The problem with stuff

Moving is a daunting task, especially if you’re moving from a home that you’ve been living in for over 10 years and you like stuff. I blame part of my quick 10 pound weight loss on the move. Why?

Because I have a lot of stuff.

Because we didn’t have the money to move all my stuff.

Because we didn’t have house until the day before the girls and I arrived.

That stressed me out.

I wasn’t too terribly public about the real reason that we moved, and I still won’t divulge too much except to say that there was a family health situation that necessitated a very quick move. Ric was offered a job with his old company in the beginning of this health crisis, which we took as a sign from God that He would provide if we put our faith in Him. So we did, and we moved in shifts.

To be perfectly honest, it couldn’t have come at a worse time financially and I knew that we would have to leave much of our stuff behind. Ric was already working in O’ahu and it was up to me to pack up the entire house. I’m always up for a challenge, so when he asked, “Can you do it?” my answer was, “Of course I can!”

I had great plans of sending off bags to Goodwill, and packing in a super-organized fashion with numbered boxes and Excel spreadsheets. Then, the father of my youngest daughter decided to involve me in family court antics (and trust me, “antics” is the best word to describe what he put me through) just a few weeks before we were set to leave. I was so busy dealing with his circus/monkeys that packing got delayed.  Really delayed.

I’m a stress starver, not a stress eater. When I’m stressed, I run on adrenaline and I don’t sleep. I lost 10 pounds and gained Hefty bags under my eyes in a matter of days. It wasn’t pretty.

I think I started to pack about two weeks before we left, with the majority being done just a few days before. People would come to visit and I’d put them to work. My saving grace was one of my best friends, Allison. She came over during the day to help me pack, would go home to feed her family, and then come back and pack with me late into the wee hours of the morning. If it wasn’t for Allison, there’s no way I would have survived. Her humor, “let’s get it done” attitude, a few bottles of wine and six-packs of beer, and a bloody toe (that’s a story for another day) kept me going when I really just wanted to lay down and cry myself to sleep

My plan for the girls and me was one big suitcase, one big box, one carry-on suitcase and a backpack each. That seems like a lot space for your things, but when you’re picking up your entire life and moving to the middle of the ocean, it’s really not much space at all. We knew that we would probably be living in less than half the space that we had in Washington, so the challenge was to learn to live SIMPLY and only bring the necessities.


Checking in at SeaTac with just the bare necessities and two boxes of Ric’s tools.


It a perfect world, I would have taken the time to KonMari everything in the house, but when you realize you only have a week to pack up a 2500 sq ft house that you’ve lived in for 11 years, you just want to punch Marie Kondo in the face.

“Does this item bring me joy?”

No! It’s stressing me the hell out!!

I came up with my own questions for determining what to keep and what to toss, which needed to be answered in  5 seconds or less per item:

  1. “Do I really need this?” No? Put it in the Goodwill box. Yes? Go to question #2.
  2.  “Can I live without this for a year?” Yes? Pack it up for storage. You can grab it when you come back to visit or if we get a Pod, whichever comes first. No? Go to question #3.
  3. “Am I willing to bring it across the ocean?” Yes? Put it in your suitcase. No? Put it in the damn Goodwill box already or give it to a friend.

The girls packed their things up quite nicely, gave away quite a bit to friends and sent the rest off to Goodwill. A couple of days before we were set to leave, I was a train wreck, and Allison and I put together several “desperation boxes”. Just what is a “desperation box”? A box full of random stuff that you just don’t have the time to go through. I’m sure I’ll regret it when/if those boxes ever arrive here.

I’m happy to report that we are enjoying living in much smaller space and the girls are doing GREAT living with less stuff. They really don’t miss all the things that filled every corner of their rooms. Their days are spent outside playing volleyball or basketball with friends, riding bikes, catching geckos, marveling at the daily rainbows, and collecting the best plumerias that have fallen off the neighbor’s tree.

 I’m the one that’s having issues. There are things out of my kitchen in Seattle that I could really use, there are clothes that I packed away that I could use for my new office job (I’m sure they’re getting sick of seeing the same 7 outfits), and I could really use my art supplies to keep me busy on the nights that I can’t sleep. We’ve had a few boxes sent over with little items (thank God for Flat Rate Priority boxes) like Ric’s favorite wooden spoon and my hand mixer, but I find myself longing for my Kitchen Aid, my Elie Tahari dress that found at Goodwill for $19.99, the kids’ scrapbooks, and my canvases and paper and paint and Mod Podge. Seems that I’m the one with the major attachment to stuff. While I could go buy more art supplies and take a trip to Savers for a dress equally as cute, I just can’t bring myself to spend the money, ’cause I want MY stuff.

Those things bring me joy.

Damn you, Marie Kondo.







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