If you lost your home and everything that you own, through a natural disaster or a physical disaster like a fire or flood, what would you replace first?
I’m not kidding, think about it! Of course, the devastation would be tremendous, but you have to move forward, so how would you rebuild, repurchase, replace, etc.?
I had this unfortunate experience in April 2021 because of a house fire that consumed 90% of what we owned. The source of the fire was a power strip that was not overloaded but may have shorted in my 3rd floor office. Gratefully, there was no loss of life, but I don’t want to minimize the loss of a lifetime of possessions and memories.
Of course, we had to rebuild our physical and material lives after the fire and for a time I was crippled with how to start. We were already in the middle of building of new home, and our old home was going on the market in May, so we had a new home to move into rather quickly, but that home would need to be filled. But filled with “what” was the question.
The process of rebuilding was a physical and emotional journey. The first night we had to go and buy clothes for our immediate needs, but as I stood in the middle of the store, I became panicked and broke down crying because I didn’t know what to pick up and this is from a person who, previously, was a gold medal Olympian in the shopping category!
As my husband was begging me to purchase something – anything! – I was thinking, “but what do I buy? Shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, jeans, pajamas, socks, underwear, etc.?” The possibilities were not only endless, but overwhelming!
At the end of that first shopping trip, I bought a single pair of jeans and even though I reeked of smoke, that was the best that I could do. Over the next few days, I did go out and buy some other casual clothes and underpinnings and a pair of sneakers to get me through the coming days.
However, as we started to plan for our future home, we needed to purchase furniture; this I did with excitement, vigor and thoughtfulness. I looked at furnishings as a way to create a new future that was far removed from our past and the devastation of our loss.
The theme of our new home would be far different than our previous home – we no longer had children being raised in the space, we were in our “grown and sexy” phase and our new home would reflect that.
As we moved and the home furnishings had been purchased, I became consumed with being very intentional about buying clothes. I really implemented the rule, is it what I want or is it a “thing” that I need?
In hindsight, I became embarrassed about the sheer amount of clothing and accessories that I previously owned and I made a promise to not purchase recklessly in the future.
I invite to you to do an exercise. If you had to think about what you need, could you put a number to it or categorize your things?
Let’s create a list so that you can do an inventory and review of your clothing possessions to see what you have and perhaps inspire you to curate your collection. Walk to your clothing storage spaces and put a number by each category.
This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it can provide a start for you to think about what you have, what you need, what you use.
What prompted me to create this list, not only for you, but also for me, is that pre-fire, I had over 30 winter coats alone, which is really ridiculous! I now think critically about what I need and limit what I want.
While material possessions are not a measurement of success or fulfillment, for me, my possessions were little treasures or memories of experiences. I feel, at times, so sad about losing those special belongings that I purchased or were gifted to me and the thought of losing a special thing has made me hesitant to buy a “special” or unique item, again.
Before I close, let me also share a little safety advice to give to our community; please add to it if you have other suggestions:
The purpose of this article is to provide a time for each of us to reflect on what we have. What would you consider important if you were to lose it? How and what would you buy to rebuild? Good luck on curating your treasures!
Tags Downsizing Your Life