The Hoard Wars
Updated: Mar 22, 2020
There comes a time in every woman's life when she has to finally ask herself - "Do I need 24 coffee mugs? And what about this eggy-separatory-thingy?" Unless I'm opening a diner that specializes in coffee and hollandaise sauce, the answer is no. No, no, no, no, and no.
And that was just the beginning.
Our safari into the darkest reaches of our kitchen cabinets turned up mysterious unidentified kitchen utensils that might have been better suited for the Spanish Inquisition. ("That? Oh, that's our antique eyeball scoop. Just put it with the melon ballers.")
So why the sudden attack on the hoard, you ask? I like to blame it on the brilliant inspiration from my husband Steven - my soulmate, partner-in-crime, and other half of this lovely blog.
Our dream has always been to purchase a huge tract of land in the mountains and build our dream home in the middle of it. In fact, we started our 5 year plan to make it happen as soon as we got married, and part of our accumulation of Stuff has been to furnish this someday home. We literally had a bed under our bed and another bed in our closet. Our master bedroom was so crammed with mismatched furniture that my shin has a permanent goose egg on it from night-time navigation. We'd purchased two storage ottomans and were on the brink of buying a new buffet for additional kitchen storage to house all of this Stuff that we thought we couldn't live without.
And then Steven called me at work one day with an idea that changed everything. The gist of his call was this: Why on earth do we need all this crap when what we really care about is the land and living?
And he was absolutely, 100%, positively right. With one phone call 5 years ago, Steven started us on a journey to scale down and go tiny that has presented more challenges and more rewards than we ever could have expected. The first and on-going challenge for such a massive downsizing is changing your mindset toward stuff - not just the stuff you have, but the additional stuff you *might* be tempted to buy. (My fellow Amazon Prime addicts know what I mean)
The Hoard War Begins
So how do we go from a 1400sqft+ house - with dual attic storage, packed out closets, and an exploding garage - to a tiny house?
If you live in our house, you attack it like an engineer: In phases. We decided to downsize in stages, first transitioning from the house into a smaller apartment while we looked for land. But even that was tough given the sheer amount of junk we had popping out of every nook and cranny.
When we consolidated households, we'd both owned houses of comparable size that were filled with our own respective Stuff, and then had to cram all of that Stuff into one of those houses. We did donate a decent amount of Stuff at the time; things that neither of us had any need for and honestly couldn't even remember how they came into our possession. Things like a ceramic figurine of sandals that said 'Dominican Republic' (a place neither of us have been), or a broken pole saw that was beyond repair.
Those were the easy ones.
Then came the items that fell into the "Perfectly Good Useful Stuff" category where we had duplicates. You can imagine... Two toasters, two water filters, two microwaves, two sets of mixing bowls, two oak beds, etc. The discussion around things like that always resolved into a decision that we should keep them "just in case" we needed them someday. We're taught that it's always good to have a back-up. Well, we had back-ups for our back-ups. It always made perfect sense at the time to keep all of it, because you never want to find yourself having to re-purchase an item that you'd foolishly parted with, of course. And if I managed to set my toaster on fire, I'd be awfully glad I still had that other $20 toaster up in our attic, right? Right.
That philosophy continued in our household until we were close to reaching a critical mass of Stuff in every room of the house, from the Catio to the Robot Lab (What? You don't have a Robot Lab in your house?).
But when getting rid of things that we may never use and don't really need suddenly meant getting onto our dream property years sooner, then show me the way to the dumpster! So now that we're in the apartment and are working on building that dream house, it's easy to look back at every tough decision we made and every truck-load we donated and realize that most of those things we don't need now, never did before, and probably never will. And every single box we filled became another blazing symbol of our freedom from this tyranny of Stuff that we'd never recognized before. It's even became a little addicting to throw things out; I find myself even now looking at everything in the house with new eyes.
("Do we really need a sofa? We don't have people over. What about that dining set? We always eat on the sofa. Oh, maybe we do need the sofa.")
It's an incredible feeling, honestly. I've always thought of myself as being practical by holding onto items of value that might one day be useful, even if one day never came. But I'm starting to believe that the road to Hoarder Hell is paved with Practical Ideas (though likely there are stacks in the corners).
So are we where we need to be now in the War on Stuff, after all of this hard work? Well, we're at least getting there. Granted, having a piano, giant library, and space-hogging cats will be some future challenges, but I'm afraid you'll have to pry those out of my cold, undead hands.
Love and lightsabers!