Lost and Found

Over the last few years I've given up a lot - I mean a LOT - of things.  When we left our comfortable little home in Georgia several years back I sold about $5,000 dollars worth of our possessions on Ebay and Craigslist.  I then made 4 trips to the local thrift store with donations and took 6 truck-loads of junk to the landfill - it was rubbish that no one wanted (so why had I kept it?).

Two years later when we moved from Colorado to California we downsized so that everything we owned fit into a Uhaul trailer - and that was including my motorcycle.

We recently downsized again into a Motorhome.  I put an ad on Craigslist for anyone interested to come and take everything away.  It was an awkward but freeing experience to see someone drive off with almost every single material possession that I had.

Here are a few of the items I've given up:

  • A permanent home
  • Television
  • A full time job
  • Almost all of my furniture
  • Most of my physical books
  • A CD collection 
  • A valuable collection of over 200 vinyl record albums
  • Over half of my clothing
  • Our second vehicle
  • 2 Kayaks (I do miss them)
  • Junk foods and wheat
  • 35 pounds of body fat
  • Lawn mower (and the lawn that needs mowed)
  • Homemade wines and home-brewed beer (no space)

I don't count, but I'm quite sure that I truly own less than 100 things.

Here is a list of a few things that I've added to my life during the same time-frame that I gave up the items on the previous list.

  • A motorhome so that I may live where I want, when I want.
  • The freedom to spend each summer living and working near the National Park of my choice, but to spend winters with family and friends
  • A strong motivation to be creative and generate multiple streams of income
  • A closer relationship with those I love
  • A dedicated practice of mindfulness and meditation
  • More peace of mind
  • Blogging and reading have replaced television as sources learning and entertainment
  • Bicycle riding and more evening walks
  • Fitness and health
  • A portable Kindle library
  • A portable music selection
  • An appreciation for healthy foods
Maybe living in a motorhome isn't your thing and maybe my form of minimalism is a little too extreme for you. That's okay.  We each need to find our own place where we have just enough - enough to be happy without so much that our possessions begin to weigh us down.

I encourage you to do an inventory of the things that occupy your life.  What would you be better off without?  What would take their place?

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living


  1. I'm new to minimalism. I've been getting rid of "stuff" one thing at a time daily. What I really notice is how my mind is changing...about everything. When I shop or see something I think I want, I now have an almost automatic pause where I ask myself if I need it. I almost never do. I walk away and feel so free. I'm 57 years old and wish I'd discovered these truths sooner. Still, I'm happy that enlightenment is happening. And I admire your lifestyle. I think I'd truly consider something along those lines but my sweet husband is a collector, garage sale junkie and a techie/electronics person. Sigh. I'm hoping my example will influence him. Thank you for the terrific post.

    1. Hi Kate,

      Thanks for reading.
      Minimalism has been a process for me. I think it really started with reading "Your Money or Your Life" by Vicki Robbins. It surely helps if your partner is on board.

  2. Dan, your lifestyle intrigues me, and I always love it when you share a bit about it.

    I think it's funny (and really neat) that we embraced extreme minimalism around the same time.

    I have loved the freedom of having fewer possessions, as it most certainly has made us more a part of the community and allowed us to re-examine our priorities as a family.

    Here is a post I wrote about it, some time back: http://myjourneytoithaca.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/thoughts-from-the-land-of-extreme-minimalism/ .

    1. Hi Bethany,

      I remember that post (but I did re-read it now). Great one, I hope you still feel the same.

  3. My current lifestyle would not be considered minimalist, but perhaps modest. However, in my youth, I embraced the back to the land lifestyle, and lived in the mountains with no electricity or running water. Very minimalist! I wouldn't go back to it, but I did learn and remember that it doesn't take much to be happy.

    1. I've never lived with no electricity or running water, except backpacking. I'm not sure if I'd want to do that or not. Maybe someday.

  4. Dan, thank you so much for sharing. I agree that it really is about questioning ourselves and figuring out what works. I've rid myself of many things, and yet I still look around and think, Where did all this stuff come from? The day may come when I can see my things being carried away too. Ah, the freedom!

    1. "Where did all this stuff come from? "

      I asked myself that every time we moved.

  5. Congratulation Dan you are free... you are truly free... and you have your priorities straight.

  6. A fantastic illustration of the maxim less is more, Dan. It is one of the only maxims that consistently stands up to scrutiny of which I am familiar. Have a nifty one!!

  7. Wow, I love this. Having recently downsized pretty dramatically in preparation for our move from Colorado to Alaska, I can also attest to having gained so much more in the form of time and freedom from stuff - both physical and mental clutter.

    What part of Colorado did you move from and where in California are you now? (I lived in Denver and before that was in San Francisco),

  8. You don't really know freedom until you let go of all the stuff weighing you down. As I look around my home I feel happy, so much happier than I was with a houseful of things. Love the idea of living in an RV, wish it would work for me.