Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Who We Are, What We Do & Our Material Possessions

The more I declutter to downsize possessions before our move, the more I'm starting to hate stuff. I am starting to prefer the absence of material possessions to actually owning a thing.

But, I do things and the things I do require tools and materials. So I own stuff. I can't knit without knitting needles and yarn and patterns. You can't paint without canvas, brush and paints. It is important though to not think, "I am that material thing and if I get rid of it I will lose a part of myself" as that is not a true statement.

With this huge decluttering job I've been working on for over two months I have found it most useful to define who I am by what I do and to see if the label still fits. If not, I discard the items.

"I am a knitter who dislikes acrylic yarn" means the needles stay, the acrylic yarn goes, and the wool yarn stays.

"I am no longer a machine sewer for fun projects" means the material and most thread has gone.

"I am a machine sewer for necessary repairs" and "I am a hand sewer of Boy Scout uniform patches" means the over $100 sewing machine stays (as it is too expensive to replace easily), the needles and pins stay, and the thread colors that are commonly used on the Boy Scout uniform remains.

"I am a soapmaker" means the best and most used soapmaking supplies remain. The duplicate stuff I don't need goes, the expensive stuff I use stays".

I have been teaching my kids to use this as well. They now say "I am a LEGO enthusiast" which means the thousands of LEGO is moving with us. "I am a guitar player" means the guitars are going to Texas. "I am no longer a player of XYZ video games" means those game discs have been given away.

Who We Are Inside

I have been comforting myself that regardless of physical location I am still the same person inside. Yes, I'm leaving friends and family, but who I am is within me and I'm not really losing myself in this move. In selecting to get rid of various material possessions I am not changing who I am inside, I am just narrowing plans for what I may choose to do or to not do in the future. It is not a big deal, really. If I let go of the acrylic yarn and I choose to knit with it in the future all I'll have to do is buy a $3 skein at the nearest chain craft shop and suddenly I'd be back in business knitting up synthetic fibers.

The fact is that with what I have chosen to keep I have plenty to do and plenty to read. I am not going to be bored, that is for sure, so why moan and groan about what I am giving away that I don't want to do anymore? I may have enjoyed doing an activity in the past but that is not how I'm spending my time right now anyway.

The other day my thirteen year old son was upset about moving. On a hunch I used the language I'd been using in my own head with him. He had never said these things to me about 'losing himself' but I had a feeling it is what he was thinking. "You are not losing yourself in this move. You are who you are inside and you will still be that person when you wake up at your new home in Texas. The only thing that has changed is your physical location." He got it. Discussing that seemed to help diffuse the situation.

(Clarification: my son could understand the concept but he was too emotional and said he rejected the validity of it. As with other emotional things the first time a new idea or perspective is heard we may say we reject it but the idea can stay with us and brew in our minds and sometimes we come to accept their truth. As I repeat the idea over time I hope it starts to sink in and reveal itself as true.)

This Place

It pains me to leave this physical location both the interior of this home, which I love, and its rooms, filled with memories. My home is comfortable, it is more than servicable, it's beautiful and also it's impressive to some people. I'm moving to a rental home which seems tiny in comparision to the point of being cramped, and is definately not a home a status-seeker would ever live in let alone buy. My Connecticut home is a quiet and peaceful place and apparently where I'm going is a fest of dog barking all day long. Oh joy.

It hurts to leave my land, my two acres of woods, and the creatures that share the land with me. I'm leaving the Chimney Swifts who reside in one of my chimneys and to leave the Red Shouldered Hawks that live in the woods. I'm leaving the sunrise through the east woods and the sunsets seen through the huge red oaks in the west. I will miss my garden which I started a couple of years ago, and to leave the wineberries, dewberries, wild black raspberries, the wild grapes and the hickory nut trees, whose wild harvests I enjoy eating. I will even miss the heavily forested road that leads to my house on the drives to and from this place.
I know what I am leaving behind so I can easily start to get blue thinking about what I will not have in my life. I do not yet know what lies ahead so I don't know what to look forward to. This realization which dawned on me just a few days ago has comforted me greatly already, and I shared it with my upset older son yesterday. Keeping that thought in mind is really helping me.

There are trees where I'm going and there very well may be hawks that visit me daily there also. Who knows what lies ahead? I'm trying to think of this move as a real adventure. I plan to have fun discovering this new place that I'll be calling my new home. I already know it has one thing better than here, I have a bike and walking path that is just a few feet behind my backyard and it is 160 miles of interconnected paths! How cool is THAT? (In Connecticut, this former avid bike rider has been avoiding bike riding on the roads due to the danger of the crazy drivers who may run me over while they speed down the road let alone the jerks who text while driving and those who illegally talk on handheld mobile phones.)

More importantly, what we're gaining by moving to a rental home now before the Connecticut house sells is we are able to be with my husband and we'll be a complete family. I don't like living as a single mom to two sons who miss their father. I miss my husband for our relationship together and for who we are as a complete family unit. All of us want to be together so that is what we'll have very soon. If that means living in a small temporary home and paying a rent and a mortgage, so be it. Hopefully this stage will be a short one then we can move onto buying a new house in Texas that will be our permanent home.

Leaving Friends and Family

My friends and family are just a phone call or an email away, which is the major way I communicate with most of them now. I can use Facebook to check in with people or I can read my blogger friend's blogs. We can all Skype. My kids will continue to play xBoxLive with their friends (which allows them to have real time audio conversations while they play the games together).

I will also be visiting this area at least a couple times a year, and maybe our infrequent visits will motivate my busy family and friends to actually make time to see us. The fact is, I may see people more after I move away than I do now because everyone is so busy doing their own thing that they sometimes don't make the time to see people who don't cross their paths easily.

I am so ready to just go and start this new adventure. I'm on the final stages of decluttering and packing. The moving truck has a date to arrive and start packing so I have a firm deadline to work toward now!


A Joyful Chaos said...

Thanks for sharing your method of deciding what stays and what goes. I may have to use it soon in our house.


Xa Lynn said...

I'm stealing your method as I declutter and pack up our house. Thank you so much for that fantastic idea. I will introduce it to my kids, too.
Clutter has driven me nuts for years - I miss the days when everything I owned fit in the back of my pickup truck...

Xa Lynn

Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

Christine, it has been so wonderful to share in your emotional progression of this move. I'm so glad you've come to a place where you are feeling good about it, and looking at it as the adventure it will be. Your boys are lucky to have you guiding them through this change too.

KC said...

Congrats on getting so far in your decluttering! What a great accomplishment! Stuff is just stuff, and you can always rebuy most of it if you find you need it, but leaving an area is so much harder. What I miss the most about the midwest is the weather. We went from the midwest with four real seasons, to the pacific northwest with 2 seasons (winterish and summerish). Oh, and the WIND, I miss the wind! So much! And the sun.... But I don't think you'll miss the sun in Texas! :)