Chronicles of Downsizing

Stuff Quizzer Spirit

20140731_195039I finally decided to commit to selling my house at Snow Goose Way.  Lest you worry, I want to clarify the house you see pictured on the top of this blog is my future coastal dream house. Snow Goose is in Meridian, Idaho.

Each day after work, three or four boxes of items got packed, labeled and hauled out to the garage.  Through the month-long process, without fail, sometime around 2 am or 3 am in the morning the stuff quizzer spirit poked at my sleepy mind.

“Hey, sorry to bother you so early, but I noted the following items.  You packed three boxes of greetings cards. Granted you took five boxes of cards and correspondence, sorted and condensed to the three boxes – congratulations.  Still go back and reconsider.  Do you really want to keep all that?”

I woke in the morning with the now familiar mantra, “Get rid of it!”

My daughter, Jen, and I had a lunch rendezvous on Saturday.  I love our conversations, and the way Jen examines various aspects of life.  I asked her about all the greeting cards and correspondence.

“Do you ever think you may want to look through the cards, letters and check out various notes written to me or you girls over the years?   During my undergraduate history days, I enjoyed finding old letters and cards and reading how people related to each other through correspondence.”

Jen got a rather perplexed look on her face and immediately, without hesitation exclaimed, “No mom, I know who you are, and I don’t need to look through old cards and letters to learn more.  Let go of the stuff, be free and enjoy your life.”

Our kids did not want our stuff.  The majority of my fifty-something friends are experiencing the same downsizing, simplify our lives movement.  Our children, now young adults, consistently shake their heads at the collection of stuff.  The pieces that perhaps draw attention are family heirlooms, selected items that individually mean something to them, or items that may sell for a decent price.  And we all secretly harbor hope that a piece of furniture, artwork or item we acquired is worth $100,000 or more – if not now, possibly in the future.

That weekend I ventured back to the carefully sorted and packed boxes of cards.  I gave myself a couple hours to read the birthday cards, wedding cards, congratulations on your baby cards, sympathy cards and other correspondence between friends over the past 30 years.  I laughed as I read humorous notes, and later tears took over as I longed for the early days of my marriage, newborns and grieved the death of family and friends.   I held paper proof of my 37 years of living in Idaho.  I cannot go back in time and alter any decisions.  Even if I could, how risky to pull on a thread and unravel a cherished story line.

I found the decision to discard the physical evidence a step out on the ledge of faith that felt both solid and precarious.  That weekend I celebrated and grieved the past.  I acknowledge the rich flow of friends and experiences throughout my life and the life of our family.  During my time in the Treasure Valley, I engaged in community activities and volunteered hundreds of hours to great causes.  I tried to create a better world for my children, all of our children.

I honor and cherish each note and card that a wealth of friends and family took time to send.  20140731_194956However, at the age of 55, I feel the clock ticking and want to spend joyous real-time moments with people and events. In order to continue on a sparkly, vibrant path of trying to give more than I take, all that stuff cannot travel along.  No need to reach for physical evidence, or waste time sorting through stuff.  Time to hold the memories close to my heart and step out in faith.


Move-in day at Boise State University

 The Towers Housing - Boise State University

The Towers Housing – Boise State University

I enjoy the rhythm of the University.  Fifteen years of employment time on campus combined with the fourteen years it took to finish my undergraduate degree, have produced a long and multifaceted relationship with Boise State University.

In an age of economic crises and with the workforce population often required to relocate, my continuity of employment experienced at Boise State University both surprises me and fills me with gratitude.

The end of the spring semester brings a frenzy of stressful energy as students work to complete projects, coursework, and study for exams.  Graduation provides celebration and closure to the academic year and the majority of students exit for summer work or adventures.  Even with the intercession summer classes, the 3, 5, 8-week schedule, the bulk of the student flow is gone.  Landscape, construction and remodel projects fire up and what I term “the underbelly” of the university claims the campus.

We are the year around employees, the infrastructure that continue completing old projects and launching new ones to prepare for the fall semester.  We all enjoy the vibrant energy of the students and it takes a little time to adjust to the quieter campus.  However, within a few weeks, we reclaim the space and enjoy the temporary absence of the student flow.

Before each semester begins, I take a traditional walk across a campus gradually becoming busier with returning students and faculty.  The energy palpable, and a week before the first day of class a growing buzz of preparatory activity takes place. Move in day is delightful, and heartwarming to watch. An abundance of family and friends haul in baskets of supplies to the dorms.  Parents lug crates of toilet paper, granola bars, peanut butter jelly and crackers, and the infamous Ramen noodles to assigned rooms.

Lincoln Housing

Lincoln Housing – Boise State University

Buoyant, excited looks on the faces of the young people inspire hope for our future.  Lots of laughter, smiles, and invigorating energy populate the campus. Students are the lifeblood of the university and their sparkly dreams spread throughout BSU.  New friendships, stories, homework angst, challenges, adventures, and careers are already unfolding.

Text Messages and Spiritual Faces

On December 7, my daughter Jen and I had a spiritual text conversation.  One of our infamous, special meaning of life, things feel sort of strange, something is afoot in the cosmosworld mother-daughter connected moments.

Most parents feel and experience unspoken connections with their children.  Even as both my girls are grown up and living away from home, I can sense when something is wrong.   Sometimes images occur in my dreams or generally I experience a sensation of uneasiness.  I wonder if one of them is sick or having a difficult time in their lives.

The mystical clan bond cuts both ways.  I have traversed some sad turf in the last year,  and at certain times received calls from either Molly or Jen inquiring, “Hey mom, you okay? I felt an overwhelming rush of sadness and apprehension and am checking in, you okay?”

The calls always came at critical junctures when I had just received difficult news concerning the health status of a dear friend or some other dire information.

Early entries in this blog joke about our “spiritual faces” during periods when we enjoy a special event, vacation, music, scenery, tender conversational interludes, or unique occurrences.  Least my moods get too uncontrollably sappy, my daughters often jolt me back to earth exclaiming, “Oh, Oh, look out, mom has spiritual face on!”    Spiritual Face Alert

Meanwhile, with permission from Jen to share, I present one of our classic  “what is going on here?” text conversations:

Jen – “Today I keep getting these “bouts of anxiety… are you getting them too?”

Me – (the mom)-  “Yes, I feel unsettled whereas on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I felt really grounded and peaceful, not sure what is going on.”

Jen – “Yeah me too, I just feel anxious and shifty about something I guess we will have to see.”

Me – “Well there was an earthquake in Japan and I think a storm in the Philippines this week.”

Jen – “Are they shockwaves before or after hurricane?  I ahhh, I just don’t know hahaha.  Ha-ha weird but I mean like is there still a shit storm to come?  Or maybe things beginning to shift…”

Me – “I believe things are beginning to shift.”

Jen – “We’ve all been feeling things changing inside and outside of us and perhaps this just the turnover.”

Me – “I like the way you worded that I tend to believe it is the turnover too.  I feel pretty grounded lately and wonder if the anxiety is us picking up other people’s fears and worries.”

Jen – “Hmmmm, interesting thought.”

Me – “The other is that our spirits are vibrating at a higher rate so we can make the change not sure that makes sense will have to explain that more later.”  (oh dear, I have been having difficulty sleeping lately, and I am not sure what I am talking about here – little mind slippage going on.)

Jen – “Hahaha okay mom.  Either way, I feel like the tides are definitely starting to turn.  I don’t know what that means for either of us, yet but it is happening ha-ha.”

Me – “Whoa I kind of got out there whoohooo..”

Jen – “Hahahah its okay mom, I understand, just reel it back in a little bit, we can still talk about it though … sounds interesting either way.”

Me – “For sure reeling me self in now and going home love you. – I have my spiritual face on, do you?”

Jen – “Oh yeah hahahah.”


The Emerson and Nelis Clan. Jen and Molly Emerson in white sweaters.
Susan Emerson in glitter dress, my mom, Bonnie Huff, and sparkly Gabrielle Nelis.