Every once in a while, you’ve got to ask yourself, “If I could put a frame around my life, what would I put in the center? What would surround me? What would I leave out?”
Since the day my family decided to downsize, reprioritizing has been a pretty consistent theme for us. We needed to pinpoint exactly what was important, as we stepped into the next chapter of our journey.
Over the summer, we packed for the big move and sorted everything, from stuffed animals to furniture, into categories: keep, sell, donate, store. We only had so much room so we had to be ruthless.
Over and over, my kids would say absurd things like, “But I need that purple squishy, thing with one eye.”
I’d reply, “No, you need a toothbrush and toilet paper. You only want that plush toy...which, by the way, is also smelly.”
They’d roll their eyes. The difference between want and need is one of my more common speeches, and they had heard it before.
Of course, my favorite conversation was: “Hey, don’t throw that away. I still use that.”
I would say, “What is it?”
They would pause for a moment, perplexed, and say, “I don’t really know.”
To be fair, my husband and I shared similar dialogue and both of us hid one or two items, just so they didn’t end up on the front lawn being sold for a buck.
For a little while, we were behaving like we were running out of food or something, and we all began to look at each other a little differently. It was like a psychological experiment, and I was concerned it was going to take an ugly turn.
When we set a date for the first tag sale, we wondered if there would be enough to sell. It was so overwhelming, but we pushed forward, meticulously packing away only our most prized possessions, and trying to part with the rest.
As the yard sale began, the extra spending cash started coming in. Soon the kids saw dollar signs and, as space became available on the front lawn, they became less attached to those items they previously couldn’t live without.
Barbies, collectable cars, and various furniture seemed to be the bestsellers and I watched as my husband and the kids ran inside and back out, hauling new loot for display.
I was afraid to stand still for fear of being auctioned off. And on more than one occasion I had to stop a transaction just so we’d have something to sleep on! They were out of control.
Then something incredible happened. A family, clearly there to buy, drove up with a truck.
They purchased a lot for themselves, but when they were done, they began collecting significant amounts of toys and children’s clothing, warm weather apparel only. Soon we learned that they had a very specific purpose in mind. They were buying donations to send back to kids in Honduras.
Without hesitation, the kids, my husband and I began filling bags with everything we could find, and putting it on the truck. No charge.
When real need presented itself, nothing else mattered.
At sunset, we went back into the house and looked around. Somehow, we all felt lighter. And now that we are in our new home, our possessions seem to take a backseat to everything else.
So I guess the center of our frame is a “no brainer” -- our family.
As far as what surrounds us goes, we’ll see what comes, as we rediscover what matters. But what we leave out is clear, anything that weighs us down, just takes up space, or pushes what’s really important out of focus.