Downsizing – Loosening the Ties that Bind

Our Apartment building

Our apartment on the 2nd floor

Downsizing to a 10 x 10 Storage Unit?

No problem. Since we only had a one-bedroom apartment, we thought it would be easy. We had worked hard not to fill it to the rafters, and it didn’t look like we owned that much. We had moved from a two-bedroom apartment a year earlier, so we thought we had less, and that downsizing would be simple.

However, we very quickly discovered that going from two to one was a lot easier than going from one to none! After going through each room and getting rid of things that were obviously not keepers, it got a bit tricky. 

Class A motorhome

One day we’ll find the one for us.

What We Kept

As we began examining everything else we owned, it seemed one or the other of us would come up with a reason to keep item after item. We figured we could get through it with enough determination and boxed up what we knew we would keep.

We were hoping to get a motorhome at some point, (to read about why we were downsizing click here.) So, we kept our Tempur-Pedic mattress, the television, kitchen items that could be useful in a camper, and almost all the bedding and towels.

white lace on a black background

The dining room table and the rest of our books went to the storage unit as well (not that they could fit in a motorhome). I had all the hardback children’s picture books purchased when my children were young; it didn’t seem right to give them up.

Jim didn’t have as many personal possessions and didn’t care so much about any of them except the Sebo vacuum, the smart TV, and two recliners. We put all of those in storage. Truly, it seemed those were the only things that presented difficulty for him – each one was new and pricey. 

White lace on a black backgound

Downsizing Big Time – Give It Away or Chop It Up

We lost track of how many trips we made to Goodwill with furniture, art, books, clothes, and various gizmos. Having a garage sale would have been a sensible thing to do. However, we both hate the process involved (not sellers), so we gave everything away.

There were moments when that became frustrating, and we both felt a bit resentful of the fact that we were ‘losing’ money left, right, and center. Of course, it was our own doing, but still, the feelings did arise.

We had an enormous second-hand dresser that we knew we couldn’t move or get out of the apartment. Sometimes you know how it will end up: this dresser was at its last rodeo. Too big to fit anywhere else, too heavy for us to move, not worth enough to hire help to put it in storage, and not enough time to put it on Craigslist.

Statue of Shiva


We needed Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction, to come and do a number on this. He did – it was fun! The cabinet makers of old knew how to make something and keep it made, unlike the furniture-in-a-box-era we’re in now. Gallons of glue, dozens of nails, hundreds of tacks and thousands of pieces of wood, they all had to give it up and get down to the dumpster. 

Finally, without too much racket for the neighbors, all signs of the dresser were gone, and our apartment was starting to look more and more uninhabited.

handmade doll

One of my creations

Struggles Letting Go

I had a few struggles along the way and a few times was brought to tears at the prospect of letting go of something. Jim would calmly say, “Let’s put it in storage, at least for now.” We knew we would have the storage unit for at least six months, so we didn’t need to make every hard decision immediately, thank goodness!

If you want or need to let go of most of your possessions, it can be tough, but we had to downsize significantly. One large chunk of ‘stuff’ that presented a problem for me were the boxes upon boxes of crafting supplies. I put a good amount in the Goodwill pile. 

handmade doll

Another friend

However, I intended to use the rest of the fabric and supplies to create dolls and other handmade items while we were traveling the country! Without an income, we would not be able to replace all of it later, so most of the supplies went to the storage unit.

Of course, none of it would fit in a camper (but who cares, you need to keep at least some of your stuff). I also kept a 30-pound box of crystals! Just couldn’t let them go.

plants covering a patio

Have a few plants, right!

More Struggles

The other huge challenge for me was letting go of all our plants. We had many plants in the apartment and out on the balcony. They represented a huge investment in time, energy, and money and it was sad to lose all of them.

We partly solved the issue by taking them to my school. At least, they would be useful there; they would help beautify the place, and I would still ‘have’ them for the next six months. 

jade plants in post around a small Buddha statue

A few Jade Plants

Moving all those plants? Well, that was no easy feat, and Jim did it all by himself. Dragging huge planters filled with soil and large jade plants down the hallways, into the elevator, and into our Camry, oh the poor guy.

Watching that was awful but what else could we do. We filled the car two or three times just with plants and planters. We did it early in the morning so no one would see us!

B&W drawing of a woman in anguish

Downsizing is Depressing!

There were a few times during this six-week process when I got angry. It either surfaced over the money we lost by giving everything away (even though that was our choice) or that we had to part with things I loved. I also got angry at myself for being so upset about letting go of possessions. Just how materialistic was I (was the sentiment). 

We all know that letting go of possessions can feel challenging and be liberating at the same time. For us, much of the process didn’t feel liberating; a few times it just felt awful.

B&W drawing of an unhappy woman sitting on a fence

It took a few months to realize that some of the tears shed during the purging process were not about a particular object but of parting with a home, ties to a city, friends, family, and of course, possessions; you know, grief.

The five stages of grief, right – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. We went through the first four and looked forward to Acceptance.

sunset at the beach

The plus side!

On the Plus Side

Half of our worldly possessions and bills for electricity, gas, water, cable, landline, renter’s insurance, etc. – gone. We enjoyed that immensely! No home to tend to anymore, no superfluous decorations to dust. All those clothes kept for a special occasion which never presented itself – gone! 

We also found our first two house-sitting gigs! After a visit with one homeowner and a phone conversation with another, we were set for three weeks. We would have a roof over our heads even after we moved out of our apartment. That was exhilarating!

When all was said and done, and our apartment was empty, everything we owned fit into the 10 x 10 storage unit, and it wasn’t full! Our Camry was a different story: we barely had room for ourselves. No matter, we had completed the first major phase of loosening the ties that bind!

What’s Next – How does house sitting work? 

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