Moving On

On Saturday, September 7, 2013, I loaded everything I owned into my Honda Accord, and over the next 13 hours drove 800 miles to begin a new life. I had spent several months going through everything I owned, and gave away, donated or sold anything I didn’t believe had a place in my future. I was moving to Florida, so I didn’t need heavy winter clothes. Living alone I only needed basic cooking and eating supplies. I finally realized that it would be cheaper to sell my furniture and buy what I actually needed once I got there, so that went as well. I was ready for a clean start.

The move was 4 ½ years in the making. I had finally admitted that I did not like being cold, that winter did nothing for me other than make me depressed; I needed to be outside more and I needed to be near the ocean. I wanted the freedom to work for myself, to be in charge of my schedule. I made the choice to quit my job and leave behind good friends to make it happen.

My birthday is a time of reflection, of looking back on where I’ve been and where I want to be. It isn’t so much about setting goals and resolutions, but about what I want to focus on, to bring into my life over the next 12 months. So, it is no surprise that my move was a few weeks before my birthday.

And this year, around my birthday, I am reflecting back on that move, on how much my life has changed since then, about how I now live the life I had dreamed of for several years. And I wonder about others who, in times past, made a similar change. Who packed up all they owned, traveled many miles, and began a new life away from friends and family. Who, like me, did it by choice.

Specifically,19th-century settlers who kept moving west across the United States. Maybe it is from watching Westerns with my boyfriend, or maybe it is because that is when my ancestors moved from the Carolinas and Alabama to Arkansas where they stayed. Whatever the reason, I am curious about the people that loaded up wagons and set off into the unknown.

My move took one day, and I was immediately able to get in touch with friends and family during the drive and upon arrival. What was it like to leave behind loved ones and know you would never see them again? Did they pack all they owned, or did they, like me, leave things behind? How did they know what to take, or did they guess and take the wrong things? And my big question, why? What were they looking for, hoping to find? Did they find it? Did they see themselves as brave? Foolish? Determined because they had a feeling they just had to go? How did their families feel, both the ones that went with them and the ones left behind? What about my ancestors? Why did they make the move? Was it by choice? Did they find what they were looking for?

You may see where this is going. I have a lot of questions and I love to research, so I’m taking this on as a project. Right now I’m calling it “Moving On”. I’m not sure what will come out of it. Maybe some articles, maybe a book. I am curious to learn more and see where this takes me. I’ll post updates on the blog; you can find them under the category Moving On.

Join me on this journey!

You can listen to an audio recording of this story here.

“Where Do I Begin?” 6 Tips to Get Started Decluttering

One of the biggest challenges to decluttering is knowing where to begin. If you are facing a whole-house declutter, it can be overwhelming. The advice to “just pick something and start” is not bad, and it is certainly better than nothing.

However, if you just jump in anywhere and start, you may find yourself coming back to the same area again. Or you may find you are decluttering separate areas, but because you can have the same item in multiple locations throughout your home, you may still have clutter.

Add to that the numerous excuses we can all give to postpone getting started on any task we do not want to do. I know my apartment was never as clean as when I had an exam or paper due. Clutter and dust didn’t bother me until I needed to focus on studying, and I felt I “had” to take care of it first or I couldn’t concentrate.

No matter what excuses you tell yourself, you can get yourself going by following these 6 tips:

  1. Do not begin with anything sentimental. These are the hardest items to choose to release, and you need to save them for later, after your declutter “muscles” are better developed.
  2. Do not begin with any area that has an overwhelming amount of items in it. If your closet is packed, your book shelves are groaning with books or your desk overflowing with papers that may be too much to start with. Pick a smaller area.
  3. Your kitchen or bathroom may be a good place to start, depending on your preferences. If you like to cook, the kitchen won’t work. But go bigger than one drawer in your dresser or desk. Tackle the entire dresser or desk!
  4. Don’t wait until everything is “perfect” to begin. Yes, you’ll need trash bags and boxes to sort out the trash and get rid of items, but don’t think you have to have the perfect storage solution in place for the remaining items. Work with what you have to get started. You WILL find excuses not to begin, so pick a day and a time, write it on your calendar and begin.
  5. If you have a partner, do not begin with areas that are used by both of you, especially if they are resistant to decluttering. Pick an area that is yours.
  6. Add in things that make you happy: music that energizes you, a favorite beverage to sip on, a small snack to keep you going. Make the experience more pleasant so you don’t dread getting started.

The thought of decluttering can be overwhelming, especially if you need to go through your entire house. Don’t let that thought stop you. Use the tips that help you decide where to start and then just BEGIN.