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Simple Restart Day 5

minimalist - organization - simple living - what we ownImage: Phaitoon

This week we are doing 5 days of the most popular posts on LSL during 2013.  To go along with the restart you can grab a FREE copy of Simple Living: 30 days to less stuff and more life.

I wish you a wonderful and simple 2014!

From March 13, 2013 (just as we started traveling)

Just over a month ago I posted about what we owned as a minimalist (or simple living) family.

But a lot has changed in the last month.

Ever since we first started simplifying we dreamed of being able to live out of a backpack and travel…

…and just over 2 years since we started de-cluttering and making intentional changes it is now a reality!  We are in China and this post is about what we brought with us.

… we aren’t technically living out of backpacks… suitcases, but the idea is the same.

Here is what we brought with us and what we are storing…

My goal for this post was to have a cute little picture of our family at the airport with our bags.  However, the reality of traveling happened and the camera was never pulled out.

We decided we wanted to move to China late December and really jumped into the paper work.  … coming to China is not easy… all kinds of paperwork sent over the oceans and medical tests to be done and just general government delays (governments are so similar all over the world 🙂)

So, even though we knew we wanted to come to China we really couldn’t start packing or selling anything until we got our visa’s approved.

…. we finally got visa’s 12 days before we were scheduled to fly.

12 days turned us from minimalists in our 1-bedroom apartment to being officially ‘backpack’ travelers.

We sold all my husbands construction gear and both vehicles (we had to drive a rental car till we left).  We sold our table and some other pieces of furniture.  We packed up our China dishes and a few other memory things.  Then we donated the rest of our household goods 1 day before we left.

What we have with us:

  • 2 suitcases
  • 4 carry on (small) suitcases
  • computer bag
  • 2 kids backpacks
  • Bryon’s camera bag

We have current sized clothes for winter and spring and a few larger clothes for the kids for next winter.  We have homeschooling stuff, blogging stuff, photography equipment and some books for teaching English.  We have some kids toys and books.  We brought some medical stuff and vitamins.  We also brought the kids quilts that grandma made for them.  Since we were moving into a furnished apartment, here in China, we didn’t need anything else.

What we stored:

  • A few plastic tubs of memory items
  • Our china dishes
  • Camping tent and sleeping bags
  • Our electric piano
  • All our old paperwork for taxes we need to hang onto

I don’t remember when I have had so little belongings to my name.

This definitely would be considered extreme for minimalism but I have to say that we love it!.

This minimalist journey is personal to us and would be different for everyone.  But since this is me sharing our story, I tell you about how it works or us.

Going from ‘normal’ family belongings down to a few bags has been a journey but it has been incredibly freeing.  I do own things that I value, but it is nice to realize that it is only a few things.  I think things, even if they aren’t in sight, hold a place in our head and weigh us down.  We worry about them, even if we don’t realize it.

Are they safe? Are they insured? Are they organized? Can I find what I need? Do I still have that item?

Things are such a part of our life that it is hard to picture our life without them.  However, now that we own very little things (and lots of these things will probably not last past our year in China to come back with us) we still have very full lives.

We are a family, we love each other, we play together, the kids still fight, I still sit on Facebook in the evening and then talk to Bryon when the lights are out about fears and challenges.  We still struggle with thinking up things to cook for lunch… especially things the kids will eat.  We teach our kids to do chores and love watching them run through and explore the world around them.

We have goals, dreams, stress, struggles, humor, and plugged toilets.  … life is amazingly normal even without our things.

As far as the big things, life isn’t harder or easier –  the big things are still the same.

It is the small things that are less in the way – less shopping, less cleaning, less organizing, less worrying, less clinging to items of little value.

Thanks so much for reading!

Coming Next Monday (January 6, 2014) – a huge change and a huge project that we have been working on for the past few months.  Stay tuned 🙂


  1. maura byrnes maura byrnes

    I loved reading your post. I have fantasized about living in China (we live in NY) ever since spending 3 weeks there in 2006. I am also a minimalist-wanna-be-will-be. If you saw my messy bedroom you would doubt my conviction but it is there and taking root. I just downloaded one of your books and am going to be inspired 🙂 thank you for sharing with me!

  2. Elva Whaley Elva Whaley

    Thank you for the posts! I am anxiously awaiting the post you planned on releasing today. Take care.

    • thanks so much for your note. So sorry I was late on the post 🙂

  3. Rebekah Rebekah

    Thank you so much for the generous gift of your book. I am making my way through it and loving it. I am continuing to pursue simplicity so that my possessions do not absorb so much of my life hours and energy. I have a couple questions for you. Do you have any thoughts or strategies for helping Decision Making during de-cluttering? I am by nature not decisive, and my indecisiveness is a hindrance and time waster. I think I lack insight and objectivity. I am not good at being able to identify what I should let go of now that the obvious and easy items are gone.
    Also, do you have any thoughts how you Detached yourself from items so that you were able to release them freely?
    Your posts bless me, and I really enjoy hearing your thoughts and perspective on life.
    With gratitude,

    • Rebekah for both questions I would recommend ‘hiding’. Put all the stuff you are indecisive about in storage or out of site. If you need it 1 week or 1 month from now you can go get it. Otherwise, in 6 – 12 months you know you haven’t used it and it won’t be near as special to you because it has been packed away and out of site for so long 🙂

      Otherwise it just takes practice. The more you declutter the easier and more natural it will become. Make sure you know your goal and it will be easier to part with things you don’t need/want for a life you do need/want. Good luck!

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