Moving on: usefulness, beauty and a lot of cardboard boxes

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“Have nothing in your home which you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

~ William Morris

We’re moving.

They say that moving is one of those highly stressful life events that ranks up there with divorce or death of a family member.

I love moving.

I know. It’s weird.

We moved a lot when I was a kid, and I’ve continued that into my adulthood. I love any reason to get introspective and over-think things, and moving offers a plethora of opportunities for life evaluation.

When I was growing up and working on movies, l spent the majority of my time traveling on location and living out of a suitcase for three months at a time. I lived in Holiday Inns and corporate housing. I lived in other people’s houses and unfurnished apartments where Mom and I used banker’s boxes as tables. Life was very transient, and “stuff” never had much importance to me.

So, I love to purge and get rid of anything that is weighing me down. I give it all away. It lightens my load, simplifies my life and gives back to someone in need. Win/win/win.

Moving offers me a moment to really assess the things in my life. When it comes down to this reality – do I really want to carry this thing down two flights of stairs in this old house and then up two flights of stairs in my new house – it shines a whole new light. Does this thing really have meaning to me? Or do I have it just because I have it?

What else in my life have I been carrying for too long? What else is worth putting down and getting rid of? What pain, what shame, what anxiety? Because even four flights of stairs is nothing compared with holding on to something for forty years that is neither useful nor beautiful.

And maybe that emotional baggage was never even really mine to begin with. Maybe it’s like that box of CDs that an ex-boyfriend left behind, or that wobbly coffee table that I inherited from my parents.

I feel like a snake shedding its skin. I get to make decisions about priorities and how I want my family to live. I get to paint my dining room orange. I get to start over and throw out all my assumptions about how things should be. Throwing my life into chaos reminds me that each day, I get to decide how to live. It doesn’t have to be based on momentum and habit. I’m allowed to change and grow and leave that old, useless shit behind, like a pile of broken-down Ikea dressers from my 20s.

So, even though we are staying right here in Virginia, it feels like a whole new start – where only things useful or beautiful are allowed to stay.

Luckily, our dog is both.

Gracie stays.

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31 thoughts on “Moving on: usefulness, beauty and a lot of cardboard boxes

  1. I only moved once in my life, and I didn’t like it, but I must confess that it was a good opportunity to throw several useless things away.

  2. I like to think that if I haven’t worn, used or needed something in the last 6 months then it can go…However my spare room and my wardrobe tell a very different tale!

    I used to accuse my Mum of being a ‘memory-trasher’ for not hanging on to anything, but now I see she was just being practical. I’ve come to the conclusion I’m probably just over-sentimental!

    Great read, Lisa 🙂

    • Thanks! It’s definitely a balance, there are some things I’ll keep forever in the “beautifully sentimental” category. 🙂

  3. Love this! It’s so true. And I’m one of the weird ones who loves moving. My family and I moved every year until I went to high school. As an adult, I’ve moved countless times. Love a fresh start. Enjoy!

  4. With a Mom that is a hoarder, I go in the opposite direction and, like you, purge when I get the chance… I appreciate people that get it, because I know too few in my physical world that do. Getting rid of things that you don’t have use for and haven’t used in between two and five years is not only freeing, but also incredibly helpful to others who CAN and will use your old stuff. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of a few quality bits of furnishings versus lots of moderately priced ones, so when you can trade in that IKEA dresser for one that is more unique to your personality, it gives your home a better identity and a better sense of you, at least in my opinion.

    And of COURSE, Gracie stays!

    I hope you enjoy your new home! :o)

    • Thanks, Bethany! Yeah, I’m all for less stuff/higher quality, too. Or thrift shop stuff that is really funky and unique. Now, if I can just get my husband to put down the Pottery Barn catalog…. 🙂

  5. I just moved a few months ago, and moving everything I owned out of my parents’ house really put a lot into perspective for me. I got rid of 2/3 of my belongings, stuff I’d been hanging onto since elementary school. I’m almost 30. That’s a LOT of time for stuff to accumulate. Now that it’s Christmas, and I have friends and family asking me what I want for presents, I’m finding myself not wanting anything that’s not useful (or beautiful). Watching an episode of Hoarders can also put things in perspective. :-/

    Good luck with the move!

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more, Lisa, but after 3 kids and 4 grandchildren “beautiful” and “useful” stretches in its meaning. I love moving as well, and it does force me to make hard choices. But we don’t do it often enough to drill it down as we should. You are a smart woman and everyone should take a page out of your book! LOVE your blog. More than you know. Enjoy your new surroundings and Happy Holidays,
    Cheryl

    • Thanks so much! I’m thrilled that you enjoy the blog. And that’s what I love about the categories of beautiful and useful – they grow and change with us! Thanks again for the sweet comment, and happy holidays to you, too.

  7. I love this line: “It doesn’t have to be based on momentum and habit.” How often do I feel like I have to do something, or be some way, just because that’s who I’ve been, and what others might expect? Too often, but I can choose another way, at any time. What a great reminder – thank you!

    • Yep, I think we all fall into that trap. We don’t want to disappoint people or tackle the challenge of doing something differently. I mostly write to remind myself… Thanks for reading!

  8. Read this at exactly the right time! (Love that about the universe!) I’m on the cusp of a major house-purge, with much this same sentiment. If it doesn’t serve me or bring me joy, it has to go. Time to lighten the physical load to lighten the emotional one.

    • Isn’t the universe funny that way? So happy that you found this at the right time. I love that — serve me, bring joy – or out it goes!! Beautifully put. Enjoy the purge and the new lighter you.

  9. This isn’t related to the current blog – I will reply ..I just wanted to tell you .. I was on a flight from Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto. (This was about 10 years ago) …I was sitting next to THE most handsome man. He was well dressed and elegantly dressed. I am quite shy and we didn’t speak until about the last 15 minutes of the hour long flight. During the friendly “small talk” he asked what I did for fun in Sault Ste. Marie (small Northern Town) – I told him I was in a few theatre groups and that I loved it. He told me his daughter was an actress. Stage? No – film actually. Oh – anything I’d know – MRS. DOUBTFIRE…. are you kidding????? Anyway – it was my close brush with fame. I have to tell ya – I blushed I am sure – I had an immediate crush on your dad. That’s the first time that has ever happened to me. Whew. Sigh!

  10. We get pretty comfortable in a certain space with all of our stuff. But there’s so little of it that we really need. My hubby and I are moving from a four bedroom home to a townhouse in a small (beautiful) town in Ontario. “Paris”. It’s hard looking around and realizing – “oh – we won’t have room for this or that”…… We will hand things down to our children – or as you say to someone less fortunate than we have been. It will be nice to have LESS. LESS clutter. I find it hard and very time consuming when I find a box (I have a few) of mementos. My kids are going to find this one day and think “huh”? I have the “edge” of my daughters baby blanket. She used to tickle her face with it to fall asleep – as soon as she found the sweet spot she calmed right down…. old report cards, party balloons, birthday cards, wrapping – you know these things….. so very hard to get rid of – but when my kids find them one day when I’m gone … they will know me better I think by the things that can’t let go of…..
    Love the blog! Happy blessed move to you. Susan

  11. My husband and I have moved twice in 16 years. And after the second move, I unpacked old TV Guides that had dates on them to prove that they’d made the move with us both times! I checked with my husband to be sure they weren’t collectibles. And they are not. That’s when I learned to let things go. It was either the junk went or I was going to set dear ole hubby at the curb at next garbage pickup day.
    Hubby is still here.

  12. “I love moving.”

    Can’t say if I like it or don’t like it since I only moved once. A little under 2 decades ago mom&I moved a couple of streets and it sure was an improvement. Especially if you like food 😛

    I think that one requires some explaining: The street we live in right now, has families from all over the globe, which you can smell around dinnertime. On one side Turkish, Moroccan and Indonesian, on the other Eastern European and other corners of the earth. Let’s not forget that the people are great too. It’s a quiet neighbourhood with friendly people, no reason to move again.

    ….

    Except if I want to move out, but gave up on that. Tried to get my own place for over 5 years, then I just stopped trying. Unfortunately there’s no law that states that everyone has the right for his/hers own place.

  13. My mother was of that generation that never threw anything out. I am a minamalist, yet people are always trying to give me “things” very odd..

  14. I musy say i take a very similar approach to moving, spring cleaning and any opportunity to lighten my load. Space is always going to be limited so we try to fill it up only with the things that matter most I do find making more to space to be relaxing

  15. I love that energy that arises out of chaos, when I realise the opportunities I have, the gifts to start over and create. Have a fun and lovely weekend Lisa. 🙂

  16. Good for you! I am very sentimental and find it so difficult letting go. It’s definitely something I need to learn to do!

  17. Don’t you speak bad about Ikea LoL. Seriously, it appears you’re assessing what’s what. I did that, the last time I moved too. I even dumped CD cases for a zipper folder. I used to lose everything, now I keep stuff to long. I don’t want to be on an episode of hoarders.

  18. “Throwing my life into chaos reminds me that each day, I get to decide how to live. It doesn’t have to be based on momentum and habit.” This is such a cool perspective. It so resonates with me because the unpredictability of life has really shown me that I’m in charge of my attitude not circumstances I’m in:) it’s so cool that you learned that early on by moving around so much. . . I’ve never moved a day in my life! And it’s easy to get caught in a certain expectancy about what life is supposed to be like.

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