As a designer, I usually find myself on the brighter side of a move – preparing floor plans,
selecting paint colors, accessorizing and helping clients move into their new homes. However, this November and for the first week of December, my husband, Mike, and I sorted, donated, discarded and sold our home of 19-plus years. If you recall my September newsletter, Our Beach House, I wrote about how much we love living in our little, renovated cottage. In October we decided to put our Lincoln home on the market and make living down at the beach a more permanent thing.
As much as we were certain about selling our home, it was incredibly hard. There were many high and low moments that made me weep as we packed and let go of things I thought I would never part with. There was no escaping the process of packing and parting, no going around the fire, only going through would free us.
I’ve put it in my top 5 hardest things I’ve done in my life. That might sound a little surprising, but home really is a special place for me. What I say, and what I do as a designer is who I am as a person. I believe in everything I advise you to do, so for me to just pack everything up like it doesn’t mean anything is the farthest thing from the truth. I love being home and surrounded by the things that rejuvenate and comfort me.
We were lucky and blessed that the sale and move happened quickly. I found packing
physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting and tried best I could, to move through my day
mindfully and with grace. We had to be decisive on what we were doing with our stuff. No time
to waiver over things, and in the end we donated most of it. I found the letting go easier if I did it
with gratitude and generosity, knowing that it would end up with someone who really needed it.
My advice to you don’t hold on too tightly to your “stuff.” Purge now! I learned that what we
hold on to and think is valuable just isn’t. In the end, I could only give stuff away. It’s amazing
how much we want to hold on to our material possessions. At one point, I thought I would need
a storage unit and I learned that people rent storage units for years just because they can’t part
with their stuff. I was shocked and thought, what a shame! Certainly someone else could use it
and what a waste of money.
I took care in deciding what to do with everything I needed to part with. I wanted to minimize
what went to the landfill so I started searching for places I could donate to. I’m sharing it all with
you to give you ideas and suggestions on how you can purge now to make your inevitable move
easier someday. It’s a lot of work to carry around a heavy load and there are plenty of people
out there who could benefit from your sharing.
– I separated trash from recycle and can only hope that what needed to be recycled was.
– I went to the RI Central Landfill for the first time in my life. It was impressive. We brought paint, and everything toxic that was in the garage. I’m embarrassed to say we had a lot of toxic crap in there
– Books, games, toys, got donated to the Cumberland Lincoln Boys and Girls Club.
– More books got donated to Big Hearted Books & Clothing Inc.
– More books went to the Literacy Center in Manville. I really made Mike crazy with my books but I love books and struggled parting with them. I’m going to make really good use of my iPad and ibooks in the future!
– Electronics went to Indie Cycle. The company organizes sites where you can drop off your electronics for free. They disassemble the electronics and reuse the components. Their motto is “Everyday is Earth Day”.
– Big Brothers and Big Sisters came by three times to pick up our donations.
– I first went to CVS with my old prescription medication in hopes they would properly dispose of them for me. They didn’t. What they told me is that you can drop off medications at your local police department. You really don’t want to dispose of medication in your trash or dump them down the drain and pollute ground water.
– A lovely table I had in my foyer and unused coats went to one of my favorite inner city parishes. They were so grateful and didn’t care that they were a little dated.
– Some things went to family members who were happy for new boots, bookshelves, a drum,
and I can’t remember what else.
It has been a freeing and empowering journey. The process underscored for me what I already
knew – we are not our stuff or our zip code. Change can be daunting but it’s also new, exciting
and inevitable. We’ve decided to embrace it rather than hold onto what’s no longer there or
needed. We’ll continue living passionately about what we feel matters, taking this special time in
our lives to experience something different and staying rooted in the fact that no matter where we live, we are always already home.
Particularly at this time of year, it is maddeningly elusive to find balance between our spiritual and material needs. The process of moving certainly helped me find that balance. As I walked from one end of the mall to the other to pick up mattress covers at Bed, Bath and Beyond for my move, I thought to myself, “There is not one other thing in this mall you could give me for free right now.” After a month of purging the same kind of stuff that filled the window displays at the mall, I felt completely content.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, time with family, friends and a sense of contentment, knowing that we already have everything we need.