My traveler’s blues followed me all the way to the woods of Finland. It made me realize that if we were to fully enjoy traveling again something needed fixing. But what? And how? Some soul searching and a little help from the Minimalists showed us the way forward. Our focus would shift from collecting stuff to collecting experiences. Getting more out of life… with less effort.
Easier said than done…
Downsize and sell the house?
We realized that messy home and hoarders mentality made it impossible to enjoy traveling anymore. We were not flexible nor agile. If we wanted life at home to feel as light, nimble and dynamic as life abroad we had to question our way of life completely.
My first reflex was second-guessing our house. Why, oh why did we buy an old, detached house? For the past eight years it felt like we had spent all our money and energy in renovating this ever hungry, money-devouring monster… and still it didn’t resemble the home I had envisioned so many years ago.
Speaking of which… was a house and a large garden really our idea or were we following the template script that someone else wrote for us? I started wondering: If you love traveling, do you even need to own a large house? Did we have our priorities all mixed up? We were talking about a thirty-year commitment here. Thirty years of handing over a large chunk of your paycheck… every month, until you paid for it twice over (if you take interest rates into account).
It seemed like a no-brainer at the time – the big investment every responsible person is supposed to do – now I wasn’t so sure anymore. Several millennials had seen more of the world at 25 than we had at 35.
We actually considered downgrading to a modern, spacious appartment. Clean slate and build from there. We would have considerably less chores to do (see below), lower maintenance costs and a lot more flexibility when it would come to traveling or hobbies such as writing and photography. We would also be very careful about purchasing new stuff.
A few months later we changed our minds.
Things for granted
There were still too many things we loved about our house. So many things we took for granted:
- our peaceful neighborhood (there’s horses right across the street!)
- our charitable little village.
- trees and fields all around: a runner’s paradise!
- our friendly neighbors. Guy passes by every week with a handful of fresh eggs!
- semi-detached = no loud neighbors that bother you when you want some peace and quiet
- semi-detached = the possibility to play extremely loud music (or games) whenever you felt like it.
- butterflies flapping and bees buzzing in Sofie’s overflowing vegetable garden.
- dozens of sparrow hiding in our shrubs and our regular pair of turtledoves 🙂
- cool bats fluttering about at dusk when you sit on the back porch sipping a coffee (or limoncello).
- The doggies enjoying the garden even more than we do…
- And of course our old terrace to invite friends and family on. Something we had not done nearly enough these past few years. We were either too stressed, too focused on work or too tired.
For the first time in a long time I remembered why we had bought the house in the first place. We saw its full potential again.
We remembered what we had worked for so hard all those years.
Why are we always so focused on what we believe we LACK, and fail to see everything we already ACCOMPLISHED?
Somewhere along the road we had gotten so sick and tired of renovating and spending our every dime on the house that we desperately needed to rediscover ourselves through some new and challenging experiences:
- landing a more fulfilling and rewarding job – and keeping it! (CHECK)
- seeing my old friend Erik again in Singapore (CHECK)
- chasing dolphins in Bali (CHECK)
- traveling solo (CHECK)
- and of course traveling to Peru (CHECK)
Despite all the sleepless nights and stress, I’m glad I actually questioned every aspect of our lives. It changed my outlook on life completely. I’ll admit, it was not easy, not for me and especially for Sofie. She had to put up with me in this mid-life kind of crisis.
What kind of nutter wants to hike solo in the woods in Finland and all that… 😀
In retrospect my soul searching may have been the biggest journey of them all.
In the end I think it made us stronger, more determined and more focused.
Now the fog finally lifted and the road ahead became clear…
It was time to return home.
With a vengeance!
The big make-over
We neglected our house for over three years and we had A LOT of catching up to do. Stuff kept piling up in our unused spare rooms, the attic, the garage… everywhere.
We devised a big make-over plan and got to work. No more excuses!
In this big plan we would…
- address each and every thing that drains our energy or frustrates us
- get rid of everything that we have not used in the last year
- throw out everything that requires too much maintenance without adding value
- replace things that we needed but were worn down
- cut unnecessary costs
- start organizing like never before
So ironically, in order to enjoy life and travel more, we got to work like never before!
It pays off… home is finally starting to look and feel how I always dreamed it would be…
Stay tuned as we take you step by step through our big make-over of 2016 and 2017.
Warning: you may get inspired to improve your home, minimize your possessions and introduce some Feng Shui in the process too!