"Write like it matters, and it will." -Libba Bray

Living with less...


          Okay something BIG I need to share with the community, whether you are part of the van life community, an aspiring minimalist, or are just in need of a purge. Heck, maybe like everyone else in this world, you just want a little extra money in your pockets. A couple of weeks ago we had a HUGE minimalist yard sale. The purpose of the yard sale was to save money for the van, and to sell as much of our stuff as physically possible. When you are about to live in a one hundred and twenty square foot space, it’s kind of a must. Preparing for the yard sale and downsizing has been in preparation since January of this year. When you have owned a home, have a knack for collecting old vintage and unique things and have a child, let me tell you it is easy to acquire an insane amount of “things”.

Let’s take a look at the definition of the word “thing”. The oxford dictionary defines it as; an object that one need not, cannot, or does not wish to give a specific name to. The part I thought the funniest about this is that if one does not want to give a thing a name, why does one need to own it in the first place? There is a fine line between what things a person needs and what things a person wants. As a child I remember being in stores and saying to my mother, “I want this”. My mother was always quick to respond with that age old motherly saying, “You WANT it, but do you NEED IT?” The beautiful thing about a passion for tiny home living is that you begin to rebirth yourself as a person who can very successfully decipher the difference between wants and needs. Minimalism isn’t about what you own; it’s about why you own it.

          Firstly, you go through what I like to call The Acceptance Stage. You have accepted that you are about to live in an exceptionally small space. You know that the majority of the things that you own will not fit into said space. Now what are you going to do about it? Hallelujah, there are millions of people in this world who will see value in the things that you own. You know “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Following the acceptance stage you then go into The Planning Stage. Will you be the almighty donator giving your treasures to consignments or second hand stores? Or will you, like me, be the seller? You go into a mad frenzy of purging by posting ads on kijiji, buy and sells, and lastly throwing a massive yard sale. Show me the money!

          Now let’s touch base on my favourite stage; The Surprising Stage. Yes, there were a ton of times where I looked at our items and was floored at how attached to them I was. The record player I got for twenty five dollars at a church yard sale; heartbroken. The red vintage soda shop stools I got from Winners; crushed. The vintage puffy stool that was given to me by a man while I was walking down the street on a warm summer's day; I can still smell his Tabaco and the warm scent of the air when he handed it to me. SADNESS! But then came the surprise; after letting go of these things I felt successful, happy, grateful and sweet release. There was a weight that had been lifted off my shoulders, one less thing to move, one less thing to clean. Suddenly I had this freeing feeling like I had just let something go and benefited so much from doing so. Record player: two hundred and fifty dollars (not going to lie I felt like I robbed that guy). Stools: eighty dollars, and puffy stool: fifty dollars. It all adds up! Suddenly I wanted to sell everything! As much as selling all these things took time and effort, I have made over twenty seven hundred dollars selling my “things” in the last six months. And, I still have more to sell; heck yes!

          This part goes out to all my parent friends with the wee nuggets at home. Your kids CAN and WILL let go of their things. The best advice I can give is to sit down and have a genuine conversation about people’s attachments to things they have been given or bought. Explain to them that seventy five percent of what the human population owns never actually physically gets touched. Mollie accepted this and has downsized with such grace it astonishes me. Throughout the last six months she has gone from having an entire bedroom full of stuffed animals, books and toys to having only one tote! She has filled that tote with art supplies to use on the road as it is her favorite activity. We also took the time to explain to family and friends that we can no longer accept physical gifts or items for celebrations, as we will simply have nowhere to put them. The best choice that I made was to allow Mollie to purge her things on her own. When she felt attached to something and didn’t want to let go of it, we talked about it. We talked about its importance, if it’s useful, when was the last time it was played with. Another GREAT coping mechanism for kids and letting go of stuff is the gift of gifting. Mollie loved giving some of her favourite things to loved ones or friends. For example, she gave her Dr. Seuss collection to our grandmother to read to all the grandkids and hold onto for safe keeping. Something I’ve noticed is the positive effect having a more minimalistic life has had on Mollie. A couple of days ago Mollie had something in her hand that she had worked really hard to create out of clay. On the way home from school a piece of the figure she’d made fell off, rendering the piece broken or incomplete. At first realization of this happening set in, I looked over at Mollie, her face went red, her eyes began to form little boats of tears ready to pour down like Niagara Falls in front of me. Then, a pause; a calmness came over her. Mollie took a breath, looked me square in the eye before I could say anything and uttered four words. “It’s just a thing.” And with that, she threw the remaining piece in the recycling bin and carried on. Mollie let go, she coped and she moved on. An event I know would have been a completely different experience several months ago.

          This minimalist life isn’t for everyone, and I totally understand and respect the relationship people have with their personal belongings. When all is said and done, our life will be in one hundred and twenty square feet and a small memory chest my mom and dad will hang onto for us. It has taken us months to get to this point. This kind of transition or life change is not something that simply happens overnight; we are still working on it every day. In fact, we’ll be having a second yard sale July fourteenth up north in the Kawarthas. If you are interested, please get in touch with us via Instagram or our contact page on our website. We are also up for giving helpful advice if you just want to talk about minimalizing. We’d love to hear from you.

          A quote that I would share with Mollie on a regular basis while we were minimalizing seems like a very fit way to end this post; the author is unknown but we love it. “Minimalism is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you.”