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Obstacles; Two Weeks to Declutter

Obstacles; Two Weeks to Declutter

Life happens and sometimes there are obstacles in our path that we must remove before continuing on our way. Or we must learn to work around the obstacles like the trees above that are finding a way to grow on and in between the boulders in the rockslide.

I knew that our empty nest would feel big with just the two of us living in it. For days after we returned from taking Keaton to college I expected him to come through the door after school and ask me, “What time is dinner?” I missed his usual question at breakfast, “What’s for dinner?” Without him here our home was big and empty. We love this home that holds eleven years of memories. It’s large size has allowed us to host extended family members at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have slept as many as 10 for four nights at Thanksgiving. We finally have the backyard we’ve been dreaming of. We have completed most of the updates we wanted. I knew at some point we would sell. I just didn’t think it would be so soon.

One of the many great attributes of this house is its abundant storage. It has amazing built in storage throughout. The bad thing is that it has enabled me to put off making decisions on whether or not to discard things. I can always find a place to put whatever it is out of sight and not worry about it. This has made my downsizing job much more difficult. I have a friend who always had the rule in her home that if something new came in then something had to go out. I wish I had adopted her rule years ago. My husband really wishes that I had followed her rule.

I knew we wouldn’t stay in this home forever. I knew we would sell and move sooner than later. Our personal goals go beyond this house. I thought I would have a year or more to prepare. At a minimum I was thinking six months of paring down, going through everything and making decisions on what to keep. However, with the housing market in our favor, we decided to put the house up for sale in September.

With this target I had just shy of two weeks to go through every room, every closet, every cupboard, every drawer and an attic in our 4,000 foot house with the task of sorting, tossing and organizing. It was daunting; both physically and emotionally exhausting. When I work under pressure with a looming deadline I get focussed, put on blinders and everything else in life gets put on the back burner. This probably isn’t the best tactic because even running, the one thing that clears my head and controls stress, was put off.

A year or so ago I bought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. My plan was to read the book and then start on a systematic process of purging. I thought I could learn how to emotionally detach from objects in my home that weren’t important. I knew I could part with many things, but I also knew that it would be difficult. The book sat untouched on a shelf, and I continued to save everything.

With no time to even start the book, I needed to find a way through this huge self-built barrier. I realized I had to throw perfection out the window. That’s not easy for a Virgo. Making the “right” decision for every item was unrealistic, especially since we didn’t have our next house lined up. I focused on job number one, getting the house ready for show.

First, we rented a 10×5’ storage space. This is where we put some things that we knew we wanted to keep but don’t need in the house right now. I also decided that after the house sells we will need to have a large estate sale. There were things I could box up now that we will sell later. I went through every room and removed all the personal photos and collections that were visible. Then I put out some of my autumn decorations. I decorated much more sparsely than my normal style.

When it came to closets I removed excess and had three categories; keep, sell, and garbage. I did this for linen closets, hall closets, and bedroom closets. From our master closet we removed this huge pile of clothes that became a fantastic Goodwill donation. We filled six medium sized packing boxes.

Clothing pile for Goodwill

I love walking into our closet now. It is organized and void of clothes we weren’t wearing. About two years ago I started the practice of turning my hangers around on January 1st. Then at the end of the year I could tell what I hadn’t worn that year. This helped me weed out some clothes each year, but there were some pieces that I rationalized into keeping. They might be needed if the right occasion came. This year in January I put rubber bands on the hangers of pieces I hadn’t worn in 2015, but I still thought I should save most of what I hadn’t worn because the right occasion never came. Well this time I was ruthless. I decided to get rid of anything I didn’t truly enjoy wearing or wasn’t necessary. I told myself that if the “right” occasion hadn’t come for several years then it’s likely it won’t ever come, and if it does that piece of clothing will be dated and not something I will want to wear. I wish I had taken a before picture because my after picture is spectacularly different.

My new closet all neat and tidy.

This morning I started to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and within the first 35 pages Marie Kondo explains why I am so thrilled about my decluttered closet, and why I am now taking a little time each day to keep it this way. She says that when we make a profound change it triggers a different mind-set and touches our emotions. There is relief in having less to keep tidy. The feeling of being overwhelmed dissipates. Have you ever made a huge change in a room, your pantry or garden where you just can’t stop looking at it? Do you keep going back because it brings you joy to see the transformation?

There is a lot more to do, but our first goal, to get the house ready to “show”, is done. Once the house sells the process of paring down our belongings to less than half of what we currently have will be another daunting task. I do believe that once the process of downsizing our empty nest is complete I will feel relief from owning less, have freedom to pursue a new purpose and time to focus on wellness.

Have you had to do something similar? What was your process? How did you decide what to keep and what to let go of?

Change: A New Purpose and Plan

Change: A New Purpose and Plan

In life, change is inevitable. Sometimes it’s gradual and sometimes it crashes into our lives like a wave on the beach in a storm. Sometimes we know it’s coming. We anticipate it and can prepare. Then there are times when change completely blindsides us. Today I’m starting this blog writing about a change in my life that I’ve been able to mentally prepare myself for. However, that doesn’t make it any easier.

My youngest child graduated from high school in June. I knew this day was coming and although I mourn the end of his childhood, and desperately wish I had a rewind button, I celebrate. Mentally, I’ve been trying to prepare myself for a new role and purpose. For 18 years my job has been focussed on raising my two boys, keeping a home and making sure my family is well fed, clean, emotionally supported and loved. Now, with less food to buy and cook, fewer clothes to wash and a schedule void of school and sporting events, I have time to pursue my passions and find a new purpose.

Tomorrow we load clothing, dorm supplies, a bike and my excited son into our car and drive 750 miles to Bozeman, Montana. I’ve done this before. My older son is attending college in Wisconsin even further from home. I know I will cry and my heart will ache. I know I will cling to him for one last long hug. I also know that we have raised him to be a responsible, caring and independent young man. This is the journey that we’ve hoped for him.

In nature animals and plants have to adapt to change in order to live. As humans, some of us resist change and others embrace it. I don’t want to be set in my ways. I want to learn new things and grow from those experiences. I want to focus my attention on living with vitality.

This blog is my journey on embracing the changes in my life, adapting, pursuing passions and finding purpose, wellness and joy. I hope to inspire and motivate my family and friends (you!) to do the same. My goal is to live well longer. I will be sharing what works for me as I try new things, like meditation, and get back to other activities I’ve set aside, like yoga. I will share simple recipes that make eating healthfully easy. I will read about nutrition, wellness and mindfulness then report on what works for me and have suggestions for you to try.

Please join me on this journey of discovering health and purpose. Whether you are an experienced, new or will be an empty nester I hope you will find some golden nuggets that you can apply to your own life, and live with vitality.

If you are an experienced empty nester what advice do you have for me and others? If you are new to the empty nest what are your plans for dealing with the change? What are your health and wellness goals? Please leave a comment below, and please share.


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