About thirty years ago I was gifted with a small, iron, potbelly parlor stove. I learned or heard or came to believe that it was from the 1910 era. It has been a part of my possessions ever since, moving it from house to house… until now.
The stove was discovered in the back yard grasses of an empty house. A house being sold. Abandoned. Destroyed. I don’t remember the details about the house. I wasn’t there. I only know it came into the hands of a friend of mine who passed it along to me when I expressed interest in it.
After taking possession of the parlor stove, I set to work cleaning it up. It was stuffed with debris, burned paper remnants, charred pieces of wood, and a lot of ash. The stove was covered in a reddish-orange rust from top to bottom.
Once the trash was removed, I scrubbed it down to see its true condition. From there I removed the layers of rust with steel wool. Wiped. Sanded again. Cleaned again. Finally, I could apply multiple coats of a fire-proof black paint and restore it to its simple beauty and poised for work.
While I never burned a fire in this little stove, the metal stovepipe protruded from the hole at the back of the stove base. It became only a décor centerpiece. It was a very heavy ornament displayed in a corner of a room, wherever I lived, no matter the house.
A few days ago, during a visit to my home, someone else recognized its beauty. He took a photo of the stove and shared it with his mother. The next day, she and I talked about her interest in it and her desire to fulfill the wishes of her recently deceased husband.
They had been restoring a home of similar age to the stove when her husband had unexpectedly passed away. There was a spot for a potbelly stove in this old house. They had been looking for one for years that would be just the right shape and size. The woman could tell from her son’s texted photo that this was the stove!
After setting an agreeable price with her on the phone, she came by to collect the stove for her hundred-plus-year-old home. The stove would fit right in. It will have a special place in that home for many years as part of a couple’s desire come true.
As my husband and I pack boxes and prepare to return to our beloved Colorado, we’ve “released” many items along the way. It seems the more that’s released, the easier it becomes, no matter the length of time we’ve enjoyed that special something. It was the right time and person to pass along this dear little fire holder.
We are only ever caretakers of the things in this life, whether they be houses, children, jewelry, money, or something else. Our job is to be good stewards of such possessions, knowing some (if not many) will last beyond our lifetime… to be cared for by someone else. We get to enjoy such gifts while we have them. Making a void by releasing items at the right time creates a void that can be filled with something new. I look forward to discovering what’s next. What joyous thing will find its way into my life? Won’t it be interesting to see what shows up!
In that prolonged empty space, between activities or seasons or marriages or moving houses, I’ve usually been tempted to fill it with numerous means and ways to avoid any sense of boredom. The constant busyness numbs my frustrations or irritation of waiting for people’s assistance or for things to happen, while transitioning from one step to the next. However, as my husband and I now make one final house move, I’ve decided to embrace this period of limbo. Enjoy the calm. Rest the body. Review the plans. Breathe.
This time the move seems easier. We’re returning home to Colorado and a place we’ve lived before. Also, because I’ve moved so often in the past, I know the expectations, most time frames, and various steps before us. I easily anticipate what’s needed and work to eliminate possible obstacles before they arise. I’m confident about my abilities to address and overcome any difficulties. I can present numerous options to facilitate the move, thereby reducing the stress (in my mind) and, hopefully, sharing that sense of calm with my husband, too.
For example, while I’m writing this – in my camper van parked in the driveway, with our dogs by my side to keep them quiet – the house is being inspected for the buyer. My husband is inside to answer any questions. Our realtor is there to assist and be the liaison between us and the buyer’s agent. My job for the next three hours is simply to keep the dogs quiet and out of the house so the inspector can do his job efficiently and without distraction. It also allows me to take a much-needed break from the chaos of endless paperwork, packing boxes, and whatever requirement the next email or phone call brings.
I’ve discovered this limbo period to be extremely enticing and am reconsidering its value. I might let the van be my “satellite office.” In addition to being a space for writing or reading or naps, and taking breaks with the dogs, it could be my mini-retreat spot where the stresses of a busy life are simply put on hold or allowed to slip away.
There is a much different mindset to the practice of embracing the limbo period, rather than resisting or ignoring it. A practice worth developing. A practice filled with gratitude. I’m willing to practice welcoming the space between.
It’s well after ten in the morning and I’m still in my pajamas. I’ve made several phone calls, read the news online, scanned social media, and finished my allotment of coffee. My daily “To Do” list is almost done. Now what?
We’re as unpacked as we can be at the moment. Every room has been cleaned. More will be completed this week. Several big pieces of furniture will be moved (with professional help) from the local storage unit into our home in a few days, just before the majority of our possessions arrive early next week. Finally! Then there will be a flurry of unwrapping, unboxing, and reorganizing as things are set into place. Until then, life is in a holding pattern.
I find this space of waiting uncomfortable. The longer the inactivity goes on, the harder it is to step into the maintenance of life. I can find tasks that need to be done; they’re just not the ones I want to do. And the things I want to do require the supplies, files, equipment, or furniture that isn’t here yet. A first-world dilemma, to be sure.
A key part of this “problem” is my addiction to work, to busyness, to needing to feel tangibly productive. It’s important to explore what I’m feeling and to find a means to resolve these outdated ideas in some positive way, especially as my activities in future days and years are meant to lean more toward relaxation and/or creative endeavors. However, right now, it feels skewed toward endless drudgery.
I prefer to think of this period of life as “re-wirement” rather than retirement. I choose to have an active life… creative outlets… community connection through service or business… new and fun experiences… that are balanced with the tasks required to maintain a home and daily living. I also prefer large blocks of time for painting walls, writing, sewing, embroidering with beads, or planned recreational activities… not to jump from one chore to another that only gets repeated tomorrow or the day after or the week after that.
The solution, it appears, is to allow myself to enjoy this period of mostly inactivity and repetitive tasks until the rest of our boxes show up. To give myself the freedom to explore empty hours. It’s harder for me than you might think. Meditation is helpful, but the planning voice is loud and constant. The planning voice wants results! Projects started! Long-term goals achieved! Transformations completed!
I think it’s time I had a chat with that annoying voice. Wish me luck.
My mother died two days ago. In the midst of a pandemic and right before Christmas. She was 89. I’m still trying to determine if it’s relief or grief that I feel. Maybe both.
We hadn’t spoken for more than a dozen years. Not because I didn’t try from time to time. I reached out through occasional birthday or holiday cards, sending a gift or two. I didn’t have her phone number or email address, but she had mine.
My mother was a woman full of creativity. A talented artist in many realms. Sewing. Painting. Crafts. Gardening. Home decorating. She was even a trapeze performer one summer as a teenager. I’m grateful to have learned so much from her. To be curious. To explore possibilities. To try and fail and try again.
I also learned what not to do. The physical abuse taught me kindness and compassion. To be a different kind of parent to my children. From her fear of lack, I eventually found there is always enough and more. From the loneliness, self-reliance. From know-it-all bluster, humility. And, especially, that angry silence can wound as easily as violent words.
Granted, I’m still learning, all this and more.
As far as I know, the reason she “disowned” me was based on religious differences. She found out that I had abandoned my childhood religion. Her vengeful, judgmental god no longer fit my philosophy for life. It was no longer the basis for what I believed. However, I am grateful now (as an Interfaith minister) for that parochial education.
It’s been nearly 30 years since I discovered a spiritual path full of Love and Universal Principles and Karmic Law. I tried to explain, during that final phone call with her, that a good deal of what I’d learned to that point was not much different from the Bible teachings she held dear… that we had more in common than we had differences… that if she was willing to be open and talk it through, we could both share our beliefs more deeply and learn from one another… and see the similarities. She refused.
I feel a great sadness that we never got to have that or any other conversation since. However, initiating such conversations is now a key focus of my Interfaith ministerial work. My mother’s influence is still present. Perhaps the silent treatment, begun that day as she hung up the phone, is over.
When there’s no going back, the only way to go is forward.
After making the decision to move from Colorado to Oregon, and then selling our house as quickly as we did, there was no time for doubt or regret. We had moments of grief about leaving Colorado and those we knew. And now, ten weeks since making the decision and two weeks after arriving to this coastal community, we can reflect on how easily everything has unfolded. (CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT COOS BAY.)
First we decluttered and put a few things into a storage unit. Then, due to the hot real estate market of 2021, our house was under contract within a few days of listing it. That’s when the packing fun really began. We ended up filling ten U-Haul storage boxes (like pods) to be shipped to a new address when requested. The process provided us with a few box bruises, increased muscle strength, tested our balance, and provided the knowledge to utilize moving tools to make it easier on our bodies. (Think “shoulder dolly” straps.)
On closing (departure) day, I pulled away from our former home in the van, pulling a small cargo trailer (with a few important boxes, suitcases of clothes, and the motorcycle), and Mike followed behind, driving a 22-foot cargo truck with large, heavy furniture that wouldn’t fit into the other ten storage boxes.
We arrived in Coos Bay after three-and-a-half days of careful, slow driving and no known mishaps.
Along the way we received a call that one of Mike’s siblings had been admitted to hospital with serious pneumonia. As a result of this illness and other eventual complications, she made her transition a few days later. She had just sold her house and was also preparing to leave Colorado for good. That memory will always be a part of our move, too. She will be missed.
Children, grandchildren, friends, and new acquaintances greeted our arrival with smiles and open arms. Family members also had arranged a large storage unit for all our road-weary belongings. Its size was more than adequate for what we brought with us. The other ten storage boxes will be requested once we have a new address.
We stayed at a hotel the first night of our arrival. The next morning, before taking our belongings to the large storage unit, a scary incident occurred involving one of our dogs.
As we were trying to load up once again and get to the storage unit to unload the motorcycle and other items, Casper somehow managed to get free of his leash and took off running through traffic. I tightened my grip on the leash to our smaller dog, lunged to grab the escapee, and fell over the cargo trailer hitch, bruising breast tissue and sternum bone. (Nothing fractured.) Traffic slowed or stopped as Casper made his way through two lanes of traffic on Highway 101 toward the intersection, where he paused to consider his next step.
Mike and I were running down the sidewalk after him, calling his name, and dragging little Zoey in the process. Casper made a right turn into a lumber yard. Then, with the help of lumberyard employees pointing out the direction, Mike managed to corner him between piles of wood. I threw the leash over the fence, and we brought Casper back to the hotel. A dreadful incident had been averted. I’ve been triple-checking the leash clasps ever since. Apparently, double-checking wasn’t enough.
It only took about an hour to unload the moving truck, cargo trailer, and van. Thank goodness I hired professional movers to assist. While one of the straps holding the motorcycle in place had snapped, the bike had managed to stay mostly upright. The surrounding boxes gave it some support. We had more than enough help to get the unloading done in record time. Both the rented cargo trailer and the moving truck were returned to vendors within hours of unloading. Whew!
The next step was to move into the guest room of Mike’s son’s house, retaining a few boxes with day-to-day items until we find our own place. They made space for our stuff in closets and cupboards and refrigerator and shelves. We are grateful to have such a welcoming place to reside while we search for our “forever home” one more time. It’s comforting to be surrounded by people who care about us and are willing to share their home with such generosity.
Almost immediately we had appointments with our realtor to tour home options in person. We had done several virtual tours with them, even placing long-distant offers on potential homes, but nothing had solidified.
However, within a week of arriving, we placed a contract on one that appears to meet all our requirements. It will need some minor repairs, but is practically move-in ready. While the house is much older and smaller than the one we just sold (think 1960’s mid-century modern), it suits this next phase of life as we learn to embrace a more relaxed lifestyle. With the formal inspection already provided by the seller and the appraisal waived, we pray that the closing will occur sooner than currently scheduled… perhaps before the end of 2021. It’s possible… and what a nice Christmas gift that will be (photos coming later).
Meanwhile, we’ve been focusing on moving funds from Colorado to Oregon, updating medical options, staying healthy, and driving around town to get familiar with the area. On one of our driving outings I backed into the steel edge of a low-hanging mall sign and put out one of my van’s rear windows. We also have an appointment with a body shop next week. The sign had no damage whatsoever.
Mike’s car is scheduled to arrive Monday afternoon, thanks to a former neighbor who was willing to drive it West and deliver it to us. Thank you, Alec! It will be easier to drive Mike’s car on these narrow streets than my big van.
With the major tasks complete, we find ourselves sleeping long nights and sitting… a LOT! It’s a good activity for me as my sternum is still a bit sore from the fall on the hitch. And now, each of us has a sore shoulder from yesterday’s COVID booster shots.
I’m finding it easier to meditate and have started reading again (a practice I put aside a few months ago). We’re getting to know our two young grandchildren and reconnect with their parents. We’re exploring decorating ideas for our new home, too. Then, once we take ownership of the property and the ten U-Haul storage boxes arrive with the bulk of our belongings, it’s back to muscle-building, balance-testing, and lots and lots of steps for a few days.
At some point we’ll visit the beach; it’s only about 15 minutes away and vast. The bay waters are just down the hill from here and visible from everywhere in town. The dark clouds of winter have arrived. Evening fog fills the gaps between evergreens on the hillside to the west. The air is moist; winter rain is predicted. It’s a great time to be indoors, writing, sharing this adventure with you.
We made the right decision. The only way to go is forward.
We have assembled, packed, and loaded into storage crates two hundred and sixty-six boxes so far in this moving process. Each box has been organized and inventoried with care before being placed into a large wooden storage crate for later shipment to our next home.
So many boxes, so many precious items collected over decades of life, are evidence of the Abundance present all around me. I am grateful for what we have… for what we have released… and for the unlimited possibilities before us.
In this process of preparing to move to another state, the energy required to pack, lift, shove, stack, and organize our possessions into five-by-seven-by-seven-foot crates has also allowed me to release several pounds of excess weight. In just the past five days the bathroom scale displays three pounds gone! In nearly three months, more than ten pounds have disappeared.
While I’m not inclined to exercise at this pace for the rest of my life, I am inspired to increase my activity level from what it used to be a few months ago. More walks. More outings. More energy. I’ve also established an eating pattern that appears to fulfill nutritional requirements without being excessive.
Finally, there are now eleven days until we sign the closing papers on our house and move to Oregon. We have loved living in this house; it’s one of the nicest we’ve owned. And while it’s a bit unsettling that we have not yet found another that meets our criteria, we trust it’s out there, waiting for us to discover its merits and make it our last home. I know, I’ve said this at least once before… maybe twice.
What’s different this time is our age. We’re both over 65 and, thankfully, both relatively healthy. However, doing most of this move ourselves has been difficult both physically and emotionally. I really don’t want to go through this again. Finding the “right” house has become paramount, more logistical than emotional.
Each day provides its own disappointments and successes. Spending so much time together under these stressful circumstances has revealed even more hidden aspects of our relationship to work through. Communication has been raw, direct, healing, fun, and always filled with love. We’ve become physically stronger with all the furniture-lifting and box-dragging. We also enjoy the evening salt baths to rejuvenate and restore our sore muscles. And we keep going. Pacing ourselves. Taking HGTV breaks with hot pads on our lower backs. Taking a walk through Target just to be around other people and away from the boxes. Eating regularly throughout the day; sometimes at home, sometimes at a favorite restaurant. Laughing at the seeming insanity of how we’re being led into this next adventure.
We’ve put offers on a couple of homes already, but they haven’t panned out… so far. Weird obstacles appeared and we knew it wasn’t the right house for us. Our mantras are “This, or something better” and “It only takes one, and what if it’s easy.”
Through it all I have to trust we’re doing the right thing. I don’t feel overly anxious about not having a next address. My ego voice (Naggy Maggie) has been quiet… likely in shock at what we’re doing. I know there’s a house out there, waiting for us to find it. Thus, I do my part every day (several times) by searching realtor.com to check for new listings.
It truly feels like we’re being guided toward something special and that we’ll recognize it as soon as it comes into view. Yes, we get impatient for it to show itself so we can make this move more easily from one house to another. Then we pack another box. Put padding around another piece of furniture. Have another storage crate delivered. Keep moving forward as we do our part of the process.
It’ll be interesting to see what’s waiting for us.
We have decided to leave Colorado and move to Oregon’s southern coast, specifically the Coos Bay-North Bend peninsula. Coos Bay, Oregon – Wikipedia
After two weeks of vigorous packing and decluttering and cleaning, our lovely Grand Junction house goes on the market this weekend. We anticipate and envision a quick sale. Followed by a mountain of boxes prepped and loaded into containers of some sort. Followed by a two-day drive to the Pacific Coast. Followed by a search for our “new” home. Followed by adventures.
While everything seems to be moving quickly right now, this decision came slowly. My husband is a Colorado native; I have lived in this state for most of 40 years. But the seed of this idea to move closer to the ocean was planted in 1997 when we traveled to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia to live. Mike’s job provided us a three-year adventure near the sea. It was life-changing! And the waves never left our hearts. We felt that same pull on our visits to Coos Bay in recent years, especially during our time there last month.
If not now, when? And why Oregon?
The past two years – most of which have been lived in semi-isolation due to the global pandemic – included the deaths of three dear friends. Others close to us have left the area to explore their passions or new horizons. We miss them all. They also inspire us. Life is too short.
Creation’s still small voice for “something more” has gotten louder. We can’t ignore it anymore. We have entered another phase of life. The autumn days of aging. When colors are bursting forth with vibrant energy. New ideas are waiting to be birthed. We must heed the call. No more waiting!
Yes, we have family in Colorado… and Utah… and Alaska… and many other states, including Oregon. That, too, is a big part of the draw for where we’re headed. We have family there, including grandchildren anticipating our arrival and with whom we can share a few years before they, too, are grown and on their own.
The ocean can’t be moved to Colorado. We look forward to cooler temperatures, a more humid climate, and ocean breezes. We experienced similar weather during Sydney’s winters. We survived the rain and cold and learned to adapt. To rug up. We’ll do the same in Oregon.
While we appreciate the variety of all the retail therapy a larger city provides, we choose not to live in such densely populated areas. Thus, the attraction to a small coastal town. Plus, we’ve made a concerted effort through the last three moves to downsize our possessions to right-size our lives. We’re almost there. Whatever extras we want will be at the end of a leisurely drive inland or can be shipped to our doorstep. Everything we need can be found locally.
Given the pandemic restrictions and cautions… and the technology of social media… you’ll hardly notice we’ve left the state. Our photographs will be different. We look forward to more outside activities, especially near the beaches. We will continue to evolve… to explore… and to love those far and near.
Earlier this week we slept in our converted camping van for the first time… with our two small dogs… in the driveway. Given it was the first time, we decided to stay close to home should anything major go awry. That decision turned out to be a good idea!
We purchased the 2004, semi-converted Chevy van only six weeks ago. I’ve spent four of those weeks tearing out and redesigning the interior to accommodate our foray into part-time #vanlife during our semi-retirement years. The intent is to visit our children and grandchildren. They are now scattered about, living all over the western United States. Because their homes are filled with children, there are no longer any guest rooms for us. A wonderful trade-off!
We had stayed at hotels, but didn’t like the associated costs nor having to board our dogs when we traveled. The van is to become our “hotel room on wheels” so we can visit our family (guesting in their driveways), bring our dogs, stay as suited for everyone’s schedule, and not spend a fortune in the process.
In our younger days, my husband and I did remote tent camping, car camping, and even trailer camping. However, due to where we live now, an older, reliable, converted camper van seems our best option. It will also be my daily around-town vehicle. The biggest requirement was that it had to fit in the garage. And it does. Just.
After a week of removing what was already in the van, then discussing desirable camping features with my husband, I spent three weeks re-designing the internal layout. I insisted on a “no-build build” idea so everything can be changed if we need the vehicle for something other than camping.
I did most of the installation, which included sewing, shopping, crafting, arranging, installing, and set-up. I selected everything from a sofa bed to fairy lights to a “Luggable Loo” toilet. My husband provided his input, the money, and muscle, too. We packed everything we might need (and more) for a vacation into the 70 square feet. Still, we decided a test was wise to be sure we didn’t forget anything.
While we had packed the van during the day with snacks, clothes, water, etc., our evening test began well after sunset. That was our first mistake. We did consider that, if something was missing – even though I’d made multiple lists – we could just dash inside the house and collect it.
Lesson 1: Set up camp in the daylight.
After loading up the dogs in their crates and providing them with water, our next task was to connect the long extension cord to an outlet in the garage. Although I had been the one to initially store the cord in the van, my husband was the one to get it out and unwind it. Unfortunately, confusion ensued about how it had been wound to begin with. It was difficult to unwind in the dark driveway. And why were those small bungee cords wrapped around it? We turned on the garage lights to illuminate the cord mess into a workable solution.
Lesson 2: Set up camp in the daylight.
Next, the extension cord was snaked from the garage through an open window into the van to power a surge-suppressor, multi-outlet unit for the computer and monitor (for livestreaming movies). That was the moment we discovered the outlet unit had not yet been stowed. Another trip to the house.
Lesson 3: Test systems completely and keep parts together. Set up camp in the daylight.
Once the electrical cord and outlet unit was turned on, we powered up our computer-related devices. Two small portable fans were already buzzing – one with its own battery and directed at our bed; the other USB-style fan, plugged into an external, fully-charged battery power supply, which gave the dogs a cooling breeze. Both fans – combined with the mosquito-netted, open front door windows – provided adequate air flow throughout the van. It also helped that the temperature was only in the mid-70’s.
Wait! No Wi-Fi? We had assumed we’d be able to connect to our home’s internet account from the driveway. It had worked before when we were parked in the garage, but now, less than 20 feet from our previous test spot, and we had no connection. We tried several times to connect on various devices. No luck. At least we had remembered to bring books and magazines for our nighttime ritual.
Lesson 4: Have internet HotSpot capability – OR – bring reading materials or external DVD/CD drives for movies. Set up camp in the daylight.
Although we had meant to keep the house off-limits for this experiment, that rule had already been broken several times. I ended up walking the dogs through the house (on their leashes) to the backyard for their final pee of the evening. I then marched them back to the van, locking doors and shutting off lights behind me. While I was walking the dogs, my husband shut down the devices and put them away. When the garage door came down, the reality of sleeping in our van in the driveway became really REAL.
Dogs locked in their crates? Check. Van doors locked? Yes. Phones and keys nearby? Of course. Water bottles handy? Indeed. Toilet set-up for late-night routines? Absolutely!
I had earlier given my husband a tour of where all the touch-lights were located and how to use them. The privacy curtain for the toilet area was also in place. All other window coverings insulated us from the outside world.
Lesson 5: Take your time; be methodical. Set up camp in the daylight.
I crawled across the sofa bed to my cozy, corner spot and collapsed into the pillows. As my husband read his paperback crime novel with the aid of a small solar-powered light propped on his chest, my eyes explored the van interior. My mind reviewed all the plans we had discussed and the hot days of working in the garage to achieve this moment. I’m happy with the aesthetic results.
What was disappointing, however, was the sofa bed. So hard! Neither of us slept well after the first hour. We’ll soon add some kind of topper to soften it. The bed is narrow for two people, but we can deal with that. We were both warm without coverings most of the night. Only in the pre-dawn hours did we feel the need for the quilt.
Also during the night, I became keenly aware of the slant of our driveway. While it’s not much of an incline, my body seemed to slide down the mattress toward the street. I repeatedly pulled myself up toward the pillows. Apparently this wasn’t an issue for my snoring husband.
Lesson 6: Find a level place to park. Set up camp in the daylight.
The 6:10 a.m. alarm was louder in the van than it had ever been in the bedroom. I threw on clothes and made another run to the backyard with the dogs. As I tried to get the dogs back into the van, rabid barking ensued. They were surprised by a neighbor out for her morning walk… across the street. Their loud vocal response made clear their feelings about such an intrusion in their corner of the neighborhood.
Thanks to the handy electrical cord and outlet unit, we heated the water in the electric kettle and enjoyed pour-over coffee. The ice in the small cooler chest chilled the coffee creamers loaded up the night before. Strong coffee never tasted so good. While there was enough hot water to make oatmeal, we decided on having breakfast later after we “got home.”
Our overnight test proved to be a success. We survived! My husband retracted the electrical cord from the window. We both shared in storing it in a new way. I hopped into the driver’s seat to move the van back into its place in the garage. Once the garage door was secure, we released the hounds, cleaned up the van, and fixed a welcome hot breakfast.
Lesson 7: Be flexible. Plan for what you can. Enjoy the adventure. And set up camp in the daylight.
Our future excursions will be more than 20 feet from our back door. We’re excited, but nervous, to “get on the road.” We’ve never had a vacation without a timeframe or urgency to return. It’ll be interesting to see how Life shows up in our journeys.
Our community provides a special type of trash pick-up a couple times each year. Folks put their unwanted or broken items on the curb at a set time period and the municipality arranges for trucks to come around and collect the discarded items. We experienced a similar service when we lived in Sydney, Australia many years ago, although the setting-out period seemed a bit longer than it is here and now.
What is interesting of both experiences is that during the setting-out period and right up until the collection happens, a trove of “collectors” drive through neighborhoods looking for salvageable items. Because I, too, was once a “dumpster diver,” I no longer arrange garage sales or consignments for my unwanted items. Instead, if something has lost its use or appeal in my world, I wait for these community collections and simply set those things out on the curb. I know they will find use in someone else’s life.
For example, the photo shows what’s left of the treasures we placed on the curb just a couple of days ago. These remnants are truly trash. What you don’t see is the 24-year-old foldable beach umbrella, the treadle sewing machine in an oak cabinet, new but unused light fixtures, a charcoal barbeque grill and accessories, and tail lights from a car of the previous owner of our house (left behind when they moved four years ago).
I was a bit sad to release the treadle sewing machine. It served as a reminder of the way I learned to sew, taught by a Polish neighbor lady when I was nine years old. This particular machine had been given by a family member as payment of a debt owed to me, but it languished in the garage for a couple of years while I waited for the cigarette smoke to dissipate from the oak cabinet. That never really happened, and we need the space for other items. Thus, it was time to truly let it go.
I’m finding it easier and easier to let go of long-held memorabilia that I once found so dear. Certain ones, family heirlooms and artwork, are finding their way to my children now. The rest? If they still hold a space in my heart, they stay… like religious statues on the bookshelf or family photographs on the walls.
Trash or treasure? Now I keep only what holds meaning for me. And when it doesn’t? It’ll be time to let that go as well.
I often have a love-hate relationship with time. Never enough. Can’t save it. Runs out. My “to do” lists have shortened over the years, but I struggle to accomplish what I put on paper. This time challenge affects another life objective – balance. How do I accomplish all I set out before me AND experience self-care?
Lists help me to feel accomplished in my daily tasks and to stay organized. Paper lists get checked off and then thrown away. Spreadsheets can be tedious to update. Calendar notations get an “X” when a task is done. My computer calendar (Google) displays across platforms to any device; notifications advise me of appointments. I finally figured out a way to combine the best of all of them.
My areas of Life focus fall into five major categories: Spirituality, Home, Writing/Working, Creativity/Art, and Relationships. I also have time designated for the “Space Between” major categories and end of day reading. A nod toward balance. Each category is color-coded for easy identification on my phone or computer. The colors and a set time serve as a welcome structure that allows me to dedicate time each day to things that matter to me AND achieve mental balance. Most categories are scheduled for every day of the week, while having flexibility within each allotted timeframe to prioritize tasks.
Right now, I’m in the “Space Between” (a gray area). We had an early dinner, so my writing was interrupted and delayed for a few moments. Next comes “Relationships” (lilac) when we’ll watch a binge series or a livestream college volleyball game my granddaughter plays in tonight. Sunday’s holiday lunch with family is in red.
This new system gives me permission to pace myself through all my many interests. Today I’ll do what I can in the time I have. Tomorrow, I’ll do a bit more. The schedule helps me stay focused and progress. Each day I’ll fully utilize the time given to me and do so with balance and serenity. It’s working already!