Thursday, July 23, 2015

Life can be a lot easier with less stuff.
(Photo: James Theophane/Flickr)
By Louise HungTwo things went through my
head when my Japan move became a reality.
1.
I hope I’ll still be able to watch Netflix (I can)2.
What the $%&! am I going to do with all my stuff?!I don’t like the
term "pack rat," I prefer the term "sentimental keeper of mementos.
" That’s a term right?Before moving to Japan, I saved everything.
I was an expert at jamming my precious possessions into every little nook and
cranny an apartment could offer.
No space was unexploited, no suitcase ever stood empty.
When you save everything, you get really good at shoving things into other
things.
But with my Japan move looming, I realized that most of my stuff was going to
have to go.
Not only did the thought of moving boxes and boxes of STUFF to Japan make me
want to barf, but even if I got the STUFF there vomit-free, where would I put
it all?The apartment I’d be moving into (which my husband had already
been living in for a few months) while large by average Japan standards was,
and is, smaller than most studio apartments.
Related:  6 American Habits I Lost When I Moved to Ghana Yokohama,
where the views are large but the rooms are small.
(Photo: Fougerouse Arnaud/Flickr) Yes, our Japan apartment in Yokohama
has a living room.
But that living room is also the kitchen, dining room, pantry, office,
bedroom, and closet.
The bathroom, with its shared bathtub-sink arrangement makes me envy the
spaciousness of airplane bathrooms.
We were lucky enough to get an apartment that can accommodate a western-style
bed (few have them), but the bed comes at the cost of it being THE central
"decorative" element in our home.
Storage space? There are drawers under the bed, room in the tiny closet we
share with our clothes, and a small loft over the kitchen sink.
I’m not going to lie, excising so much stuff from my life hurt.
It was like surgery, selectively cutting away things that I’d grown
attached to like a third nipple or a parasitic twin.
But do I regret tossing the excess stuff? Not at all.
I now love the fact that I could easily pack up my life in a day or two
— my belongings fitting into two suitcases and five small cardboard
boxes.
My relationship with possessions has completely changed.
So if you’re moving to a foreign country with tiny apartments,
downsizing your life, or just need to purge your life of clutter, here are a
few simple ways to get rid of a lot of your stuff, and not regret it.
1.
Irreplaceable vs.
I might need this when I’m the Queen of MarsA few years ago when I
worked in a fancy office in Los Angeles with celebrities breezing through our
doors, I developed an obsession with shoes.
Cheap shoes, expensive shoes, "one-of-a-kind artisan-made" shoes, ugly shoes,
cute shoes, painful shoes, REALLY cheap shoes — you name ’em, I
bought ’em.
And while for a few years I kept buying shoes, I never tossed any of them.
Somehow I’d gotten the romantic notion into my head that "I’d
walked in all of these shoes, so each pair told a story, had a memory" bla bla
bla.
We can all roll our eyes together on that one.
Related:  #RealTravel: I Moved To Singapore and Transformed My Life
I’ve never admitted this before, but I moved ALL of my dozens of shoes
from Los Angeles to Honolulu.
I know.

When it came time to pack my shoes for Japan I just stared in horror at the
mountain of leather, pleather, canvas, and rubber dumped into the middle of my
bedroom floor.
So I decided to start digging through my collection with the mindset that I
would only keep what was irreplaceable, special, truly necessary for my life.
I was shocked that after an hour or less, I’d whittled my collection
down to five pairs.
Five pairs out of more than two dozen.
The shoes I chose were ones that either a) I wore almost daily or, b) really
held some sentimental value and could not be replaced in Japan or anywhere.
For example, the shoes I wore at my wedding that I actually still wear all
the time, made the cut.
Photo: Thinsktock
But what I realized in that harrowing process was that
there is a distinct difference between an irreplaceable keepsake, a tangible
reminder of life events, and something that you want, but can easily be
replaced ANYWHERE with a tiny bit of effort.
I realized that I was keeping a lot of those ridiculous shoes because I might
need them one day…maybe…possibly.
As an obsessive "over-preparer" (when I go on vacation half of my suitcase is
underpants), I was preparing for a hypothetical future that would probably
never happen.
I was saving my future-self, the future-hassle.
I was being future-lazy.
So keeping in mind the difference between "irreplaceable" and "maybe
I’ll need this one day when I’m the Queen of Mars" (so NEVER), I
proceeded to go through all my stuff from shoes to knick knacks.
The Goodwill in my Honolulu neighborhood received a HUGE donation of shoes and
"Possessions Louise Divorced Herself From" that evening.
2.
You’re not going to fix the Chicken LampOh, the Chicken Lamp.
The base was a misshapen rooster-dinosaur-looking-thing, and the shade was red
(faded to brown) with little rooster-dinosaur-looking-things strutting around
it.
It was an ugly lamp, and I loved it.
When I moved into my very first apartment in St.
Louis, my dad bought it for me as a housewarming gift.
It really did have sentimental value, so it moved from St.
Louis, to all my Los Angeles apartments, to Honolulu.
As you can guess, with all that moving the Chicken Lamp took a beating.
The misshapen rooster-dinosaur-looking-thing became more misshapen over the
years.
Remember Jeff Goldblum in The Fly?But from the get-go, I knew the Chicken
Lamp couldn’t come to Japan.
He’d have to go to that great, big barnyard in the sky.
As much as I loved the irreplaceable Chicken Lamp, I couldn’t
rationalize bringing a lamp — a broken lamp — to Japan.
Even though the Chicken Lamp made it into the "irreplaceable" category, I knew
I wasn’t going to fix him.
I’d eventually end up lugging a rooster-dinosaur-looking-thing
paperweight around the world.
Related:  I Left Behind My Entire Life to Move to Argentina The Chicken
Lamp was the first of many old friends to fall.
As much as I’d like to think I’m going to roll up my sleeves
and fix all those broken picture frames, decorative boxes, crumbling side
tables, and ceramic figurines, I’m not.
If an item has been gathering dust for months or years waiting for you to stop
watching reruns of Murder, She Wrote and fix it, it’s probably not
going to get fixed.
As hard as it is to admit it, it’s JUNK, and needs to be treated as
such.
It’s absurd to take up precious space with JUNK.
Upon examining the recesses of my storage spaces, I was amazed to discover
that most of my larger possessions were in fact, JUNK.
So with a heavy heart (and a heavy garbage bag) I threw away the Chicken Lamp
and friends.
He may be gone, but his memory lives on.
3.
Two simple questions: Why do I have this? When did I last use this? I put the
Two Simple Questions in the same category because the answer to both questions
is often the same: I don’t know.
In the thick of my packing, I opened up a decaying cardboard box that my cat
had been using as a scratching post.
In it, I found a squashed, straw hat stamped with the word "BANANAS!" It was
so strange, and I got such a laugh from the discovery, that I actually
considered keeping it.
FOR MEMORIES.
But the cardinal rule of de-cluttering, downsizing, or just THROWING S**T OUT
is: If you don’t remember it, you don’t need it.
I didn’t even have to ask myself the questions I’d been asking
myself all day, "Why do I have this? When did I last use this?" I knew the
answer was a resounding, I DON’T KNOW.
Egads I hope I never wore that hat.
When going through my stuff, these last two questions always seemed to seal
the deal.
If I could convince myself something was irreplaceable, and that it
didn’t need fixing, the Two Simple Questions usually put the nail in
the coffin.
We gather stuff in life, and there’s a pleasure to that, but once that
pleasure has run its course, best to let things die a dignified death.
I pulled the plug on the "BANANAS!" hat.
Looking around my apartment now, I can honestly say that nothing feels
accidental, nothing is just "taking up space.
"Anything I chose to bring into my home has a purpose, be it practical or
sentimental.
In the handful of mementos I brought with me, I know exactly why they are
dear to me.
For the first time in my life I think I really understand "sentimental
value".
It’s a truth that seems counterintuitive, but in throwing out (almost)
all of your stuff, you gain so much more than you had before.
More from Matador Network: The 5 Hardest Things About Living in a Van

This
is Kyrygzstan at Ground Level

9 Things That Only Happen When You Travel
Solo

WATCH: Taste-Testing Greenland’s Finest Microbrew Beers Let
World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
 Check out our original adventure travel series "A Broad Abroad.
" Before moving to Japan, I saved everything.
Excising so much stuff from my life hurt, but I don't regret it.
.
So if you’re moving to a foreign country with tiny apartments,
downsizing your life, or just need to purge your life of clutter, here are a
few simple ways to get rid of a lot of your stuff, and not regret it.
1.
Irreplaceable vs.
I might need this when I’m the Queen of MarsA few years ago when I
worked in a fancy office in Los Angeles with celebrities breezing through our
doors, I developed an obsession with shoes.
Cheap shoes, expensive shoes, "one-of-a-kind artisan-made" shoes, ugly shoes,
cute shoes, painful shoes, REALLY cheap shoes — you name ’em, I
bought ’em.
And while for a few years I kept buying shoes, I never tossed any of them.
Somehow I’d gotten the romantic notion into my head that "I’d
walked in all of these shoes, so each pair told a story, had a memory" bla bla
bla.
We can all roll our eyes together on that one.
Related:  #RealTravel: I Moved To Singapore and Transformed My Life
I’ve never admitted this before, but I moved ALL of my dozens of shoes
from Los Angeles to Honolulu.
I know.

When it came time to pack my shoes for Japan I just stared in horror at the
mountain of leather, pleather, canvas, and rubber dumped into the middle of my
bedroom floor.
So I decided to start digging through my collection with the mindset that I
would only keep what was irreplaceable, special, truly necessary for my life.
I was shocked that after an hour or less, I’d whittled my collection
down to five pairs.
Five pairs out of more than two dozen.
The shoes I chose were ones that either a) I wore almost daily or, b) really
held some sentimental value and could not be replaced in Japan or anywhere.
For example, the shoes I wore at my wedding that I actually still wear all
the time, made the cut.
Photo: Thinsktock
But what I realized in that harrowing process was that
there is a distinct difference between an irreplaceable keepsake, a tangible
reminder of life events, and something that you want, but can easily be
replaced ANYWHERE with a tiny bit of effort.
I realized that I was keeping a lot of those ridiculous shoes because I might
need them one day…maybe…possibly.
As an obsessive "over-preparer" (when I go on vacation half of my suitcase is
underpants), I was preparing for a hypothetical future that would probably
never happen.
I was saving my future-self, the future-hassle.
I was being future-lazy.
So keeping in mind the difference between "irreplaceable" and "maybe
I’ll need this one day when I’m the Queen of Mars" (so NEVER), I
proceeded to go through all my stuff from shoes to knick knacks.
The Goodwill in my Honolulu neighborhood received a HUGE donation of shoes and
"Possessions Louise Divorced Herself From" that evening.
2.
You’re not going to fix the Chicken LampOh, the Chicken Lamp.
The base was a misshapen rooster-dinosaur-looking-thing, and the shade was red
(faded to brown) with little rooster-dinosaur-looking-things strutting around
it.
It was an ugly lamp, and I loved it.
When I moved into my very first apartment in St.
Louis, my dad bought it for me as a housewarming gift.
It really did have sentimental value, so it moved from St.
Louis, to all my Los Angeles apartments, to Honolulu.
As you can guess, with all that moving the Chicken Lamp took a beating.
The misshapen rooster-dinosaur-looking-thing became more misshapen over the
years.
Remember Jeff Goldblum in The Fly?But from the get-go, I knew the Chicken
Lamp couldn’t come to Japan.
He’d have to go to that great, big barnyard in the sky.
As much as I loved the irreplaceable Chicken Lamp, I couldn’t
rationalize bringing a lamp — a broken lamp — to Japan.
Even though the Chicken Lamp made it into the "irreplaceable" category, I knew
I wasn’t going to fix him.
I’d eventually end up lugging a rooster-dinosaur-looking-thing
paperweight around the world.
Related:  I Left Behind My Entire Life to Move to Argentina The Chicken
Lamp was the first of many old friends to fall.
As much as I’d like to think I’m going to roll up my sleeves
and fix all those broken picture frames, decorative boxes, crumbling side
tables, and ceramic figurines, I’m not.
If an item has been gathering dust for months or years waiting for you to stop
watching reruns of Murder, She Wrote and fix it, it’s probably not
going to get fixed.
As hard as it is to admit it, it’s JUNK, and needs to be treated as
such.
It’s absurd to take up precious space with JUNK.
Upon examining the recesses of my storage spaces, I was amazed to discover
that most of my larger possessions were in fact, JUNK.
So with a heavy heart (and a heavy garbage bag) I threw away the Chicken Lamp
and friends.
He may be gone, but his memory lives on.
3.
Two simple questions: Why do I have this? When did I last use this? I put the
Two Simple Questions in the same category because the answer to both questions
is often the same: I don’t know.
In the thick of my packing, I opened up a decaying cardboard box that my cat
had been using as a scratching post.
In it, I found a squashed, straw hat stamped with the word "BANANAS!" It was
so strange, and I got such a laugh from the discovery, that I actually
considered keeping it.
FOR MEMORIES.
But the cardinal rule of de-cluttering, downsizing, or just THROWING S**T OUT
is: If you don’t remember it, you don’t need it.
I didn’t even have to ask myself the questions I’d been asking
myself all day, "Why do I have this? When did I last use this?" I knew the
answer was a resounding, I DON’T KNOW.
Egads I hope I never wore that hat.
When going through my stuff, these last two questions always seemed to seal
the deal.
If I could convince myself something was irreplaceable, and that it
didn’t need fixing, the Two Simple Questions usually put the nail in
the coffin.
We gather stuff in life, and there’s a pleasure to that, but once that
pleasure has run its course, best to let things die a dignified death.
I pulled the plug on the "BANANAS!" hat.
Looking around my apartment now, I can honestly say that nothing feels
accidental, nothing is just "taking up space.
"Anything I chose to bring into my home has a purpose, be it practical or
sentimental.
In the handful of mementos I brought with me, I know exactly why they are
dear to me.
For the first time in my life I think I really understand "sentimental
value".
It’s a truth that seems counterintuitive, but in throwing out (almost)
all of your stuff, you gain so much more than you had before.
More from Matador Network: The 5 Hardest Things About Living in a Van

This
is Kyrygzstan at Ground Level

9 Things That Only Happen When You Travel
Solo

WATCH: Taste-Testing Greenland’s Finest Microbrew Beers Let
World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
 Check out our original adventure travel series "A Broad Abroad.
"Before moving to Japan, I saved everything.
Excising so much stuff from my life hurt, but I don't regret it.

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