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We don’t need calligraphy
Back in July, a few members of the extended Hsu family descended on our home to catch up on life, chow on some dim sum and reminisce about the past. Over the decades, it seems the only time we get together was for life events such as weddings, births and more recently funerals.
Before cousin Christopher’s wedding ceremony in March 2019, my cousins and I remarked how the Hsu family could rally at a moment’s notice. We don’t need calligraphy. We don’t need engraved invitations. We really don’t bother too much with formalities or social protocols. When we hear a call to action, we drop whatever we’re doing, we hustle and we show up early. This was especially true when Andrew and I were married within a few weeks of announcing the date.
Back then, breaking news came via the “Mom network,” which dispatches the word throughout the extended family. Because Andrew and I had news which seemed to impact our generation more readily, I dispatched the “Cousin network” to let the family know of our plans. Within days, they gathered in small groups wearing masks in our home on Harriet Lane to help out with whatever we needed.
Call to action
Once the word got out, many of the Hsu cousins (and there’s 12 of us!) as well as aunties came over with loads of food and offers of assistance.
Cousin Paul, his wife Lauren and daughter Abby along with his mom Aunt Lily were the first to came over. They volunteered to help with some logistics and some future product launches for Serenade Wind. Throughout the afternoon, Aunty and Abby could be seen walking from room to room in search of Xiaolong.
His younger sister, cousin Ellen, also came over to drop off photos from our wedding as well as find out more about our plans and find a home for many of our belongings.
Cousin Janet came a few days later and offered to foster Xiaolong while we were travelling. By the end of the week, her husband Edi and her daughters Sabrina and Veronica also came to meet Xiaolong.
Before the weekend was out, we also had a chat with cousin Grace’s husband Gary who gave us some tips on ocean fishing, trawling lines and gifted us some of his fishing gear to get us started.
Our friends who we consider family as well have also pitched in to help, including Hasmik, Jenny & Danny, Helen & Mar, Nick & Brit, Jason & Yoko, JC & Camille, Linda & Edwin, Subu & Sandhya, Bill, Palace and others.
Within a few short weeks, cars, furniture and odds & ends were earmarked for new homes with a near-term plan to move as much out of Harriet Lane over Labor Day weekend or earlier.
As you may recall, I was frustrated over the lack of progress we were making on downsizing and purging. However, as I sat one morning reviewing our bullet journal and the 30-weeks to Minimalism plan, I counted out the weeks.
- Week 3 - how to tackle sentimental items
- Week 6 - what clothes should you bring for a cruising lifestyle and how many & what type of linens will we need on board
- Week 7 - does a foodie need to sacrifice all her kitchen gadgets and what do we need for the rest of the space?
- Week 12 - once you’ve narrowed down what you want to take, here are some strategies to upcycle your stuff
- Week 15 - don’t forget to deal with your digital assets
Fifteen weeks after the 30-weeks to minimalism post went out (April 20th), we had a plan for giving or selling a significant amount of our stuff. By week 20, 80% of the stuff would be gone.
Why did we delay moving the bulk of these items for another month?
Earlier in the summer, we detected some personality changes as we began to pack up boxes, throw away or recycle items, and move furniture around. Even before the first of the furniture was sold early July, Xiaolong started to exhibit nervousness and hide when people would come over. He never did that before. For the past 5 years, he was a friendly and sociable kitty, greeting our friends when they came over for barbeques.
Andrew recounted a previous experience with his two Himalayan cats, Manny and Moe. When the last stick of furniture was moved out of his parents’ house, the kitties would run headlong into walls over their torment. We suspect it was because their environment had changed so drastically.
Given this backdrop, we wanted to come up with a plan that kept Xiaolong from prolonged anxiety. We decided to find him a home quickly, so he can go back to being his normal self: trilling in the hallways, hunting bugs, and napping in the sun.
On August 12, Janet and her family came over and picked up Xiaolong along with a lot of gear. For the first time in my life, I experienced the “empty nest” feeling many talk about. Less than 2 days later, he was exploring each of the rooms in his new home and making all kinds of funny noises. What a relief it was to hear that.
Before heading to Florida for the survey and sea trial, I wanted to visit Xiaolong in his new home. It had been a month and I missed him every day, though not as much when we were in Seattle with Emma and Silvia. When we arrived, he was friendly and curious as he usually was with strangers. He behaved as if he had no memory of living with us since he was a kitten.
Realizing that, I knew I would be the only one to remember the bond we shared. I scooped him up, gave him a belly kiss, and said goodbye.
7 x 7
Looking around Harriet Lane, we realize that we no longer have a living room, dining room and all the trappings of a typical, suburban life. Instead, we have a yoga studio, climbing gym, and skatepark. Our belongings which once filled a 3-bedroom, 2-car garage house is now reduced to 49 sq ft of space.
As our family and friends came over to visit us (appropriately masked during the pandemic), we showed them a couple taped off areas. The first one ran pretty much the length of the east wing of Harriet Lane. During Palace’s visit, we taped off 50’ LOA and 13’4” beam. This provided everyone the scale of s/v Rachel J Slocum, while we described the location of the saloon, galley, and owner’s stateroom.
The second area was the room where we had taped off 7x7 sq ft of space. Everything outside of the square must go to new homes or to charity. The only things we are keeping and taking with us to our sailboat is reflected inside this square. It blew their minds.
After 2 years of having written our goal on the whiteboard on August 2018, we finally got a chance to get rid of all of our stuff. We have that light feeling that comes with an empty backpack so we can begin to curate experiences and not possessions.
So we packed up 7x7 sq ft of possessions, loaded it all in a moving pod and shipped it to Florida.
Farewell Harriet… Hello Rachel!
For those visually inclined, here are the highlights of how we became minimalists in less than 30 weeks. All it takes to become a minimalist: a bullet journal, tenacity and a willing partner in life.
Thanks for reading!
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