If you want to be a published author, for example, spend a few minutes each day picturing your books already on the shelves and, most importantly, feel how it’ll feel when you achieve that goal. Yes, also put some pen to paper today (“do what you can with what you have”), but don’t spin your wheels wondering about how to get a publisher or whether your idea has already been “done before.”
If you want a romantic partner, don’t get hung up on a specific person, just picture the kinds of things you’ll do with your dream mate and how you’ll feel when you’re together. Yes, you can add specific details like what you’re wearing -and please do!- but if you decide it’s got to be Gary from accounting, you might wind up butting heads with the universe, who’s working overtime to get you stuck in an elevator with Pete from payroll, the perfect guy for you.
When I picture where I want to be in a year, I see an active, fit, social butterfly who’s swimming in creative projects and opportunities, brave enough to say “YES!” when it counts – and “NO!” too.
While I’m trying not to get hung up on too many hows, I know it’s important to work with what I’ve got at my disposal today. For starters, I signed up for a half marathon in May, despite it having been two years since my last run. I even recruited two of the most inspiring “accountability partners” I could dream up, spanning New Jersey to Oregon, to help me get in gear:
To show them how compliant I am, I joined a gym…
…made Google docs outlining every aspect of my ideal life, started logging daily exercise, water and caloric intake…
Third floor walk-up? No yard? No parking? No laundry? No oven?? What was I thinking???
From my summer-long search I learned that studio apartments in this area, close to a major train line bringing well-dressed commuters into New York City, were in high demand. When I stumbled upon this one after two months of scouring the internet, I knew I had to pounce.
Within an hour of seeing the ad on Craigslist, I met with the landlord, beating out over thirty other interested callers in that first day. (It may have helped that I came equipped with my credit report, five references, my three most recent pay stubs, my dog’s vet records, an irresistible photo of said dog, and my current Masters degree transcript. This project manager don’t play.)
When the landlord confessed she was a dog lover, Uncle Jesse and I had no choice but to sign the deposit check right then and there.
Make no mistake about it, this decision wasn’t easy. The down-sizing itself was a down-right pain in the chipmunk tail. I got it in my head that the best way to sell my stuff was to turn my entire apartment into an Amazon warehouse and hold an “estate” sale.
I also thought it made sense to spend hours of time, and $14.00 on glass knobs I just had to have, to makeover old furniture that I’d inherited for free before trying to sell it on Craigslist.
We won’t even talk about the box spring that somehow got into my old apartment, but met an untimely demise trying to come out of the very same apartment.
And it was no small (heh) feat to turn 350 square feet of this:
So by now you must be thinking:
Was it worth it?”
Let’s find out, shall we?
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1. I Don’t Miss Any of the Stuff I Got Rid Of
To be fair, there’s still a mountain molehill of boxes and pieces of my dining room table in my parents’ basement, but those 87,000 picture frames? GOOD RIDDANCE.
2. Now I Wish I Had Even Less Stuff
Do I really need two giant Tupperware containers of gift wrapping supplies? I don’t even give gifts. I just show up and take things from people.
Sometimes…there are no words.
My, the pink against the white is a whole new level of class, Winston.
Like the good old days when I took all of your photos of your pets wearing slap bracelets.
3. I Feel (Almost) As Free as a Bird Flying Chipmunk
Whenever I move again, I’m excited to see how fast I can pack up. Could I ever live out of a duffle bag?
4. Climbing Two Flights Only Sucks if You’re Carrying a Case of Wine #worthit
I wound up finding an old laptop backpack as I went through all of my crap before moving, and have devised a nearly hands-free strategy for getting my work supplies, coffee, water bottle, lunch and dog down the stairs and around the corner holding only a leash. I can park in a reserved spot right by my door on nights and weekends, so I plan my grocery trips around that.
Not paying for that parking spot during the day? = $1,200/year extra to spend on wine. (I’m not making this up. Twelve. Hundred. Dollars!)
5. It’s Totally Cool to Wear Those Pants Twice in a Row
I fear this strategy has only worked well because it’s been winter.
6. You Can Cook an Entire (Vegan) Thanksgiving Dinner with Two Electric Burners, an InstaPot and a Toaster Oven
I live on a busy street now, near the center of town, and I can’t believe how often people lay on their horns with the determination of a gaggle of hipsters waiting in line for boozy brunch. I have to shut the windows if I want to ensure I hear every word of John Mulaney’s new Netflix special (OMG WATCH IT).
On the flip side, it means the train, great restaurants, coffee, and Trader Joe’s are all just a few steps away.
8. Living Next Door to a Catholic Church Will Not Make You More Godly
Speaking of unexpected noises, my nearby nuns are still messing with me at all hours, despite the anonymous letter I may or may not have sent a month ago.
9. “Need” and “Want” Are Two Very Different Things
When you don’t have any space to put anything, you’ve gotta decide pretty quickly if it’s a “need” or a “want.” For example, I need to bathe once a month, but I probably just want those pug slippers.
10. If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything…Like Cut My Own Hair
I recently found out that watching six minutes of a YouTube instructional video and then cutting your hair in a mirror using scissors meant for a righty that you found in the back of your dresser was more bold than wise. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from my ‘stache, it’s that hair grows back. Often more quickly than you’d like.
11. If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything…No, Really
Much like those who are bringing water to impoverished communities and winning Olympic gold medals, I too have learned that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it. Hang on. That came out wrong. I know this move wasn’t a missionary trip or a heroic act of strength, but taking this leap into the unknown has really galvanized my belief that most of our limitations are set only by our thoughts. So what if you don’t know what path will appear when you take that first next step? You’ve just got to have faith that the universe has your back.
Huh. Maybe that church is rubbing off.
What lifestyle changes have you made that surprised you (for better or worse)?
You’re envisioning your new dream home. Images begin to spring to mind…
A small, cozy nook, under a flight of stairs, with plenty of space for your wand and pet owl.
No? Okay. How about this: a tiny house with a loft bed and ceiling hooks for your fixed-gear bicycle and kombucha tea jars.
All right. Perhaps this: a 300-square foot, 3rd floor walk-up with no oven, coin laundry, and street parking.
Really? Not even if I told you you’d get to add an extra 10 minutes to your commute?
God, you’re difficult.
Starting November 1st, I’ll call the latter home.
“A third floor walk-up? Are you that desperate to win the company Fitbit challenge?” you might be asking. Excellent guess. The truth is, about a year and a half ago, I started making some pretty big changes in the name of Mother Earth.
Obviously I have become an environmental hero and goddess to Portlandia fans everywhere.
The Next Big Thing in my journey towards braided armpit hair is downsizing. Right now I live in a 1,200 square foot, 2-bedroom duplex, complete with a yard, sunroom, and plush carpeting thick enough to hide Trump’s tax returns.
When I moved to my current apartment from a 4-bedroom house, it offered plenty of space for my furniture and featured all of my must-haves.
As time passed, I realized I needed less room to feel content. I also needed less stuff.
Speaking of, the real reason I’m posting is because I’m trying to get rid of this. Any takers?
Do you have any moving / downsizing advice?
P.S. – Don’t even think about it. I’m keeping that Aladdin VHS tape.