Lately I have become the list queen. I have notebooks with hand written lists. I have apps on my phone for electronic lists.
Perhaps I have a problem.
Like, oh, everyone on the planet, since the pandemic hit we’ve had to put all our major life plans on hold. We should have been hitting the road for our full time RV life about now. But since COVID-19 has changed the way we all live life, we’ve put our RV plans on hold. Well, not really on hold, but we’re at a stand still until the shelter at home orders are no longer necessary.
This means I’m doing endless research. Endless online RV shopping. And, yes, making endless lists.
Lists of things we will need before we drive the RV off the dealer’s lot.
Lists of things we will need before we hit the road.
Lists of things I think we will eventually want to have.
Lists of what I hope our timeline will be. This one is subject to change without notice.
Honestly, I started making these lists as a way to feel like I was making progress toward our RV goals. But now, after all these weeks, it’s becoming a monster.
Is there a (internet based only-I honor social distancing recs) group for maniac list makers?
I get that making lists is a tool, a good one. Very helpful most of the time. But when list-making gets out of control it’s ugly y’all. Seriously.
I don’t know about anyone else, but over the past few weeks my state of mind waffles about every three seconds from anxiety, to faith, to fear, to peace, to some emotions I don’t even have words for. At this point, I’m just exhausted.
Today, on Palm Sunday, I declare for myself a day of Sabbath Rest. Not just laying around doing nothing, but meditating on God’s Word, sitting in His love and grace. Just being in Him.
I pray His PEACE, which passes all understanding, fill us all as we navigate the days ahead.
To say life changed in the past two months and five days since my last post is beyond understatement. From changes in our personal plans to global upheaval in a fight against a novel virus, nothing seems the same.
The third week of February one of our three dogs had to be humanely euthanized. We’re not talking about details. That’s enough to know.
Another of our dogs required extensive veterinary care which took a great deal of money and time to complete. He is almost completely healed.
We cancelled our Elkhart trip in February due to a predicted snowstorm in that area. We also finally admitted to each other that van life might not be the best RV life option for us, so we started exploring Class C RVs that would give a little more room for the two of us and our two dogs.
Then the novel coronavirus hit our area.
Our retirement savings took a huge hit just like everyone else’s. We began to realize that might be the most minor of changes in our lives for the next few months.
But we decided not to give up on our dream of RV life. We prayed, soul-searched, talked. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve cried a lot over the past couple of months at the sorrow and fear and inability to know what to do and when to do it.
We took to heart the thought that it’s the RV lifestyle we truly want. The vehicle is less important. With that mindset we decided to go the least expensive route to get us on the road.
Truck and travel trailer.
We’ve narrowed our choices by shopping online. We had toured a few travel trailers during our RV search you know, when we could still go out to shop in person. We’ve done enough research to know we want and what we think we’ll need.
Late last fall we had thought to leave our jobs maybe at the end of March. Now it’s looking to be a bit later. We both work in healthcare, so the timing stinks. But, honestly, now may be as good a time as any to get out of healthcare. Praying about that too.
Regardless of when we leave our jobs, when we buy our truck and trailer, when we sell our house, we are moving forward with our dream and the vision God has given us. Neither of us knows what this is going to look like, but we know who does, and we trust Him.
We’ve been prepping for full time RV life for a year now. But sometimes we take a step that makes this plan super real and significantly closer.
Today was one of those days. As I was booking our motel room for our February visit to Embassy RV it hit me. This is getting REAL! We are really prepping to change our entire lifestyle! It’s exciting, scary, and exhilarating all at once.
We’re so ready for this move. We see God making a way every day as we move closer to this transition.
Downsizing from a 1200 square foot sticks and bricks home to a Class B RV that is only 22 feet long overwhelms me, if I’m honest. We’ve lived in this house since the first weekend of January 2004. Lots of stuff accumulates in that amount of time. Not to mention the stuff from the six years of marriage before we bought our house.
When we decided to downsize and move into an RV full time we knew we had to purge our belongings. We knew we had to be brutal. We knew we couldn’t look at anything through the lens of nostalgia or sentimentality. We knew it would be a lot of work. And, y’all, I mean A LOT OF WORK.
Thinking about downsizing our whole house sends me into a panic. Seriously. I’m not a panic-y kind of person usually. But I did some hardcore hyperventilating the first time we sorted through our kitchen junk drawer. I couldn’t stay focused on the drawer. In my mind that one drawer morphed into an entire house of kitchen junk drawers dancing around me and mocking me. My heart raced. I broke out into a sweat. After Daniel and I went through that drawer I had to stop. It completely drained me.
But other people have done this. People do this every day. Lots of people go through their stuff and declutter at least once a year. How do they start? How do they survive the anxiety and panic? I’m learning how, and I’m going to share it with you.
Remember the old cliché: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It’s that simple and that difficult.
How do you downsize a lifetime from a sticks and bricks house to a camper van? One bite at a time.
Pick one spot, one drawer, one shelf. Daniel and I had the right idea starting with one drawer. I just had to learn to narrow my focus. Instead of thinking about what comes after that drawer and the next one and the next one and the next one, think only about that one drawer. Set that one drawer as the goal. Not the whole house or even the whole room.
Another technique that works for me, especially for spaces larger than a drawer, is to set the timer on my phone for 30 minutes. Purge stuff like mad for 30 minutes. When the timer buzzes, stop. Take a break. Go for a walk. Drink some water. Do 15 minutes of yoga. If you have time after your break, purge for another 30 minutes. So on and so forth.
That’s how I faced cleaning out the closet in our spare room this morning.
In 30 minutes, the closet went from this (which I’m truly embarrassed to share publicly):
From that closet, I took two trash bags full of paper and plastic to the recycle bin. I took a handful of garbage out. Daniel took a box of stuff to Goodwill. I did keep my mother’s old sewing machine which I’ll store at Dad’s house for now. I also have a quilting frame that I will sell. But all of that took 30 minutes. Yes, that room is still a disaster. But that closet, that one space, is clear. It’s done. I don’t have to think about it again.
The 30 minute rule works really well for me. Some people suggest 15 minutes. Others suggest an hour. Find the time limit that works for you. Break it down to small chunks. Focus only on that chunk, no more. Then take a break before facing another chunk.
Do you have any special ways to deal with decluttering? What works well for you? Do you declutter on a schedule? Or are you like Daniel and me, facing years of clutter with only a few months to go through it all?
I realized over the weekend that this flare of reflux and heartburn is related to some anxiety and stress I’ve been experiencing the past few months. So lately I’ve been meditating on peace, God’s PEACE, the kind of peace that only comes from Him. Daily life on earth doesn’t offer much in the way of peace.
But He does.
And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Mom, you left us six months ago today. My heart hurts. I’m still trying to find my way in this new reality. I still can’t find the words to express all that fills my heart. I miss you more than I knew I could miss anyone.