Less Space, More Joy

By Barbara Ziegler,

Life is not simple. It is complicated. We grow into adulthood, build families and careers, become involved with friends and causes. We have problems to solve, schedules to keep, people to see, things that must be done. And along the way, we accumulate STUFF: theater programs and concert ticket stubs, treasures made by our children, old report cards, knick-knacks, books we will never read. Without noticing, we fill our closets with clothes we will never wear again, our garages with tools we will never use again, and our drawers and cupboard with gizmos and gadgets that we will never use.

Then, suddenly it seems, life gets simple. Children grow up and settle into lives of their own. We retire from our life’s work. Suddenly there is room on our calendars for the things we love to do: travel, lunch with friends, visit the grandkids and pursue a new hobby. It is a new kind of freedom!

This is the stage I was in when I decided It was time to move out of my big house. Living alone, all my time and energy was going to cleaning and maintaining space that is rarely used anymore. So I began looking at options. I found a community I really liked and began studying floorplans. I gravitated toward a lovely two-bedroom unit. Decision made! I began planning my new life!

It was then that I realized that I still wouldn’t really be free. I was still stuck in the mindset that I needed a lot of space. Why? Because I had a lot of STUFF. Did I really need to be cleaning an extra bedroom and bathroom that would be rarely used? This community will have hotel-like guest rooms where my out-of-town visitors could stay – and they would probably be more comfortable in their own private space. There are also amenities like a sports court, craft room, multi-media studio and a beautiful dining room serving three meals a day. There will be a lovely outdoor courtyard for barbeques, dining, or just soaking up the sun. And two other gathering spaces – one for quiet activities like puzzles, board games, conversation and another for more active pursuits like foosball, air hockey and shuffleboard. Why on earth did I need TWO bedrooms?

Oh, right. I didn’t need them – my STUFF did. Time for the hard questions, like “Where will this stuff go when I am gone?” The answer of course is it will be given to family members, or a thrift store, or the landfill. Or the really hard question”: “When was the last time I touched, used, wore or otherwise enjoyed this stuff?”

The questions were hard, but the answers were easy. Give the stuff to friends and family members to enjoy now, and what they don’t want – give to a thrift store for someone else to enjoy.

I spent a lot of time deciding which STUFF actually delighted me – and I was amazed to find that very little of the STUFF that I had been cleaning around, dusting, moving, arranging, and storing fit that category.

The result? I will be moving into a one-bedroom home that holds everything I need in a clean, clutter-free environment whose beauty delights me daily. Oh, and it will save me money, too! Now THAT is real freedom!

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