Right Sizing, or What I've Learned About Getting Rid of Everything

I'm getting rid of everything. Well, actually, I'm getting rid of 2015 things. Get it? 2015 in 2015. Thanks Nourishing Minimalism, for the idea and the chart. Gosh, I really love charts.

So far, I have gotten rid of a little over 400 things. I'll often ask Jim to come audit a pile, just to keep me honest. It has been a combination of donations, consignment shops, and just outright trash. We've tried really hard to be mindful about how we donate. We've been taking business or interview clothes to the LGBTQ center in WeHo, books to our local library, and when we have something that might be immediately useful to someone, like an old rain coat or a pair of shoes, we've been placing them strategically on SMB.


This is super new-agey and not at all like me, but I try to hold each thing in my hands and ask myself if it brings me joy. The answer is almost always no. An object bringing you joy is a pretty high bar to clear.

The big changes are easiest to see. The limited toy selection has changed the way the kids play. Instead of the "dumping game" where the bins and toy chests are emptied with wild abandon and no one object is actually cherished, or frankly, even enjoyed, O and P are engaging in elaborate imaginative play with the limited selection of toys available to them, and when I ask them to help me clean up, they are more likely to assist, my best guess being that the mess isn't so overwhelming. 

The dishes don't seem to pile up the way that they had been. I think it is because once we cleared out the flatware drawer, we run out of forks much faster. 

The house feels bigger and more put together, not just because we've gotten rid of things, but also because we have focused on acquiring the right things. For every 100 things I de-own, I have acquired one new thing: a cool map for the huge blank wall over the sofa, a large pot for the maiden hair fern that reminds me of my grandma, and a ladder style bookcase that actually fits the space it occupies. 

We have a long way to go, but so far the results have been tremendous. I'm sure the last 400 items will be harder than the first 400, but I feel pretty confident that we will know when we are done. I don't know how to explain how much lighter I feel, how there is not only more room in my house, but also more room in my mind. 

The Tale of the Small House

I often have this dream, where we live exactly where we live, but suddenly, after years of living here, I find a door or an archway or an opening into a new space. Sometimes it is an extra room and sometimes it is a garden. At first, it is a relief. I start to imagine what this new space will mean for us. Inevitably, I find the extra room is attached to a busy bank lobby separated only by curtains, or the garden is overrun with terrible, wild beasts. Even in my dreams, more space isn't really the answer. 

Love grows in a small house.

Love grows in a small house.

We live in a small house. We live in a small house in a large city with big housing problem. I can't tell you our square-footage, because I don't know it, but it is small. It's not Tiny House small, but you get the idea. 

The forest

The forest

We have two small bedrooms and one impossibly small bathroom, and yet, somehow, all five beating hearts manage to squeeze their way into it, en masse, at least once a day. Ah, the joys of family togetherness. 

O cookin' on the the O'Keefe 

O cookin' on the the O'Keefe 

There are advantages. I love my antique O'Keefe & Merritt stove more that I hate not having a dishwasher. While I hate our impossible closet situation, I love that my kitchen door opens up to some outside space with trees and room to play. They call it "the forest" and while our more rural friends would be right to laugh at them, it warms my heart, when on a cloudy afternoon, they insist on flashlights before entering its leafy depths. I love the vintage details and the craftsmanship of old construction and the way the hardwood floors creak in only predictable places. I love having a parking spot right outside my kitchen door and having a garage in which I can hide Christmas decorations, old paperbacks and my shame. I love it here: the neighborhood, my neighbors, Jim's 2.5 mile commute. Living here means he is home before 6:00pm almost every night. I especially love that. 

Living within earshot of my children has shaped the way I parent. We never had a baby monitor. There was no need. We are on top of each other almost all the time. We chuckle when O says she is afraid to be alone at night, with only one wall to separate us at all times. 

It takes organization. It takes discipline. It takes patience and compassion, and maybe I'm just rationalizing, but I really believe that love grows in a small house, or at least, ours has. 


O: I just want to sleep in my own bed, or in your own bed.  

For a variety of reasons, we haven't been home for about five days, and even though the places we were are all places we like to be, as I pulled into the driveway, last night after rehearsal, a huge feeling of relief and peace rushed over me.  The people that I love are all safe under one roof.  After the earthquakes, urgent care trips, and the late nights of the past five days, I can't ask for anything more.  

Home is wherever these two tow heads are, but it sure is nice to sleep on my pillow again. 

Home is wherever these two tow heads are, but it sure is nice to sleep on my pillow again.