I Dare You to Live with Less

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When I woke up for no particular reason in the middle of the night just in time to see our front porch catching on fire through my bedroom window, I had no idea that my life was about to go up in literal smoke.

the cover photo for our GoFundMe set up by a dear friend to help us financially with the costs of losing everything

In October 2017 my family lost everything in a house fire that claimed the life of my pets and father in law. Every memento I’ve ever saved. Every last stitch of clothing. Every book and painting. A closet full of shoes and sheets and bins full of someday. A cedar hope chest stuffed with onesies to save for someone someday. My grandmother’s 90-year-old child-sized rocking chair Mo was just beginning to test out.

Gone in a matter of minutes. 

It’s taken me all this time to wrap my brain around “the message” I would pass on to you all, other than be fire safe. And it’s this: I dare you to live with less. For a matter of hours, thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Flagstaff, I owned only the leggings I’d yanked on and the shirt I’d fallen asleep in. And while that sense of homelessness can never be undone, I’ve learned to live life around the gaps. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone of stuff and space and the projects you’re never going to complete. Rid yourself of all that weighs you down; create a massive void. Feel emptiness for once. And then, fill your life with beauty and joy instead. 

One day recently, it hit me: I’m going to take back my wardrobe. People gave me bags upon bags stuffed full of clothes, and while I’m eternally grateful for their generosity, it’s been a struggle to feel like me in any of it. I’ve decided to utilize my version of a wardrobe capsule. Pinterest has oodles of ideas on how to accomplish this feat, and you can sort of tailor it to yourlifestylee (pardon the pun). The take away for me is quality over quantity and outfits over pieces and right now over someday. Here’s how it looks for me:

I go shopping in my wardrobe as if at Old Navy, and if I wouldn’t pick it off the rack at a store, why in the world is it in my closet? And then I donate it. I work on finding at least two pieces that go with each opposite piece (eg: 2 bottoms for 1 top). I focus on color palettes and how they compliment my skin tone. I am a stickler for how each piece and outfit looks on me and I ask myself how I feel in them. I don’t hesitate to oust those that make me feel blah or like I can’t reconcile the woman I am with the woman I want to become.

my first wardrobe capsule outfit: mustard jeans, “enough” tee reverse image to make for the perfect selfie shirt, muted reds and greens cardigan, chocolate brown lace up shoes, topped with a black wide brimmed hat (not pictured)

I realized as I stuffed 4 (more) trash bags with clothes to donate that I felt free.

I’d been clinging to these possessions for the sake of having them. I’d let that blouse hang in my closet because I thought it should look nice on me, or it could if I paired it just right. I clutched these things out of a sense of guilt or responsibility to the donors. And when I let go of all that didn’t bring me joy or resonate with my becoming identity, I felt lighter. In weight and aura. 

I challenge and invite you to feel freer and lighter with me. Set fire to your burdens. Ground yourself in what makes you, you.

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Karli Haviland
I am a Flagstaff local from toddlerhood. I went to FALA for high school and graduated from NAU with a BA in Secondary English Education. I married my high school sweetheart, and together we’re building our life with our toddler Moira, whom I stay at home with full time. My passion is working with pregnant people during their journey to and through birth and post partum as a birth doula and birth photographer, and I work with another doula in town to provide those services to the Flagstaff community. I dance and perform with a Modern Dance company several times a year, and I teach baby & me music and dance classes around town weekly. I enjoy reading, hiking with friends, and playing Zelda in my spare time.

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