Category Archives: Inspiration & encouragement

I’m OUT! and gone.

I thought I could finish packing and cleaning in three or four hours on Friday, so I could head south before noon – but the piles of crap were like mushrooms after a rain and more grubby corners kept revealing themselves.

Even with all my ex’s cleaning assistance, I didn’t finish till 3 – and could have gone on longer if the eager new owners hadn’t pulled up in the UHaul and told me not to bother with washing the floors, etc.

Those last few minutes locking up the house for the final time were hard. I cried.

A wiser person might have stayed in town one more night to recuperate from the strain and get a fresh start in the morning, but I’m not that person.

I drove out the driveway and kept on going… up 78th and onto I-5. I was headed for the holidays!with my kids in California.

Never mind that rush hour was beginning and I fed right into a traffic jam all the way through Portland, making for a getaway with all the drama of a morning commute. I didn’t care – I just needed to get out of town.

By the time the traffic thinned my spirits had lifted and I imagined myself making it at least to Medford before quitting for the night, up and over the Siskiyous in the morning and on into SF by supper.

Right.

A little south of Salem it began to drizzle. Traffic slowed to a crawl. Then my car lost its connection with the road – and I began to skate. It turns out that the week of 20 degree weather made the ground so cold that when the rain hit it, a sheet of black ice formed instantly. Thank god the road was dead straight because staying on the road was challenging enough at 15 mph.

I decided to bag it in Eugene with dear old friends if I could just make the turnoff. Miraculously the off-ramp and Eugene streets were clear and Christine and Bill plied me with champagne and cracked crab to celebrate my exit and safe landing.  The gods were definitely smiling on me.

When the streets thawed (after a tasty lunch – thanks guys!) I got back on the road and made it over the  Siskiyous before the next spate of bad weather rolled in.  Still, it was seven hours on the road today and my butt is sore.

What amazes me is how serene and blithe I feel. I know I did the right thing by selling, and even though the next step has not yet revealed itself to me it’s ok.

As Christine pointed out last night, this is the first time I’ve not been responsible for someone or something else. No kids, no pets (for the moment anyway), no house, no yard, no spouse, no official job…  just space and options.

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Filed under Baby steps, Emotional issues, Envisioning a simpler life, Inspiration & encouragement

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

Come ‘n’ Git It! Everything must go!

Late this afternoon about 30 friends passed through my nearly empty house for a “Come ‘n’ Git It” party.

My friend Judi and I arranged on several tables all the stuff I wanted to free myself from.  I’d invited people via email and Facebook a few days earlier, asking that they bring food or drink to share as well, since I had packed my kitchenware.

My cleverest idea was to let everyone know that half of the proceeds from the moving sale would go to a local charity we all support. Guests were asked to donate into a basket what they thought was a reasonable price for their take-home treasures.

We had a fun party and because a good cause was involved my guests probably paid twice as much as they otherwise would have. The educational foundation “I Have a Dream” got $220, I got $220, and Goodwill got the last of the stuff, kindly delivered to them by one of the last guests.

Everybody wins, and I’m rid of yet another buttload of Stuff. Another dent in the mountain.

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Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Inspiration & encouragement, Selling stuff

My house is on the market

The sign is up; it's official.

The sign is up; it's official.

My house went on the market today. My realtor created a virtual tour which gives you a hint at why leaving this home will be so hard, and why staying here as a single woman without the financial resources to hire help makes it imperative to downsize.

The first person to go through was unimpressed — all he cared about was the size of the space for parking his RV.

I say “RV-SchmarV” – this isn’t the kind of place RVers would love anyway. Wrong market.

But everyone since that one has LOVED it.  Two people are coming back with their respective spouses.

And I can sit back a relax for a couple of days. As long as I don’t touch anything.

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Filed under Downsizing, Envisioning a simpler life, Inspiration & encouragement

Open House Deadline = week of insanity

Hearing my pitiful whimpers as OH-Day (Open House Day) rapidly approached, on Friday the Rescue Angels (my dear kids Heather and Ethan) flew in from the Bay Area – Ethan just for the weekend, and Heather for the whole week.

This is why we have children. Yup.

Heather brought my 5 & 8 year-old grandsons as well, who added to the amusement but weren’t exactly worker bees. At home they have no TV, no VCR. So whenever they got too bored with watching us slave away we shoved a Star Wars movie into the slot.

Mesmerized

Mesmerized

Elliott's not so sure about this...

Elliott's not so sure about this...

First we did the gross stuff. Gross as in big. Hauling boxes of photo albums, books, notebooks, excess cookware, etc to the storeroom, bagging excess bed linens and clothing for Goodwill, and moving out the bookshelves and cupboards thus emptied.

That left the dirt.
It revealed the cobwebs.
And it left lots of piles of random shit… in what box will that go so I won’t lose it forever???

Heather never stopped. When she wasn’t folding linens or scrubbing out the frig, she was keeping the crew fed with fabulous food. A mix of what I had in the garden, and what needed to be eaten down in the cupboards.

We eat well

We eat well

The more orderly the place got, the more we could see imperfections that had been camouflaged for years.
And yet, miraculously, minutes before the first realtor showed up we finished, and the place looked FABULOUS.

See for yourself here: the virtual tour put together by my realtor. It looks like it’s always been this calm and lovely.

And in a way, it always has been…just hidden by all the STUFF.
.

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Filed under Family issues, Inspiration & encouragement