At the beginning of this year, I signed up for an online course called "A Year to Clear What Is Holding You Back." The idea is to unclutter your life by following the instructions that are sent to you every day.
As with most things I start, I was gung-ho at the beginning, and I did a bunch of clearing out. But eventually it fell by the wayside, and I lost the energy for doing that hard work.
Now I need to take it up again! Planning a cross-country move, I need to get my stuff in order and get ready to go. I want to travel as light as possible, so I need to deal with as much of my stuff as I can.
I have a large cabinet crammed with art supplies. Do you have a fetish for art supplies? I surely do, and it's hard to give them up. What am I taking and what will go into the garage sale?
Just some of the art supplies
My watercolor teacher says you should never throw away anything you've painted, not even your "dogs" -- there might be a day when you can go back and do something with them. So I have a very large stack of artwork. Can I bear to toss any of it, even if it's not very good?
Books! As a former English professor, I have books galore, despite the fact that I have been ruthlessly shedding them over the past few years; I have to keep them just because I might need them at some point. Some I haven't read, some I might like to read again, and some have such great sentimental value that I could never get rid of them. How are you with books? How do you get yourself to part with them? When I retired, I did a pretty good job of shedding my academic books, but I still have a few, and those are the ones that are hard to part with. My books are in the two left bookcases, and I have another bookcase in the bedroom and cookbooks in the kitchen. My goal is to get down to two boxes of books. Okay, maybe three. Can I do it?
Just a few of my many books
And art work - all over the house. My own photographs, other paintings or photos I love -- do I take them all? How do I pack them? I want to put as much as I can into the car to go with me, but I'll soon run out of room there. And how to pack? I have one very large photograph, framed with glass, that I don't think will fit in the car, and I would be heartbroken if it's damaged. And I have a very large unframed canvas painted by my mother -- should I try to move it as is, or should I take it off the stretcher bars, roll it up, and reassemble it when I get to where I'm going?
Just one little corner full of artwork
I'm open to taking any advice you might have about moving cross-country and how you dealt with it! Right now it's pretty chaotic, but I still have almost a month to go, and I intend to make progress every day!
One corner of chaos
Do you love George Carlin? I do. Here he is, talking about "stuff."
Almost four years ago, I wondered if anyone was still out there reading my blog, because I hadn't written in so long. I was heading off to write a different blog on a passion of mine, genealogy (Living in the Past). But here I am, back again, wondering if anyone else is discovering a new self even later in life than before.
I started this blog close to six years ago, in 2011. At that point, I was a budding photographer and occasional watercolor painter, an English professor in her early 60's trying to reinvent herself before retiring. Here I am now in my mid-60's, retired, heading toward reinvention once again.
Life takes many twists and turns and I find myself bidding farewell to California, my home of 40 years, and returning to Minnesota, where I was not born but raised. I'll be leaving sunny California before Christmas and heading back to the world of ice and snow (at least for the next few months). My sister and her husband are there, my dear niece and nephew, grand-nephew (my sister's adorable grandson), my best friend from college years, and I'm looking forward to making new friends and rediscovering a place that has always been special to me.
What's most exciting but also a little terrifying to me is that I haven't lived alone since 1975 -- quite a while ago, right? -- but I'm planning to buy a little home for just me and my beloved dog, Hugo.
This is Hugo. The best dog ever.
Hugo, the sweet Maltese-mix I rescued three years ago, and I will be piling in my car with everything we can cram into it and taking off in mid-December, just about the time that snow will be falling in the Sierra, the Rockies, and the Great Plains. If we have a clear window, we'll make a mad dash over the direct route (San Francisco to Minneapolis, through Nevada, Colorado, etc.). But if the weather gods don't cooperate, we'll take a more leisurely southern route, through Arizona and New Mexico, turning left at Oklahoma and heading north. No rush -- whichever has the least probability of our winding up stranded in a snowbank somewhere.
I'll stay with my sister until I can find a townhouse to buy, maybe in the winter, maybe in the spring. But I'm excited to share my process as I think through the things that I want, in my house, in my life . . .
So here I am -- this is me, now. I feel hopeful and worried, excited and scared, all those things and more. My mother was known for saying, "Look on the bright side," and I will. There's plenty of bright side ahead.
Let me know if you're still here, okay? I'm looking forward to making new friends in the blogosphere, but also to reconnecting with friends of old.
. . . if any one of you is still out there! As you can see, I've been on hiatus for quite a while, for reasons I won't bore you with. The thing is, my heart is actually in a different place right at the moment -- since last summer, I have been immersed in the genealogy of my ancestors, a project I've found both exciting and absorbing. I decided that at this point what I would like to do best is start a family genealogy blog; it feels important to me (at my age :) to get the information down somewhere for my relatives to see. I had thought of making a book for everyone, and maybe some day I will do that, but for right now I want to do posts that someday will be gathered up, I hope. So . . . since I can't maintain two blogs, this one will remain on hiatus until further notice. Rest assured that if/when I open again, there will be balloons and fireworks and a huge giveaway and and and . . . If you're interested in anyone's family history outside your own (and why would you be?) you can pop in at Living in the Past: The Ortman-Berneburg Blog, where I'll also be talking about the trials and tribulations of getting mired in the sands of time -- it's rewarding, of course, but also extremely frustrating. If you stop by, let me know what you think! Thanks for all the beautiful communication that went back and forth on this blog --
Last Friday I had an experience that will be with me until the day I die: I attended a retirement party given in my honor at my university.It was an incredible extravaganza (I have some very creative colleagues) that included not only speeches but songs with rewritten lyrics, a video of people talking about me, and . . .
The front of the crown
A crown!!! This amazing piece of art was made by my dear colleague Margaret, an artist as well as a university employee. Margaret poured all her talent into crafting this beautiful memento. I wore it for a minute, but didn't want it to fall off and break, so it sat on the pillow she also made.
It includes many things that are so meaningful to me -- the snakes represent my long interest in the Medusa; there's a griffon and a dragon, representing my overall interest in mythology, words related to my teaching and books, books, books all over it.
The interior of the crown
It was such a wonderful event -- I felt that I could hardly deserve all of the attention and affection. Happily, my son and daughter were there, as well as my husband -- I wasn't sure my son would make it, but I browbeat him until he came. His comment: "I didn't know it was going to be this big of a deal!"
The side of the crown
It was a big deal, seriously. I was sure I would cry, but in fact I laughed all the way through it, it was so delightful. The only time I choked up was when I had to give thanks for everything they'd done.
Me, looking silly/happy in my crown
Here's a fuzzy cell phone picof me wearing the crown. It was a very, very happy day of my life.
I've been away far too long! Ana Eugenio was kind enough to posta comment wondering if everything was fine with me. It is! Here's what I've been up to:
1. I was sad for a while after my sister left -- it's so hard to say goodbye. We live so far apart and get together so seldom, and the wonderful time we have together is always tinged by the knowing that it has to end.
2. I've started on South Beach diet and have been enjoying myself so far. No problems, and the scale is starting to go down.
3. Still dealing with the aftermath of Open Studios, though my house is looking more normal than it did. I have to take all the (many) pictures I didn't sell to the storage space, and that necessitates rearranging everything, but a friend and I are going to get that done on Thursday (I hope).
4. Been working on my collage class, not sure I'm happy with anything yet. I did a nice picture in watercolor class, though (!) and I'll post it soon.
A collage -- does it make any sense to anyone?
5. I got the results of my DNA analysis from Ancestry.com today -- more about that in another post! It's soooo interesting. And a gigantic sinkhole of time, as I'm sure some of you know --
6. On Wednesday I have an appointment with someone from the Small Business center to talk about my small business! I'm hoping to get some advice and guidance.
7. It was 92 degrees today! It's November! And supposed to be in the 50's by Thursday -- I'm just confused . . .
8. To my American friends -- tomorrow is the big day. You're probably already planning to, but please: vote, vote, vote!! It doesn't matter whom you're voting for -- but the process is so important for us to participate in as citizens.*
So that's a little bit of what I've been up to. I'll write more details tomorrow, and visit to catch up! Hope your week has started well.
I've had a great week with my sister. The first time she came here, a couple of years ago, we did "big" things -- whale watching, Big Sur, the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. But this time, we kind of hung out and did things close to home. Of course, Saturday and Sunday were given over to Open Studios, but Sunday night we had friends and family over for a steak barbeque and that was a lot of fun.
Sea lions at the wharf
We went to my watercolor class on Thursday, and yesterday we went to A Work of Heart to do a class called "Juicy Collage." We all (including daughter) came out with collages we were happy with -- pics tomorrow, I hope. It was big fun.
Then we took a drive down West Cliff, stopping to watch the surfers at Steamer Lane. It was a nice relaxed day to end our time together.
Steamer Lane surfer
We had a pizza dinner and then played cards, just us girls (my Loved One was playing in his darts league).
We had a good time together. I'm sad she's leaving tomorrow and even sadder that we live so far apart (me: California; she: Minnesota). But at least we got to spend this week together. There's something about people who have known you your whole life -- you never feel quite as comfortable with anyone else . . .
I am a retired college English professor who has reinvented herself as a fine art photographer, watercolor painter, and genealogist (among other things). I've spent my working life teaching other people to write, and now I will take some time to get back to writing myself.