Saturday, December 7, 2013

Two steps forward, One step back

It would be silly to pretend that I never have moments of doubt or weakness. Doubt about if we are doing the right thing, weakness in keeping to the habits. In fact, I was smack in the middle of it last week. I’m barely through it now. Terrible doubt... utter weakness.

Every day, we are working to pare down our possessions & imagining ourselves in a smaller space. That involves evaluating wants & needs. Removing items. And I completely panicked about it last weekend. Not a small “hmm… how will that work?” No, it was a full on “Oh My GOD I can’t DO this!”

I started to doubt everything we have been doing.
“How will we get away from each other in a smaller house?”
“Where will all my stuff go?”
“How will I function with less of x or y or z?”

And then I resisted.
“I won’t do it.”
“I like the way things are now”
“Why would we do that to ourselves?!”

Along with the doubt came a bout of weakness. Weakness, thy name is Books. I bought books. Not a ton (ok.. well, maybe 6..ish). I love books. I love how they feel, look, smell. I could die happy in a pile of books. “How did she die? She was reading & forgot to eat.” It could happen.
So my love of books is in direct contrast to downsizing & minimalist living. This is because I don’t just want to read them, I want to own them. And just forget trying to get rid of them. As a result, sometimes I feel guilty. And weak.

What’s a girl to do?

Calm down. Step away slowly. Take a break. Realize that sometimes we spend so much time focusing on where we are going, we forget to enjoy where we are. So I have spent the last week focusing on the present.

I haven’t put anything new in the “get rid of” pile all week. I’ve read my new books. I snuggled with James & Shadow (our exceptionally fuzzy beast aka dog). And I feel better. The panic has subsided.

I know there are still things we can get rid of that I won’t even miss. But I’ve remembered to not try & do it all at once. And I’ve remembered to not make downsizing my sole focus. I was ready to step back in today and I went through our CD’s. I wanted to organize them anyway, so I took the opportunity to purge at the same time. Most of our music is on the computer now & while I still love to have most of the albums, some can go. Maybe in the future more will go, maybe not. And when I was done, I walked away.

As for the books? I love them. So our smaller life will just have to accommodate that. Compromise is the mother of all solutions. I will make efforts to not buy so many but I won’t give myself a hard time when I do acquire more.

We are working to make positive changes. But change is hard. Remembering to give ourselves a break can maintain our sanity & keep us on track better than trying to force what isn’t ready.

Is there something you can give yourself a break about today?


  1. Ha! I'm thinking that the background image on your blog was probably a good clue that you love books!

    I used to feel the same way about books... until I started selling them online. For a while I LOVED it. I'd go to rummage sales about 10 minutes before they were about to close and offer them some absurdly small amount of money for all of their books. They were generally thrilled just to have me haul them away. Then I'd spend hour upon hour pouring over them... organizing them...looking up prices online, updating my inventory... yadda, yadda, yadda.

    And somewhere in that process my feeling about books totally changed. It wasn't that I started to dislike them, it was more that I started to see them as things that should flow in and out of your life rather than things that should be held onto tightly like precious treasures. When you realize that soooo many of the books that are sitting on our shelves collecting dust can be purchased used on Amazon for a penny... well, it starts to make you think about your approach!

    I still have books... probably too many books, but I don't sell them anymore, and I seldom if ever buy them. I've become a fan of my local library where I can reserve a book online and within a few days it arrives at the branch a few blocks from my house. And if I really want to own one, I generally just buy it used online.

    I don't mean to be saying that you should get rid of your books... you have to do what feels right to you, and accept where you are with things. Maybe your feelings will change, and maybe they won't - and that's OK. I have a friend who lives in a TINY cabin up in the woods (probably no more than 500 square feet) and the walls are all lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves because it's what she loves. So your goals are not mutually exclusive!

    I also think that you're at a very difficult point in the simplifying process. You're doing a LOT of work, but so many of the rewards are still off somewhere in theoretical- someday-land. I think when you get to a point where the benefits of a simplified lifestyle are more apparent (like when you don't have to work so many hours, or spend as much time cleaning, or worry about money) the choices will get a lot easier and will feel a lot less like sacrifices. That's certainly how it worked for me!

    1. I am ever so grateful for your words. It helps to hear from others who may have insight into a situation. Much of my frustration has been because we are still in that la-la land of not there yet. Having someone else understand makes it seem more manageable.
      And I can just see that tiny cabin lined with books. Double duty as insulation? :)