In 2008, I bought my first house. I had done it, the American Dream. I had a husband, three kids and now a house of my own, and I wasn’t even thirty years old yet. This was what I grew up believing was what success looked like.
What I didn’t know was that the economy was about to dive and that house that was a great deal was going to go upside down and I would owe $80,000 more than it was now worth. I didn’t know that I didn’t really own my house, my bank did. I didn’t know that success was not being in debt over my head, working a job to pay for a place I never really got to be at, cause I had to work to pay for that place. Hmmmm… something was fundamentally wrong with this. I was going to get to the bottom of it.
After struggling through the housing crisis, I started of dreaming about what it would be like to travel the country. To see all the things I wanted to see. To show my kids historical places, to watch the sunrise over the Shenandoah Valley and watch it set over the Santa Monica Pier. I started to dream about a life that was anything but normal. I fought it for a long time. I tried to fit in the box that said I had to stay in my house, send my kids to public school and work 40+ hours a week at a job I hated. I really gave it a go, but in the end, it just wasn’t me. I was unconventional and I was about to embrace it.
I talked my husband into this dream. It took a little bit of time, but I did it. He began to see that our life together could be made up of memories and adventures, instead of mortgages and useless stuff. That is exactly what we had, a 2,800 square-foot house full of stuff I didn’t need.
And so the journey began. We were going to minimize our lives in order to prioritize our time. We were going to get rid of the stuff we had collected when we believed that it made us happy and successful. We were going to strip down our lives to “just what we needed” and see how it was to live like that.
In January of 2015, that is what we did. We sold everything we could, gave away the other stuff and threw out a little too. It was all gone. Years of stuff I had collected somehow thinking that the memory was tied to that stuff.
We bought an older RV, renovated it and set out on what would be the greatest adventure in my life thus far. We saw things we only imagined seeing, we learned history while standing in the very spot in happened, we watched eagles soar in Alaska and the autumn leaves fall in Vermont. What we did was cash in on life, and we learned a valuable lesson in the end.
The greatest lesson I learned what this: The secret to truly finding yourself is to lose everything.
Strip it all away then you can see yourself. The good and bad. You can begin to heal what needs healing. You can create a better you.
You first must remove the years of “stuff” that you’ve built around you. You built these walls to protect you but they are not doing that. Your false sense of security is built on houses, cars, shoes, clothes and more and you have built it so well that you can no longer see yourself.
*Tear it down. Allow yourself to be venerable and honest.
*Happiness isn’t found in stuff. That will never change.
When you are completely happy with very little you are free. Free to explore what this life really means to you.
Now, I know not everyone can just up and leave, but you can start small. Start to examine your life and what clutters it up. Simplify it, get rid of it and start to live with less. It will be the best thing you can do to revitalize your life is to minimize your stuff.
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