~The Highs and Lows~
Now that we’ve discussed the physical side of downsizing (if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the blog post here), it’s time to tackle the emotional side of this process.
What are we talking about, specifically? Things like photos, old albums, sentimental items, hand-made by Grandma dresses, wedding gifts from decades ago, journals, letters, etc. Basically, anything that we are emotionally attached to (or feel obligated to) will fall into this category. And, I’m here to tell you, it IS an emotional journey. Sometimes I felt elated and liberated to be rid of certain items and other times it’s been a real struggle to say good-bye to those things I felt connected to.
I had a few boxes of loose photos and several photo albums to downsize and since there’s no room in an RV for such luxuries, and it is our goal to have nothing in storage, I had to come up with a solution. The answer? Doxie Go Scanner and Photomyne app. These are my go-to tools to archive photos, letters, paper school projects, and art pieces.
is a portable scanner that is 31 cm long by 4.5 cm wide so it is perfect for tiny living. It has the added benefit of “smart cropping” so you don’t have to manually re-size or crop your photos and it scans in 300 or 600 dpi. You can learn all the specs by clicking on the link so let me explain how this scanner has helped with downsizing.
I’ve come to the realization that digital photos are, in my opinion, more valuable than their original paper counterparts. With a digital photo I can:
- post funny pics on Facebook
- send a cute birthday message via Email
- create an online album, movie, animation, or gif for a special occasion
- print them out again if I really miss having that hands-on photo
When my photographs were in boxes and bulky photo albums, they were rarely – if ever – looked at and enjoyed. Now that they’re digital, I’m sharing them with friends and family and we’re all blessed by them! Isn’t that the whole point of photos?
And, for the record, yes – I’ve thrown away all the originals. GASP!! I know… the photo police will be knocking on my door any second.
is an app that allows you to use your phone as a photo scanner. I’ve used this to scan photo album pages so I don’t have to take individual photos out of those scrapbooks as well as the kids’ artwork or school projects that were too big to fit in the Doxie scanner. This app tries to crop and adjust your photos automatically but I do find I need to manually check each photo to make sure it’s done correctly. This is certainly more cumbersome than Doxie but it’s a good option if you want to scan a few photos all on one page at one time.
Photos of Photos?
Yes, I also simply used the camera on my phone to take digital photos of large-scale items like giant posters the kids made for school, big Mother’s Day cards with sparkles and ribbons, and 3D projects.
Even though I don’t consider myself an avid writer, I do like to pen my thoughts during my Bible reading and prayer time each day as well as take sermon notes every Sunday so I’ve filled a number of those pretty journals the bookstores like to tempt us with. I also keep a “grief” journal, to sort my thoughts during those difficult times of loss, and I had an “injury” journal I kept after a bad car accident. Honestly, I was unsure of how to deal with these items as they take up a lot of space and I’ve poured my heart out in some of them. I had to ask myself this simple question… What purpose do they serve? The life lessons I’ve learned, studied, prayed about, and written down are all part of who I am today. Without trying to sound too cheesy, those things are already in my heart so they’ve served their purpose. The actual books and writings are only symbolic of what is now part of my character and life experience.
Having this “big picture” view, I then went through the journals and decide to discard most of them. I have, however, decided to keep the Grief Journal and I scanned every page of that Injury Journal before throwing it out so I still have the digital copy of that in case I may need that information for health reasons in the future. The rest of them have been tossed with confidence knowing that my spiritual walk should be fresh everyday. I will continue to write out my thoughts because it helps me process but I know that once I’ve collect a few more journals, they also will go the way of their predecessors.
Letters and Cards
In similar fashion to the journals; letters and cards have served their purpose. Those relationships and connections are in the people, not in the paper. I’ve taken photos or scanned the ones that have great sentimental value and have only kept a few that I’m just not ready to part with… like cards given to me when my husband and daughter were deathly ill many years ago.
~Sentimental and Heirloom Items~
- Am I keeping this out of obligation or guilt? Just because someone else thinks you should have or hold onto an item for the rest of your days, doesn’t mean you are obligated to do so! How do we honour that person and not carry around a trunk of junk? I think the best way is to simply let that loved one know you are in a new place in your life and are no longer able to care for the item in the way that it’s meant to be cared for. You can then offer the original giver/owner to have it back, see if they know someone else who would like it, or find a new home for the item.
- Do I truly love and enjoy this item enough to have it on display in my home? I think sometimes we are convinced that we are sentimentally attached to something but, if we sit down and think about it, we haven’t actually SEEN that item for several years… maybe even since the last time you had to move it from one address to another. Once we are in the RV, the amount of wall space to display things will be very limited so I need to make sure that what I keep is what I truly value.
- Can I find a way to incorporate it into everyday life? I have a friend who has taken sentimental items of clothing and created fun quilts out of them for her grandchildren! Brilliant! I’ve even heard of people using their fine china in their RV and the extra effort it takes to keep it protected is totally worth it to them.
While we’re at it, let’s talk about giving stuff away. Just like you don’t want to be burdened with the guilt of keeping something, please don’t pass that guilt on to someone else. Many of us tend to think that our kids or our grandkids will want our sentimental or heirloom items but, it’s only fair that we actually ASK them if they do. As it turns out, my kids like to live lightly as we do so it didn’t make sense for them to take all my china dishes, glassware, silverware, linens, fur stoles, and antique hats. I loved these things and had them on display in my house but there’s no room for them in our nomadic lifestyle so they’ve had to find new homes. Sometimes other family members or close friends will value these items and you can bless others with them, maybe a museum or antique society will want those things, perhaps you can sell them, but sometimes it’s more valuable to send them off to the thrift store and leave your life less cluttered.
- Let your family and loved ones know what you’re going through. Asking for their support and patience while you process through this will be key to your success.
- Remember the WHY. There must be a reason why you’ve decided to downsize so keep your eyes on the goal. It was really hard for me to sell my motorcycle but I knew in the long run it would help us reach our goal of full-time RV life sooner so that made it, a little bit, easier.
- Give yourself time. Because we sold our house and moved in such a short period of time (Just over a month!) I allowed myself the time and space to deal with these sentimental items by packing it all up in bins and bringing it to the apartment. This gave me a year to deal with the emotional side of this journey.
- Take breaks and have fun! Going for a hike, out for coffee with a friend, a day at the spa, or whatever help you relax is important. Keep yourself living in the present and the future and try not to get too bogged down with the past. If you find it’s just too overwhelming, put it all away for a couple weeks then pull it out again when you’ve got fresh eyes and a new perspective.
- Watch YouTube videos and read blogs about downsizing. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I would take an evening to get inspired by others who had gone down this road and finished well!! If they could do it, so can I!!
It is my hope that by sharing my downsizing journey, you will be inspired and encouraged to go through the clutter – no matter how beautiful or sentimental it may be – and free up your space and your life. Live Light, my friends.