The Liberation of Downsizing

Just 5 weeks before shipping out on our new life, Eric found Fluent in Three Months. Among the 29 life lessons this guy learned during 8 years of RTW travel, this one spoke to me, particularly as we were selling and giving away 99% of what we owned.  Possessions Own You.  “Look at the real reason you want to buy more expensive crap and realise that it all comes down to validation from others in one way or another. You don’t really need any of it unless it’s directly related to essentials in how you work or survive. The need to buy new crap dictates your life – it fixes you in one location with that house and furniture, and it governs how much money you need to earn. And it almost never actually enriches your life in any way. The less you own the better.” As we donated stacks of books and gave away boxes of CDs, I thought about how much we spent on all of that stuff.  As I was downsizing, I donated dozens of shoes, I thought about how many of them I barely wore.  In the end we had about 64 wine glasses of varying shapes, sizes, and quality.  I love my wine, but generally can only drink out of one glass at a time.  We have never served wine to 62 of our friends at once.  Who, outside of a small commercial establishment needs that many wine glasses?  We lived a Crate & Barrel lifestyle and although we never really tried to keep up with the Joneses, we continued to accumulate stuff for most of the...

Gaining Weight and “Depression”

5 Years and 40 Pounds I moved to DC in the Spring of 1999, just out of college and ready for law school.  I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, like all new law students – the world was at my feet and ready for my taking.  In July 2001, we got married.  I was 125 pounds and 5’7”.  Not bad.  I looked good on my wedding day, happy and filled with hope for the future.  After law school, I clerked for a judge in DC while getting an additional law degree, specializing in tax.  All of this to help me land the perfect big law job.  It worked.  In April 2004, we moved to Chicago for a job with a top tier law firm.  That was when weight and depression started to do me in.   I don’t know what, exactly, made me put on so much weight in Chicago.  Was it the diet of Italian beef sandwiches, french fries, Mexican food (La Bamba’s “burritos as big as your head”), or was it merely my metabolism changing after I turned 25?  Or, was it the weather: cold and dreary and ultimately depressing for several months out of the year.  Okay, more than several.  Our first summer in Chicago, the temperature never went above 90, until September. I think it was a little of both of those things, but more than anything, it was sitting behind a desk for 60-80 hours a week for the first time in my life.  I was working crazy hours with an unpredictable schedule.  I could not get into an exercise routine.  I lived in a...