Thursday, January 24, 2013

Simplify - Ditch the Armoire

It's no secret that I'm obsessed with the deserts of the southwest.  My dad has the same obsession so I like to think it's genetic.  I'm reading a book called Salt to Summit about a guy who hiked from the salt flats of Death Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in America.  He incorporates many historical accounts of the first 49ers who made the treacherous crossing.  In one account, a single man who was a skilled outdoorsman came upon a group of families trying to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains with their oxen and carts.  They were emaciated, lost and hopeless in the 100+ degree heat.  It was known that the journey would take one third of the time on footpaths too narrow for the carts. The single man looked at their dying oxen and starving children and mused, "And for what?  To reach California with your grandma's armoire and your father's tools?  Why not sell the furniture and make the crossing unencumbered but for a little gold in your saddlebags?"

Well, duh.

As we stare down the last 12 months in paradise, our lives are headed for a drastic s-curve in the road.  I'm not making the turn with an armoire strapped to my back!  My New Year's Goal of simplification is under way and I am lovin' it!

Phase 1 -   Ditch the armoire.  

I'm selling it all.  Piece by piece in my work newsletter and through group yard sales.  Everything must go.  There is a 50/50 chance we'll be living in a motor home when we move back (more on that later - don't lose focus!) and things get painfully simple when you ask the question "Will this item be in the motor home?"  I have yet to find an item, except for the dog, that has received a "yes" to that simple question.

Next questions - in order...

"Have I used this item in the past six months?"  If no, sale pile.  Examples: two chicken roasting pans, a floor lamp I haven't turned on in five years, an extra set of martini glasses, the entire pod of dust- collecting "cool canisters" in my kitchen and my awesome (yet never used) all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machine. 

"Is this item necessary for the remainder of our time here?"  Examples: the futon in the guest room, our flat screen televisions, my office furniture, the rest of our lamps and bookcases.  All of this will go in a yard sale at the end of the year.  

"Does this item mean enough to ship it back for storage in the States?"  The hardest category.  Examples: a beautiful water pitcher I bought while traveling in Italy, a tea set handed down from my husband's grandmother,  a large ceramic bowl-hand painted by a dear girlfriend, boxes and boxes and boxes of photos.

I share all of this because I am very surprised at the number of things in my house that I don't use.  The floor lamp is a great example. It's been sitting in the corner of my bedroom collecting dust for five years and my eye just skims right over it.  I've participated in 5 yard sales in the past 4 years and never even considered the lamp until I started asking The RV Question

I'm also surprised by how good it feels!  Almost every one of my friends has lamented at some point that they need to clean out, simplify, pare down, etc. There's nothing to be afraid of - you can live with only two Pyrex baking dishes.  I am the proof!

Twenty years ago, I began my life in the Virgin Islands with some clothes in one bag and a rice cooker and VCR in another (a story for another day) and that's about as unencumbered as a girl can get.  I think it's fitting to end my Caribbean life the same way I started... sans rice cooker and useless VCR :)

Don't worry!  I'm sure the horror of selling everything we own will set in at some point.  I'll be sure to update this post when it does. 


  1. I think we should all adk ourselves the RV question whether we plan on living on one or not. I have lived in this 600sq ft home since '93 and over the years its gotten easier and easier to say no to THINGS. There will always be an item or two I can't let go of for a while, but when I really think about it and the big picture eventually it ends up in "the sale pile".
    Have fun sorting and remembering. There is adventure ahead!

  2. I have always kept your 600 sq feet of happiness in the back of my mind! Between our running shoes ALONE, Mark and I can fill a closet. It's really time for this and I'm enjoying erecting what has quickly become the sale WALL :)