moving

Life in the Slow Lane

On a hike to fly fish in one of Idaho's many rivers... 

On a hike to fly fish in one of Idaho's many rivers... 

Cam and I moved…  Again!  

This time we left our little chunk of paradise in the Bay for a slower, more mountainous way of life in Boise, Idaho. 

Cam and I have for years sought to really put down roots in the Bay Area.  We’d imagined settling there for good, buying a house, starting a family, raising our kids and dogs among the redwoods.  We love California for a couple of reasons: the insane and diverse natural beauty, the environmental / social activist culture, and, most of all, our dear group of friends who’ve become our family over time.

And yet, something was always missing.  

Life is complicated, until it’s simple.

The truth about a new minimalist lifestyle is that when you deal with and consider and think through your stuff, you can’t help but gain clarity in other areas of your life.  In the past year it became completely clear that Cam and I were ready for the next phase in our life. 

We wanted to be somewhere slower, somewhere affordable, somewhere with great and expansive natural beauty and — in a dream world — be close to family.

Our Idaho roots

I’ve been visiting Idaho for as long as Cam and I have been together.  His father was raised in Boise and almost his entire extended family remained there.  We went hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains, skiing at Bogus Basin, snowshoeing in McCall.  When Cam’s parents decided to return to Boise after raising him in New Jersey, we were intrigued.  

Boise, while we loved the place, hadn't been on our short list of possible, more affordable locations we would trade in the Bay for.   Our Idaho trips over the past year showed us a new way of life that was open to us: a slower, more affordable pace of life balanced with a vibrant downtown, a line-free regional airport within biking distance and the eternally enthusiastic presence of college students at nearby Boise State.

Once we opened our hearts to the possibility of life in Idaho, the stars aligned in ways we couldn't have imagined. 

We found a home that we love with a sweeping backyard, tumbling down to a creek with our very own water wheel.  We adopted the sweetest, most precious and adventurous dog in the world. 

We walk along the river, have dinners with family, never worry about traffic, bike anywhere in the city we need to go, and spend about 40% less on our mortgage than we did on our SF rent.  We have a whole new sector of this beautiful country to explore and come to know.  We have a small but amazing group of friends who have taken us rafting and hiking and taught me to fly fish (which, by the way, is every bit as romantic and beautiful and meditative experience as the movies make it out to be).  

Ohana is everything.

My older sister recently surprised me by flying to Boise for my birthday.  If that wasn't a gift enough, she gave me a shirt with the perfect saying on it: "Ohana is Everything."  Ohana, Hawaiian for family.

While Cam’s family is without a doubt my family now as well, it was hard to settle away from my folks and siblings.  

Which is why Cam and I agreed that as often I needed/wanted/desired to visit family, I would.  I’m on the plane to Chicago right now to help my folks move. I’ll be back in November and for Christmas (with sweet Bodhi in tow).  Part of living in Idaho meant that we would have real space for all of my family to visit whenever and for as long as they desire.  I knew anywhere we ended up long-term (if it wasn’t in my parent’s basement, as I think my dad would have loved) I needed my family to feel totally comfortable and at home in my home. I wanted a real guest room and a real bathroom and an experience of ease the would lure them to the Treasure Valley and keep them here for a long while.

Our little mutt is part terrier and part something that will jump in the river after ducks!

Our little mutt is part terrier and part something that will jump in the river after ducks!

I look forward to sharing with you guys a new way of looking at and living the NM lifestyle, from a much less urban city in a stand alone home, which we own, in the mountain west.  While I’ve always been so proud of my Chicago roots (go Cubs go!), it feels brand new to be an adult not living on the Pacific Coast and all that stands for.  My hope is that these new learnings and adjustments will connect us with and serve a broader range of people seeking out a simple, easy, inspired life!

Big Changes AHEAD

Major moves taking place over here at New Minimalism!

Cary here to share the biggest news ever:  Cam and I moved to Boise, Idaho!  If you’re thinking to yourself, "Wait, didn’t you just move?"  You are right. 

Our new Idaho backyard!

Our new Idaho backyard!

Earlier this year, Cam and I moved across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County.  This was a really beautiful and really challenging time in our lives.  But I will say that this mini-move was the stepping stone that gave us the clarity and impetus to make our real, long-desired, big move to Boise.

When we first moved out of our rent controlled apartment in San Francisco, we knew, intellectually and emotionally, that leaving San Francisco proper meant we were completing a certain phase of life.  Within the Bay Area's housing market, prices have skyrocketed, and giving up rent control made this move effectively irreversible.  Though it was made far less scary knowing we would be a mere 20 miles north, we would never again be able to afford the type of apartment we enjoyed in the city. 

The baby step of moving to Marin untethered us from life in the city and made us savor the quiet evenings of a non-urban landscape.  It forced us to acknowledge that we deeply longed for a place we could put down roots, build community, and care for a piece of land that would feed and nourish us over time.

We are overjoyed with the opportunity to explore a slower, more affordable way of life.  I am so ready and excited to adventure throughout this new landscape will be sharing with you all the lifestyle tips I learn along the way. 

But, what does this means for New Minimalism?

We are using the remaining months of 2016 to adjust to these new changes and set forth a proper vision for 2017.  And in the meantime:

1) We will have limited in-person sessions: From now through the end of 2016, we have only 10 remaining sessions available with the original decluttering duo, Cary & Kyle.  Please reach out to hello@newminimalism.com if you’d like to snag one. We plan to continue in-person sessions in a new incarnation in 2017.  

2) We are hard at work on our beloved book, to be published with Sasquatch Books in January of 2018.  It’s going to be a gorgeous, full color, photography-filled book about our process and client work.  We’ve poured our hearts and souls into the writing (and now the photoshoots) and will keep you up to date as timing gets closer to its release.

3) We are focused on bringing quality, consistent content to the blog and Instagram! We'd love to hear from you in the comments about what questions you'd like answered and which topics most inspire you!

Thank you dear readers for being patient while we have quietly (almost silently) undergone this transition over the past few months.  If you would like to read more specifically about my move to Idaho (and the newest 4-legged member of our family), I will be publishing a more detailed post next week!

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!