Lessons Learned and Simplicity

IMG_3723This might be the year I finish my never-ending de-cluttering project. I have been at it since we moved to Miami 13 years ago. Yes, that is a long time, but I did have too much to get rid of. All in the pursue of Simplicity, a simpler life. It’s a long story, so bear with me.IMG_3725

In 2003, after more than 20 years in Curaçao, my husband and I made Miami our home. He came to work here and I followed. At the time, it was the thing to do, but that did not make it any easier. I did a lot of throwing away, donating, selling and packing. In the end, I had still too much because I was holding on to memories in the guise of possessions. It was difficult to just let go of them, so I brought them with us.

I have learned a lot since then. Every move we have made here has resulted in more donating and throwing away….no more selling for some reason. Since we have moved three times, you can imagine how much I have de-cluttered. Still, it has not been enough. So regularly, I go through our closets, our kitchen, our books, CDs and DVDs. I have participated in two de-clutter projects as well. I have one day every two weeks when I shred papers that are of no use anymore. I must have done some damage to my storage space, you would think. Not so fast…

IMG_1697It is true that we started with two storage cages in our first apartment building. They were full to the top, mostly with boxes that came from Curaçao, boxes our children brought to us when they moved from place to place. We now have only one storage cage, but it is full to the top!!

Having decided that we need to move on, look for a more relaxed place to live than Miami, I have started again in earnest to diminish the clutter we brought and the one we have accumulated. I kid you not, sometimes I feel our things just multiply!!

IMG_4985Now, I have learned one important lesson: this is not de-cluttering anymore…this is downsizing!!! All I have done is a preparation for this most important ritual in our lives: moving on and live in the day. Memories will be there, but our  are being weeded out. I have taken many photos  to have a record of what I am getting rid of. A less complicated home is coming soon.

IMG_4989The other lesson I have taken away from this long process is that I will downsize my way. Simplicity is not the same for everyone, each of us have our own definition. Mine is, well, simple!!! I will keep my photographs, my videos, my books, my photo albums (remember them?). They tell my story, they are my memories and in the great scheme of life, they take less space than furniture, china, glassware, silverware and other assorted items I have dragged with me for years.

It is liberating and I am enjoying it so far……of course there have been some emotional moments along the way. That is part of the process, part of what life is all about. I will keep you posted on this leg of my Simplicity journey.

Moving On……

-1One of my dearest friends has retired and is moving to Canada. It is amazing to me how much this short sentence means to me. Kathy has been my friend for over 30 years and she knows me better than most. We have shared so much and gone through a lot. Our friendship is not sentimental or mushy, no sugary stuff and definitely no-nonsense. She is British and came to Curaçao in the 1980s with her parents. Her father was the last Anglican priest to serve on the island. When they retired back to Britain, she stayed behind and made a life for herself. Not easy, trust me, since she was in her thirties and single, didn’t know how to drive and has never lived alone.

I read once that the best example of an expat is a single British woman who moves abroad on her own terms and makes a success of it. I completely believe that!!! Kathy has done this beautifully. She started as a preschool teacher helper, arts and craft teacher, moved on to librarian, English as a second language teacher…you name it, she has done it in the field. All the while without really loving the interaction with small children!!! An achievement indeed…..

Now is time to start a new life and to leave behind the island she has called home for over 30 years. It hasn’t been easy to make this decision. She has many good friends and a support system there. Unfortunately, Curaçao is not older people friendly. You have to think what would happen once you are not able to really take care of everyday chores, especially if you have no family on the island.

I completely understand where she is coming from, but the move to Canada totally surprised me. She is not fond of the weather in Britain. Cold is a bad word for her, yet she has decided to move to a small town outside Ottawa!!! It is not what I would have expected of her, but she is determined to make a go of it. Good for her!! It will be fine because she is a survivor, she will make it work.

-2When I go to Curaçao from now on, she will not be there. This is a sobering thought. Since I moved to Miami, every time I visit we spend a lot of time together. We catch up with things, we reminisce, we go out to dinner, for drinks. Do not get me wrong, we Skype regularly and email….but still just seating and talking over tea and coffee or drinks or dinner is wonderful. As I always said, human contact is paramount in any relationship and friendship is one of the most important relationships we can have.

This is indeed the end of an era. It started with my move to Miami more than 10 years ago. I have kept my ties with the island and visit as often as I can, it is home to me in many ways. I have come to accept the fact that you cannot go back, life goes on and things change. Still, if your friends are there when you visit, somehow things do not seem so final.

I will miss her when I go back for a visit, but I know this is for the best. We are at a crossroad in our lives and we need to move on. Friendship like ours is forever, memories and experiences shared will not fade. Besides, there is still Skype and emails and most importantly visits to Canada!!!