Minimalism and moving

A few weeks (hang on maybe it was months!) ago, I posted that I was moving to Armidale. I have a job and now I have somewhere to live. As I begin to pack up my house, I am overwhelmed by how much stuff I have! The overwhelm is exacerbated by the fact that to get an affordable price for the removalist,  I am sharing a truck with someone else and have a defined space limit. 

In the past, I have had the truck to myself and have just chucked everything in boxes. This time, every box I pack represents a fraction of a square metre in a truck I don’t have room for. 

Frugal living? Maybe not!

How did I get so much stuff? I have been living a relatively frugal life for the past five years. I have had two “buy nothing” years. I have followed a one in one out rule. I bought nothing new. I had rules! Yet, my cupboards are full. Where did it all come from? Does stuff breed behind closed wardrobe doors? 

The pile grows!

Keeping memories

I have the standard three piles happening; keep, donate and throw out. Unfortunately not much is landing in the throw away or donate pile. While none of it, not one skerrick of it is actually junk, (!) there are a lot of memories. I am struggling to cultivate a minimalist attitude al laThe Minimalists” who propose that memories are thoughts and you don’t need to keep the physical object. They suggest you take a photo.  I have written about my attachment to memories through physical objects before. The idea of getting rid of perfectly good items makes me twitch!

I can feel myself getting frustrated because most of the “memories” I have, I use. They serve a dual purpose. They are functional and connect my to my family. I like using my Grandmothers’ vases. I like stirring my cake mix in her bowl with her wooden spoon. I like using the ancient and wonky flour sifter. It’s at least 60 years old, and even though it’s a bit wonky, it still works. However, even I have to admit that I don’t need the pineapple shaped plates I bought a few years ago, regardless of how cute they are!

These ones did go to the op shop!

Ruthlessness is not my strong suit.

Even though I have made some very bold trips to the garbage bin and dropped off a car load at the op shop, the pile of boxes is growing. I have a limit of sixty boxes. I am up to thirty and I still haven’t started with the essential stuff I am still using. I have two weeks to develop a more ruthless approach! 

Wish me luck!

In the Freezer

When this most recent bout of COVID lockdown started in the Greater Sydney Area in June 2021, I decided that I was not going to go shopping until I emptied my freezer and pantry. This solved several problems. I was able to avoid the germy world while using up resources that had already been created and thus reduce food waste. I figured I had enough leftovers, frozen veggies and pantry staples that it would not be too much of a challenge. 

UFOs

Step 1 was to do an archeological dig and conduct a freezer audit.  I threw out the UFOs (unidentifiable food objects) that were suffering from freezer burn and no longer edible. The rest of the containers were stacked in neat piles and I retrofitted some labels. Labelling should be mandatory but it is a step that I approach with annoying inconsistency. Present-Robyn has way too much faith in Future-Robyn’s ability to identify the blocks of various curries and casseroles. 

Resourceful use of some freezer items – frozen raspberries became jam.

Meal planning is one of my happy places and when I cook I generally make 4 – 6 serves. Eat one for dinner, put one in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch and then the remainder in the freezer for “later”. The trouble is I have a tendency to delay the later. Rather than cook a couple of nights a week, I cook every night, until my freezer is full and I have run out of containers.  There is a direct inverse relationship between my Tupperware cupboard and my freezer. The fuller the freezer (VF = volume of the freezer contents)  the emptier the Tupperware cupboard. (VT)

VF = 1/VT

Mission accomplished

This propensity for food hoarding has paid off over the lockdown and I have for the most part avoided the germy world of supermarkets. After 6 weeks, I have finally extracted the last of the pre-prepared meals. (Yippee!)

My quest has not been 100% successful as I was forced to seek out some fresh fruit to avoid scurvy (and boredom).  In addition to the fruit, I purchased fresh milk as needed but apart from this, I have made do with what I had. The freezer is not yet completely empty as I still have some frozen pastry sheets some bread and a few other odds and ends, but I can see the bottom. An astonishing feat. I still have a way to go to empty the pantry but that’s OK we’re under stay at home health orders until the 28th August at least.

With an empty freezer, I can start work on the pantry! Hallelujah! Tomorrow, I can cook again! 

Oh wait! That means I’ll have to go shopping and face the germy world, lucky I’m fully vaccinated!

Using up an old cauliflower.

Tree change to slow living

Last week I introduced my new series about slow living and making a tree change to Armidale in northern NSW. Before I start packing, I need to get my ducks in a row. The biggest “ducks” are having somewhere to live and a job. I am trying to open my mind to all the possibilities. However, deep down the sensible voice keeps telling me not to take too big a risk. I still have a mortgage to pay, I’m sixty and getting a new job might not be so easy as keeping the one I’ve got. I don’t want to end up poor and homeless which is an unfortunately common scenario for single women my age. Sure, I want to live simply but I still want to eat!

A blurry image of grass blowing in the ewind

The day job.

My current day job is secure and satisfying yet very reactive. Dealing with teenagers and their families everyday is draining. The idea of changing jobs gives me so many things to think about! Do I need the same sort of job as I have now, earning as much as I do now? Do I want to stay in the same intense people-centric job? Could I scale back? Could I get a job selling widgets who don’t yell at you and bully each other on social media? Could I go freelance? I’d like to. 

Some options for a tree change

As any good list maker like myself does, I sat down and came up with some scenarios. Ranging from going the “whole nine-yards”, selling everything, buying a tiny house and living off the grid, right down to doing nothing and staying put. Then, there is everything in between. Renting my place, renting something cheaper up there or even sharing with my family.  Here are two of the options I came up with from riskiest to safest. There were 7 other options in between!

Go really hard  – tree change deluxe model

  1. Sell up
  2. Buy a tiny house
  3. Find somewhere to park it – you might need to rent someone’s backyard 
  4. Grow veggies and chickens
  5. Live off the grid
  6. Get rid of most of your stuff
  7. Quit work –  go freelance!!!

Safest – Stay here – do nothing.

  1. Keep your stuff
  2. Keep working
  3. No veggies or chickens
  4. No cost.

Complex property decisions

It’s complicated by the fact that while the housing options in Armidale are more affordable, the gap between there and my current property is not huge. Probably not enough for me to  come out of the transaction debt free. 

The better news is that rent is cheaper and if I rent my place I can cover the mortgage and other related expenses. (just!). If I do sell I will never be able to get back into the coastal property market without winning the lottery. Ackkkkk!!!!!

I also have to acknowledge that I have the privilege to make these decisions in the first place.

Are my expectations too high

The best case scenario would be to be debt free and able to retire or at least work less than I do now. Then I can explore freelance work and a simple lifestyle. I don’t want to go backwards in terms of my finances but I don’t want to be separated from my family waiting for the magic unicorn of a job to appear.

Am I expecting too much? Does making the tree change to living simply and slowly mean you have to be broke? I know I am overthinking it. Should I just chuck it in and take the plunge?

I know I would have 30 years ago, because I did.