Less is More (…a Present Day Report on Modest Living)

As you can imagine, quite a bit has happened since I took the Less is More class last November (including purchasing the Airstream! …which I’ll tell you all about later). But over the past couple of months worth of weekends, I’m finding it’s been tough to gain traction on the Airstream project in a hands-on kind of way.

This is mainly because, in my personal life, I’m in the process of changing residences and at the same time have begun a new internship / career opportunity in Manhattan. I mention this because, considering where this blog has left off in the story, it’s actually a perfect time for me to chime in from the present moment and share a little bit about what I’m learning about “modest living.”

For reasons that are too personal and involved for me to get into much detail about here, let me just say that over the past 4-5 years, I’ve had to move most of my belongings about 3-4 times, and have lived out of boxes for months at a time. Larger pieces of furniture and other items have been in storage for long periods, sometimes at an expense, and sometimes not. It’s happened that on a number of occasions, the need to shift possessions from one place to another would happen quickly, with very little notice.

As you might imagine of someone who purchased a vintage Airstream to renovate, I’m fond of craftsmanship from the past & from other countries. So, in past years I picked up a select few antique, “heirloom” pieces that I’ve imagined adding one day to my first home. When that would be is still anyone’s guess. And did I mention that I also love to read & collect books?

Anyway, in the present day, with my most recent move, I’m finding I have to shift a large number of personal possessions into a space too small to fit them. To give you a little more context, allow me to share a visual of what my storage unit looked like yesterday:

After a couple of weeks of waking up at 5:15am, commuting 3 hours a day, working a full- and a part-time job, taking classes, and then having to move by myself, I was a bit stressed and frankly, physically exhausted. Then about a week-and-a-half ago, I was pacing around my apartment, running through logistics in my head, when I was stopped in my tracks by a message in my head:

“I am enslaved by my own stuff.”

Wow. I realized that if I didn’t have SO. MUCH. STUFF. that no one could give me much trouble if I had to move quickly. And anyway, how am I going to learn anything about modest living with the weight of a room full of personal possessions (most of which I’m not even using) hanging over my head? If I want to learn how to live in an Airstream, it means I have to let go of a lot and put my consumption in check.

To keep a long story short, I started (or should I say, continued with a new frame of mind) this week. I’ve already given away a beautiful armoire – the size of a refrigerator – to a non-profit in upstate NY that will appreciate it, and I’m giving away a brand-new foosball table (which I also got for free about 4 years ago) to a family I know that will appreciate it. I just don’t have room for either of these objects, and don’t know when – or where – I will. Giving away these two things certainly lightens the load, but I’ve got a long way to go. And giving things away sometimes feels a bit painful… it’s the pain of letting go of something you really want – and already have – but absolutely don’t need. It’s the pain of having already imagined the fun you’d have with something cool, never using it, and having to give it up for an uncertain feeling of freedom.

It’s a bit early yet to say I feel like I’m living modestly, or even that I have a lighter load. I’ll report back when I’m a little further down the road. But in the meantime, I feel like I’m headed in the right direction, and I’m forced to remember again that the first step in realizing a dream is letting go of the things that have been weighing you down.

The updated plan for this project is to:

1) Give Away & Sell Excess Belongings – This will teach me more about true needs & modest living, better prepare me for spending extended periods of time in a smaller space, and free up time and financial resources to put into the Airstream renovation.

2) Complete Airstream Green Renovation Proposal – This nearly-completed outline will be presented to Yestermorrow for feedback, approval & the assignment of an advisor.

3) Remove Airstream Interior & Initial Design Phase – These are rough stages that need to be completed in order to bring the Airstream to a professional Airstream renovator / restorer to replace the axle, floor, and underbelly, and set these up with locations of electrical & plumbing systems in mind.

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    1. Thank you! I really appreciate the supportive feedback. : ) People seem to be connecting with this post for some reason… in the first day, 7 people added it to their Facebook pages!

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