felt that way in a long time but it was fun to see a reminder of when I did.
I wrote about wanting to get things done around our house at the start of 2011- little did I know LOL! I think the fact that our house didn’t feel like our home was part of the reason we just hadn’t gotten things done around the house. And led to so many projects that we had to finish before we put our Alania home on the market. that We hadn’t wanted to spend time working on a home which feels much less like a home than something dragging you down. I think there was a great deal of avoidance. Cody and I have talked about selling this house as if it would be someday- thinking that financially, we just could not afford to shed ourselves of this emotional burden. So, this year, the procrastination stopped and we did so many things that needed to be done. Sometimes we found our selves wondering why we waited but give ourselves a break- because we both know what this house has meant to us over time.
As we looked at moving into an apartment where we wouldn’t be responsible for maintenance, I also spent a good time wondering if the reason we had let some things go at the Alania house was also that we just don’t want to have to maintain our home.
How much stuff do we need? How much do we have? What really do we need?
These are some of things I’ve been wondering over time. I knew I had too much in my kitchen. I’ve been wanting to downsize my stuff for quite a while. Honestly, I want to downsize my life and I’m sure I’ll be sharing more about that along this journey.
Moving into an apartment means that we have to downsize our stuff- or put it in storage which we’re unwilling to do. There’s been a few hard choices- perhaps the hardest was for Cody as he decided to sell the Mustang (the only thing I was willing to put in storage). We’ll have a storage unit for a few months and then we’ll put a storage building at the lease where Cody can keep the things he uses out there that we had at the house- like the push mower and weed eater.
Honestly though, most of the choices haven’t been that hard. Stuff is just stuff. There are a few things I’ll keep- like ALL of our pictures and family documents- that perhaps I shouldn’t keep. (I actually hope to pare these down in the year or so to come- but for now I’m keeping them as I simply don’t have time to go through and extract genealogy clues, etc) But otherwise, I’ve really narrowed it down to the things I’ll use.
It’s been a life changer- which I know is a term used all too often- but really it’s helped change or solidify many things for me.
See all this stuff? It came from the kitchen and dining room alone. And it’s not like my cooking or baking will be suffering- I’ve kept the things I need. I still can’t believe I had this much stuff that I really can do without. (Sure, there’s a few things in here that I replaced- like my crockpot).
The first thoughts that came to mind where just how blessed I am- if I’m getting rid of this much stuff and still going to be fine in the kitchen, I’m one blessed person to have accumulated this much.
Another thought- why do we do this to ourselves?
I had probably 30 plus cookie cutters. I make rolled cookies rarely. The simple choice- to both downsize my stuff and simplify my life- get rid of them all! I’ll use my biscuit cutters for the rare times I make sugar cookies- which means I don’t have decisions to make about what to use, I can get more out of one roll of the dough, and they’ll cook more evenly without corners etc.
And 20 glass tumblers in each size- why do we think we need to conform to a certain standard- I rarely use these glasses- everyday, we pull out the plastic ones. So, you’d think I’d use them for company- no, when the family comes over, we pull out the disposable solo cups. (Don’t get me started on how many of those I’ve got- I’ve told mom she’s not invited back if next time we gather she brings more cups or how many times I sang the song Red Solo Cup while packing, moving, unpacking, and trying to find space for them.) And you know what, I’d rather use the solo cups- no worries about glasses being broken and far less clean-up- both of which mean I can enjoy my company more.
Away from the kitchen, well, we just found all kinds of things. I know I had lots of things I either “thought I needed” or bought but “never finished the project.”
Want to see more stuff? More Downsizing? Look at all this!
Of course, some of the stuff was just sheer downsizing stuff- beds and dressers for example.
We had a garage sale to get rid of most of our stuff. This in and of itself sparked many thoughts. Like the price we pay for things vs their real worth. I had things there that were marked well over 90% off what I paid for them. Most were probably at least ¼ of the price we paid for them. Then there were the people who bought them. . . . either really thrifty people who knew that things don’t hold as much value or people with far less than Cody and I. What we haven’t sold, we’re donating to the Women’s Shelter thrift shop- there’s still some really great stuff we didn’t sell. We also found ourselves donating stuff after we moved to friends and the thrift shop- still paring down our things and I’ll keep paring down. I’ve still got a few things I need to sort out at the apartment . . . but I’ll figure it out or we’ll part with more stuff. It’s just stuff.
It’s been an interesting experience just getting the amount of stuff we own down. It has been very much about rating just what role our stuff should play in our lives and what importance various items have for us.
When I shared with mom our ideas, the first thing she asked was if I was selling our home because of our finances. Which, we didn’t. Although finances, I think, always play a role when you’re looking at selling and buying a home.
It’s not so much our finances before we sold the house that played a role- we were doing alright financially. And of course, we had to meet with a realtor to ensure we could sell the house for what we felt was “enough”. Enought- enough for our home that we can be 100% debt free- seriously 100%- so that all we owe are the bills for the month- no car note, no loans, no credit cards, nothing but rent and utilities.
We’ve never been debt free in the time that we’ve known each other until this month. So, this will be a big change. It will allow us to save more money and start, hopefully, down a path that leads to a debt free life (or only short-term debt). Can you imagine? It’s a totally different world financially and one we’re ready to work at.
(Of course, the entire time I mention debt free, I have to cross my fingers that our vehicles will hold out long enough for us to save up for the next one. . . please no more $5000 repairs.)
And of course, we’ll be saving money while living in town- the internet, electric bills, and our fuel costs- it’ll all be cheaper.
In today’s times, it’s much harder to be debt-free. And this part of our path will hopefully work out. I think this plus maintaining a down-sized life are really the experiment parts of our new path. I’m really curious just what a debt-free life will lead us to. . .
So, selling the house, downsizing our stuff, and bettering our finances leads me to “Freedom”.
Certainly, renting an apartment means freedom for yard work and freedom from worrying about appliances going out and other maintenance. It means freedom for Cody to sit and watch TV instead of taking care of things around the house. It means freedom for me to scrapbook more and clean less.
It means we’re free to try some new things without as many responsibilities. It means too that we can take advantage of being just two. It also means that we’re free to live whereever we want and to take some risks to change the rest of our lives as well. (Someone I know will apply one more time trying to get into the academy and follow more closely in his father’s footsteps.)
We’re hoping to have opportunities to spend some of the money we’ll be saving will mean that we can go on more trips- investing in experiences rather than stuff. We want to visit with our family more. We want to visit different parts of the country. And, of course, there’s conferences I’d like to attend and hunting trips Cody would like to take. We won’t be able to do it all but we should be able to prioritize and do more of some of them.
So, in all of this, we’re finding a journey. It’s a journey we can take with very few foreseeable consequences. I often see it as a chance to go against the grain of this world- the one that says we should buy more things, defines luxury in terms of dollars, and sets the tone for less true peace.
I don’t see us living in an apartment forever- but I could be wrong. Renting a house is always and option too. Who knows, we have a set of grandparents each that rented their entire lives- perhaps we’re just meant to follow in their footsteps- maybe they had something figured out that we haven’t seen just yet. We know that we can save up and buy a house on our terms- not just because we think we need it at a particular time in our life. So, we’ll see where we end up living and what we do. We continue to talk about about buying a small acreage near a friend and moving an old house in or perhaps building a small place. It was what we learned when we lived there before we moved to Alania Ave that has so greatly influenced us. But, that’s years from now- at least for now.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past 10 years, it’s that you never really know where life is taking you- only God knows. This is just part of our journey.
It’s fun to look back at what I wrote and think about the year in terms of Home- not everything has been so sweeping in our lives.
I’m still working on settling in to our new home but I feel more settled now- even with some things still in boxes and no artwork on the walls- than I’ve felt in a long time. I wanted to decorate more- I’ve loved the trips to Ikea I’ve made and seeing my decorating style starting to show up in my own home. Our smaller place means it’s easier to maintain and really urges me to keep it even more tidy and even more minimal. I also wrote about how at home I feel in the Kitchen and I think I’ve really explored that more this year- finding solace in the kitchen and so much joy. For me, it’s where home field advantage seems to start but in our new place, I really feel like I do have home field advantage. Speaking of home field or even home plate- we saw the Jack’s go all the way to the conference championship game- I saw almost all the home games from home plate. (I only missed a few home games for a family visit and my appendix) Mom and I kicked the season off with a “triple” header- the tale end of a tied game from the night before along with the planned double header. I took my Uncle to his last ball game- with his grandson and great grandson. And Cody and I finished the season in San Marcos in a last minute decision- one on a financial wing and prayer that I think also had a huge impact that helped us move forward to making changes at home.
It’s really neat to see the influence that one little word has had on our lives. As we move into 2012 I know that Home will remain very much on our minds.
PS- Ali’s offering One Little Word again in 2012- I encourage you to pick a word for the year and perhaps even think about signing up for her class which totally works even if you’re not a scrapbooker.