Monday, February 22, 2010

Values first, stuff second

I kinda love moving, which is good...since we've lived in oodles and oodles of places since we met 12 years ago. Oodles.

I feel like every new move is a way to re-define ourselves. When you decide what to keep or toss or give away, you're deciding how you define yourself as a person. What do you love? Value? Which books are worth packing up and taking to the next place?

And the WHERE to live part is intoxicating, too. When we bought our home in Illinois, we thought we'd be there forever. We've since learned a few things about ourselves, which primarily means that "forever" isn't a key word in our life. Except marriage. We know that one is forever. ;)

Virginia Beach, now that I can commit. Only temporary moves for schooling or travel can drag us out of here. But the specifics, like the housing, seem to change all the time.

We know we need to move from here, but haven't a clue where we'll live in the May and June months. Some families might freak out about this major unknown detail. But I feel relaxed about it because (a) we live in a huge military area, brimming with temporary furnished places, (b) it's a tourism town with winter rentals on every corner, and (c) if we end up being completely homeless, we'll just get a hotel room for 2 months. Expensive, but interesting.

We'll be fine. We love adventure. Well, I love it...and Steve usually comes on board once he sees it won't be complete hell (and ends up as enthusiastic as me in the end).

Then, 2 months on the road this summer. That will be another post (or 20), I'm sure.

But since our things will go into storage for 4 months, this is the most streamlined move EVER. And truly...that is saying something, as I'm a minimalist who's addicted to giving things away.

This move is re-defining ourselves to two key words:

- Experiences
- Simplicity

As I look around at our stuff, and those words keep coming to mind.

When my babes were little, I wanted our house to be teeming with books. Books on every and any topic. I just love the smell of books.

I'm slowly learning, though, that our interests can't really be predicted. And that many of the things I planned to teach them through books, we're doing through experiences (going to Monticello, not just reading about it). And, our public library rocks my world. So this move, we've narrowed our collection down to a green storage tub for the kids, and one bookshelf for us.

That's it.

The rest I'm shipping off to Teach for America classrooms, where they don't have bulging bookshelves or rockin' libraries (with drive-thru pick-up windows, no less).

And kids' clothes? Talk about bulging. We had so many clothes that I could easily go weeks without doing laundry. And jackets for every 5-degree change in temperature, thanks to hand-me-downs and garage sales. In truth, we just need a winter jacket, polar fleece and rain coat for each kiddo.

We boxed the rest of those up and sent them to the orphanage and passed the girlie dress clothes to Margaret.

Our house is finally starting to click for me. Do we need all those art supplies? Nope. But the co-op can use them. Tiny doodad toys are going in the Easter Egg hunt. Sheets and blankets to the animal shelter, furniture to friends and the Potter's House.

There's a particular balance, I'm finding, where too little stuff causes stress (like our bowl crisis that needs remedied...we never have enough bowls). But then too much stuff, and things just feel chaotic. I'm loving our mostly empty closets, our drawers that don't need to be crammed shut, the unbelievably streamlined toys in the boys' room.

Oh yeah...and toys. How could I forget? Jack, my Sentimental Toy Child (he knows who gave him each of his toys and when) has turned into Mr. Give-it-away. I love seeing that, although it's not all philanthropy. We usually trade him Lego sets for huge boxes of toys and books he's decided to give away. But he's internalizing it too, because he'll now say "I don't need that - you can give it to the church" without following it up with, "Can I trade it for Legos?"

When you decide what you love, value, and need...the Stuff just falls into place.

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