What does 12mph and Speed of Sanity mean?

A 12 m.p.h. sign near the Chief Mountain Trailhead in Colorado.

Life happened the last seven weeks since our last post. A childhood friend passed away on February 7, so Diane drove back to Iowa to be present for her memorial service. This week-long trip also provided time for Diane to spend with Iowa family. Fast forward to March 1 and Steve retired. Then during the weeks leading up to now, we’ve been steeped in researching used pickup trucks, used travel trailers, pickup bed toppers, virtual mailbox services, and travel trailer insurance. We’re gradually going paperless between scanning, shredding, and making sure we receive important account information via email or by logging into accounts. And, we did purchase a used pickup two weeks ago. This week we ordered the pickup bed topper and signed up for Traveling Mailbox (our virtual mailbox). Today brought another donation run to ARC Thrift Store as we continue to downsize our household. The pace has been almost daunting, which brings us to the Speed of Sanity!

People have asked us, “Why 12mph and why Speed of Sanity?” Well, 12mph was the average pace that Steve anticipated for his bicycle ride across the U.S. in 2005. He coined our blog then as “12mph….America at the Speed of Sanity.” With the passage of time and the shifting in lifestyle, we are coining this next journey of our lives as “Life at the Speed of Sanity.” Yes, we will do some bicycle riding, but of course we won’t be driving the truck at 12mph! (To read the entries related to our 2005 summer, go to Categories and 2005 Bike Trip).

The online Oxford dictionary defines sanity as “The ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner; sound mental health,” and “Reasonable and rational behaviour.” Did you know the term ‘sanity’ is outdated in the field of mental health? Our first step in our own journey to ‘sanity’ is throwing off the expectations of the culture in which we live. For us, sanity is atypical and recognizes that we are not only rational, but relational and emotional humans. We are intentionally shifting to a lifestyle for us with a measurably slower pace, much like the 2005 summer. Likely, many people would agree that the pace at which we live, acquire or receive information, work, transport, shop, and communicate is frequently intense and rapid. A gentleman in our neighborhood mentioned last fall as he visited our yard sale, “Denver is hyper anymore between the traffic, the noise, the exhaust fumes, the rudeness. I’ve been here 20 years and have no intention of retiring here.” We are exhausted at the end of our days.

Yesterday we sat over breakfast to consider what we mean by “Life at the Speed of Sanity.” Slow down. Enjoy the surroundings. Savor time with family and friends. Be open for serendipity to surprise us. Appreciate spontaneity. Be flexible. Push away from a hyper environment. There are opportunities for us all the time and around us everywhere, but we zip right past them due to the pace of the world.

We anticipate witnessing kindness and civility along the way. (These were both experienced in 2005). Over the past 13 years, we’ve shifted our mindset to embrace the relationships in life, not the stuff. While not intent on becoming full-fledged minimalists, we are using the concept to help guide us. Having the stuff out of the way, opens us to possibilities of engaging with others, nature, beauty, and our Creator. After all, what good is the journey if you know the destination?


The Emotions of Stuff

Stuff….you know…all that “stuff” behind closet doors, in drawers, on shelves, or locked in the yard shed. It crept into our lives one step at a time. With each new stage we added belongings: dorm rooms, apartments, marriage, college graduation, move to Chicago suburbs, son born, first house, daughter born, second BIGGER house, parents’ passing, dismantling parents’ household, farm selling, children launching, children marrying, selling house, and moving to Denver.

Emotions…you know…those feelings that make us jump for joy, burst into tears, flip-flop of the stomach, and everything in between. With many items that we’re gleaning from our household, there are emotions.

I’ve had days! This week I peeked into a cupboard and thought, “What the heck? Why did we keep this?” If I see one more (fill in the blank), I’m going to scream. I couldn’t get it into the donation box fast enough. Or, in contrast, I opened the armoire with many colorful tablecloths and memories popped into mind. A feeling of sadness overcame me as I thought, “Doggone it. I miss those gatherings with our big dining room table surrounded with our children, extended family, friends, or neighbors.” Many delicious meals, beautiful place settings, rowdy games, captivating story-telling, and roaring laughter accompany memories associated with those tablecloths.

Admittedly, I ended up in a bit of a funk earlier this week. I think that the sifting and sorting caught up with me. I’ve downsized quite a few times these last 10 years so why was I feeling a bit crabby? Thankfully, my daughter took me to lunch yesterday, concluding with a walk together. As we chatted, it helped put my emotions into perspective. My take-away is this: I have decided that it is essential to embrace The Emotions of Stuff. It is part of the process of achieving our goal to live more simply and being liberated to roll away in a mobile lifestyle later this year, not impinged by the burden of stuff!

~ Diane


Making Progress in This Downsizing Stage!

Good heavens, it seems like the term “downsizing” has been a part of our lives for nearly 10 years. That’s because it HAS been. It was in 2008 that we decided to embrace a big transition from a large two-story suburban home in Illinois with four-bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, a full basement, a two-car garage with attic, and a garden shed in the backyard. We moved to Colorado in 2010. Our household has been moved SIX times after having been in our former house for 19 years! It’s been pretty crazy. If you want to read more, go to our 12mph.com posts from August 2010.

I have been reading blog posts by people who are “full-timing” in their RVs. Some are retirees who have downsized for the first time from homes filled with belongings. Other folks are millenials, working while “full-timing” and have little accumulation of belongings before hitting the road. Two points of relief that Steve and I share: #1 it’s good that we did so much downsizing back in Illinois; and, #2 by the time we’re “full-timing” later this year, we will have minimal to handle when we settle again down the road.

We live in a rental home in Denver that is about 900 square feet. It’s a one-level, no basement, no garage, and no attic. It does have a nice storage shed in the backyard. The second bedroom of the house is what we’ve coined “The Archive Room”. Other than a closet for my clothes, the rest of the room holds the family archives that I inherited from my parents and grandparents plus from Steve, me, and our children. The archives have books, photos, slides, scrapbooks, genealogy files, quilts, afghans, blankets, dolls, artwork, china, cookbooks, tools, slide projector, musical instrument and music, old letters and cards, documents, and antique/vintage clothing.

Last summer, knowing that we were shifting gears in 2018, I worked feverishly to identify items for a yard sale, price them, and then have a one-day sale. The hours of pricing and sitting in the heat on sale day was frustrating. In the end, we had a lackluster sale. Everything that was left, we immediately loaded into the car and took a trip to Goodwill. The rule of the day: what wasn’t sold, could not come back into the house, but had to go for donation. Suffering from the 90+ degree heat and late afternoon finish, we didn’t research for the best place to donate. In hindsight, we should have taken items to ARC with its wonderful mission.

The one very positive aspect of last summer’s yard sale was that a latecomer to the sale was introduced to the 100-year old piano (formerly my Grandma Geneva’s) that was FREE for the moving. It was heart-warming to find this lovely grandmother named Marilee in the neighborhood to take my piano. We were pleased knowing that her grand-daughters would enjoy it. Steve and I just had to be realistic. Each move has been hard on this treasure plus expensive to move and/or store.

In late October, a number of items went with me to Iowa to be sold as part of a fundraiser for a medical benefit. It was a wonderful way to help a cause and see some special belongings find a new home.

Before taking a December trip to visit family in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Steve and I went through our coat closet. We had an opportunity to donate coats, jackets, and gloves to youth in Santa Fe. The donations were timely as temperatures were frigid and youth needed staying warm. Youth Shelters & Family Services of Santa Fe is a Santa Fe-based non-profit organization dedicated to helping at-risk and homeless youth in the region find a way home and a path to a productive, happy life.

Earlier this month, we sorted through our Christmas decorations as we took them down to pack away. I took photos of items we no longer wanted and shared them with our children. They let me know if they wanted something. We filled a tub for donation.

I have sorted through my clothes: socks, shoes, purses, sweaters, slacks, dresses/skirts, jackets, tops, shorts, and jeans. From that gleaning, I contacted the Act II Consignment Shop in Littleton, where I’ve purchased numerous items of clothing the past five years. Of the 36 items that I took for preview, they took 20 items that are now on consignment. For the time spent driving to and fro, plus the 40% that I will receive (they are also having a 25% off sale, so it cuts into profit), I’m not going to realize as much as I hoped. I don’t plan to consign again, unless it is furniture or high-end antiques.

Off for Consignment

Today, I took the remaining clothes, Christmas décor, and some bedding to ARC in Denver. ARC is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to creating and funding programs that serve those individuals living with intellectual/development disabilities, with complex and evolving needs.

Clothes, Christmas Décor, Bedding
ARC Thrift Shop










Last week I did a round-up of my “Joy Gang”. I’m a former preschool teacher. Between my children and me, we collected some cute puppets and stuffed animals over the years. I coined them the “Joy Gang” because they brought joy to my preschool students when I used the puppets and stuffed animals to help tell stories or reinforce themes. I researched what organization in Denver may take gently used puppets and stuffed animals. Not too many as it turns out. Near our neighborhood though, I found a perfect place. Firefly Autism is a non-profit and Colorado’s premiere autism therapy and behavioral support program. Featuring Applied Behavior Analysis techniques, in the classroom, and in the home. I explained that the puppets and animals were gently used and have been packed away for nine years. They were pleased to take them. These cute classroom aids will either remain in-house for classes or be used for their home-based program. My heart was full knowing they’d bring love and joy to more children.

Firefly Autism
The Joy Gang


Steve and I have gone through some of our books. Books have been a staple in our lives and in the lives of our parents and children. In fact, we visit our Ross-University Hills neighborhood branch of the Denver Public Library at least twice a week. They accept one box of donations per week, so today they received a box filled with books and a handful of DVD movies. Denver Public Library connects people with information, ideas, and experiences to provide enjoyment, enrich lives, and strengthen our community.

Book & DVD Donations
Denver Public Library, Ross-University Hills Branch











Our Tips:

  • For tax deduction purposes, take photos of donations and create a spreadsheet. (Although, we do not itemize these days, we used this method in 2009 for our major downsize. It was a huge help when completing the tax forms).
  • If you are going to “miss” the item, take a photo to look at later. Sometimes I return to photos just for the fun of it. It’s a good reminder for what “stuff” I do not miss from our big house!
  • Take a photo inventory. If you don’t have time to spare, then later look at the photos to create an “Inventory” list. This is helpful for insurance purposes.
  • Create a numbering system for boxes or tubs. We had something like 200 boxes or tubs in the first move in 2009. It REALLY helped knowing what items were in each of the boxes/tubs!
  • Your time is precious. I’m realizing now that the time I invested into the yard sale last year and into taking items to consignment recently, could be better used elsewhere. Selling items from my household may bring in a few hundred dollars (not thousands for sure), but that doesn’t necessarily help if I/we invest many hours to realize that amount.

We’re keeping our sights on a 10-feet by 10-feet storage unit, a travel trailer, and pick-up truck. Stay tuned as to our progress!

~ Diane