Category Archives: Attachment – Vairagya

Footloose and fancy free!

It’s been 12 days since my house closed and I left for California with a couple of suitcases and a bunch of holiday stuff tossed into the back of my minivan.

The family that bought the house emailed that they’re thrilled with their new home – especially to be moved in in time to enjoy Christmas there.

I keep waiting for the grief to sweep over me, but so far…NADA.

OK, a little twinge when I couldn’t gather greens from my yard for holiday decorations. And a little twinge when I realized that a particular thing I needed was no longer in the second drawer to the left of the stove, but is buried in some poorly marked box deep in the storage unit.

But mostly I feel very light. Light-hearted, light-footed.

The last few days I’ve stayed with an old friend, helping her get her house ready for her extended family to arrive for Christmas. She has a gorgeous home near the California coast, high on a ridge with spectacular views in all directions. Many people would kill to live in a place like this.

But she was not enjoying it. She fretted about getting the tree decorated. She fussed about food preparations. She was in a flap about cleaning the house (to her high standards) in time.  Would the yard person show up? Would the garbage man make a timely pickup? No way just enjoying where she is.

I’ve been there. Oh yeah, have I been there!

But not this year. It wasn’t my house, and it wasn’t my problem, so I just plowed through whatever task she set me to – no big deal. The more challenging the better. I had a blast.

No emotional attachment = no stress.

Must.Remember.This.

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Filed under 101 Reasons to Downsize, Attachment - Vairagya, Emotional issues, Envisioning a simpler life

On schlepping stuff.

So… all that stuff I threw into the back of my Toyota minivan just before I left town Friday?

  • 2 carry-on size suitcases
  • 3 boxes of important stuff I couldn’t live without for two months
  • 3 boxes of essential stuff required for our traditional family Christmas
  • 1 box of emergency stuff for winter driving over the Siskiyou summit
  • 2 boxes of random stuff that sprung out of hiding as I was doing the last minute sweep and cleanup of the house.

All that stuff. (Not counting my dog Molly, who’s staying with friends…)

I must have put it there to teach me a lesson, because it’s already rapping me on the noggin like a zen master  – it will not be ignored.

Yesterday I pulled up to my son’s apartment in the slightly rough Mission District of San Francisco, where he lives in an old Victorian, on the 3rd floor.  After he greeted me, he peered into the back of the car:

“Ma, what IS all this crap? I thought you got rid of most of your stuff!”

“It’s my stuff for the next couple of months.”

“Well, it can’t stay in the car. It’s a recipe for a break-in. We’ve got to take it upstairs.”

So up three flights we humped 2 carryon suitcases, 3 boxes of important stuff, 3 boxes of Christmas stuff, 1 box of emergency stuff, and 2 boxes of random stuff PLUS, for good measure, my traveling craptastic basket between the front seats and the faceplate off my car radio. This left only a couple of rags and a lot of pine needles on the floor.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. When I leave for a house-sitting gig in Oakland in a week, we’ll haul all the boxes back downstairs, and then I’ll have to hump them inside again for safe-keeping.  When I return to the Portland area for my next house-sitting gig, the cycle will be repeated.

And so on. I wonder how many more schleps before I learn a lesson…

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Filed under 101 Reasons to Downsize, Attachment - Vairagya, Baby steps

Costs of selling a home mount up

Yesterday I did the deed. Or more accurately, I paid Chicago Title a queen’s ransom to do the deed. For them to guarantee that there were no liens against my property I paid more than $1,500.  I also paid the realtors (mine and the buyers’) a commission of $21,000 and (state and local excise) taxes of $7,500.

In other words, it is very expensive to sell a house. Nobody mentions this when you’re in the lustful phase of buying a house. When you sell all those fees you avoided up front as a buyer come back to bite you. Too late you realize they should be figured into any profitability equation.

The pain in my purse would have been less if home prices hadn’t plummeted in the past couple of years.  To console me, my realtor brought a bag of handmade chocolate-coated toffee to the signing.

Ah well, what’s done is done.  I loved the house, I loved transforming it into a thing of beauty and functionality, I loved living there. The money I lost is just the money I lost.

Right now the house is empty but for the stuff I plan to carry in the car during a two-month stint of staying at other people’s house. So today is about packing the last remnants and final cleaning.

Here the kitchen looks as pristine as the day I finished the remodel.

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Filed under Attachment - Vairagya, Downsizing, Envisioning a simpler life, Rent or buy?, Selling stuff

Friends: indispensable during a move

Even my cat, Bama, wants to help.

Over the past week I’ve also had major packing and cleaning help from Chris, Patty, Skip and Sue. Down and dirty help, especially from Chris. She and I have cooked a half dozen charity dinners in my kitchen, so she knows her way around my house, and we work really well together.

I can’t imagine tackling a job of this size alone. Friends are indispensible. A friend:

  • sees your stuff objectively and isn’t emotionally attached to it,
  • talks you through challenging decisions,
  • helps you stay on task,
  • keeps you from getting discouraged,
  • makes the work much less painful

And I believe they take perverse pleasure in being able to deal cavalierly with Stuff that’s not their own. A thousand hugs to all of you.

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Filed under Attachment - Vairagya, Downsizing, Emotional issues, Getting organized, Inspiration & encouragement

Downsizing my closet, with help.

My well-dressed and ruthlessly honest friend Judi came over this morning to help me tackle that which I’ve been unable to tackle alone… my closet.

I thought I’d done so well this summer when I filled two large bags for Goodwill. But when I thought about squeezing my clothes into a couple of suitcases and a wardrobe box, it was clear a radical clothesectomy was required.

Mostly I dress very casually because I work from home. When I’m not at my desk I’m pulling weeds in the yard or muscles at yoga.

But I do like color, so I’ve got sweaters, tops and scarves in a rainbow of colors that look good on me. Some have the patina of age on them. Some were good ideas worn once.

Judi hauled them all out of the closet and arranged them by color in stacks on the bed. It became clear that I had an over-abundance of tops in certain colors, and an over-abundance of tops with round t-shirt necks which I recently decided are extremely unflattering on a person with an older shorter wrinkled neck. Not naming names.

An article I read awhile back said that we hang onto our clothes for three reasons:

  1. They represent a financial investment we don’t feel we’ve recouped;
  2. We have associations, memories, feelings attached to them; and
  3. We imagine a time in the future when we’ll need or want them.

Since I rarely spend much on an article of clothing #1 isn’t a real problem for me. Nor is #2 (at least in terms of clothes… we’re not going to talk about books, photos, art, vases, paper… ).

My problem is #3 – imagining the future. Unlike so many I’m not hanging on to a wardrobe in four different sizes, because I’ve been a size 6 for decades. But I do imagine a future in which that shade of purple will come back, that shape jacket, that style of bell-bottoms. I imagine a future in which I will be invited to a costume party, a rodeo, the Black and White Ball, a hike in the Arctic, and dinner with Barack Obama.

Judi disabused me of all those fantasies, and long story short, we filled three LARGE trash bags with Goodwill material. Whenever I faltered, she had me try the thing on and look in the mirror. If the mirror didn’t convince me, the look on her face did.

What was left will indeed fit into 2 suitcases and a wardrobe box.  A personal triumph. It will be easier to choose what to wear and I bet none will be missed.

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Filed under 101 Reasons to Downsize, Attachment - Vairagya, Baby steps, Emotional issues, Inspiration & encouragement

How am I doing?

People who know how much I love this house ask me how I’m holding up under the impending sale and move (of my stuff) into a storage unit.

Surprisingly, astonishingly even, FINE. I’ve been too busy to get emotional – or something like that. It’s been a process that I’ve thought about for a few years and began actively working on this summer. At this point the edge has softened and it’s just WORK.

The endlessness of the work and the logistical organizing of what needs to be done when is the most stressful. I am not good in the logistics department, so I’ve been fortunate to have friends and family members talk me down and through some mental tangles.

Once you start getting rid of stuff, and once you realize how little other people value your stuff when you try to sell it, it begins to lose value in your own eyes. It becomes, well, STUFF.

After my mini-sabbatical in California after the house closes on 12/11 I’ll be back in town, staying with dear friends, taking my time to figure out what’s next.

What’s clear is that my friends and family are my greatest treasures. All else is just STUFF.

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Filed under Attachment - Vairagya, Downsizing, Emotional issues, Envisioning a simpler life, Getting organized, Inspiration & encouragement, Priorities, Selling stuff, Spiritual lessons

What’s your stuff worth? (Hint: not much…)

Lenox plates

I delivered a couple of antiques, some lovely old china and several nice paintings to a local auction house today. The guy had come out a few days ago to eyeball my holdings and estimate what they might bring at auction next month.

It was really depressing.

P1000048This 2,400 year-old ceramic water jug from Greece, for example, was brought here from Europe by my grandfather in the 1930s. It was appraised four years ago at $1000. But the auction guy said cheap copies of such antiquities are now readily available, so no one wants to pay for the real thing. Besides, who wants to worry about the real thing breaking?  (!)  “Well, fine,” I said (suppressing harsher words), “I’m keeping it then.”

Then there is my Grandmother’s gold-rimmed Lenox china (see above). It’s 100 years old, and yet very modern and simple in design. 6 place settings plus platters, serving bowls, etc. all in perfect condition.  “Maybe we’ll get $200,” he said. I muttered something crude under my breath.

Becker clockA lovely Austrian clock from 1880 (which cost $600 at an antique store in 1976 – $2278 in today’s dollars – and is still in perfect working condition)? “I estimate $300 to $400…” This was something that should have APpreciated over time, not DEpreciated.

OK. I can deal with the indignity of being told my Preciouses are worth shit today. They’re just things, I tell myself.

And mostly I’m all right with the financial loss, knowing that someone will be happy to snap them up at a bargain price, and might even come to love them.

But then I had to deliver my art deco oak sideboard, which the auctioneer expected to sell for about what I paid for it back in 1975. It was one of my first major purchases for the house I bought after my first husband died (very young, of cancer). It anchored the dining room as a place where our little family could begin to come together in a new way. I kept our silver, placemats, napkins, and fancy glasses in it – and out of its capaciousness I set the table for many many family meals, holiday celebrations and convivial evenings with friends. (Not shown here is a lovely leaded glass cabinet above the mirrored back.)

P1000016

As we loaded it into the van I was surprised to find myself bursting into tears. Surprised because so far I’ve been pretty sanguine about the whole downsizing process. OK, I am indignant over the lowball prices, but this wasn’t about money. It was about meaning.

The auctioneer sees antique furniture and other family heirlooms like mine every day – to him it’s chopped liver. But to those of us who’ve lived for decades with the piece and imbued it with our energy and memories, it’s amputation. I walk by the place in the dining room where it’s always been and nothing is left but dust bunnies and a mark on the molding.

I suspect that as the house gets increasingly empty I’m going to want to speed up the process of getting out so I don’t have to feel the phantom pain any longer than necessary.

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Filed under Art & antiques, Attachment - Vairagya, Downsizing, Emotional issues, Furniture, Selling stuff