A very good place to start

“So…you mentioned ‘epic’ in your last post. Care to elaborate?”

Oh, yeah.

I should probably explain that.

And why I know this time is different.

(I know…how many times have I said that. I have journals and diaries going back decades that attest to my high failure rate at making any lasting changes in any aspect of my life. So why is it different now?)

After my last Maci-related posts here, I drifted in apathy and sadness and nothingness. Slept a lot. Ate more. Wallowed endlessly. Got further out of control in pretty much every aspect of my life.

Cut to November 9.

That was the day that I decided I needed a new start — an extreme new start.

[I grew up in a household full of wonderful clutter. The difference between that home and mine is that my mother was neat and tidy by nature (where I’m messy and lazy) and so our houses were always charming and homey in their clutter. And my mother was a serial collector — giving away the contents of one collection when another was started — rather than a hoarder.

When my mother died, my attitude towards “stuff” began to change. You can’t take it with you, and if I were to die, there was nothing I owned that anyone would struggle to (or want to) keep — at best, things to be sold off to get rid of them; at worst, they would just be tossed out. If it wasn’t making me happy to have it around me, then why keep it? My attachment to my “stuff” was weakening, but the situation I was in was overwhelming.]

Trying to fix things while staying put where I was wasn’t working for me. It was long past time for a change.

“Portable” became my new mantra.

I put in my notice on my apartment and found a room to rent in someone else’s house. Rented a small storage unit and a mail box.

I threw away most of my belongings, and I do mean “most”, including almost all of the books that I’d been desperately holding onto for decades, every piece of furniture I owned, my television, and most of my computer equipment. (I know — it seems a waste to have thrown out so many functional and usable items, but ultimately that excuse has been keeping me from decluttering properly for years and if I held onto things now long enough to sell or give them away, I’d never be free. It had to be a quick and clean break and that meant throwing things away while I could.)

I couldn’t manage to do it all myself — not because I was holding onto things, but because I wasn’t in the best shape or health and trying to do this huge a job on my own while working 12-hour shifts was hard. So I hired the 1-800-Got-Junk guys. Unfortunately, one completely-packed-to-the-rafters truckload and many personal trips to the dumpsters later and my apartment still looked like a squat. That’s when I realized that I’d never finish it if I stayed, so I cut and ran before the new year. One of these days I’ll get a bill from the landlord for the final clean up. And that’s a small price for the sense of relief that doing a runner brought.

So now I live in a rented room in a house with dogs and a small yard. My phone and my Internet are mobile and contract-free. My electronics are all portable. The only furniture I own is a new twin mattress set. Everything else that is here with me is in a half dozen plastic storage containers. My small storage unit is severely underutilized and contains pretty much only those items that I wanted to keep but didn’t need with me: my mother’s paintings, my technical writing and other reference books, photos, my guitar, some tarot/oracle card decks, and some papers I didn’t have time to sort through. If I were to lose it all tomorrow, I’d be disappointed but not heartbroken, and that’s very liberating.

I live closer to where I work so I’ve virtually eliminated my taxi addiction and I’m walking more. I’m working on cleaning up my finances and my health. I’m coming out of my hermitage and beginning to actually interact with the Real World in ways I’ve avoided for over a decade. I’ve returned to the spiritual quest I paused years ago. And I’m working out what phase II is going to look like.

I am still very much a work-in-progress. I don’t know where this is going, but I’m no longer afraid and no longer hiding. And that’s a very good place to start an epic journey.

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4 thoughts on “A very good place to start

  1. This is so awesome, Louise. Sometimes a physical move is the thing that’s needed to get change rolling in your life. That process whereby everything you aquired around you and enjoyed because YOU saw it’s value, but over time it became burdensome, is called “crapification”.

    Before my sweetie and I moved across the country, I had made a move myself less than a year before – from a roach, mouse and bedbug infested building in a sketchy neighbourhood to a nice place in a nice neighbourhood. I adored that apartment, but I hated the city, and nine months after THAT move I found myself making even bigger changes in my life, which was great because my old life was making me so ill, and my life now is better than I could’ve imagined.

    Anyway, before the move across the country, we had to get rid of everything except that which we could carry with us on the train. To our horror, all our treasured posessions suddenly had no value, and we took heartbreaking numbers of garbage bags to the dumpster. It’s so weird when you literally throw out the contents of most of your living space.

    Here’s that book by Karen Kingston: http://www.amazon.ca/Clear-Your-Clutter-Feng-Shui/dp/0767903595/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329423422&sr=8-1-spell

    I think you’d really enjoy it, especially since you’re basically doing this already.

    • Haha, I love the word “crapification”. I’ll have to remember that.

      Most of the people who know about my move (I haven’t told everyone yet) don’t really understand where I’m going with this, but I give them high marks for at least trying.

      I did that heartbreaking tossing thing the first time I moved, when I moved up here in 1995. It was so hard to throw out so many accumulated treasures then — I cried for practically the whole two weeks it took me to distill my apartment down into the small amount my parents would store for me. This time, it was surprisingly easy, emotionally. The deaths of my mother and Maci loosened my attachment to my belongings in a big way so throwing things out this time around was really uplifting rather than sad. I think that’s probably why the people who knew thought I’d gone off the deep end. LOL

      I bought the Kindle version of that book shortly after we talked. I’ve only gotten a little into it, but I like what I’m reading so far — some of it I’m pretty sure I’ve known all along, even if I’ve ignored it for years. (My apartment was a perfect example of a self-sustaining pit of icky energy. I couldn’t keep a plant alive in that place — not even a spider plant, and you have to work really hard to kill a spider plant — and bread used to go moldy within just a few days of buying it. A guy in Toronto once read the energy of the building for me and noted a dark splotch about midway down the building that he tried to clear — I suspect that the darkness was my apartment but I just couldn’t break free.)

      I still have much growth and change ahead of me, but it’s a pretty good start.

  2. it’s an awesome start! So many people go their whole lives and NEVER do that.

    I wouldn’t worry about your landlord either. Having to shovel an apartment out after a tenant who actually paid her rent isn’t as bad as having to clean up after a deadbeat tenant. In big buildings like that they often hire a service to shovel out a unit and repair it between tenants. If you’re hanging on to some guilt you could always send the super some flowers, or a cheque for what you can afford.

    I confess, I left my rat-hole apartment in a horrific mess, and I usually am so good about cleaning everything. There was just no saving that place though. There was old roach poison hanging around, I found a dead mouse, (in my mop bucket, which was worse because I felt like if I’d cleaned my place more often I might have found the poor mouse while it was still alive – talk about guilt!) it was horrible. No wonder I was depressed.

    • Oh, I’m not really hanging onto a whole lot of guilt about leaving the apartment a mess. I asked for and received the bill for the clean up (which was done by an outside company) and am in the process of paying that off. And they were going to be essentially stripping out the apartment to renovate it after I left anyway.(My apartment was one of the last unrenovated apartments in the building.) Everyone’s much better off with me out of that apartment and the realization of that assuages most of the guilt. The only real lingering guilt is the thought that doing this all years sooner might have meant a different future for my cat — living with me over the last couple of years was hard on him and I would give much to go back and fix that.

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