Downsizing ~ Part 3 Kevin’s Story

I didn’t think clearing out the last of our stuff was going to be easy at all.

The easy stuff was gone already; some of it had been gone for a long time. Now it was time for the nitty-gritty, the stuff that separates the wannabes from the truly free. In the end, I claim a partial victory, and I am glad to be done.

The first hurdle I saw was the attic. The attic had an accumulation from all the other rooms that we didn’t know what to do with when we cleaned them out. It also held all of our old pictures, mementoes and stuff from the past.

Why do we keep all the things we can’t bare to part with in attics, and closets in dusty old boxes? Each box had to be opened, sorted, handled, thought about, remembered, reflected on, and finally dealt with. My baby books. My kids baby books. My Navy uniforms and records. Years and years of stuff, each with its own emotions attached. The key for me was to remember that I hadn’t seen any of this stuff for years, and my goal was to go create new memories.

It was hard, really hard, but we got rid of a lot of stuff in those four days. I think we kept two tubs of pictures, and papers. The idea is that we will scan them all in to the cloud with names, dates, and notations, where they can be accessed easily, and they won’t collect dust. A virtual attic!

If the attic represented the past,
the garage represented the future. My dreams.

If the attic represented the past, the garage represented the future. My dreams.The stuff out there all had purpose in some point in the future. There were old, perfectly good, electric motors, and pumps, and bits and pieces of wood, and metal, and pipes, and fixtures, each with a specific purpose in mind. There were yard and landscaping materials and tools. Sheets and feet and piles of lumber for different projects around the house. There were special tubs for bird feed and sidewalk salt. There was a 14-foot sailboat named “FRISKY” with the mast, boom, and sheets; and forms for a strip built wooden kayak that still lives in my dreams. There were tools; I had given away most of my big power tools, but now there were Shopvacs, shop lights, hydraulic jacks, lawn mowers, weedeaters, compressors, nailguns and boxes of hand tools that had to be reduced to fitting in a couple of soft sided bags.


You might think it crazy to get rid of some of that stuff, but my vision of the future includes handsaws and hammers instead of table saws, and air nailers. I want to simplify, and I have found that often times tools that are meant to speed things up actually slow things down if you consider set up and take down time, and they alter the outcome in any case.

Sept 2008 140 copy Sept 2008 142 copy

Getting rid of the little sailboat worried me the most for several reasons: First of all, buying it was Sherlene’s idea. It was her dream, and it just never quite got off the ground. We bought it, and had fun for one summer, and then it became obvious that it needed some work. That fall, I took it apart, got it partially put back together, and then it sat for several years. It was a hard project to give up on. Secondly, there are only so many people that sail around Council Bluffs Iowa, and none of them were up for a project boat. We really didn’t have time to list it and sell it, (a common problem in our getting-rid-of-stuff plan) and it wasn’t the sort of thing that you took to the recycling center or the Goodwill.

I think God sent the neighbor kid from up the hill to my rescue. He went home and told his dad about this free boat, and he, (I don’t understand the thought process here but that is fine by me), got excited about the idea of fixing it up and learning to sail. Thank you God is all I can think. FRISKY found a good home, and that is all I could ask.

Both of us were glad to get back to work so we could rest. Both of us underestimated the emotional drain of sorting through the past and the old future, and getting ready for the new future. We moved back on the truck the day after we closed on the sale of the house, and it took awhile to remember that we didn’t have a house to worry about anymore. All of our stuff lives in a corner of our sons basement for now.

I call this a partial victory because there are still a few things to get rid of; old pictures for instance, and there were some tools that I couldn’t let go of, not yet. I kept the forms needed to build my wooden kayak because that dream still fits in my future.. I think.

Now that the pain is gone, and everything that necessitated keeping a home to store our stuff in, along with everything it took to maintain that home, and all of the expenses.. are gone, we are beginning to decompress. We loved our home when we needed it, but we are glad it is gone now. In the end, it was just another “thing”, and I have a feeling now that it needed us more than we needed it. I find myself more at ease day to day, more settled somehow. We don’t know the future any better than you do, but whatever it brings we are glad that we dealt with that aspect of our lives now rather than later. More importantly, we are now positioned to take advantage of whatever opportunities might be coming down the road.

We dream a little everyday, and we just got rid of our last big anchor.

6 thoughts on “Downsizing ~ Part 3 Kevin’s Story

  1. I like your idea of storing papers and pictures in the cloud. But before there was a cloud I had collected and displayed many treasures of childhood and the family heirlooms which I gladly solicited from family members who had no interest or time to deal with the mass of remnants of the past.

    I still do not have the courage to dispense with my collection of rattlesnake rattles (Or as my Dad called them Buzzworm buzzers) or his marksmanship medals from WWII. No computer printout can duplicate the smell and texture of my leather chaps (part of the uniform of working with cattle in the scrub up on Jasper Mountain) or the leather lead-shot filled quirt that functioned as the gas peddle for our mounts. No, I’m enlivened by holding these artifacts in my hands and the feelings they evoke– the aura they exude from a long and adventurous life. I’m hoping some kind person will pitch these treasure into my casket before they close the lid.


    1. I know what you mean Ken. There were somethings we just couldn’t part with. Luckily we didn’t have a lot of those kinds of things that evoke nostalgia. We just have to go make more memories!


  2. Wow, I don’t know how you guys did it! It would be so tough to get rid of some of those things. When I got rid of all my stuff back in 1978, it was easy cause I didn’t really own much! Nowadays, it would be a different story. It will be fun watching you two continue to achieve your dreams!


    1. It was hard. We weren’t the most organized individuals so now that we have just a few things to keep track of feels good! 🙂


  3. all that is required is to take photographs of what you value and then you still have the memory without the burden. There is no other person who will care about what you have and it just becomes a burden for other folk to dispose of


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