So sometime this year I will be moving to the USA to be with my love. Visa pending, timeframe as long or short as a piece of string. Meantime I am living with my friend, working nearby, while my STUFF is in storage in her garage.
To give me a guide ahead of time, I got a quote on shipping to the east coast of the USA from Australia. It isn’t pretty.
So the question top of mind now, is what stuff will I take with me? What is non-negotiable, what is nice-to-have, what is it time to let go of?
In July last year when I moved out of the large house I was renting to spend nearly three months in the USA with my love, I sold all my furniture. I did it all on eBay and had great fun meeting the people for whom my old stuff, was their new treasure. They heard my story and I heard theirs.
There was the lovely older Chinese man whose book-loving wife was away on holiday. He bemoaned her inability to let go of books, not understanding why she needed to keep them after she’d read them. Yet his actions belied his complaints and demonstrated his affection – he wanted to surprise her with two new bookshelves on her return.
There was also the woman setting up house after divorce, going from spacious, modern clean lines to a smaller cottagey feel. There was the couple furnishing a holiday rental that bought my bed and took pots and pans too, the student who needed the large desk without the large price tag and the family of ten in need of a very durable sofa.
While yes I did want to get some money, I mostly just wanted things to be picked up by people who wanted them. I’d had my money’s worth out of each item because I’d used them all for years. No paying for moving, no paying for storage, no waste, just moving it along and recycling it, allowing it to be loved anew.
So gradually, the big things went and I loved saying goodbye to all of it.
But there is still STUFF in my dear friend’s garage. The stuff I thought I had to keep.
THINGS are embedded with memories and energy. I read once that in feng shui terms we should always get rid of stuff associated with ex friends, ex boyfriends, ex husbands. That makes sense to me…I certainly have a habit of completely renewing my bed linen after each break-up!
Sometimes on a practical level though, things just hang around. Some wine glasses I recently gave to a workmate were actually an engagement present back in 1902 (or thereabouts). They’re useful and have a nice shape. It just never made much sense to get rid of them until now. Incredible they’ve lasted this long, and time to let them go.
It’s exhausting going through STUFF. It’s the stuff that usually hides in cupboards and drawers. It dredges up FEELINGS.
So I’m facing it head on and using my emotions to help me let go. For each thing I’m doing the ‘feel’ test. However practical or beautiful it is, how does it make me feel when I see it, hold it?
I have a thick woolly jumper that actually makes me feel cold, because it’s associated with a time when I was lonely and uncertain. I have a top that makes me feel vulnerable because I wore it a lot after I’d had surgery. I’ve hung on to them because they’re comfortable, fit me and suit me. But, time to go.
I have things from travels that make me feel warm and delighted and adventurous. They stay.
I have books and journals, souvenirs and photographs from times past that evoke sadness or joy and everything in between. They detail and reflect the journey I’ve been on this lifetime. Question is, do I need them to stay with me? Is it fear of forgetting or the want to have some kind of record of my life that keeps me holding onto these things? Or do I just have trouble letting things go?
Another factor in deciding what to get rid of is a somewhat obsessive need for things to go to just the right home. I get delighted at giving friends things that turn out to be just what they need. The satisfaction comes from a combination of not just throwing something away, and feeling a flow of energy.
Because STUFF can make me feel a bit stuck at times. Like it’s holding on to me, holding me back, and my free movement is inhibited. There’s nothing like moving around between suburbs, cities and countries over the last 20 years to make me very aware of that. But stuff once purged has this way of growing back, like branches on a pruned rose bush. Each new move brings a new space, inviting new colours, textures and storage solutions.
I’m aware that at the other end I will be moving into my man’s established home, so I will want to feel there are dashes and splashes of me around the place pretty quickly. Thus, while I’m encouraging myself strongly to let go let go let go, I’m also wary of being too ruthless. I must still take some of me.
It’s surprising the things that tug at me to stay. My colander for instance. I love a good colander. I use it all the time. I have an intense dislike for anything plastic, so it has to be stainless steel. And large. I have the perfect one. This colander was bought in London when I lived there, shipped back to New Zealand amongst travel souvenirs, and later followed me to Australia. I’ve had it for 15 years. That’s longer than any of my human relationships! I don’t want any other colander. It has been loyal and useful and just right forever. It never lets me down. Why would I give it away? What if I went to USA without it and built a deep resentment for the inferior colander my man has? Would it be too much to give up?? Would I feel a loss too strong and take it out on my love???
With each thing I give away, I feel lighter and lighter and the fear that dances at the edges of my mind telling me I risk losing myself to be with another becomes more blurry in the distance as I focus on what I am finding anew instead.
My man has a very nice sofa.
Colanders and sofas aside, this process is really making it clear what is important to me. What are the things that feed my soul? And even define who I am?
Turns out I seem to be a combination of trinkets from travels, friends and family, photo albums, artwork (mine & others), books, journals, cards and letters filled with words and pictures that inspire me, some yoga gear, a suitcase full of clothes, and the perfect colander.
Sounds about right…if a picture paints a thousand words, then perhaps our possessions show our spirits.