A week or so ago I moved from Vancouver back home to Ontario…again. It was a personal decision to make the jump back to the east, not forced in any way. It was just something I wanted to do.
For those of you who know me well, you know how much I love Vancouver and the west. That hasn’t changed. This was an emotional move for me, but in a good way - something that’s hard to describe to people, because usually the mention of things being “emotional” brings about concern. While my stay in Vancouver was coming full circle, I was feeling an inexplicably strong pull to be back in the east to be closer to my family and friends, so I followed it. (You’ll hear more about this side of the story another time).
Once I made the decision that was it, I was moving…fast! That meant it was time to cleanse and purge my things. I love doing this. Over the last few years, especially since my move to Vancouver two years ago, I’ve had no use for things. Stuff, like extra clothes, decor items, furniture and products (beauty or otherwise) have no permanence in my life anymore. There are only so many things I care to travel with, that mean that much to me, and that I actually need on a daily basis.
Today, almost two weeks after leaving, I received my twenty boxes from Vancouver. Twenty boxes sounds like a lot, but more than half were only the size of wine boxes. On top of that, with the exception of my bicycle box, the sum total area these boxes take up is barely the size of a queen mattress. Still, it feels like too much. I’m always trying to loosen my load, especially since I never know where I’ll end up or how long I’ll be there for. Living light(er) is something I’ve gotten fairly good at and there are only so many things I take with me from place to place. This time was no different.
Let’s take a look at what I took with me this time and some insight to how I made my decisions:
Aside from a dozen or so articles, I packed all my clothes into one large and another medium suitcase and took them on the plane with me. Of course, they weren’t solely full of clothes. I also had to pack up some toiletries and things I’d want to use before my boxes arrived, like my favourite teas.
After unloading and putting away all my clothes, they barely fill a narrow 5-drawer dresser, a four foot rack on hangers, three small shelves, and two Rubbermaid containers of off-season attire. Honestly, though, I could (and should) retire another third of my clothes and I probably will when I settle in somewhere.
How I minimize my clothing:
I avoid having duplicates of things
I limit my wardrobe to the essentials
Most importantly, I toss articles that don’t fit, have stains or rips, or that I haven’t worn through one turn of a season they’re meant for
Having gone to nutrition school and now that I’m in practice as a holistic nutritionist, I have a lot of books that I either read for fun, read in school, or use for reference. I can’t say I’ve read them all, but I’ve resisted getting rid of them because they’re relevant at this time in my life.
Though I have trouble limiting my non-fiction gems, I have some rules I follow that prevent me from accumulating too many books or spending too much money on them:
I don’t buy fiction books. I borrow them from the library or from friends and family instead.
I keep a list of books I’d like to have in my collection, primarily for use in practice. I don’t buy these books new. Instead, I wait until I find them in used book stores and if a book isn’t on my list I don’t buy it.
I always grab a book I haven’t read yet off the shelf when heading out for the day. This prevents me from forgetting about books I’ve already bought, but haven’t read yet, which inevitably stops me from heading to the book store in the first place.
My apartment in Vancouver had a really small kitchen, so I didn’t accumulate anything I didn’t need during my time there. I curated my kitchen tools and gadgets based on how I cook and what I use most often, a lot of which I’ve acquired over the past decade. That being said, I still gave away my dishes, a lot of jars, most staple food items, and anything not worth shipping. Honestly, though, I could have left more items.
Because my move was quick, I spent little time humming and hawing over what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to donate or sell. It came down to saving the things I knew I would use. Even if it cost a little bit to ship them, it was still less than the cost of buying them new.
What I saved:
Vitamix & Hurom juicer, duh
pots & pans, baking dishes, and trays (only one of each size or function)
Mason jars, mixing bowls, measuring cups, tea pot and kettle
cooking utensils, cutlery (only 4 of each), and spices
Unfortunately, I had no luck selling my bicycle before leaving, so I took it with me. Although, I’m not complaining. This bike has been with me since I first lived in Vancouver 8 years ago and it’s served me well.
I kept my towels, a bath mat, and my small collection of personal health products. When I say small I mean small. I barely use make up and body care products, but I did save some oils and base ingredients for facial care products I make myself.
Aside from all of the above, I kept only a few other things:
essential oils & diffuser, of course
a couple of family keepsakes
My days of accumulating things just because I might need something some day are over. I’m not fancy, I want for barely anything. I wasn’t always this way, but over time I’ve come to realize what’s important to me and it’s not material things. Material things make me feel overwhelmed, since I know I don’t have much use for them right now. I’m more interested in focusing on myself, the people in my life, my career, and my connection to the world around me, including all the beauty it beholds. Those are the things that make me feel whole.
Although I can sit here and tell you how I like to live, the last thing I want to do is tell you to do the same because in order to live this way you have to be ready. I went through a major shift in my beliefs that allowed me to live minimally and if you ever find yourself in such a mindset I hope you find this post useful.