This is an editorial. Some strong opinions will be stated and you may agree or disagree and those who disagree may feel they are being personally attacked. For that, I’m sorry but if this also gives you a chance to reflect on the way you live your life and to maybe make some positive changes, yay, I say.

We’ve been brainwashed to believe that we must have “stuff,” and I’ll admit I was one of the guilty party. I spent thousands and thousands of dollars decorating my 970 square foot home. I bought new gadgets for the kitchen constantly because I loved cooking. I put in gardens in the back yard and then re-did it several times as I changed layouts and designs. I did the whole house in area rugs over wall-to-wall carpet with matching furniture, shelves, and knick-knacks and then re-did the whole house in laminate with different furniture when I discovered that one of my rescue dogs had a habit of peeing indoors.

I was a collector too. I had hundreds of books. I also started collecting mid-century American-made figural pottery in the early 2000s and had about thirty-six pieces by 2018. Those pieces also needed display furniture. I love shoes and had about forty pairs at the time I downsized. I had a garage full of tools and who-knows- what because I was a do-it-your-selfer. I refinished furniture, I made shelves and toys for my chinchillas and birds, I did a lot of the house remodeling projects myself. But my goal all along was to travel when I retired and to sell the house. What compelled me to buy so much stuff when I knew I would be leaving it all? I can’t explain other than the fact that we live in a “consumerism” society and it’s drilled in to us to buy more and better.

Here’s what I learned after two years of not having stuff. How big your house is and how much fancy stuff is packed in there does not define who you are. I don’t miss it. Sometimes I wonder how different things would be now if I’d saved all that money instead of spending it. I sure didn’t get much back when I tried to sell everything. Most of the things in the end were given away or donated. I’ve learned that I don’t need a lot of room. I’ve learned that I don’t need to be entertained with a big TV or hobbies. I don’t need to keep busy taking care of a house or yard.

Some people are natural savers and think small types. Can you imagine if most people were more comfortable living small? We would have resources galore. I can’t tell you how to live your life but I can tell you that it is possible to be happy without having a lot of stuff surrounding you. You might think that people who live in tiny houses or motorhomes full time are people of lesser means but that isn’t true. I was surprised to find out recently that one retiree who lives full time in a motorhome has a retirement income that is more than I made yearly for most of my working life. Imagine how much young couples could save if they lived in a nice trailer instead of buying a house and furnishing it?

Here’s the floor plan of my living quarters for the last two years. Of course, I do go out quite a bit for dog walks or just enjoying nature. And when I’m sitting inside, I still try to bring some of the outdoors in by keeping windows and the door open. I get the scent of pine trees, birds tweeting, and the occasional campfire. And at certain times of the year, I have the Gulf of Mexico in my backyard. What could be more perfect?

My words of wisdom to everyone is “don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.”