The Ultimate Downsize System

The ultimate downsize system came about through process of elimination and started here at the farm. This place was pretty sad in the beginning and required attention inside and out; where to begin was a challenge so before moving in I insisted Robert remove cabinet doors, carpet, and interior doors.

The more we removed the more I felt like I could prepare myself to live here.  After an extreme cleaning, new doors and fresh paint this place began to feel like home.  A system of removal was in place and it felt good.

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Unpacking was overwhelming and it took forever; box after box I wondered if it would ever end.  It was winter so there wasn’t a need to hurry but I was anxious to get it all done.  The process reminded me of this overgrown tree line, a strip of clutter that had no purpose.

When things pile up, it clouds ones thought process. I was tired of the clouds and decided to turn the unpacking into a mini downsize.

We sold off some things and gave the rest away; there was this sense of freedom in the air and I liked it.

This mini downsize reminded me to be aware of what comes back into the home.

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The more I cleaned out the better I felt.  I began to feel like this cleaned out tree line, clutter free with open space to view blessings without second guessing everything.

How do we free ourselves from clutter?  It’s take commitment and honestly it took me a solid 2 years to get where I’m at today.  When I was first cleaning out I just touched the surface.  It wasn’t until both of our kids left home that I really embraced the idea of the ultimate downsize.

This began with plans to sell the farm and move into a smaller square foot home.   I wasn’t sure I could do this; going from 2100 square feet to 399 is outrageous.

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To embrace this downsize that was going to match our future plans adjustments needed to be made and that started by changing the way I was living now.  Here are some things I did.

  • Stopped spending money on feel good purchases
  • Continued reading scripture and vamped up reading inspirational books
  • Stopped listening to others and their opinions
  • Focused on our future plans
  • Took cleaning out to the next level
  • Listened to music to motivate my efforts

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When our son left for the Marines I got serious and walked through the entire house room by room asking myself what was important and what could be moved on.  This wasn’t easy, memories flooded and clouds began to form.

I pushed them aside, prayed for guidance and simply switched gears by reminding myself I was preparing for the next chapter of life and 399 square feet.

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Room by room cupboards were cleaned out and stuff was removed.  Then one day my husband called me the anti hoarder.

This wasn’t a compliment and at that moment I stopped cleaning out and looked around to finally notice I was done. It was quite the accomplishment and a personal journey that gave me inner peace.

It was about removing the layers of unwanted items that were keeping me from that next chapter.

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Through the entire clean out process I realized that many times we buy things just to make us feel better.  Maybe it does for a day or two but in realities that feeling ends and then there is this need to find something else to fill that void.

Now days I fill that void by enjoying things like fresh air, exercise and watching birds splash in their bath. My desire to buy stuff has become out of necessity instead of want.  I see the world around with clear vision, focus and I enjoy life more than I ever thought possible.

I’m finally ready to move forward and handle the good things planned for our future including that 399 square feet that we’ll call home.

The ultimate downsize system begins with you, room by room, removing layers of clutter.  It’s that clutter that keeps us from opening closets, from looking under the bed and closing off doors until you have to enter at another time.

This journey hasn’t been easy, but overall it’s been amazing and one I recommend if you seek a deeper connection for high quality living to go for it.

Who we are is seeded at the root of our soul not at the root of our belongings.  When this concept was clear, understanding of my own behavior also became clear.  This life isn’t about the things we acquire it’s about the good we do along the way and the freedom we’ve been blessed with.

35 comments

  1. Deborah says:

    Thank you, Carole, for a wonderful post. I have been working on clearing out the layers of clutter and, frankly, feel quite overwhelmed at the moment. Reading about your journey encouraged me. Thank you.

    1. Carole says:

      You’re welcome! It does get overwhelming I get that.. Taking breaks can be helpful as it gives you a chance to enjoy the progress you’ve already made. For me it was the emotion that followed. But eventually I was able to push through it and just focus on my goal and now I’m just ready to get this place sold so we can move forward with life. I didn’t want to share the traditional downsize post because to many times we leave out the person we become through the process and that’s the most important part of a downsize. Good Luck and so glad you found this encouraging.

  2. Cecilia says:

    You’re right, Carole. It’s a process. I’ve started my own clean out and while I’m still in the upper layers, it feels good to be getting rid of the extra stuff. Our downsize won’t be as dramatic but after living in one spot for 23 years, stuff has accumulated. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    1. Carole says:

      Such a journey and it wasn’t easy because there are days when I’m still amazed at some of the things I moved on. I’m in a waiting pattern now as we seek a buyer and then move on. This could be even more difficult – we shall see.

  3. Carole I had to read this post twice. It was so FULL of great information. I went into my office and marked out the two weeks after Christmas to clear out the excess. It will be the perfect time as I will be off from school and look forward to starting the new year fresh.
    I know you are in the process of moving but let me know if the first week in January you want to get together to work on your grandmother inspired apron.

    1. Carole says:

      We’re just kind of waiting to move right now. The farm is finally up for sale so we won’t actually be moving until we have a buyer. January sounds great just let me know when a good time is for you – there’s no hurry. Hope you have a nice Thanksgiving I just noticed that’s next week.

  4. You have no idea how much I needed to read this!!

    1. Carole says:

      a good need I hope? it’s a process and it was those hours in the house by myself with the dogs that really allowed me that solitude to focus and clean out. Definitely wasn’t easy but I’m thankful, so very thankful…

  5. Kim says:

    This was so needed. I am trying my darnedest to organize my home and it feels like I am getting nowhere. Hearing that it took you two years has mad me feel a bit better. We have an interesting situation at my home, my boyfriends divorced parents live in the basement and my boyfriend and our 3 children live upstairs. There is almost no extra storage space. Also my children are 17, 8 and 6 and all boys. There is a never ending amount of stuff that has to be sorted through and gotten rid of toys, clothes, oh god the amount of clothes. The list goes on and on. I also so desperately want to craft and that pile of items is growing with all the ideas that run through my head none stop. Thank you so much for reinspiring me.

    1. Carole says:

      I did find it was much easier after the kids were out of the house because fewer distractions helps. Toys and clothes oh how I don’t miss that, I did shrink my closet to 40 hangers and that has been the best because I do enjoy clothing shopping. With the minimal hangers it allowed me to focus on what I really liked instead of keeping that stuff that I might wear one day again because that one day never comes. Course my work clothes which I wear everyday are just in stacked piles. Good Luck and keep moving forward you’ll be glad you did and I highly recommend getting the kids involved.

  6. Charlene Dryman says:

    Good luck to you. My husband won’t let me throw away anything. He says make room. I can’t sell, or trash, or give anything away. He tells me, throw your stuff away. I do. Everything I own is in my 8 x 10 foot bedroom which is my computer room. My son stays in 1 bedroom, storage, canning and food is in the 3rd bedroom and we sleep in the 4th bedroom. The garage is full of his wood and machines. That reminds me, I need to go through “my room” and clean it out again.

    1. Carole says:

      I remember the day my husband said, “Get rid of all of it” then finished saying the only thing I care about in this house is you… it inspired me because another load of stuff left the house. Happy Cleaning out.

  7. Karen says:

    This is truly inspiring, Carole. I love that you mentioned that it took 2 years. I know when I get fed up with clutter, I want it gone NOW. It just takes time, though, and as long as the progress doesn’t stall out, it’s still progress, right?

    I’m nearly always hauling bags or boxes of “stuff” out and I love the feeling of being rid of excess. Although we added instead of reduced square footage in our last move, I love the feeling of more empty spaces. I’m sure once these last 5 kids are gone, I’ll be startled by how much more “stuff” we can eliminate.

    Wishing you the very best on this new chapter in your life!

    1. Carole says:

      Yes progress is about moving forward each day one step at a time. Somebody asked me once if I ever missed something I’ve removed.. I paused and said no.. It was when the kids were gone that my stuff seemed to bug me the most and we didn’t have as much as most families, I’m basically a pretty practical person but I think what some may miss from this is that I’m shrinking my lifestyle drastically and want that done before hand so it’s not as much of a shock to the system. Excited about the future, next step is to find a buyer for the farm.

  8. Patti says:

    Hi Carole,

    Such a wonderful and inspiring post. I can be a real pitcher if I want to, but first I have to make time to do it. Sometimes I feel bad that I’m not really that sentimental about things, especially related to my girls but this post helped me see that it’s not what’s important in life. After the holidays I think I’ll mark a couple of rooms to deep clean. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Carole says:

      Thanks Patti – sometimes I think it’s better to be less sentimental because it allows you to move on. I’m learning that and enjoying the now is so much more fun..

  9. Dolly says:

    Wow Carole I’m impressed and can’t wait to see the new adventure!

  10. Jeanette Cott says:

    It always feels good to clean out. When I was preparing our home in California to go on the market I gave away a lot of stuff. When our boxes arrived to our rental home, here, I quickly realized the I hadn’t purged enough. I made about 4 trips to various thrift stores around town. I have found I have put forth extra thought when making purchases. I don’t have any room for a lot of useless stuff.

    Good read.

  11. Jane says:

    What a great post, Carole. I’m really looking forward to your journey and you talking about living in a small space and the development of the tiny house community.

    My hubby and I lived in our cabin(600sq)for two years and we loved it. We never thought we needed more space b/c we were always outside. We do live in a larger home now, b/c it came with the property…Lol!

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you Jane. We’ve got the farm up for sale so once it’s sold we’ll be moving on that land and getting things started. I’m also looking forward to getting that all started, I’ve even decided to live in our RV which is smaller than 399 sq.feet. Treating this project like true contractors!!

  12. Cheryl says:

    Oh, I just love this post! So happy to have found you on Tracy’s link-up today. We have been on a similar journey, and we are nowhere near the end yet. I can so relate to all you said. God started a desire in our hearts to downsize, not really knowing WHY we were even doing it. We have gone from a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home, with a very large, oversized 2 car garage, down to a 10×20 storage unit. And, even THAT stuff seems so excessive. We find that we do not need anywhere near what we thought we did. It is a very liberating, wonderfully light feeling to not have so much stuff to worry about, to maintain, to clean, and to keep up with. Thank you for sharing your heart here…I just really enjoyed reading about your adventure. I look forward to hearing about your tiny living experience later on! God bless you in your endeavors!

    1. Carole says:

      Welcome Cheryl – this has been such a journey and I agree very liberating and as I look around the house (we’re currently selling) I see so much more that I really don’t need. It’s just stuff and I’m at this point where I could probably walk away from all of it. I know sounds crazy but also very tempting. Hope you enjoy it here and I look forward to hearing from you again.

  13. This was wonderful Carol! Thank you for sharing and I’m with you on the need for less bummer and more music!

    1. Carole says:

      Glad you enjoyed Rachel. More music makes the day go by with more joy. So energizing!!

  14. Nancy W says:

    Love, love, love this post! We are in the midst of selling our home and de-cluttering and getting ready to downsize. I am so glad you shared your post on Our simple Homestead Blog Hop last week! As one of the co-hosts I will be featuring your post tomorrow!
    – Nancy ( Nancy On The Home Front )

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Nancy and thank you for the feature. We’re selling too and ready to move forward. I’ve learned a lot about myself through this de-clutter process and it’s all good. See you tomorrow!

  15. Alicia Owen says:

    I need to do some major decluttering myself. It’s so hard to get motivated because I get overwhelmed just thinking about it! Thanks for sharing on the Homesteader Hop.

    1. Carole says:

      Take it one room at a time and let music inspire your efforts.

  16. Jennifer says:

    I know you posted this a while back, Carole, but boy, I missed all of this. In the process of my move in October, I only kept up with my own blog and channels. Wow, what a transformation! I love the perspective. We did not downsize in square footage with this last move, but we did thin out what we have. Only things we regularly use stayed. And what I love the most is that we are surrounded by wide open spaces! Not only is the landscape open, but we only hear cows, roosters, and geese and not airplane engines and freeway noise. Aaahhhh… I feel like I can finally breath. I can’t wait to see your tiny house.

    1. Carole says:

      I can officially say I’m cleaned out and it feels amazing. This downsize was a true growing experience and a bit extreme. I bet you’re loving the countryside, I know I’m hooked and can’t imagine living any other way. The further out the better! Looking forward to what you’re going to do with your new space. As soon as we sell our current farm we’ll move out there and the process will be unbelievable because my husband works like the force of nature. Can hardly wait.

  17. Melissa Zieleniewski says:

    When your write another book, I hope it’s on this topic. You planned your down sizing, you’ve done it and now you are living the fruits of all your hard work. You are an inspiration to all of us who are in the considering and planning mode still.

    1. Carole says:

      Well it’s true I did put a lot of thought and consideration into this entire thing and thank you for your kind words. I’m currently working on a new book and yes book four I do believe will be somewhere along that concept. I’m also going to begin workshops after the first or second Tiny House property is sold at the new property. Going to be exciting when you free yourself from the stuff you have more time to do what you love..

  18. Melissa Zieleniewski says:

    I’ll be watching for your workshop updates and your next book. I’d love to see what you’re doing at your new place and the whole tiny home property. So exciting for you and your husband! 🙂

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