Minimalism, Chaos, Order & Downsizing

I have never struggled to make a mess.

In childhood, a messy room was par for the course. It was part teenage rebellion – a response to the high standards and OCD tendencies of my maternal lineage. I judged them as too intense, uptight and unnecessary, so I bucked them.

As an adult, it grew into a pile of papers, a pile of clothes, a pile of half-read books, and numerous notebooks full of random ideas. It’s not that I’ve lived in utter chaos, but a manageable level of chaos had become my norm.  It was something I embraced, playfully telling myself that it’s the inevitable by-product of “non-linear genius.” Ha!

Well, perhaps the familial gene ramps up in the 40’s, because something shifted within me. The desire to have Less Stuff and More Order really took hold. One drawer, one notebook, one item of clothing at a time… I began touching and sorting through every single item I own.

Once I decided to take on the experiment of Nomadic Living, I really shifted into order overdrive.

And, you know what?  I love it.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

I am now an advocate for order and simplicity. I may even be a bit of a zealot in the making.

Less truly is more. While the process was daunting, and going through every item I owned to determine whether to keep it, sell it, donate it, recycle it, or trash it was exhausting at times … in the end, it feels so goooooood— so gratifying, so clarifying, and so freeing … to have released so much “stuff”. (My ‘8-Day Downsizing Countdown to Nomadic Living’ post goes into this in more detail.)

With every carload of “stuff” I passed along, with every drawer and shelf and closet I sorted, and with every notebook page that got either recycled because it was no longer relevant, or went into a binder organized by category …. I have found that the benefits of order and downsizing go *far beyond* what I would have expected.

It’s about so much more than having a clean desk, or knowing exactly where something is when I’m looking for it. The true benefits are a clearer mind. What it has given me is a terrifically streamlined approach to moving forward (both personally and professionally). I have a deeper sense of inner peace and focus, and I no longer feel the energetic burden of owning things that I don’t need, love, or both.

At one point, while sorting through a trunk of memorabilia, I came across a $10 bill tucked into a card. It was addressed to me in Australia (I studied abroad my junior year of college). It had been sent by my sweet grandmother for “ice cream with a friend”. That envelope had traveled with me, since 1996. While years later,  “ice cream with a friend” was indeed how it was spent.

So, today I am celebrating how profoundly and positively efforts to amp up order is impacting my life, my business, my heart, my soul, my mind, and even my body. For me, this is a lifestyle choice.

What about YOU? I want to hear from you. How does order support or inhibit YOU? Do you agree that less is more? Why or why not?

Eager to learn more about Nomadic Living?  >>> Be sure to check out this awesome-ness! <<<


Tara Sage

Master Coach, Location-independent boss lady, Author, Speaker, Nomad, Salsera, Life Hack Pro

Nomadic Packing & The Stuff of Life

Pack whatever you want, then take half.

Without question, my least favorite thing about travel is PACKING.  Maybe you relate?

One time, while stressing about what to pack for a 6 month stay in Australia, my uncle (a world traveler himself) gave me some great advice: “Tara, pack whatever you want – then take half.”

This was 20+ years ago, my junior year of college. Over the years, I’ve come to believe that less truly is more.

casesweb_3079682a-largeThis didn’t happen overnight. My growing affection for minimalism has developed in stages. It reached a new height when I moved: from a spacious, high-ceiling, 2-bedroom, double-parlor home in Rhode Island with a private back yard and big front porch … to a 600 square foot 1-bedroom with a little balcony just outside of Washington DC.  (And 2 1/2 years later, I downsized again – into a 20 foot RV!)

At first, the prospect of down-sizing felt incredibly daunting. What would I keep? What would I get rid of?  In moments, I even considered not moving so that I could hold on to “stuff” – my cherished dining room table in particular. It sounds pretty ridiculous to me now, but I loved that dining room table. It was large. It was wooden. I coveted it for many months before finally making the purchase and was thrilled when it arrived.

I loved so much about it. Aesthetically, it served as the central focus for one of my two parlors. Its functionality, with a leaf that I could insert when I wanted to make it even bigger, allowed me to fit many friends and family around it. It had symbolic meaning to me, representing a certain degree of success. This, plus the memories made at that table added up to a whole lot of sentimental value.

But – however much I cherished it, my dining room table could NOT come with me. Two stools and a ‘breakfast bar’ would be serving as its replacement.

Now, perhaps you’re wondering ….

“Tara, what the heck does your dining room table have to do with MY packing?”

** A lot. **

Packing for travel requires you to be discerning, thoughtful, and intentional about what you bring with you.  There will be those cherished how-can-I-possibly-live-without-(fill in the blank) items that tempt you to either stay put, or to lug them around with you. There will be things that you need to leave behind – both physically and metaphorically. By releasing what’s heavy, you’ll replace it with the freedom and wealth of mobility, the lightness of heart, and the gains that come with a shift in priorities. Similar in spirit to down-sizing a home, extended travel requires you to be very selective about what you take with you. That’s why “pack what you want, then take half” is damn good advice.

You can find a plethora of packing lists for traveling light, but ultimately, I believe that without a mindset shift those won’t be of much use to you.

Adopting a mindset that welcomes less “stuff” in lieu of experiencing more “stuff of life” is what makes all the difference.

Ultimately it’s about BEING more. It’s about defining wealth not just in terms of money but in terms of human capital and the everyday abundance of that which is truly priceless:

==> More freedom.
==> More timeless memories.
==> More growth opportunities.
==> More adventure.
==> More fulfillment.
==> More positive impact.
==> Expanded levels of understanding.
==> Boundless new possibilities.
==> And deeper levels of connection – to yourself, to others, and to the world.

More “stuff of life” experiences … experiences so valuable, they truly are priceless.

The memories and invaluable experiences that travel brings are yours forever.  They get infused into your soul, forever stamped on your heart. They exponentially expand your mind, thereby expanding your understanding of the world and your role in it: a value that is truly incalculable.

Put this alongside a dining room table, for example, and there’s no contest.

So, what is it for YOU?  What’s YOUR “dining room table”? Whatever it is that has you holding on, staying put, or weighed down … imagine: Letting It Go. Let it go and you may not even miss it. My bet is, you won’t.

All this said, it’s the extraordinary few who actually take the gamble to find out.  

Will you rise to this challenge? Do you understand that present “stuff” is a just mirror of who you’ve been. Is your priority on living full out and being the fulfillment of your potentials? Ready to find out how nomadic living – best for a month, a season, a year, or forever – can support the quickening of you experience of fun, freedom, and fulfillment?

Pack what you want, then take half – and get ready for the experience of a lifetime.

Onward and upward!