There’s an endangered Mexican salamander called an axolotl that remains a tadpole all its life. Philosophers often use the axolotl to symbolize someone who avoids growth. I do not fear or avoid growth, I actually love it, but I do dislike and sidestep change. As I’ve written time and time again, I’m a nester. This momma bird likes her nest and when forced to fly the coop, she is not happy or comfortable.
As many of you know, my husband and I are moving. We’re building a house not far from our current one, downsizing, and starting again in a new neighborhood. It’s been somewhat fun and exciting picking out the style and finishes of what will soon be our new nest, but it’s also been stressful. I like stress about as much as I like change. Momma bird is not in a good place right now!
To help put me in the “this move will be a good thing” frame of mind, I’m reading the bestselling “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” When I was first told about the book and that I had to read it before moving, I hesitated because its subtitle is “The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.” If I’m anything, I’m organized so why would I need to read about it? Then I focused on the other word in the subtitle: decluttering. Yeah, I could certainly stand to do that. I do tend to accumulate clutter, albeit it’s all organized very nicely!
So, I dove in and I’m loving the book. It has inspired me to purge and re-evaluate what I keep and what I toss or donate. It recommends physically handling every item you’re contemplating what to do with, indirectly incorporating “te-ate,” the Japanese word for healing, which literally means to apply hands. As author Marie Kondo explains, the term originated before modern medicine when people believed that placing one’s hands on an injury promoted healing.
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not believe to be useful or beautiful.”
Built around that idea that you should only keep the things that spark joy, Kondo’s method invites you to focus on choosing what you want to keep, not on what you need to discard. Bingo! I can do that!
In fact, I’ve spent the day going through a biggie: paperwork. I’m a filer and as a writer, I’m a saver of all things written down. Kondo recommends discarding almost all needless paperwork, and I’ve surprised even myself in being able to do this. Granted I’m very sentimental and some items I will probably never get rid of, but I’m having quite a go at the old shredder…so far nearly three big trash bags full of shredded paper!
I’m only on paper. Books, sentimental items, and photographs are sure to be much tougher.
Keep the Change?
What is it about change that I, and many others, dislike? Maybe it’s not change per se, but more the hanging on to memories. We can’t live in the past, this I know, but I still find myself being very nostalgic. If it were up to me I would have stayed in the same house all these years. Moving is not fun. Being the “new kid on the block” is not fun either. I’m 50+- years-old and have friends I love and cherish. I don’t want to have to make new friends! I despise small talk and the fact that my new neighbors will know nothing about me, my history, or even my daughter makes me just say, meh.
“You can only grow if you’re willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
But I like my house. I like it a lot. This neighborhood was supposed to be our dream place when we moved here 10 years ago. I like where I live. I like that I’m only 10 minutes from work. Now I’ll be 40. Ugh. I also like my grocery store. I like the shops and restaurants around me. But, I need to remind myself that all those things will be where we’re moving too and that where we’re moving is fabulous. I just go back and forth but that’s okay. It’s totally okay and totally normal to feel how I do. So I’ve been told.
And I believe. So much so that I keep that quote in the very front of the folder I have on our new house. Don’t get me wrong, this move is not a bad thing. At all. It’s just something I didn’t plan and planning is up there with organizing on my list of “what I do really good.” Right next to worrying and writing.
If only I could be more like my college friend Christie, who embraces moves and new houses as “projects” and has been known to sell her family’s home and all the furnishings in it. What? The thought of that sends me in a tizzy. Sadly my husband is much like that and places little or no sentimental value on anything. I’m kinda in this along friends so this probably won’t be the last of my writings on the subject!
Maybe it’s the actual move that I’m not embracing. I actually fear it and think about it 24-7. And then this week I get good news: our daughter is moving back to Texas for an exciting new job! The bad news? Now I get to move TWICE this summer! I’m okay with it though and consider it the price to pay to have her three hours away (even a tad closer when we move to our new house!) instead of 18 hours away!
So, as uncomfortable as it will all be, I know that this change coming up is good and so is discovering new things and new people. Change is a part of life and even though I am being forced to embrace it, I know I can do it. I can’t control what is happening but I can control my perspective. I will look at downsizing, relocating, and needing to get rid of many treasured things as a way of starting new and cleansing out. Now if I could only snap my fingers and be in our new home, unpacked, at peace, and ready for my new chapter.