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.

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Stuff, Things, Paper Trails and the Recycle Bin

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Stuff

At six am, the lumbering sound of the recycle truck interrupted the morning silence as it traveled through the neighborhood.  I heard it stop in front of my house, and empty the full contents of my recycle bin into its container.  No going back now with the choices made over the weekend to lighten my load, and get rid of things.

Since my daughters left the nest, a new-found energy to downsize infused my life.  I feel ready to move to a smaller home.  I do not want to manage stuff, and desire a smaller living place so that time, money, and energy are with friends, traveling or visiting my girls.

I sifted through boxes of things, and more things – stuff, papers.  The last 30 years I kept magazines, newspaper articles, and old school papers from my college days and from my daughters’ school years – elementary through high school!    I have boxes of cards celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, get well, bereavement, cheer up, friendship and thinking of you expressions given to me throughout my life.   Not only cards mailed to me but  I managed to secure and store cards sent to other members of my family.

The cards document our journey through life.   Sentimental evidence difficult to discard because it is proof I was here, went to college, had a family, and belonged to a community of friends.  Occasionally I need visual, written evidence that I loved deeply, cherished my daughters, and enjoyed incredible friendships over the years.Image (11)

While working on my undergraduate degree, I enjoyed social history research.   Before Facebook and email correspondence, I cherished the excitement of sifting through primary resources such as letters or cards.  For example, a love letter between a famous writer and her partner provided a unique historical glimpse of issues that impacted their lives.

As I picked through the stacks, I thought that my daughters might be interested in reading through old letters, journals, or greeting cards for a bit of family history.  I also came across letters from a childhood friend who recently died of cancer and wondered if her children or grandchildren would want to read the news and thoughts she wrote about her beloved family to others.

My mom condensed my childhood collection of schoolwork and pictures into a box.   Throughout my life during difficult decisions and tumultuous times, it helped to read stories I wrote as a child or comments that teachers made on my report cards.  Not to drown in memories or the horrible quicksand of would have, could have, should have – rather to gain glimpses of reference points into characteristics that distinctly belong to me and light a path for future endeavors.

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More Stuff

For the time being, I downsized from five boxes to three, and that is not a bad beginning.  As for schoolwork from the girls’ collection of stuff, I saved selected artwork and all of their writing.  I think they will one day enjoy reviewing the poems, journals, and essays they wrote from elementary to high school.