Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How moving 1300 miles helped me learn to let go

October 2010 was a rough month for our family. We'd known David would need to do a job rotation in the next year. We figured it would last about 3 months and be in a location close enough to our permanent residence that we could return home on the weekends. We also thought we'd have plenty of notice as to when this move would occur. However, God had other plans for us. We found out in late September we'd be leaving our home, moving 1300 miles away, packing everything into 2 cars for 6 months. Did I mention our colicky 3 month old had been waking every 45 minutes during the night for a month at this point?

Fortunately, God also provided my mom, who had already bought her plane ticket to visit us months ago. Her stay fell on the week prior to our move. She graciously helped us pack and forfeited her return plane ticket in favor of entertaining Caleb in the cramped back seat of my Pontiac for 997 miles.

So what did we pack into our cars? Each person got a suitcase of clothing, then there were toiletries, basic pantry items like pasta, rice and broth, two small boxes of cherished books (one for us and one for Caleb), linens and towels, a few cooking items I didn't want to be without (you know how I feel about my crock pot...), and lots and lots of baby stuff. We packed his crib, mattress, pack and play, booster seat, toys, diapers and the next 3 sizes of clothes since they change every 3 months!

At first, I felt a little deprived. I missed unlimited kitchen utensils and bowls, a bookshelf full of books, a closet full of clothes. Slowly, I started to discover something: even with the few things we brought I still only wear about 50% of my clothes regularly, I tend to cook with the same pots over and over because they're my favorites and I have a lot less time to read than I used to. Not only was I not missing my overabundance of stuff, I found an even greater treasure- with fewer things to take care of (straighten, clean, find a home for, etc.) I had more time with my family and less stress over house work.

If you read my blog often, you probably already know I find a lot of my inspiration from Simple Mom. Until this move, I never fully grasped the reality of her basic premise: Fewer things leads to more happiness and time. Of course I could have found this inspiration elsewhere, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." -Matt. 6:19

I understood the verses about giving to those who have need. Before this trip, I didn't understand my need to not be encumbered by things. Living in America, I doubt I'll ever be done with this journey of having less stuff, but I'm thankful God placed this move in our life to get us on the road to living more simply.

If this post resonates with you, but you're not sure how to get started, click the "I'm decluttering" button near the top of my blog. Starting March 7th, I'll be joining lots of other moms in tackling 5 household hot spots for clutter and posting my before and after pictures on here (prepare yourself not to judge!). I'd love to have some of my "real life" friends decluttering along with me. And despite the name of the blog, you definitely don't have to be a mom to benefit from her writing.

It's hard to believe that I have lived without every single thing that is still cluttering our home in PA for 6 months, quite happily in fact, with very few exceptions. I'm looking at learning to let go of the things here that don't add beauty to or have purpose in our home as practice for doing the same thing again when we return to PA. I could write so much more on how having less in our home has been good for my heart, my creativity and has actually helped me enjoy the things we do have more because it continues to amaze me each day!


megan said...

Sarah your amazing!
It is fascinating to me to see all the changes in the people we grow up around. I shouldn't be surprised but I find it awesomely amazing how enlightened you seem as well as inspiring. Any one could have had similar experiences you had but to find the true lesson from our life experiences that is something many people miss. Not to mention the devotion to write about it all and share your lessons and stories with others in such a enticing manner. I don't read but I found it amazing to read your story.

MathMomma said...

Great post!

The Vogt Family said...

This post really hit home with me - I feel like I've known in my head that "less is more," but it's been so hard for me to let go of stuff. I'm doing something similar for lent - 40 bags in 40 days. Unfortunately, now I'm going around the house saying "Oh, I'll just get rid of that next week so it'll count towards my 40 bags." :) I can't wait to read about the 5 hot spots!

AmyKB said...

Sarah, I hadn't realized that David was doing rotations. With the exception of having a baby to work with, we've been going through the same. Our first rotation to California was for six months and we went without a LOT of our things that we desperately missed. The second, to Pennsylvania, was a bit better, and we had the luxury of making sure most of what we wanted came. This time, again to Cali, was the real trial - we got rid of SO MUCH of the stuff in our FL home! I agree that it is amazing how much just amasses without us realizing it!

Sarah_Joy said...

Thanks everyone, I was trying to find a way to let me reply to you each in a "thread" rather than one big reply, but the html is a little beyond me (David project!)

Megan, thanks. One thing I've noticed about blogs (and facebook) is they only show a slice of our life, so it's easy to seem more "together" that you are in reality. I totally agree with your insight about how much a few years can change people though. Life grows us for sure!

Amy, this is hopefully our only true rotation, but David does travel for work a lot!