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I Downsized To Travel The World & Live My Dream Life

I wanted to travel the world, but I had too many things. I downsized my life so that I can be free enough to travel. Here's how.

Travel

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.

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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