Marie Kondo and her method of decluttering and tidying up have taken the world by storm. Her new series on Netflix is all the buzz, and people are asking themselves if their clothes, books, sports equipment, and knick knacs are sparking joy…..(If you’ve read her books or seen her videos, you’ve probably asked yourself the same….at least once. 🙂
Minimalism is all the rage. Along with Marie, everyone from Joshua Becker to Anthony Ongaro to Matt D’Avella to Madeleine Olivia are all encouraging us on Youtube to declutter, discard, and simply our lives. People are realizing that possessions not only fail to bring us the happiness we seek, but that they can actually drag us down and add weight and stress to our lives.
As my wife and I are preparing for my transition from full-time employment to a more flexible lifestyle (that includes splitting our time 50/50 between Costa Rica and Indiana), we are going through this process – getting rid of stuff. Or maybe I should not say getting rid of stuff, but instead, deciding what is important to us to keep.
Expats have been doing this for years – before Marie, Joshua, Anthony, Matt, Madeleine, and a multitude of other minimalists became known.
I remember the first time we moved overseas – to Honduras. We had several yard sales and stored a lot of our stuff in my parents’ attic, and our new car in a storage unit. Amazingly, we enjoyed a wonderful year in Honduras, never even thinking about our possessions in the attic!
Then, after a few years back in the USA, we ventured out again, this time to the Cayman Islands. We knew we were going indefinitely this time, so we really cleaned out! Yard sales, give-aways, and again, my parents’ attic was put to use. This time we moved with two children and about 40 boxes! Obviously, we had made a valiant effort, but we had not mastered the art of discarding!
Two years later came the move directly from the Cayman Islands to Costa Rica. We made the move this time with 20 boxes! We just showed up at the airport with 20 extra boxes, paid a fee per box, and got on the plane. Those were the days! We actually left even more in Cayman during this move. We often wondered why we even brought half the stuff we did in the first place.
We were in Costa Rica for eleven years. We bought and sold two different homes during that time. When it came time to leave, it was again a matter of discarding. We returned to the USA again – with even less boxes.
Now we’ve been in the USA for almost 16 years, and we are moving from our home into a smaller place in Indiana, as well as setting up our second home in Costa Rica. When I’m in Indiana going through our stuff and deciding what really sparks joy for us, I think about each item, see if it sparks joy, and reluctantly discard things that have certain memories attached.
But, here is the thing: When I’m in Costa Rica for weeks at a time, I don’t even think about those things back in Indiana. It’s not like I’m sitting around thinking, “Gee, I wish I could see that spoon we use to stir the oatmeal!” I just live life in Costa Rica with what we have there (much, much less) – and I don’t give it a second thought.
Realizing that has been good for me during this process of sorting, checking for joy, minimizing, and discarding. I’ve realized that once a lot of things are out of sight, they are out of mind.
And that leaves my mind free to absorb new experiences, and hopefully, not just more stuff.
Expats have been doing this minimalist thing for years. We are happy to have you join us in a life not encumbered by things, but by experiences and adventures.
If you’re thinking of being a part-time expat, starting asking if items spark joy for you.
Happy decluttering and discarding, and expating!
It’s worth it. A whole new world awaits.
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