A dear friend and very talented song writer once told me "If you have a story to tell, you can write a song." Well, I do have a story, but I think I will steer clear of the songwriting, for fear of extreme public humiliation, and just attempt to tell my story through this blog.
My journey for a more simplified life began approximately one year ago. Like many others, I became intrigued with the tiny house movement and the DIY network shows. I was envious of the people who took the leap, leaving what I thought was normal, and simplified their lives.
Laying in bed watching those amazing shows after a day's work, I dreamed of following in their footsteps. Little did I know my husband, Al, was just as intrigued with the idea.
We had each been in the gaming industry for more than 25 years and together almost 20 of them. Between us, we had owned nine houses, the last one close to 3,000 square feet. We had two daughters living at home, ages 14 and 6, both in schools that they were thriving in and seemed to really like. Both were also involved in Cheer-leading at one of the top gyms in the area. I was and still am a very proud Mama.
On the outside we were the "All American Family." On the inside however, it was a different story. We had debt up to our ears. I was working 3 to 4 days a week at the casino on day shift, and Al was working 4 to 5 days a week on swing/graveyard. Needless to say our communication was difficult and I feared our marriage was heading to a very dark place. The life we were living seemed to be spiraling out of control. It seemed the harder we worked the worse it got.
Each day I went to a job where I inhaled smoke all day and listened to people tell me how tough their lives were while I watched them gamble away thousands of dollars, often on a daily basis. Then, I would come home and muster up whatever energy I had left to spend with my daughters. After getting them to bed, I would pour a glass of wine and sit and dream of a different life.
I did a lot of soul searching during this time. I prayed for answers and for guidance. I knew this was not the life I was put here to lead, there had to be more. Was my only purpose to be a mother of two wonderful daughters? And if it was, why did I feel I wasn't even doing that to the best of my ability? I was slipping away and didn't even know "me" anymore. It had been years since I had done any art work of my own, or danced, or even enjoyed my animals. These were all such a big part of my youth, but somewhere along the way I had lost them all.
I began reading whatever I could get my hands on about downsizing, organizing and simplifying your life. I figured this was a good place to start gaining control again. I began organizing my home. My goal was to clean one drawer or closet a day. If it took longer, that was okay. The important thing was just to begin.
The process was overwhelming at the start. In our 16 years of marriage, Al and I had accumulated so much stuff, and much of it never came out of the containers or boxes it was stored in. I used to think I was bad about getting rid of clothes. The truth is, I was bad at getting rid of anything.
Al and I began talking more. We talked about our life and how we had gotten into the shape we were in. We discussed downsizing and the possibility of living in a "tiny home." We talked of where we would build a new life we were both dreaming of. Our imaginations ran wild.
We love Lake Tahoe and Hawaii, and were married in Maui, but the cost of building a home and in either place was way out of our reach. Al's father lived on the island of Kauai for the better part of 30 years and we always came back feeling refreshed when we visited.
After being stricken with Alzheimer's Disease, Al's father was moved to The Big Island of Hawaii where he could receive 24- hour care. With no family or friends on the island, we began discussing the possibility of moving to Hawaii to be near Dad for this part of his life. It seemed as though overnight, our life took on a whole new meaning. We knew where we needed to be and our vision got clearer.
Our biggest fear was how our daughters would react. Our six-year old was young enough to adapt quickly, but how would our 14-year old take the news? Where would they go to school? What kind of education would they get on the Island? Would they make friends? These and a million other questions terrified us.
After many talks together, usually over a glass of wine, my husband and I spoke with our girls about the possibility of uprooting our lives and moving to Hawaii. Knowing that our fate depended on their reaction, this family talk would require at least one extra glass of wine. This was the last piece of the puzzle and it had to go well.
We were completely honest with them about how different life would be on the island. School could be difficult as far as fitting in. Our home would be smaller, much smaller. Life would be simpler with fewer electronics and more playing outside. We discussed our goal of simplifying our life so we could spend more time together doing what we wanted, instead of doing what we had to do. After laying it all out on the table I held my breath for their reaction.
Our six-year old thought it was a brilliant idea and loved everything about it. That wan't a surprise,but our 14-year old's reaction was. She was very excited, and when we discussed online schools if we couldn't find a school she liked, her response shocked me to my core. She said "Mom, if I do online school, how will I ever fit in, make friends, or learn the culture of Hawaii."
And there we had it. The last piece of the puzzle. The girls were both on board and the wheels were set in motion. We still had to break the news to family and friends but our decision was made. We were going to sell or donate nearly everything we had accumulated over our lifetimes and move to Hawaii.