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5 Things I've Learned From Downsizing Our Lives -- Part 1

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Yes, we are in the process of moving. From a four bedroom mid-century modern to a two bedroom rental located in one of the better school districts in the country.

The dream... get married, have a child, own a home, make things pretty, the clink of champagne glasses and nights sipping cocoa by the fire got dashed these past 10 months and we made the big move to a downsized life.

As a forty something, the mentality is to upgrade. A bigger home, a bigger car, designer clothes at the peak of your career, international travel. This mentality got us in trouble and as we face consequences head-on we also experienced some great learning. Two months on the other side, joy is a guest coming back in through the front door.

Here's 5 lessons learned (so far):

1] What Really Matters? We decided to make our move without paying for a storage unit. A pretty bold move after 17 years of married life and 2:3 of us might be hoarders. Family heirlooms, art in particular, photographs, favorite clothes matters most. Of course, iPads and iPhones a close second and if we had a dogs that would be up there. Coco Jones, the Russian Dwarf hamster also made it to the top of the list. Power saws, rakes, outdoor furniture (we have a balcony), a sea of clothes and 300 stuffed animals did not. Neither did the Mercedes. We got an apartment near the Metro with one parking space included so we sold off the lease and are down to one car we almost never use.

2] It's All About Schools... Okay, so as you can imagine we were spending a little too much on our lifestyle. The idea of adding $3,000 a month on top for private school would have crushed us, so we dug in and made the move after exhausting every single option we could come up with including applying to several Charter Schools in DC. Our daughter is now in middle school and was in a fabulous, did I say fabulous DC Public Elementary School from PK - 5 (Key School in Palisades). We got her into a tier 1 school through the move (Westland in Montgomery County, MD) and she is working hard to adapt to a big school and a whole lot of kids she doesn't know... yet.

3] The Upside of Shame... When I told my friends about our downsizing and all the things we were getting rid of as we moved to an apartment rental, a strange thing happened. Many told me they were jealous?! WHY?! Giving up a home we were so proud of, I was expecting more condolences for the death of my upper middle class lifestyle, but friends wondered if they could get rid of all the clutter that bogged them down too. I was feeling shame for sure... but little by little, after three garage sales and a few trips to Goodwill I realized that material goods are not my identity. Making a massive difference in the world and keeping my family intact, much higher calling. I did buy some awesome Joe Malone Pear and Freesia perfume for $60 after the garage sale. Girls will still be girls.

4] The Virtue of Taking a Metro. After driving everywhere, I have joined the world of the Metro riders and I now get an hour a day of exercise I wasn't getting. As somewhat of a workaholic, I often felt like I was a walking head... No body, just a head. You see I was thinking all the time and going from the 'box' of my office to the dining room chairs and L-shaped couch of my home. Now that I am running up and down Metro escalators and getting physically stronger I realize the blessing in disguise of taking public transportation. I have a car and parking is cheap near my office, but using the move to make me MOVE more has been a good thing. I also started swimming after work (nice amentities that the apartment building has an indoor pool) which slows down in the evening my over active brain.

5] Generally Feeling Younger. Look, I don't know where we will end up. We sold our home and we might end up buying another smaller home or an apartment if we love apartment living. But I do know that we are trying something new now. It's scary. It's exciting. City living from more suburban living is making us feel very cosmopolitan and more European. We can walk two blocks to Whole Foods and buy fresh fruit and produce to eat that day. We cook more and eat out less. We can meet a friend at the corner for cappuccinos or pass the new DSW and H & M on a walk where we only window shop. We miss our neighbors and neighborhood, but we are also having fun seeing every ounce of our lives from new light. We also both started new jobs last Spring so everything is feeling new and dynamic. There is an undercurrent also of stress from all the change and our tempers are a bit shorter with each other as we all adjust, but we feel gratitude that we found the courage to change.