As I looked out at my packed-to-the-ceiling apartment, each square inch stuffed with stuff and no place to walk, I realized that my claim to minimalism was fiction. Granted, I had just downsized from a 3-bedroom house that included an attached garage, laundry room, outdoor shed, and a 3-season porch to a 1-bedroom apartment with a nook. I had already gotten rid of a considerable number of items in preparation for the move. Yet, this was a wake up call. That house had a ridiculous amount of storage. And so, as a human being, I stored stuff in it. Agility equipment, lawn care, dog stuff, clothes, accessories, outdoor gear. I tried not to, but it’s a natural tendency to fill up the available space.
Now, burdened with finding a place for everything, I realize I have an amazing opportunity to gain even more freedom that I originally thought. The dog training and agility equipment I was clinging to hadn’t been used in months, and if I asked myself critically, it wasn’t truly necessary to train my dogs. I could be resourceful. The one or three pieces of extra furniture were decorations for people I did not host. They could go. The nick nacks and books I hadn't read in ages could be parted with. Time to turn over another leaf.
The biggest, and most painful wake up call of all was carrying all of this STUFF (I really want to use a more crude word than that) up three flights of stairs in trip after trip after trip. Each expedition up the stairs I proclaimed, “I don’t need THIS!!” Also, my back, legs, and arms HURT. Physically a reminder of my choice to keep all of this stuff. Well, message received. Time to downsize even further.
So, what about the “dialing in” part? I haven’t gotten rid of the agility stuff yet, but I already feel lighter. I had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I owed it to someone to continue with agility. To maintain some sort of image. To be able to say to others that, "Oh yeah, I do agility." And to do that I’d need to keep my stuff. Else, how on earth would I train my dogs or practice? I love agility, and I do plan on returning some day, but I think my path is taking me in a different direction at present. It’s new and exciting and full of adventure. It's something I need to do, and agility can wait a little while longer.
I had an inkling of this new direction when I decided last year that I’d rather go on a week-long roadtrip than compete at Cynosports. For those who don’t know, Cynosports is the USDAA’s (United States Dog Agility Assocation) annual championship competition. It required as much vacation time as my other option, and I decided to go to Glacier National Park instead. Very good decision.
Where I think this can help you, dear reader, is to look closely at where your heart is pulling you and give yourself permission to at least consider it. If brave enough, give yourself permission to pursue it. You do only live once, and each opportunity is a gift. Variety is important; newness and exploration are also important. Try something new. Go on an exciting adventure. Go visit the people that are important to you. Just hone in on what that is and allow yourself the time to make it happen. I think you’ll find it was worth it.
For me, reducing my stuff will allow me more freedom and flexibility to travel, which is what I crave most right now. I want to organize what remains and spend time focusing on my business. I want to make it great. Not just successful, but great. Removing the superfluous will make it so much easier to gain clarity and vision. The change of scenery doesn’t hurt either ;-)
I just moved from Anoka to Zimmerman. If you’re not one of the 5,000 people that live here, you likely don’t have any clue where Zimmerman is. Right off 169, it’s about 15 minutes north of Elk River. I've only explored it in brief, and I'm looking forward to finding new trails, new people, and a new community to flourish in. I'll still serve the Twin Cities for my dog training business, but now I'll have a nice retreat to come home to after work.
Here, I leave you, to go do some more unpacking (and craigslisting). All the best to you on your own personal journey! Thanks for taking the time to read my story.