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A column by Fran Crawford
Published in The Territorial Dispatch
February 20, 2000

A full time RVer must eliminate possessions that have taken a lifetime to accumulate.

It seems to me there are some things a person who lives in a house with no wheels, could learn from full time RVers. Even if you plan to live out the rest of your life where you are now, I bet you have more 'stuff' than you need.

A full time RVer must eliminate possessions that have taken a lifetime to accumulate... furniture and household goods, souvenirs, photographs, paperwork, mementos from your youth as well as your youngster's childhood, knickknacks ...and way, way too many shoes.

Spring is just around the corner and 'spring cleaning' seems to be an age-old American custom. Turn the mattress. Fluff the pillows. Shake out the blankets. Hose out the garage. Sort out the attic (or basement).

If you are a first class, award winning pack rat... like I am... you may discover the meaning of frustration. I even have stuff from my parents' home. Guess I thought if it was important to them I owed it to them to keep it! They're probably having a big chuckle over that.

If you live in a 'foundation house' and can fit both cars in your garage and still get to the washer and dryer my hat is off to you ... and you may stop reading this now. If you can't even get to the second frig for a cold beer... continue. You are not alone.

Downsizing from the remains of two retail stores and a 27-year, 4-kid home to a 32' fifth wheel was frustrating in progress, but I found the end result to be a great feeling of freedom.

Eliminating stuff in a regular house doesn't have to be as extreme, but a certain amount of downsizing as you move along through life could be the greatest gift you can give your heirs. It will spare them doing it.

Unless you are truly psychic you don't know what will be valuable to future generations. Sure, I wish I'd saved that Superman comic that's worth a million... I'm sure I had one! But even if I could dig it out of my attic, could I find someone who would give me a million bucks for it?

"Oh," they'd say, "the corner of the back cover is torn off. I can only give you ten bucks for it!"

It's hard to let go of the past, but it is GONE forever. The future is where we are headed.

Keep meaningful things that bring back good memories ...and photographs of family and friends.

'Out of sight, out of mind' works for you here, so if you have stuff you want/need to remember get out the camera. Video tape or photograph things you don't use and have just stored away. You can look at the tape and remember stuff without having to worry if mice or termites have destroyed them.

Seriously consider what your kids would do with your stuff if you died today?

Books accumulate and are hard to eliminate. You always plan to read more than you do. Ask yourself if you can find the information on the internet, or if you can get the book from the library when you finally have time to read it. Make a list of those you want to read some day and donate your books to the library or if they are art/craft books, to the Arts Council.

Stop when you are tired sorting and beginning to 'save' more stuff than you unload. You can get back to it later. Don't rent a storage place for stuff you don't use or have room to save. Those places are for storing stuff you will use in the bigger house you plan to get in the future.

Remember, when you downsize you are no longer responsible for what you have eliminated. Think about this... remember the flood threat of the late '90s. We all had to evacuate. Some of us sat up in the foothills stressing about what would happen to our 'stuff' if the levee broke. Others of us who had downsized into full time RVers hitched up our houses and were living in them with no stress about what could happen to our possessions.

The prize for downsizing is the feeling of great freedom you get. Feelin' good is easy when you aren't responsible for dragging your entire life's baggage with you, up the road to the future. Experience the freedom!

--Fran C. Crawford ©2000

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