So. Much. Stuff.

 The iconic Golden Gate Bridge framed by our street (and our moving truck).  I loved that this view welcomed us home each night.

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge framed by our street (and our moving truck).  I loved that this view welcomed us home each night.

Big announcement: Cam and I moved!  

Not very far -- as the crow flies it's only about 12 miles north of our (now previous) apartment.  But it still feels like a big move; from San Francisco, with a population of 825,000, across the Golden Gate Bridge to a pastoral valley town of about 12,000.  

We made this move for a host of reasons, but the main motivation was to be closer to nature and to have more space now that we both work from home with frequent conference calls (I took more than one call from our bedroom closet last month). 

The little bungalow we found to rent fit all our needs: sunshine, outdoor space, LAUNDRY (I don't when I'll get used to how awesome this is), and a garden for our beloved plants and now, to grow vegetables!

I'll tell you more about this awesome space (with photos) soon, but for now I need to get something off my chest.  

There is never a time when we are more aware of the psychic burden and physical weight of our stuff than when we have to literally move it.  

Pack it.  Label it.  Stack it.  Lift it.  Carry it.  

Worry about it breaking.  (Secretly hope it all breaks.)  

Bring it up stairs.  Haul it down the hallway.  Unpack it.  Find a new home for it.

And I cannot tell you how many times in the past week I have said in total exasperation,

"We have so much stuff."

 All our possessions in the world (bed and plants still to come).  At this point, I was almost hoping the moving truck would lose our address so we could start fresh.

All our possessions in the world (bed and plants still to come).  At this point, I was almost hoping the moving truck would lose our address so we could start fresh.

Wait a second, I thought you were a minimalist?  Aka: How did you and Cam get here, to this place of "so much?"  

My journey to minimalism uncoincidentally coincided with my move before this one (I say "I" because Cam's own venture into minimalism has it's own timeline).  Six years ago, almost to the day, Cam and I moved  into our first shared apartment together.  We were 26 and 25 respectively, just getting a sense of who we wanted to be in the world.  I didn't know it at the time, but I was entering a deep, challenging, amazing period of transformation in my life.

With the two of us moving in together as partners, finally roommate-free for the first time, we were able to define what "home" meant to us.  What values from our homes growing up we wanted to bring, what we wanted to adapt, what we wanted to invent together. 

 Our almost empty apartment.  Seeing the space like this reminded me of the day in 2010 when we first saw it -- and immediately fell in love.

Our almost empty apartment.  Seeing the space like this reminded me of the day in 2010 when we first saw it -- and immediately fell in love.

 Bucking our maximalist lifestyle.

Through my mid-20s I hadn't really questioned my consumer-centric way of being.  I never got rid of anything that could potentially be used or worn.  I was dragging around clothing I'd had since junior high, for goodness sakes.  I admit, I was a maximalist, believing that more was obviously  better than less.

Yet now with two people's stuff combined into one home, we were forced to start making decisions lest we suffer bruised shins from running into one of our THREE dressers (yes, we had three dressers despite our new walk-in closet).  

Did we want to live in a stuffed-to-the-brim, filled space, or could we find a way to combine our stuff into one?  Was this stuff worth fighting over?  Worth cramming into a drawer?  With this opportunity for a blank slate, was this the way we wanted to have our first home feel?

From these original discussions (and arguments) two budding minimalists were born.

Over the subsequent 2,000 days from first moving in together, we have completely changed the way we act in our space.  I'd estimate that we've sold or donated 60-70% of our stuff from that time.  In my heart and mind, I'd embraced minimalism as the type of lifestyle that best serves me, my goals, my dreams.  

 Cam on moving morning in front of our silly little light blue and blonde brick building.

Cam on moving morning in front of our silly little light blue and blonde brick building.

Enter current day: For the past several years I've operated under the assumption that our possessions were thoroughly minimized (heck, at one point I only owned 100 personal items!).  Our bathroom closet was almost humorously empty.  I had so much space in our pantry that I used it as another room, placing artful branches and family photos on the mostly sparse shelves.

And yet.  And yet...

When it came time to pack up a few weeks ago, I was blown away by how much stuff we had.  Totally floored.  

I think in moving, we were forced to take in the sum total of what we do still own.  And given my desire to be free from clutter and excess and unwanted items, it meant that every single thing I packed had to be evaluated and deemed worthy... or not.  

While it was certainly tiring (draining might be more accurate), it resulted in a big car's worth of donations and several items being given to friends (note: those whom specifically requested them:) and 5 additional bags of donations since we've gotten settled.

Lesson: We expand to fit our containers.  

Kyle and I have learned this a hundred times over with our clients, but at last I realized it happened to me as well. Essentially, it's the Parkinson's Law of space: as much space as we are given, we will fill.  

But the intentional minimalist can right-size or shrink into any chosen container (like a small backpack for a month or two carry-on bags for an entire wardrobe).  

Right-sizing into our new space.

 Sneak peak of our new (rental) home: no new furniture, but fun, new feel.  Also a  fireplace !

Sneak peak of our new (rental) home: no new furniture, but fun, new feel.  Also a fireplace!

Not only did the act of moving encourage us to pare down, we've actually found that in our new, larger space we have way less storage.  (Bless the wise and practical folks of the 1930's who hadn't yet discovered walk-in closets.) 

Everything we own is no longer tucked neatly into a cavernous closet.  Nope, now almost all our stuff is out in the open, fully exposed.  So for each item we keep, we have to either effortfully and thoughtfully give it a home in our sparse storage or decide that we're ready to let it go. 

To be honest, it's the perfect spot for an I-thought-I-was-a-minimalist to put her values to the test. I will be reporting on the final product. Wish us luck!