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.
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.