How simplifying my possessions opened the door for experiencing more of life.
That last night, when we sat on the floor and ate takeaway off a cardboard box, I realised we had really done it…
Holy cow, what were we thinking?!
The three small check-in bags, two surf board bags and one tiny backpack to carry on, were all that was left of our worldly possessions. After a combined 81 years of life, all My Love and I had to show for it on the last night of living in Sydney, was less than 80 kgs of essentials.
No TV, no couch, no bed to sleep on. Our future life in Bali, was contained in just a few pieces of luggage… and I finally felt like a free woman.
Somehow, we had become two of those lucky people.
You know the ones. The people who don’t have a ‘normal’ life. The ones who defy conventional thinking, have wild ideas and a different way of seeing the world, and seem to always pursue some kind of adventure.
We had become the wild ones.
The idea to move overseas in pursuit of a different life had come to us a few years earlier.
Both in full time jobs that were sucking us of our will to live, we day dreamed about trips to Bali and hoped one day we might make it a home. And as absolute evidence of the saying “be careful what you wish for”, The Universe conspired to give it to us.
It didn’t all start out the way we dreamed though.
A redundancy gifted My Love with the opportunity to begin his own business. And I received a corporate sponsorship to study and enter an industry with big possibilities. But these exciting changes came with big setbacks and our belts were tightened quite a few notches.
Under immense stress, but trying desperately to stay positive, we searched for opportunities in our half-full glass, and took stock of the things in our life that really mattered. Realising we would soon be forced to reduce our rental costs and find a significantly smaller apartment, our possessions suddenly became a major burden. Our ‘stuff’ was a liability… and it was making us really unhappy.
Over a period of three months, we sold off as much as we could from our crowded double garage. We felt so much lighter from just this one first step that we turned our attention to the contents of our second bedroom. And then our bulging walk-in-wardrobe.
With each box of clutter gone, we reduced our possessions. It became obvious to us how much we had accumulated to fill our massive apartment was really just STUFF we hardly used. Yet we had barely scratched the surface.
The true challenge came however, when after two years, we finally bit the bullet and downsized from a two-and-a-half-bedroom apartment to a small one bedder.
Moving for the first time in ten years, was hell. The smaller apartment meant much much less room, and on the day we shifted into the new place, we had no choice but to leave almost half of our stuff downstairs in the garage.
It felt like we still had a long way to go…
But by now, Minimalism had become a way of life for us both.
My once crazy habit of buying a new dress every few weeks had stopped and I minimised to what I considered the ideal capsule wardrobe for my work and personal needs, eliminating morning outfit stress and challenging the status quo of my corporate workplace.
All of the extra kitchen utensils, cutlery and crockery, glassware and special occasion dishes that we never used, seemed completely ridiculous and we gave them all away. Our tiny kitchen suddenly had so much more space to keep it clutter free. And all of the old wedding gifts weren’t missed for even a second.
The hundreds of music CD’s, DVD’s and books we had collected over our lives, used once then left to gather dust on the shelf, were sold off, on-gifted and traded in. In addition, all of the furniture we had purchased to hold all of these things was able to be sold. Our garage, living space and bedroom morphed into open and welcoming spaces that we could work from without feeling suffocated… the sense of freedom really started to grow.
The minimisation of our belongings started to have a transformative effect on the rest of our lives. Weekends were no longer spent shopping for more things in an effort to fill an invisible void in our lives. Our cleaning regime took a lot less time. And we were able to get outdoors more, go for bike rides, have long lunches at our favourite cafe and invest time in doing things we enjoyed.
My Love was able to build two businesses he was excited and fulfilled by. And I was able to focus on my writing and professional development until I picked up a great freelance job which enabled me to work from anywhere.
And finally, everything started to work out for us. We had reached a point where we could take a big crazy wild step.
We booked flights to go to Bali for a six-week holiday to trial working from overseas with our clients in Australia.
So much had to be organised to be away from home this long. Mail to be collected, plants to be watered, clothes to be packed. But by the time we boarded that flight, everything had been done. With only carry-on luggage and one surf board bag, we had six fabulous weeks living in a tropical paradise.
The trip was amazing. But the biggest realisation was – we could afford to live in Bali for much cheaper than what we were in Sydney. And we would have a much better lifestyle. The stress of money worries, increasing rental costs and living expenses hardly seemed worth it anymore. So we decided it really was time to risk it all and move.
Our dream, which had seemed impossible only four years earlier, was now going to come true. On returning to Sydney, we put the wheels into motion and set our sights on moving within four months.
And our minimalist life enabled us to make it happen.
We sold off one business, our car and what was left of our belongings – and put a few boxes of ‘must keeps’ in storage under a friend’s house. There were many moments during those four months that we freaked out and wondered if we were doing the ‘right’ thing – but every time and despite many tears and frustrating moments, we realised it was no longer about doing the ‘right’ thing, it was about doing the wildest thing – it was about doing the thing that would enable us to experience more of life.
On that last night, when we sat in our empty apartment with just a few bags of minor essentials, we felt so scared, so excited and so free from the constraints of a ‘normal’ life. And we realised that becoming minimalists all those years before, was in fact the best move we had ever made.
Written by Stacey Brown
Stacey Brown is a freespirited gypsy who yearns for a day when people will stop buying shit they don’t need.
Living on a tropical island, far from the safety of home, Stacey finds freedom
in the simple life. With a brain full of things to say, her main outlet is getting
words on a page. A lifelong ‘student’ of modern philosophy and anything to
satisfy her curiosity, she enjoys the challenge of making people stop and think. With an insatiable appetite for the old, the unusual and the unique, her main passions are vintage fashion, sustainable living and writing.
On any given night you can find Stacey restyling secondhand clothes, working on her first book, or kicking her husband’s arse in Gin Rummy.