I am a voracious reader although, these days I haven’t had much time to indulge in my love of books. Books can induce all kinds of thoughts and emotions depending on the route that the author chooses. No two books will take the same path because each one is based on the creators life experiences and visions on life. That’s the exciting part, exploring each new trail left by the breadcrumbs of the narrator. Much like Hansel & Gretel we choose to follow the path or veer off into our own road based on our own lives and backgrounds.
Amazing things can happen when you realize how eerily similar some paths are to each other. Whether or not they began at the same place or even polar opposites we can recognize bits and pieces and see how different outlooks and life wisdom can drastically change the topography of our world that we thought we knew like the back of our hands.
One of the truly best things about blogging are the relationships that you build with people who are not only in different areas of the world, but with different life experiences and outlooks. My friend, Kathy Gottberg, is one such friend. She lives on the opposite coast. We’ve had a totally different life experience coming from different backgrounds. We even look like total opposites with her blond hair and fair skin and me with my dark brown hair and Indian complexion. You wouldn’t expect us to have very much in common, but you would be wrong.
Even though we come from different places we both agree that living the “right-sized” kind of life is one of the most important decisions you can make. When I started this crazy journey my life was turned upside down first by a car accident and then by the tanking economy that caused my husband to lose his income after 18 years with a growing, successful business. We learned a hard lesson;
No matter how many plans you make or how safe you play it, ultimately life is a gamble and sometimes you walk away a winner and sometimes you just have to walk away.
The old life that we had known for 20 years had gone up in flames and we knew that when we began this new phase we wanted it to look different. We started by going through every single thing that we owned and deciding what held meaning for us and what held only memories. Once we started this process of culling out the parts of our life that were not working for us, those parts that felt more like moorings that were chaining us to the past it became easier to find bits and pieces the could be refurbished to fit into our new world. It was kind of like going into a house that has been burned and saving the few things that had not to been taken by the flames or damaged by the water.
We took the little that was left and packed it up and moved 400 miles to SC into a small 1 bedroom apartment. A temporary home while we waited for the dust to settle on our new landscape. When this was happening I remembering being scared of what was to come, but also excited to make this change. What I didn’t expect to feel was this feeling of relief that overcame me. I felt like with every possession that I was able to let go of I was not only losing the physical weight, but also the mental anchor that all of these possessions had become.
I had to decide what was important because only a small amount could come and the rest would be sold to the highest bidder. When I started I was half-heartedly putting stuff in and then taking it back out. I fought the demons of my memories, lost loved ones and the guilt that getting on with the business of living brings up. They more I got rid of the lighter I felt. The deeper the symbolism the freer I felt. I didn’t need all of these things to remind me my heart would never forget.
By the time we were finished we had a car and a small trailer full of our worldly possession, but I had more hope for the future than I had ever had. I was lighter, freer and yes, happier than I had ever been in my life. I knew that when it came time to add new things to my life that they had to 1.) Be needs not wants. 2.) Bought because of an emotional attachment 3.) Improve our lives. I learned that I liked the space that getting rid of old baggage created and I didn’t want to turn around and fill it back up with needless trinkets that didn’t add any value.
What I didn’t know then was that I had created my perfect “RIGHT-SIZED” life. I didn’t learn that term until a few years ago when I started reading Kathy’s blog SMART LIVING 365. She came to same conclusions from a totally different trail of her own explorations and she has carried it even further. In her book “Rightsizing” A SMART Living 365 Guide to Reinventing Retirement she explains what is wrong with the idea of retiring that we’ve all bee sold our entire lives. It just doesn’t happen. There is no “Golden Age” that we bought into for so many years. That after a life of hard work we’ll be able to do what we want when we want. We’ve been told all of our lives that there is a magic number and we needed to have that to enjoy our senior status.
Instead, she offers another idea that to me makes much more sense.
Rightsizing, is first taking the time to find out what it is that really brings you joy and then figuring out how to do it right now—today, rather than at some distant time in the future. At the same time, rightsizing is also about eliminating everything that isn’t necessary or that important in your life. Ultimately, by focusing on what is important and eliminating what isn’t, the path to a rightsized life is as individual as you are. ~Kathy Gottberg
The thing with Kathy though, is she not only talks the talk, but she walks the walk. She and her husband Thom began right-sizing their lives in 2007. They sold their home and moved to a smaller home without some of the amenities that were no longer things they needed to have in their lives. They were able to right-size their lives and saving themselves over $31,000 a year in the process just by eliminating the unnecessary from their lives.
Getting rid of the excess and doing the work of finding out what you need in life and what you are willing to sacrifice for something more fulfilling isn’t an easy task. You have to be willing to shine a light on every aspect of your life. Examine it, weigh its usefulness to the life you’re trying create, and then be able to let things go that while having an emotional attachment do not add any real value.
I volunteered to review this book because not only is Kathy my friend, but I happen to agree with these philosophies wholeheartedly. While I unknowingly right-sized our lives I have seen the many of benefits that it has afforded us. I also know that it is a never ending lifestyle choice and after reading the book cover to cover I know that there is still a lot of room for improvement. It was an easy book to read and follow along. It also very easy to adapt to your own life choices.
If you were to ask me what I thought about this book I would say this:
Every decade or so a book comes along that has the potential to become life-changing. This is that book! No matter your age, where you are in your life, or where you’ve been. Following the examples in this book and adapt it to your own lifestyle and it will add benefits that you will feel until the day you die. WARNING: You have to go into it with your whole heart for it to give you benefits that you are looking for. You have to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. ~Rena McDaniel
I hope you will read it for yourselves and I would love to have your opinions! Let’s start a conversation and please go to: Smart Living 365 and order her book!