Of Moving and Goodbyes

This past week my daughter moved again. Camille has lived in different cities, countries. She has studied here in the States, in Europe and has worked in both places. She adapts easily, as a third culture child, to circumstances and places. She makes friends and truly blooms where she is planted: the first rule of a happy expat.

For the last 4 years, she has been with us. Working and living in Miami, it’s never easy for a young single woman. Camille adapted, but was never in her element. This move will be wonderful for her. Not only is she moving to a Caribbean island, but she is moving to be with her fiancé. She already has friends there, a job and all she wants at this time in her life.

This makes moving sound very simplistic, but we know for a fact, nothing is this easy. Moving and uprooting yourself take a toll on you. It is not as if we pack, get there, unpack and we walk into our new life. It is not as if we just wake up in our new home and we feel at home, if you know what I mean. There are steps we go through and some of them are not easy.

I am not an expert by far, but I have moved a few times. It was hard the first time and was hard the last time. So, first thing: be prepared to deal with heartache, exhaustion, anger, denial, elation, happiness, excitement and so many other emotions. It is part of the game.

Then there are the situations you encounter: locating a good mover, packing or letting them pack, what to take, what to discard or donate or sell. This is followed by regretting not taking this or that once you get to your new home!!! Getting and filling countless forms and lists would make your head spin.

All along, you have been saying goodbye, promising to be in touch (much easier nowadays), trying to see all your favorite spots, accumulating memories. This part is emotionally draining, no matter the reason you have for moving. The last round of parties, lunches and such will help get you through the last days. Enjoy them, take photos,

Once everything is settled, boxes packed, container filled and tickets bought, there is a lull in the process. You are able to breathe. For some reason, when this all is done you’d feel you are going to enjoy the move. There is the emotion and excitement of going to a new place. In a way, it is starting your life again. Go with that feeling!!!

Finally, the day of departure arrives. Try to relax and concentrate on what needs to be done. Go over your lists and forms, get your documents ready, make sure all your bags are labeled and easily recognizable. Leave for the airport with plenty of time, it’s better to wait there.

Once you are in the air, look forward. Concentrate on the trip, the plans for arrival in your new home, then breathe and try to relax. Regardless of the lenght of the flight, take the time to rest. Close your eyes, listen to music, watch a movie.  You’ve made it, you are on your way…..goodbyes are part of the past.

Lessons Learned Led to Downsizing

For years I have been de-cluttering: donating, selling and throwing away. It has been a never-ending story. Still, things seem to reproduce in my home. I have to say, it’s discouraging, so I have finally decided to end this once and for all. I am downsizing!!!

Of course, this would seem similar. Isn’t it the same thing? I ask myself….well, not really. I have neglected to make some big decisions and it is time to correct that. So I have made a list of things that need doing.

First: asking my children to take their things and dispose of them. Take boxes out of my storage space and send them somewhere else, somewhere where they cannot come back. Could it be that simple?

Do not know for certain, but I have started. My son moved to Houston a couple of months back. With everything he was taking there, I managed to send some boxes that have been in my possession for more than 10 years. There could have been more, but I discovered that later. Still, it felt wonderful!!!

This week I plan to spend some time looking through boxes again, making sure I find those which escaped me last time. I am sure a couple of more will be on their way to Houston soon. 

While down there, I will make sure that boxes belonging to my daughter will be found. She needs to go through them and decide what she wants to keep and what she wants to get rid of. Going back into my storage is not a choice. These are their things and they should do with them as they see fit.

Second: being ruthless, concentrating on what I want to achieve instead of getting lost in the memories and the sentimental value of my stuff. This has been the hardest lesson to learn. To work through it, I do not dwell on it. I make decisions on the spot and carry them out right away.

Boxes are open and I follow simple rules. If I haven’t seen in years, I already learned to live without it. There are plenty of charities that would take them. If not,  throw them away. If there are papers older than 5 years, shred them. Clothes, shoes and accessories, handbags and hats. Do I really need that much? Donating is the best way to get rid of most of them. More space in my closet and drawers is a great reward.

Third: organizing what to sell is important. Why not make some cash out of this exercise? This has been tricky. We live in an apartment building……garage sales are not allow. Fortunately, there is always a friend with a home who does not shy away from helping you with that. Hopefully I think I have found mine.

Separating these items, then be ready to price them without getting involved with the way you feel about them. Be realistic when it comes to what you think they are worth and what they are really worth!!! This is another lesson that has taken some time to learn. Being objective is not always easy, it helps to put myself in someone else’s shoes. How much would I pay for this, if I was buying at a yard sale? Still working on it.

Fourth: books, CDs, DVDs, even vinyl records and VHS tapes is more exasperating than others things you want to get rid of. Books are slowly going out of style, no matter how I feel about that. There are too many books, apparently, and no more are needed. Finding places that would take your books and give you credits to get different ones has been relatively easy……but that is not my goal. I wanted to just get rid of them. Making sure I separate the ones I would keep because I love them and would read them gain. Donating to public libraries, school libraries, nursing homes, hospitals…..they are still accepting books!!! Will try to sell the others.

In these days when we can stream anything on you computer or television…..who would want these relics of the past? Well, I found out that there are places that buy CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and even vinyl records, but not everything. They require you to go to them, they inspect what you bring and then pick and choose what they want. Do not expect to get too much. What is left, I am keeping  for your garage or yard sale…and hope for the best.

Fifth: big pieces such as furniture and appliances are difficult to get rid of. Especially if you do not have a vehicle to transport them. Getting any charity to pick up these items is easier said than done. We waited for weeks to get the Salvation Army to pick up some pieces of furniture from our son’s apartment. When they finally came, everything was inspected and a few things were rejected. Thankfully we had a Plan B……because you cannot just put them out on the sidewalk. City Ordinances say you must pay a fine and still end up disposing of the items yourself.

Once I have completed all these steps, I will have just what I want, need and find beautiful. I will have space in my home to make it feel bigger and more spacious than it is. Hopefully, I will also be reluctant to buy anything to replace what  I sold or gave away. This looks more promising that just de-cluttering.