The last frontier…if you are into Star Trek
Space is the last battlefield for many couples as they embark on the great downsizing change.
But space is really just a mental issue. It revolves around “stuff.” Stuff is the collective aggregate of material goods that have accumulated as your personal baggage as you navigate through life. But does the Stuff actually do you any good?
Seriously, stuff you can’t find and don’t use don’t have any place in your life. I’m learning the lesson hard and slow, but the past few months, as I struggle to find anything in our crowded and over-stuffed travel trailer, I’m discovering that it is useless stuff that I am hauling along through life with me, weighing me down even more. It’s one thing to cognitively understand that you need to get rid of stuff, but its another ball game entirely to start sorting it out and sending it off into the world to find a new home, whether via a yard sale or donation to a charity.
We’ve got an overstuffed travel trailer and an equally overstuffed storage unit, and we’ve been giving away things to anyone who needs them for months and months. I’ve got to accelerate this dissemination of stuff before its my sanity that goes first.
Organization is key. Everything needs a place, and if it doesn’t have a physical place to call “home”, then what are you going to do with it? Do you really NEED that item? How often do you need that item? Can you fill that need easier by borrowing or renting the item rather than owning it yourself? Can you “create” a home for that item with a bit of creativity and space-engineering?
Our biggest storage issues are small appliances, tools, books, camping gear, shoes, clothing, pans, and food supplies. My beloved KitchenAid mixer went on an extended “loan” to my daughter, and I face life armed with a small hand held mixer. My slow cooker is getting the eye, as is my toaster. Both items are space hogs, but they are both items that are used often. The convection/toaster oven also gets regular use, and it is a serious space hog, far too big for our travel trailer, actually.
The clothing and our inability to come up with a workable storage method is truly driving me up the wall, as it has become a “pile zone” storage method alongside the bed, resulting in everything looking like we’re sleeping on it and a total lack of organization. Trying to find something is like searching for a needle in a hay stack. We’ve tried cramming a shelving unit into the bedroom, we’ve tried “milk crates” and we’ve tried laundry baskets. None of the methods work in anything resembling efficiency. My last ditch effort is to use our luggage and duffle bags. I hope by sorting folded clothing into bags by type, (underwear & socks in one, pants in another, shirts in a third, and the fourth with out-of-season items) we can achieve something resembling efficiency. That means 8 pieces of luggage in the pile rather than a vast pile of who knows what where. (The bedroom has no floor space except a narrow walkway at the side of the bed approximately 12″ wide–and no dresser, and a 12″ closet. A second usable closet is located in the living area, where we actually store dress clothing.) The out-of-season bag can actually be stashed in one of the bunks that we use as oversized shelving, which would keep the bags down to 3 each in the bedroom. Towels, linens, etc. I’ve not even begun to think about how to handle those yet.
By using the luggage as our clothing management system, we’re accomplishing several things. First, we’re figuring out what to do with the luggage & duffle bags, second, we’re giving a specific volume to our clothing, encouraging us to eliminate worn out, seldom worn, outdated, disliked, or ill-fitting items from our sum total. Just like a dresser, we will then know exactly where we’ll find underwear, t-shirts, socks, and jeans…when we want them. No more rooting through a heap of clothing like we are 12 year old kids.
Tackling this monster will turn me into a dragon slayer, and hopefully provide some kind of inspiration on how to manage size 14 shoes and boots, as well as the shoes I actually wear. (I think I’ve weeded mine down to 3 or 4 pair now, a great achievement considering I had two TUBS filled with shoes last summer when we started this project.) Currently, my thoughts are that the shoes aren’t that heavy, so much as bulky. (Try tangling with size 14 boots at 4 am while half asleep–they become roughly the size of Mount Everest.) By putting up lightweight shelves about 12″ from the ceiling in the bedroom, we would have a home for our shoes where they stay neat and easily located when needed.
The overwhelming task of eliminating items from our lives is much easier when we reduce it to single tasks. The clothing, which I had been diligently attacking to get rid of items from over the past few months, remained a sore point (I hate wrinkled clothes passionately, GM doesn’t pay much attention to them) that often erupted in sharp words and great irritation. Instead of focusing on getting rid of things while still facing the daunting task of finding clothing when we needed it…I’m changing tactics. I’m focusing on getting the things we actually wear in a location where they stay neat and organized. What doesn’t fit becomes a much easier target to get rid of! (Do I really need to keep a 10 yr old bathing suit when I bought a new one that fits much better? How about these old dress pants with the grease stain?)
All of our complications are really nothing more than our having issues with cutting ties to the past, when we had space and a far different life from what we have today. We’re not saying that either life lacked validity…just that we’re in a different place today that has different priorities that we need to address. It’s the mental issue we need to overcome, not anything more or less.
Downsizing is really America’s New Frontier!