Why is is so hard to give up “stuff”?

When we sold our house and most of our belongings before moving onto our 37 foot sailboat, several friends told me, “It must feel so good to simplify and get rid of stuff!” Well it did feel good up to a point: emptying closets of outdated technology, getting rid of clothes that hadn’t fit in years, eliminating duplicate camping gear. Even clearing out kitchen cabinets of clutter was kind of fun. And I got really good at my downsizing mantras. Does it bring me joy? Does it fit on a boat? But eventually….. I had gotten rid of the junk, and all that was left was things that I loved, and clothes that fit me, and stuff that, darn it, DID bring me joy! And it was still WAY too much to fit on a boat.

So then sh*t got real. And we kept downsizing: digitizing photos, giving away the coffee bean grinder and any kitchen items that could be replaced at Target, giving away running clothes and cycling kits (’cause who can run or bike on a boat?) We finally caved in a bit and decided to store a few boxes at Capt. Mike’s mom’s house – our road bikes, glassware and pottery from our travels and a box of winter jackets for when we eventually leave the topics and visit Buffalo. That decision probably saved my sanity, because t allowed me to keep some belongings.

Jump ahead to the end of our second cruising season. And somehow… We still have too much stuff! There’s clothes in hard-to-get-to storage that I haven’t worn all season. We have a bag of bags – yes really. Insulated cups always sit on the counter because there’s not enough room in the cup cupboard. Don’t even ask how many pairs of shoes I have. Sigh. So at the end of the season, we downsized again. I really think Netflix should feature Sanitas on an episode of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”

When we moved from the boat to an Airbnb while working in the yard, the pile of stuff we moved into the condo was pretty huge.

But, to be fair, we were still cooking all our meals (with vegetables!) And using up food and toiletries from the cruising season. We downsized a bit more before flying to Colorado for a month. But packing light didn’t turn out quite how I envisioned it.

Good thing we borrowed a friend’s car! We had cold weather clothing (it snowed in Colorado the day before we arrived, plus we planned to spend time in New York in October) and running clothes and yoga clothes and going out to dinner clothes and backpacking equipment. So not too bad, considering.

But then a crazy thing happened. During the month we spent in the land of plenty, we bought more stuff! Newer cuter clothes. Toiletries. Makeup (which you sure don’t need on the boat). Gluten free snacks galore. Newer, lighter packaging gear. By the end of the month, we again had way too much stuff and had to ship some to new York. By the time we flew out from Denver to Europe, we’d once again skinnyed things down to a comfortable walking around level.

I think we’re pretty good now! I’ve got hiking clothes and gear. I’ve got everything I need for hot temps, chilly temps, and rain. I’ve got a couple of drinking-wine-and-eating-pinxtos outfits. I even packed some gluten free snacks. Why was it so hard to get here?

Who knows! Like most of us, I get sentimentally attached to things I’ve owned that trigger fond memories. And I hate the idea of re-buying something I used to own. It seems like such a waste! Plus there’s always an element of, “what if I need it someday?” But, with everything I need for 3 months traveling Europe in my backpack, I hope to channel my inner Marie Kondo and get rid of the clutter and excess in my life! And on my boat 😁

Tool of the Day …. Safety Devices

Way back in November, we took advantage of Black Friday sales to stock up on personal floatation devices, tethers, a life sling, and portable VHF with GPS and distress signal. The most money I’ve ever spent on something I hope to never use.

In these pictures, we’re just testing the PFDs to check for leaks. Then they fold back up into a low-profile vest that self inflates when in contact with the water.


“We’re going to sell everything and move onto a sailboat.”

It’s such an easy thing to say and such a difficult thing to do. We bought our sailboat in St Petersburg, Florida in March of 2017 and spent the next five months closing out our lives in Boulder, Colorado so we could join her there. At the time, Mike and I owned a townhouse in Boulder, two cars (including the obligatory Subaru Outback), six bikes, and the plethora of outdoor gear required to support our addictions to

  • Road biking
  • Mountain biking
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Road running
  • Trail running
  • Golfing
  • Car camping
  • Backpacking
  • Woodworking

We adopted two mantras: “Does it fit on a boat?” and “Does it bring you joy?” With those questions always in mind, we set about downsizing. We held a gigantic garage sale in June and got down to normal people amounts of stuff, and made a few bucks. We sold the most valuable items of gear to friends and CraigsList patrons, and eventually made daily trips to Goodwill. I’m surprised the Goodwill donation guy didn’t get a bit more friendly after we started spending so much time together. I brought trunk loads of excess running gear to share with my Lilly’s Coaching training group. I spread kitchen items on every surface and posted an invitation on Facebook, “Come and get it. Everything must go!”

I spent hours looking through photo albums over a glass of wine selecting the pictures to digitize and sharing the best throwbacks to Facebook. The rest were thrown in the dumpster to Mike’s horror.

Eventually, the day came when we emptied the house and left the rooms hollow and echoey. We slept the last two nights on the floor in piles of every quilt and pillow we had left. I’m forever grateful to our friend Toby for helping with last trips to the dump, and for basically carting away everything that was left in the garage at the very end.

In the end, we loaded up the smallest moving van we could find with the items we planned to store at Mike’s mom’s house in Buffalo; souvenirs from our travels, glass from Africa, a few items of winter clothes, kitchen items….. The goal was to get down to only what could fit in my Volkswagen Eos convertible by the time we left Buffalo and headed south to Florida. Piece of cake! In the end, it took at least three more organizing and purging sessions, but we finally made it.

We only stored this much of our belongings, after 20 years of married life together!

And we filled every single inch of the VW, almost to the point of bottoming out, as we set off on our road trip to Florida!