There are many things which will move us in one direction or another. For me purging my home of almost all my belongings and seeking to find the smallest home possible, even going so far as to reconsider if I needed a stove (as there would be no way to add one in this particular apartment) came about one night after reading a book I happened to come across.
I knew I was unhappy with my life at the time so when I stumbled upon a book titled Get Satisfied: how twenty people like you found the satisfaction of enough I had to check it out. The book pointed me in a direction I hadn’t considered before.
Not all the stories were about downsizing but it was those in particular that made the biggest impact on me. As I opened the book the first thing I found was a quote from Bob Marley which said: “Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re livin?”
The story that resonated the most for me was entitled A key to Enough by Ruth Pittard. Here was a woman who had risen through the ranks to one of the most prestigious jobs in her field, but she was unhappy. She resigned from her position, sold her home, got rid of most of her belongings, and took time living at friends’ homes while she figured out what she wanted to do. She got rid of all but a couple of sentimental items and moved into a small furnished rental home.
While Ruth’s reason for letting go of everything was different from mine, her happiness I could feel coming through in her words inspiring me to question assumptions I now held.
- Did I really need a home that had guest space for the couple of times a year guests stayed overnight?
- Would my children ever really need to move back home now that they were married? And is it my responsibility to keep up a home that provided space for them should they want to return home?
- What will people think when I tell them I am moving to something small enough to be a dorm room?
While the last one was quickly dismissed the questions about family stayed with me for a while. So too did the family heirlooms I felt “stuck” with.
Ruth’s son gave her a very valuable piece of advice. He said:” Mom, there are two ways to be rich. One is to make a lot of money and the other is to modify your needs.” I reread this several times and began to add up the numbers. Shortly after that comment I came face to face with one of Thoreau’s well-known quotes “I make myself rich by making my wants few”.
If I didn’t have guest space how much would I save, maybe I could pay to rent a room for my guests when they were visiting from the money I saved… yes, I could.
As for my children, I finally decided that I had raised them the best I could and now that they were married and one already had two children they really shouldn’t be needing to move back home. In a way I was removing the easy out for them should they run into problems. They are always welcome to sleep on my couch for a few days, but I want them to learn to make it on their own too.
These following words from Ruth’s story resonated so much within me I knew I found what had been missing.
300 square feet feel comfortable and spacious, and they will hold whatever I need and want. In addition, I need a closet, access to water, some electricity, light, good textures and colors, a space to sit and lie down, cleanliness, and order.
Ruth then goes on to say:
I love my ones-of-things: the single beautiful picture; the one antique vase from my grandmother, holding flowers from the roadside; the favorite blue lamp with gold tassels; the table that holds food, then computer, then folded laundry. Everything has a use, then another one. Everything serves a purpose. Everything suits me.
I realized I wanted exactly what Ruth had. I want just what suited me. I wanted pieces that were multifunctional, I wanted freedom from house cleaning and bills. I wanted a life surrounded by only things I loved and nothing more. It just so happened that what I found was exactly 300 square feet, something I didn’t realize until months later when I had my son help me measure the apartment.
Because books have been such a huge part of my life, I have added a new page you can find at the top of the screen. I’ve titled it Meaningful Books. These are the books I have read and my impressions about each. I hope by having this resource it may be of help if you are seeking a new direction or want to learn more about living simply and green. This page isn’t completed and will be updated as time goes on.