Have you ever felt so uncomfortable in your life that nothing makes sense anymore?
You keep falling in the same type of relationships with the same type of men. Your career seems to be going nowhere.
You no longer feel comfortable in your own home. And you keep waking up every day saying to yourself, "This can't be all there is to life."
Well, that's what happened to me over the past couple of years. Something kept telling me I was off my path and I need to do something to get back on it. Call it God, call it intuition, or just a general sense of jadedness – that thing was clawing at my soul to the point where I couldn't ignore it any longer.
After a long trip home to Jamaica for some much needed rest and recovery from my LA life, the discomfort led to clarity. The call to travel became embedded in my heart and as soon as I returned home, I started a secret plan for 2018. I would give myself a year to plan and save and then I would make my move.
Oh, but we all know that's not how callings work. As I got back into my the groove of daily life, started a new job, and worked on my plan, the sick feeling of discomfort I thought I abated crept back up.
God was asking me, "Girl, if I planted this seed in your heart, why don't you trust me to help it grow and thrive?"
I realized it was either now or never. I had no children, no significant other, and no major commitments. All that was holding me back was an apartment full of furniture and I knew there was no way I was going to let "things" that had no real value to me hold me back. Unable to suppress my inner voice anymore, I gave in and accelerated the plan.
All I had to do was get rid of my stuff. If you are looking to do the same thing, here are a few ways I got the job done:
1. Part Ways with Things You Don't Need
The first and most important thing you have to do when downsizing is deciding what you want to keep. For me, this was easy. I knew I was leaving my apartment with one carry-on suitcase and a backpack. That was it. OK, maybe it wasn't that easy. What do you do when you have five favorite dresses, but you only have space for one? And it better be a versatile one. And what if I want to trade out clothes after a few months? Do I send a box to my mom's or a friend's?
After much contemplation, I decided that very few items needed to be kept in storage (meaning mom's or a friend's) - only winter clothes, a few sentimental things (journals, photos, etc.), and important documents. Everything else will have to find a new home.
2. Sell Furniture in a Forum You Trust
Let's face it, selling furniture/household items was not fun. Between posting, reposting, chasing down leads, and waiting for people who never showed up, the process can make any sane person just want to open a window and throw everything outside like it was an ex-lover's favorite things.
And if that wasn't enough stress, as a single woman and living alone, having random people show up to my house was a huge safety concern. Because of this, I decided to only use forums I was familiar with. Groups on Facebook I've chatted in before, my own FB page, and FB's marketplace were my go-to's. Facebook was my go-to for selling everything. Being able to check a person's profile or knowing that we have common friends eased many of my fears.
To take precautions further, I only gave away my building address (not apt #) to most people and met them downstairs if they purchased items that were easy for me to carry. When I sold my large farm table to a young man, I asked a friend to hang out with me when the purchaser wanted to come by. I also tried my best to schedule meetings in the mornings before work or the early evenings.
Being safe while inviting strangers into your home should be your number one priority. Don't let desperation cause you to put yourself at risk.
3. Donate Towels, Sheets, Pillows & Blankets to an Animal Shelter
This was a daunting one for me. What in the world do I with my old towels, sheets, blankets, and pillows? Most things I have I knew I could sell but who the heck wants my old dingy towels? Thank God for Google!
Not knowing what to do, I looked up ways to recycle these items. Out of all the ways to reuse these items, donating them to an animal shelter made the most sense. Animal shelters use these items for animal bedding, to dry them after cleaning, and other necessities. I've never been a pet person but it definitely brings me comfort to know that my old blankets can help provide a comfy home to animals in need.
4. Sell, Trade, Pass Down & Donate Used Clothing
From what I've read, donating used clothing to thrift stores can be tricky. Most clothes you donate never make it to the sales floor. So, in order to minimize the chances of my clothes ending up in the landfill anyway, I tried these options first:
- Sell/Trade: Crossroads Trading Company is one of my favorite thrift stores in LA. They do an amazing job of curating items people will actually buy again. Knowing that I buy most of my items directly from designer showrooms, I knew heading here first would be a good bet. Better yet, with the money I made from the sale, I bought my carry-on and backpack for the trip. Can you say win-win?!
- Pass Down: During this process, I totally forgot that I had a little sister who loves fashion as much as me and wears the same size, but while rattling off my list of to-dos she quickly reminded me fi ship some of di clothes dem. PERF!
- Donate: Most of my clothing and shoes (and some household items) went to the Good Shepherd Center for Women and Children.
5. Sell Books to a Used Bookstore
Since living in DTLA, I have completely fallen in love with the Last Bookstore. Growing up, I loooved bookstores but I've never been in a used bookstore. I thought they were just fun mystery locations in fantasy films. The Last Bookstore is everything in a mystery movie come to life and then some. It married my love for books with an adventure. So when looking for a place to give my favorite reads a second life, I knew exactly where to go. What you get for the books isn't much but it's a lot better than nothing.
6. Give It Away for Free
When all else fails, list your stuff for free. When I was down to the wire and less than 24 hours away from jumping on a plane, I put up a sign in my apartment lobby and listed all the items I had left for free. At that point, just the mere fact that someone was willing to come and physically move things that I no longer had the energy to haggle with people for was enough for me. I was beat!
I wish I could say I made it through this whole process with minimal waste but to my dismay, I think a fair amount of items still ended up in the trash. I really felt I failed the whole mission of minimal waste because of it but I can say I gave it a hell of an effort.
My first stop? San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua. I can't wait to see what this new life has in store for me.
*Originally published on For Laura Gennie
Donalee Curtis is an Island girl on the go, exploring her love for writing and culture while traveling the world. Check her out at donaleecurtis.com. Keep up with her journey around the globe by following her on Instagram and subscribing to her YouTube channel.