Less really is more

sunrise, Holmes Co. OH

The dawning of a new day.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I’m not sure what took me so long to figure it out. It’s not like I hadn’t heard the concept before. I just never seriously applied the principle that less really is more.

When my wife and I became annual Florida snowbirds, we learned to live with a lot less than we did back home. Since we hunkered down in a condo on the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Jacksonville in January and February, we had to plan for four seasons of weather. Winter weather is uncertain at best that far north in Florida.

Florida pond

Cool morning, hot afternoon.

We shared just one closet smaller than each of our own clothes closets at home. That meant taking fewer clothes to Florida, combinations that could be layered. If it was chilly in the morning and we were going out for the day, we dressed warmly in outer coats, jackets, or sweaters, shedding layers as the day warmed.

With less selection, we just got dressed for the occasion, whether it was for church, dinner out, a walk on the beach or a photo outing. Sometimes we did a combination of activities.

Clothes weren’t the only items that were less in volume than we were used to. We lived in a much smaller space and with far fewer “things.” We had less furniture, fewer dishes, cookware, and almost no storage space. And yet we always had an enjoyable time. There was a lesson to be learned there.

When we purchased a house in Virginia that was substantially smaller than the house we had lived in for nearly four decades, we had important decisions to make. We had to evaluate and prioritize everything we owned. Would we need it in Virginia? Where would we put it? We truly had to downsize. We took our time, but we started early.

We sorted mementos from our school careers. Photos, drawings, grade books, and old textbooks were tossed, given away, or donated to thrift stores. Family heirlooms were distributed to any takers. We said goodbye to travel souvenirs, photos, tools, quilts, chainsaw, and camera gear, even bird feeders.

Besides finding homes for valued family and personal items, we held a garage sale and donated items to Save and Serve Thrift Store in Millersburg, Ohio. Because we spread out this process over several months, we were able to sleep at night.

Amish farm, Ohio's Amish country

Springtime in Ohio’s Amish country.

By moving from the place where Neva and I spent the best years of our lives, we gave up everything. The familiarities that became so routine, the incredible sunrises and sunsets, the friends, neighbors, family members. We miss all of them, all of that.

painting furniture

Making old new again.

In a way, it was like starting over. Sure, we knew folks in our new setting, we knew places, but it wasn’t the same. By doing so though, we realize we have gained by living with less. We actually have more. The real benefit of living with less is that it has brought us more joy.

As we enter our retirement years, it feels good to have de-cluttered our lives. We feel alive in finding new adventures, making new friends, renewing old friendships, exploring new places, seeing new sunrises and sunsets from new locales, on new farms, and from cityscapes.

For us, less has become more. We have shed ourselves of the excess, and strive to enjoy each moment, each day, each person we encounter, whether at the hardware store, grocery store or serving at the local food pantry.

Downsizing has enriched our lives. We are ever so thankful to heartily say that less truly is more.

those blue mountains

Enjoying new sunsets.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

15 Comments

Filed under column, family, friends, human interest, Ohio, Ohio's Amish country, photography, rural life, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, writing

15 responses to “Less really is more

  1. Joanne Cuny

    Such lovely pictures…thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hazel

    Pictures are beautiful. We had to downsize in a big way several years ago, and you hardly know how you can let it all go. But in the end you don’t even miss all the “stuff” and it becomes just a memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Weekly Blogroll: Blackberry Muffins, Amish Vegetable Soup, Less With More, and More! - Amish 365: Amish Recipes - Amish Cooking

  4. Carol

    What we “have”on this earth is only temporary. For true born-again believers our true home is with the Lord in heaven. The lesson of learning that “less is more” isn’t an easy one, but it is so worth it if one is willing to trust the Lord and follow Him.
    Thanks for your update. It’s always a pleasure to read your writings. God bless you and your wife as you walk with the Lord through the retirement years, filled with adventure in each new day to God’s glory and your good.
    In Christ, Carol Lukaszewicz

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sue Harvey

    One of those housekeeping tv shows I like says downsizing and donating things is “gifting it to others who need”

    Like

  6. Diane

    Bruce it is nice how you down sized but tell me, did you move from a farm to a smaller farm or what. I’m sorry I didn’t understand. Reason for asking is I live on what I would call a down sized life style and would like to know if what I call down sized is really down sized or should I know more.

    Like

    • Diane,
      Thanks for asking. I’m sorry what I wrote wasn’t clear to you. My wife and I lived in a bi-level home built on an Amish farm in Holmes Co., OH. We moved to Rockingham Co., VA to be closer to our grandchildren. We lived in the country but were not farmers. We are both retired career public educators. Our current home is in a housing development adjacent to two substantial dairy farms west of Harrisonburg, VA. We went from a 2,200 sq. ft. home to a 1,500 sq. ft. ranch home with no basement and no attic. Beyond that, we down-sized in how we live our lives, meaning not as busy, refocused on family, taking care of ourselves health-wise, and using the energy we have to help in specific purposes that will serve as an extension of our faith, faith into action. I hope that clarifies my version of down-sizing.
      Thanks, again.
      Bruce

      Like

  7. We’re in the middle of it that’s for sure, and it’s amazing how tough it is to give away some things. It’s hard searching for places that will take it rather than just discarding it in the dump. But we’re getting there, and looking forward to the down-sized, refocused, less-labour intensive and more sociable life!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christine

    Inspiring post that’s beautifully written. 🙂 May I ask where the Save & Serve Thrift store is? I’ve been to the Harvest Thrift store in Sugarcreek and will be back to Holmes county in September. I’d love to visit the store you mentioned.

    Like

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