Big Day. Big Feelings.

As if selling off and giving away the majority of our belongings wasn’t surreal enough, the remains of our worldly possessions were loaded into a freight truck as the moon totally eclipsed the sun. We stood on the back porch and watched the shadows morph as our house was emptied. Our German Shepherd, Ava, raced around the yard excitedly barking as if she had something very important to say or perhaps trying to tell us something very unusual was happening. By the time the sky was fully bright again, it was time to pay the movers and watch our stuff leave for indefinite storage.

The next day we visited the house for the last time. As I opened the door, the lack of dogs greeting me was momentarily more unsettling than seeing it completely empty. But as I walked from room to room, I sensed the house was already losing the essence of us. It seemed still, cold, lifeless. Although, I could bring to mind all the great times we had there, as well as memories of sickness and tears, the stillness was palpable. I was stunned when tears started streaming down my face. Not only had we sold our “forever home”, my daughter would not be coming with us on the next phase of the adventure. She is now a grown woman following her own path.

I needed to spend a few more minutes under the cherry tree where we had spent innumerable nights talking, laughing, and drinking a whiskey (or two). The same cherry tree that Stan and I were married under a month ago. We walked the yard looking for treasures the dogs had buried (and the droppings that the new owners would not treasure). We hugged and looked through the leaves of the tree into the sky as we had so many times before. I made one more lap through the house, tears coming intermittently. Then, I pulled myself away. It was time to let go.

Immediately following the good-bye we set off to trade in my car. “Lady Bug,” I joked was my mid-life crisis car. Although I always suspected I hadn’t done it quite right, since she is a Chevy Cruze and was purchased because of her superior safety ratings. However, she was red, with a sunroof, and great stereo system. And yes, I blew the speakers listening to Motörhead. I couldn’t believe I was once again shopping for the oh so practical mini-van. The dealership had several “used” low mile 2017 minivans in stock, so we did a side-by-side comparison and went with the one that had roof rails installed. We only had a few more days before getting on the road and would need to add a roof cargo rack asap. Like any used car experience, we had to navigate the smooth talking and the pushiness of the sales team. For the first time, we also encountered the challenge of not having a permanent address. I was amazed that they were less concerned about me producing “proof” of employment than of an address. For some reason, in their minds, having a permanent address equated to my ability to pay. I wonder how many times this will be a problem for us?  I also feel deep compassion for people who are homeless and are discriminated against and denied access to things/services just because they have no permanent address. It is totally unreasonable and unwarranted, My example is trite in comparison but it shed light on difficulties others must face.

The whole process of trading the car took many hours. Adding to the heaviness, the TV in the waiting room blared images of 45’s rally in Phoenix. I had time to sit with all that had happened in the last few weeks and the fact that our “forever home” was no longer ours. Everything was sinking in. By the time I saw my car again, to double check I had gotten everything out, it had a dealership sticker on it. I momentarily panicked. What the hell had I done, maybe the naysayers are right? Maybe I am crazy for doing this? Then I remembered, that my job was not secure, Seattle is too expensive and is not the same city I fell in love with over 25 years ago. Everything aligned to give us the opportunity to travel and to have some space in our lives. It is terrifying, exciting, sad, and joyous.

That evening when I finally sat down at the AirBnb where we were staying, I had a chance to peruse Facebook. For many, it was the first day of school. A dear friend posted an article reminding how difficult that day is for kids, the title was Big Day, Big Feelings. Those four words summarized my day perfectly, all the feelings I could have had…I had. It was the Big Day and the point of no return. I had to roll with the waves of emotion,trust, and continue to let go. It is too late to turn back now. We can only go forward…

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Letting go of all the “good stuff”

Move number 46.  When I purchased my house almost three years ago, I swore up and down, “I will NEVER move again!” After forty five moves, I was finally ready to settle into my career and patiently grow deep roots at my new home. I sowed young plants confidently believing I would watch them mature. I could see myself years older sitting in the yard fully enscounsed in the privacy they would provide. I could picture a water feature that I’d add in the next couple of years. I felt so grounded. My family (and our stuff) at last had our forever home.

Ironically, Stan moved the majority of my stuff into this house while we were “just friends.” Life can be so extraordinarily unpredictable. The next summer Stan moved in with us…as we combined our lives, his stuff was added to ours. Although, Stan had already started taking a more minimalist approach what he had left were treasured items.

Decisions. Fast forward to the present. If we want to leave the US, “What do we do with all our stuff?” Much of what filled our house was special and held within it memories of  family, old friends, my kids’ early childhoods, and our artistic endevours. I was filled with doubts

How could I leave “all my stuff” behind? What do we actually “need”?
What if I regret giving my “favorite” things away? What if the house doesn’t sell and we have to live here with it empty? What if we change our minds? What if the person that gave me that “special” item finds out I gave it away?

What if by giving everything away we become more free?

Since we don’t know where we will ultimately land, we decided to store what we would be willing to pay to ship across the ocean. Then, we decided we were only willing to pay for the smallest shipping container possible.

Sorting. What would we really want to see again after a year or more in storage? What did we absolutely have to have for our first few months of travel? What is worth money? What brings us joy? What is holding us back?

Purging. We sold high dollar items on eBay and craigslist. For sentimental items it felt best to give them away to our dearest friends. We kept watch to see what our neighbors needed on the BuyNothing group; we passed along anything we could. Next, we held a festive yard sale where we played “Let’s make a deal” and most offers were accepted. We also had a huge free pile. At the conclusion of the sale we posted to craigslist and our neighborhood Facebook group that all leftovers were free. The remains were of course donated.

Outcome. There were moments where I saw my memories in the hands of another. It was hard to let go. Then, I saw joy in people’s eyes when they found a treasure! People shared  how our stuff was going to make their new house feel like home, how their best friend would love a picture, book, or sweater, and our friends grabbed items that would remind them of us. I shared with my daughter that when I was her age, I had a rule that everything I owned would fit in my car and I could carry it myself. That rule had been broken long ago, but it is rather unbelievable how much stuff I had moved around over the past 2 decades and how many states it had been in. I do feel lighter today, less encumbered, and yet it is bittersweet.

Base jumping into uncertainty

What did you notice about the photo above? Did you see the beauty of the winding road leading to the rainbow meeting the sea? Or did you notice the blurriness of the falling snow or critique the composition as less than perfect ?

Over the past few years, I learned to notice the beauty first. However, it is often difficult to hold that space and life frequently kicks you in the ass (which is sometimes what you need to help you remember you are alive)! Then for a period of time, you become jaded and sealed up. Doing exactly what you needed to do to survive! Finally beauty restores itself. Life cycles continuously between the beauty and the suffering, but sometimes there is balance between the two and you wisely ride that wave as long as you can…

No, the photo isn’t perfect but waiting for “perfection” is what often holds us back from moving forward. Instead of waiting, notice the beauty right in front of you and believe in possibility.

We are doing just that and this blog is about taking that giant leap without knowing where we will land. Moving towards what we want even if the path is ambiguous. It is about all that has been and is to be learned along the way. Instead of the academic pieces I carefully polished until they are smooth and shiny, the writing here will be raw with the cracks and flaws exposed like a piece of turquoise that hasn’t yet met with the tumbler.

You are welcome to join us as we base jump into uncertainty!