A Giant Step Forward

Last week, my wife and I took a giant step forward in our journey to becoming even more stream-lined.  We went through pretty much every area (excluding the garage) of our three bedroom, one bath, twelve hundred square feet home, including all of our closets, and got rid of everything we felt that we could let go. It created enough space to organize all of our clothes inside the closet that we no longer needed any dressers. It took about two days to throw away, donate all the stuff, including three dressers (2 children's), two book cases (both were children's), an Ikea table ( I had 2 for my office), tons of clothes, and about 10 grocery bags full of toys, books, blankets, towels and other miscellaneous items. This was quite liberating!!!

Last night or I should say this morning, (1:30am) I was up pretty late reading a CNN on-line article entitled, "McMansions are making a comeback" written on June 4, 2013. The article describes the trend in the average Home size in the US and gives Census Bureau's report released few days earlier from the day the article was written. It reads:

"in 2012, the median home in the U.S. hit an all-time record of 2,306 square feet, up 8% from 2009...."

As mentioned, my wife and I have been on a quest to downsize, and to eliminate as much material possession as possible, not out of necessity, but as a choice because we want to live simply.

After reading the article, I did a quick research and found that an average home in the 50s and 60s were about 1100 sq ft, which means the size of average home now has more than doubled since then. But while the houses are getting bigger, most people find that there just isn't enough room to fill all of their "stuff" that they have accumulated. The bigger the house gets, the stuff we accumulate seems to grow right along with it.

My family and I happened to be living in an older home, built in the mid forties and it falls right in line with the average size homes built around that time.

For many years, like most other families in the US, we wanted a bigger home, bigger closets, preferably a walk-in closet, an extra bathroom, a family room, and the list went on but not anymore.

By critically examining our own life, and really making intentional choices about what we choose to buy and what we choose to bring into our home, we are discovering that we don't really need a bigger house but rather we need to learn to better utilize what we already have.

If you compare your home as your body, you can draw some interesting parallels. A healthy body requires healthy diet and activities. A healthy person has to watch carefully what he puts into his body and regularly maintain it by engaging in some healthy activities such as exercise to keep his body in good shape. Conversely, an unhealthy body is the result of unhealthful diet, inactivity, but more to the point, consuming much more than what the body requires or needs.  Consequently, the body no longer functions as efficiently as it should.

Similarly, for many decades, our homes have become obese.  The home owners have been consuming much more than what their homes can handle and the homes are bursting out of its seams from all the stuff it has accumulated.  Rather than purging and getting rid of their stuff, they opt for bigger homes so that they could consume even more stuff. If having bigger homes is not enough people also resort to renting storage units because there's just isn't enough space. Storage units are typically rented as a temporary solutions but most people end up keeping them for months or even years while paying the price.

Is this the kind of path you want to continue to pursue?  Perhaps it's a reflection of something much more profound.  But what we can do is to just take a moment and look around and think about all the things that surround us in our home; the things we have accumulated over the years and ask a simple question I posed in my earlier post, "Do these things honestly add value, meaning and usefulness to our life?" If the answer is no, then "Why do we have them around?" 

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