Point for Discussion
The American Dream remains the freedom to live how and where we choose. We Americans move often for many reasons: more space for growing families, job relocation, downsizing for empty nesters and retirees. When we start to pack up, we realize that we have accumulated so much stuff. Do we need it all? Do we even remember all that we have?
Our Points of View
Over the almost 60 years of my life, I have moved 14 times, not including annual returns to college. Each move seemed like the right thing to do at the time. As I get older though, the process seems even more tortured. Yes, it’s a fresh start…again. Our previous home was going to be our last stop. We had finally saved enough for a lakefront home and remodeled it to be the perfect spot for kids and grandkids to visit and for memories to be made for years to come. It was perfect, but more than 3 hours away from family. Unfortunately, we lost a family member unexpectedly, which completely changed that plan. And so, we recently moved to be nearer to family. Our time on earth is limited and we don’t want to be so far away from family.
This is the sixth house my husband and I have owned in 23 years of marriage, and the fourth house our cat has lived in with us in the five short years he has been with us. Far too many homes and way too much packing and moving.
Over the many years of marriage, my husband and I have done our share of acquiring stuff. Sometimes we couldn’t find something that we needed and decided it was easier to replace it than look for what we already had. Moving is a process that forces us to deal with that reality head on. And I HATE the process.
Like many others at the moment, I have been watching Marie Kondo’s Netflix series Tidying Up. She certainly has a way of forcing her clients to address their accumulated possessions and move forward in a more organized manner. This has become a movement, and many households are simplifying and organizing their lives. Goods donations are up as we all get organized and only keep those items that bring us joy.
In my world, joy is the most important thing. We should all find joy in each and every day. My resolution for this year is to find joy in every day. There is always something to be grateful for and find joy in as we end the day and head for bed. For 2019, I am finding and identifying for myself all of the good in my life.
We started 2019 by purchasing a new home and began the process of packing up our lives. With each move, we purge the stuff we don’t use or need before we move. We tend to donate a lot to Goodwill or the Salvation Army at that point and make several trips to the dump to dispose of items that can no longer be used. It’s amazing to me that we keep so many broken items or things that are no longer useful. Since we move so often, I find that items I was sure I needed three years ago when we last moved, I never even touched. This time, those items were donated. After we moved in here, my husband said he has a lot of tools that he no longer needs and he plans to start sorting things and getting rid of duplicate items and tools he will never use. If we can accomplish this, it will be true progress.
We are not hoarders by any definition, but I think we have too much stuff. We have the things we use almost every day and there are some things we rarely, if ever, touch. We don’t need them. While this is, hopefully, our last stop, we need to stay on top of the tendency to be pack rats.
As Laurie says, there are several ways of disposing of the excess in our lives. We have used Craigslist, OfferUp and local Facebook marketplace sites to sell or donate some no longer needed items. We get a little bit of cash from the sales sites which we use toward vacations and entertainment. The most benefit comes, though, from lightening our load and passing along items to those who will use and appreciate them.
While my husband and I have not moved quite as often as Lynn and her husband, I stopped to count, and we have lived in 6 homes (an average of 1 every 5 years), starting with our first apartment in the late 80’s up to our current semi-retirement home in the mountains.
Early on, we didn’t have much stuff, so we easily moved from apartment to first home. Tiny as it was, we couldn’t fill it up.
As we moved up the corporate ladder and moved on to our next few homes, it was a different story. The biggest change was when my mother in law first, and then my mom, later, moved in with us – and we happily brought their stuff – papers and knick knacks and tools and clothes – of which we had plenty already! Needless to say, with our most recent semi-retirement move, it was time to “tidy up,” as Marie Kondo would say!
I like how Marie Kondo separates clothes and then other stuff because, if you are like me, we don’t have the time, or make the time, to clean out the closet or whittle down the knick knacks – because we don’t have to.
Like Marie Kondo, I had a set of rules. Unlike Marie Kondo, I didn’t think about the items that “spark joy,” but similarly, I did think about whether or not we have used it, if someone else might be able to use it, and if we really needed it taking up space. You know that “Spring Cleaning” feeling of accomplishment? I wanted the “Super Spring Cleaning” feeling. And we had to do it – we were moving to a place 1/3 the size of our current place.
Here are our main rules, or the questions we asked ourselves, in this order, give or take:
- What if we got rid of everything, and started out fresh? Whew! That is liberating!
- What must we keep due to its sentimental value – being part of who we are?
- What do we need for our dogs to live the good (and comfortable) life?
- What if we only have room for 25 hangers in our new closet? What would we have to have? (e.g., a suit, a couple of favorite sweaters, 2 pair of jeans, etc.)
- We then go to the next category (e.g., kitchen tools), and do the same.
It’s easier to start out with “nothing goes with us” to “what must we have” that is a part of our lives?
Ultimately, we brought just what we needed, and not a bit more J…but with local art fairs, great discounts, and more, we are accumulating a few things…until the next move!!
With Let Go, Craigslist, Offer Up, and other local buying options, we can now all start fresh, with less “baggage.”
Our Question for You:
Any helpful hints that you can pass along for how you “tidy up” as you’ve move to your next home?