Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thoughts on Living Small #1


This is what my day has looked like today:

I have spent most of today going through things, deciding what I no longer need, and taking it to my favorite thrift store's donation bins.

We live in a fairly small apartment and while occasionally some friends comment that we should look at larger apartments and "upgrade", I have found myself really resistant to this idea.  As of right now, I feel like we have no real  reason to move into a larger space (although I do sometimes think wistfully about having a larger closet).  We don't have children and don't plan on having any in the near future.  We have a one bedroom, not a studio, so we don't have to be extremely creative with our organization.  Most importantly, we save quite a bit of money by staying in a smaller unit.

I really enjoy living small, and I attribute this to where I grew up, which was in one of the wealthier suburbs of Chicago.  Every year, there was always someone in our neighborhood adding onto their home or tearing down two homes to build a large McMansion on the land.  Our neighbors had some really amazing homes, but the excess of it bothered me a lot as a child and teenager.  There is no reason for a family of four to live in an eight bedroom home and the average American does not need batting cages in their backyard.  Also, I really feel that if you give yourself more space and walls, you are further separating yourself from those in your home.

I have found that my thoughts on this are not uncommon in this era of greater financial responsibility and efficiency, and with that in mind, I've decided to write a regular series on living small.  For today, I'd like to focus on donating and regularly editing your home.  When I first moved into this apartment about two years ago, I brought with me literally everything I had picked up during college.  Moving across that country was a daunting task and I wanted to bring absolutely everything that I could with me as if it was all a giant security blanket.  Not all of this stuff fit into my new apartment and when my husband began to move his things in as well, not to mention our wedding gifts, our excess of things became a serious issue.

I don't tackle problems very well all at once; I do much better when I break tasks down into smaller pieces.  Several months ago, I started taking a weekly trip to the thrift store with donations.  Initially this was hard to do, especially with some clothes that I had had for ages for purely sentimental reasons.  However, over time it has become the most important thing that I do each week for my home.  My overall goal for my home is that it will eventually become a beautifully curated jewel of an apartment.  Going through and editing weekly guarantees that this will happen.  I am constantly having to reevaluate items- do they really serve a purpose?  Do I like them as much as I thought I would?  Do I wear it regularly?  Do I use it regularly?  If no, then it goes to someone who needs or wants it more than I do.  This practice has taught me to value what I need and to be able to part with things much more easily.  They are just things, after all!

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