Link to the original article about downsizing: https://catspydell.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/downsizing-accepting-the-100-item-challenge/
Today is the day I have been waiting for. As mentioned previously in my blog post about my downsizing movement over the next couple of years, I have been collecting ‘crap’ I don’t want or need in an effort to get rid of it. That seems like such an oxymoron, to collect things to dispose of them, but it’s true. I have been getting ready for the yard sale to end all yard sales for the past six months by sorting through my stuff, bagging it, labeling it, pricing it, making cute signs, and generally just Getting Ready to Sell off my belongings. The idea, and it’s a good one, was to earn some money getting rid of Too Much Stuff and convert it into my new tiny living frontier. Recently, I have been traveling in a 21 foot schoolbus named Moonshine (online hashtag: #moonshinethebus). But I foresee an even smaller vehicle (probably a large travel van) in my future for quick overnight or weekend trips, which means owning even less things. With these lofty ideas of making money and gaining space in mind, I have been waiting for the right moment to offload the stuff in my garage. I finally got lucky: Our entire neighborhood is having a yard sale today! The advertising was already done for me, and I am free to sell my wares! I even made a tray of succulent cuttings for the event (see above photo) and the sign to go with it (below), advertising succulent cuttings for a buck each. I couldn’t be more ready.
If you are having a sale, take extra time to make nice signs! It gives your sale a fun vibe
My alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. as it always does on yard sale day, and I was awake enough to get up. But something stopped me. No, not the cat wanting to cuddle, even though that always takes precedence over everything. What stopped me was thinking about getting up, getting the clean but old sheets I had washed in a bag marked CLEAN YARD SALE SHEETS. Laying the sheets out. Getting my belongings and laying them on the sheets. Setting up a small table and chair. Pulling together all the single bills and coins I could find for change. Finding and wearing my ‘money bag’ fanny pack. Putting up my signs and setting up a clothing area, a book area, a recreation area, a succulent area, and spreading everything I own but don’t want across my entire lawn, and then letting strangers rifle through it all, and even steal some of it, because that always happens at yard sales. I just couldn’t do it. It is hard to explain, but after years of re-selling and upcycling, I just feel DONE.
Athena the Kitten is an avid supporter of all my projects (#athenathekitten)
I have to admit, there is a mitigating factor in this decision. As ‘A Jill of all Trades’ with a lot of storage facility organizing, tenant clear-out, and rental unit rehabilitation experience, I have become a re-sale expert over the years and help others have yard sales, declutter, and downsize. I recently was hired to help manage several storage units belonging to a dead Hollywood starlet who passed away several years ago. Her 10,000 square foot mansion’s worth of belongings is crammed into neatly labeled and professionally packed boxes in an unassuming storage facility near Beverly Hills. The starlet’s belongings have become my responsibility. I will spend hours moving heavy boxes and furniture from one unit to another, in an effort to downsize the amount of units the belongings inhabit. Then, once we manage to get everything from five or six units down to two or three, the fun begins: Opening up and going through everything, and having to make a decision about every single item. Thousands and thousands of trinkets and memories, costing her relatives thousands each month to store. This job has been a revelation for me because it made me realize: Rich people’s crap is still crap! The belongings, while in excellent condition and high-end when purchased, are now outdated and worthless. I am in shock that these Very Nice Things this starlet owned in her lifetime are now just piddling scrap that someone she never knew in her lifetime—me—is going through and donating to charity, or returning to relatives, or tossing out. It is very personal, and I respect the process. When things get hot, sweaty, dusty, frustrating, and exhausting, I even imagine her looking down and offering encouragement. She has come to feel like a sister from the other side. I know her more intimately now than many of her friends probably did while she was living. Going through a wealthy stranger’s belongings also gave me further insight…it made me realize how little my own unwanted belongings are worth in comparison.
Because my paid work days are now mimicking my own yard sale prep work, I made a bold decision today to NOT participate in the yard sale today. I carefully considered it until the clock ticked toward 6 a.m. I debated, thinking about that exercise bike my 90 year-old mom wants to get rid of so she has more space in her bedroom, and how I could get $15 for it, even though it was worth over $100 new. I remembered all the cute clothes that my daughter no longer wanted when she lost weight that are bagged and waiting for new owners, and the new unopened belongings from other people’s yard sales that have been donated to me for my own yard sale. All this stuff is waiting for me to sell today! This is the moment! But I decided that instead of spending the extra 5 or 6 hours it would take to set up the sale, sell, deal with the public, then break it all down, pack it up, and drive it to charity, I will just ‘cut to the chase’ and put it directly in the truck and drive it straight to the local charity shop. I will save the more expensive or vintage items for my roving boutique I take with me when I go to music festivals to vend, like the jewelry and hippie clothes and funky hats I have collected over the years. (Irony: I use sturdy canvas storage boxes from the dead starlet’s storage units that were unused and still in the wrapper to store and transport my traveling mini-boutique wares). I will list my two large expensive bird cages on Craigslist, and donate some other pet items to a rescue ranch, and take the books to our local library. And in a few days I will merely replant the new succulent starts in a few bare places in the garden. I admit I am proud of myself for making this decision to stop the yard sale cycle of saving unwanted things so I can someday sell my unwanted things, because a pile of stuff is a pile stuff, regardless of the intention one may have to move it eventually. I am glad that instead of getting up this morning early to deal with strangers and my excess belongings strewn across my yard, I was able to walk my big dog, have a cup of coffee, and I even found enough free time to write a quick update on a blog post about downsizing. I will happily take that kind of relaxing Saturday morning any day of the week!