Moving after 25 years - The Ribbon In My Journal

What Moving Has Taught Me

Phyllis Lifestyle 54 Comments

As I write this, I am taking a break from packing. Neal and I are moving in March to a home that is under renovation. Our house we are in has sold and we are very grateful for that. As I sift through 20 plus years of stuff, I have come to realize several things:

  1. Things that I knew I would need forever… I don’t. As I unearthed books that I had long-forgotten, I realized that I didn’t go back and read them again as I had planned. I can barely remember reading it the first time. And that outfit that was the perfect style for me looks nuts with shoulder pads big enough for football players. Linda Evans on Dynasty inspired those, I believe. Or was it Sue Ellen on Dallas? Who can remember? I even had the sewing patterns to reproduce those outfits. Why did I keep them? Maybe I expected the style to repeat, but then would it fit? Speaking of fitting, how many of us have a section of our closet that we will “get back into one day”? Mine is dusty.
  2. I would find another use for things I refused to throw away. Wrong. I have drawers of stuff waiting for another life. In fact, I have wrapping paper remnants that have become so brittle they crumble when you touch it. How about the candles that are half used? Waiting on 120 power outages to really take advantage of that collection. I could fill a large container with empty jars, plastic bowls with lids from Cool Whip containers, and my favorite—shopping bags with handles, just in case I need to carry something.
  3. My kids don’t want my stuff that I have saved for their “first houses.” In fact, they have nicer stuff than I do. What is wrong with this picture? I have framed photos the size of a poster. Really, what was I thinking when I ordered prints of my children that large? Now who will want those? Nobody. But heavens, who can throw away photos of their children?
  4. It’s OK to say I am finished with something. That is hard for me, as I always think I will need it again. Who am I kidding that I will ever wear those 4 -inch heels again? I have boots for snowy days (we get one per year here, and I stay inside), shoes to wear when gardening (okay, that one is fine), and flip flops that have never been on my feet. Isn’t that like flossing your toes?

I remember with a great chuckle, my grandmother, who died with drawers of pajamas and gowns that she kept ready for the hospital should the need arise. Those just-in-case clothes dry rotted in the drawers, as she never went to the hospital. I looked at the drawer of socks that I have accumulated and thought about her.

My photos are probably my most cherished possessions. I looked at our wedding photos and thought wow, will that suit fit again? And I wore 4-inch heels with it. Maybe one day. I seemed to have changed shape. And hair styles… I had some really big hair through the years.

Photos that document my life are cherished. They are reminders of the people that matter most to me. I could relive in my mind occasions, holidays, costumes, school days, and days of great fun. I have had a very blessed life. Going through my “stuff” reminds me of that so much. I am changing locations and taking my memories with me. For that, I am so grateful.

What is your most cherished possession?

Comments 54

  1. Thank you Phyllis for your perspective on moving. My husband and I can certainly relate. We spent nearly 6 months heavily sorting, packing, giving away and selling things we no longer need, in preparation for a move when our home sells. We are savers too, and love antiques and vintage items, particularly china and glass. We had also owned an antique store. Our children are all grown and only one of them likes the same things. We donated probably 400 books to our library, sold a couple of hundred more and know that we still packed too many. I now wonder why I packed all of my books on decorating and antiques. Will I really read them again? What am I going to do with all of the saved Victoria Magazines? I sold so many linens, but definitely kept more than one person can ever use. One of the hardest items to downsize were the boxes of cards received since I was a small child, and ones to my parents as well, but most had to go. Sorry to say, I have clothes that I had 25 years ago and some of those precious baby clothes of the children as well, but they are on their way out too, mostly being sold on vintage sites. Craft items are still in the garage cupboards that I have not touched for years. We have pictures yet to sort through, many of relatives that no one can identify any longer. Not sure if we feel liberated, but bet we will when we unpack in our new home that we know will be considerably smaller. I honestly think we need to go through those boxes again before moving and do another sort and purge. Good luck and lots of memories to all of you in the same boat!

  2. I wanted to share this short article that I read with an opposing view…mine…kind of funny too. I can relate to both views. Since I have 10 great grandchildren now (2 more coming) and all live a ways away, my clutter is comforting etc..
    article: In defense of Clutter

  3. Phyllis, I was happy to read your post. We are downsizing after fifty-three years of gathering and collecting. I agree with Pat above, it is time for us to simplify our lives. I have printed your post and will use it as a guide. Thank you!

  4. My mother always told me that we spend the first half of our lives working hard to accumulate things, then spend the second half of our lives working hard to get rid of all those things. With age comes the realization that it is freeing to have less stuff! If only we had the money back we spent on all that stuff, ha!

  5. I’m so tickled by your post…. when the new year begun, i told myself that one goal i must fulfill is ‘de-clutter’. I have all this stuff i have kept over the years and just like you, ‘just in case i need it someday’. Time to let go and move on! Thank you and all the best in your new house!

  6. I tease my hubby about his black, high top Converse tennis shoes that He has had since high school (1966). Every once in awhile he will ask me where they are, so a few weeks ago I told him they are no where to be found because I’m sure they have disintegrated.

  7. I too really enjoyed your column today. I am afraid I am a keeper of “things”. So I have a lot to get rid of, and plan to work on that. In regard to the Cool Whip containers, my Mother was the Queen of recycling, and must have kept almost every butter tub. We had to laugh, but remember with great love, our Mother, as we cleaned out her house some years ago. Too many butter tubs!! But living during the depression, and raising 6 children, she had to save wherever she could!

    I will promise to work on decluttering my house, from henceforth!

  8. I still wear a jacket I received in the late 60s. I tend to be a pack rat as are my two sisters,too. We have our school books and assignments packed away in the cellar. Lots of happiness,health and peace in your new home.

  9. I absolutely loved this post! I come from a long line of southern ladies and this reminded me of each one of them in different ways! I am a 45 year old ironing, silver polishing entertaining soul…this was a wonderful read!

  10. Dear Phyllis,
    Oh my goodness!! Reading this brings a smile on my face from ear to ear! Everything you said is 100% true.
    The best thing that had me laughing is when you mentioned the kids. You are so right…they don’t want our “stuff” and their “stuff” is better than ours which makes me proud to say.
    My husband and I need to downsize and I am a little sad about it , but after reading your article … you put everything into perspective for me. You made me feel better and more positive about our move. I truly thank you for this.
    Pictures, photo albums …those are the most precious items. Your memories will forever be in your heart and will just travel with you to your new home where new memories are waiting to be made.
    God bless you and good luck with your move!

  11. When cleaning out also remember local history museums. Many would love to receive items belonging to residents that reflect on their history in your area. While cleaning out my mother’s house in St. Louis, the History Museum accepted 1940’s cocktail dresses, a jacket from one of my father’s businesses, my christening gown and first communion gown, my high school uniform and various miscellaneous objects. The Girl Scout Museum happily accepted my old uniform, merit badge sash and other objects. Using your imagination about these things can help them live on to show future generations how we lived.

  12. Can so relate. Spent most of 2015 getting rid of stuff, throwing out stuff and selling stuff at the same time building a new home. We downsized and moved to a new State. Actually, it was very liberating to get rid of so much I had held on to. Still brought too much with us and still making trips to the donation location. Did keep the things we needed, cherished and could use. Loving our new life and new lifestyle.

  13. Thanks. I had a good laugh as every January I like to weed out. I also went thru 2 large shopping bags full of gift bags. What was i thinking! Next, i also will be weeding those paperback books i loved and saved after i moved here to Vt. 10 years ago. What a freeing feeling. Good luck in your move.

  14. Fantastic topic. I am of two minds. I totally agree that most of what we keep is crap. Fashions don’t repeat. We don’t stay the same size. I just helped my siblings empty my parents’ house (they had moved to assisted living and died just over a year later, within 3 weeks of each other). So much stuff. In a big box, I found a pile of clothes, including things I’d worn and that brought back so many memories in a flash. It was electric. I also found a bunch of dresses of my mom’s, which were very chic. I set them aside, and took them to a friend who used to have a vintage shop. As it turned out, the shop had closed, but my friend was better able than me to fit into my mom’s dresses. My mom would have been thrilled to know her dresses were worn by such an artsy, hip person.
    It’s terribly painful to go through the belongings of someone who has died. I certainly hope to spare my kid of too much of that.

  15. I thought as I read your blog,you must be related to me. I have material I purchased about 25 years ago to make Christmas dresses for dolls. The material is still laying in a box.
    All the best in your new house.

  16. Oh my heavens. My mother is yiu! And your comment about the gowns for the hospital just in case!!! What a smile yiu put on my face. I’m 54 and throw out meecilesy and fear that I will want one day but that photo that I tucked away to be perfect when my father died-never flound it in time! My husband once reminded me one day when my camera batteries died at the wrong moment – there are photo ops and then there are memories!

  17. I see me in your writings. We moved 6 months ago after 30 years. I am a neatnik married to a neatnik, so you would think it would be easy…. I started with the idea to clean out one thing a day… became two…..and by the time we moved we has tossed or sold 1360 Items! Our goal is to limit the number of new things coming in to 10%.

    In moving to our new home we gave up 1 extra bedroom, 1 pantry cabinet, 2 closets, 1 formal dining room, 1 family room , 2 built-in curio cabinets and no attic…..and we still have some empty shelves and drawers.

  18. This is a great lesson to all of us. We had a major fire at our house in 2001. At least 65 to 70 % of our things had to be replaced. Friends felt sorry for us. But afterwards I felt like it was almost a blessing. We have no junk drawers! And have kept it that way.

    Another lesson was learned when we had to purchase the replacements so quickly. At first it seemed like fun. Then it became a job. That experience has affected my purchasing ever since. If I did not miss my “stuff” after the fire, why do I need to accumulate so much.

    I hear people talkiing about how their children do not want their things. But, I remember that I did not particularly care for much of the things my mother loved. I think we want to chose our own things and that goes for the next generation.

    The less you have, the less you need to take care of. Plus, what you have is easier to find. Joy!

  19. All the best on your move. I moved the week of Thanksgiving and I can’t believe how much stuff I had (and still have). I had long ago recycled the sour cream & cottage cheese containers, and donated 3 car loads of miscellaneous household goods & clothes but there is still all this stuff everywhere I look.
    As I unpack I’m trying to be more disciplined and already have another box of items to donate. There is so much more that needs to go, I even joined a Simplify & Declutter support group hoping it would give me some wonderful motivation and ideas unfortunately between unpacking, the holidays and working I have yet to read all those helpful suggestions.
    You’ll get there, just keep at it and occasionally invite someone over for moral support so that you don’t find yourself walking around in circles.

  20. I so appreciated the statement ” my now life,not my then life” All of our children must be chuckling together too! Blessings on your new home and new adventures!

  21. This post is soooooo what I needed! I just have too much stuff that I could really eliminate from my life. Shoes, hats, clothing, etc. and we will not even discuss the fabric. I am intentional about downsizing the ‘stuff’ a little bit each week.

    Best to you in your new home and I too hope you will share with pictures

  22. I so agree!
    I too, have a tendency to “save” the really special things, waiting for a special time to use them and then wonder, “Why?” They just get old and rot.
    But, I will say that we have new laws here in California in regards to bags from stores, and I am really glad that I saved as many shopping and grocery bags as I did!

  23. Dear Phyllis,
    How refreshing to read your thoughts on moving. We have been existing in our guest room for the past 8 months while an extensive remodel in our master bed and bath has been taking place. Who would have thought it would take this long! Who would have thought I had 24 pairs of shoes to toss as we “moved out”! This week we will begin to move into our new digs with two walk in closets and an office, with a door one can close, as well as a sleeping area with a ceiling of blue skies and sunlit clouds that I have dreamed of for years.
    I can assure you that more sorting will be taking place in the next month. There is so much we do not need!
    Blessings to you and Neal as you create new memories in your new home.

  24. I so agree with the photograph words. I am 73 and through the years I have realized that it is not the pictures of scenery and landscapes I want to look at over and over. It is the pictures of people that are gone. My mother used to say when we were taking pictures “get people in them” and now I can understand what she meant. We are always asking ourselves why didn’t we take more people pictures.

  25. Your comments on your children not wanting things reminded me of my sister-in-law telling her son & daughter that she didn’t want them fighting over her things. Her son replied, “Mom we already are. We’re saying ‘I don’t want them. You take them.'”

  26. I would like to suggest a different approach. My parents are 88 and 85 and are still living in the big house they bought 35 years ago. Each month I go and help them “clean out” part of the house. They decide what area/type of thing we clean out. We have a great time. Last month we did all Mom’s fancy dresses from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Hats and wigs included! It was fun hearing about what events she wore them to, and some I remember as a child. Some went to a vintage consignment store but most went to our local amateur theatre group. While they don’t have to leave the house, doing it over time, by their choosing makes it so much easier on everyone, and so much less stressful!

  27. Phyllis,
    I had to smile as I read your blog, and smile some more as I read the comments. It seems
    there are a lot of us in this boat. I am not moving in the near future, but I think I will
    pretend that I am, just to help me get rid of the excess.
    Congrats on the new house!

  28. Good Morning Everyone.
    Phyllis, your article is so timely. We have lived in our home for 35 years, and I don’t anticipate us moving anytime soon. I’m thinking that a person should “pretend” to move every couple years, so that closets, cupboards, and drawers get thoroughly cleaned and organized. I know that a lot of my treasures wouldn’t make the cut if I was moving. We have a fairly large home and still I struggle to find a home for all the items. My new mantra is “A place for everything, and everything in its place”. My goal is to rethink what I own and where I store it. Hopefully I’ll be brutal enough to make some wise choices. Thanks for the gentle reminders, everyone.

  29. I can relate….I cracked up about the Cool Whip containers and shopping bags. When we cleaned out my parents’ house, you have no idea how many containers we found. I have no idea how my Mother could figure out what was in them in the refrigerator! It does make for great and fun memories though. Enjoy your new house! Exciting times!

  30. Being an Air Force brat growing up we moved around all the time… even as an adult trying to ‘find myself’, I was always looking for the next place to start a new and more exciting life. I’m quite a pro at moving !

    As I got older, I found myself needing to settle down and plant roots more and more – and now I surround myself with only things that I truly LOVE… In all the moves I’ve made, I understood the need to de-clutter my life and my home and it certainly takes a lot of practice to fine-tune the process.

    I rarely buy anything these days that I am not 100% in love with and those items (such as clothing) that don’t fit my lifestyle (or size!) any longer, I take great joy in donating to those less fortunate and will make good use of these items.

    Bless you and your family’s move this Spring and I wish you only the very best for your new home. May God richly bless you with all you need !

    Brandon Hartford
    Te Deum Cottage

  31. I am so glad I found your blog! Being an Alabama girl transplanted to northern Wisconsin I do my best to keep up on southern decorating and the gracious mindset. I work in our library and have our head librarian order your books and magazines (which are often checked out). This post was beautifully written, particularly the last point. It’s OK to be finished with something. I tossed four bags of Christmas ornaments this year. It felt good. My “now” life is not my “then” life. Thanks for such a wonderfully worded post!

  32. Oh I laughed out loud when I read the part about “who can throw out pictures of their children?” I SO hear you. I can’t even delete them from my phone!

    My dear ones love to make things so my closet is crammed full of their “gifts” – drawings, paintings, play doh statues, pipe cleaner sculptures, hand and footprints, beads, rubber band bracelets…

    Thankfully I’m fairly minimalist in everything else, I have to be. I need the space! 😉

  33. My friend just had surgery, has Parkinson’s and a form of dementia…now they are downsizing all her things. I think, how blessed am I to have my wits about me and can do it myself. You are right – we need so little as we reach the finish line. We have no children. I doubt the nieces and nephew will want to see what we did on vacations 30 years ago. Does anyone. Things seemed so important – back in the day. Not so now.

  34. You hit the nail in the head Phyllis. Last week I cleaned out my closet and sent to Salvation Army some gorgeous things that I will never wear again. 24 pairs of shoes and a number of purses. Some of the shoes I had worn on only one occasion. And of course I had a matching purse to go with them. Does anybody still do that? But while cleaning out the closet I ran across smaller sized clothes. I have managed to remove 30 pounds in the last couple of years and I’ll be darned, the clothes fit!!! And since I’m not one to wear the latest fashion but love the classics I now have a new wardrobe plus gave away all the ones that I’m go glad don’t fit because they are tooooo big. Yeah!

  35. Oh WOW can I relate to your post. We recently (2 months ago) moved from Connecticut to Florida. After 16 years living in our little Cape Cod (cute as a button), I realized that I had stored things for all those years that I never used, not once. I love scrapbooking and I could have opened a Michaels, A. C. Moore, Hobby Lobby or Jo-Ann Fabrics with all the cute things I’ve accumulated. EEK – what do do with it all. Thank goodness I had some very sweet Christian ladies from Church that grabbed as much as they could. Now the only thing is no basement in Florida for my crafts, what’s a girl to do? Looking into a storage shed to become by “SHE-CAVE”…..Love you and your blogs – Nanci

  36. I, too have experienced the downsize event, when we moved from Homewood to Auburn. Over 30 years of stuff and 4 children and a home based business had to go. Now 10 years later we are faced with this challenge again. We are building our final home (you know the one with handicap everything ie, wide hallways and doors, one level, low maintenance yard, etc.) Where did all this stuff come from and what am I going to do with it? You are right about the kids not wanting it. My daughter has the 3 second rule (if you can’t state the purpose of keeping it in 3 seconds it goes to the Goodwill). It is tough parting with all those keepsakes-hair,teeth,drawings,shoes,etc.So I have decided to take a picture of all those things with my phone and all that stuff can live in cyberspace until I want to remember and all I have to do is look it up on my phone!

  37. Yes, Phyllis. This. We moved 13 months ago after 28 years in our home, and after emptying our parents’ homes. Enjoy the memories. Blessings.

  38. I also chuckled at this post, you are spot on! We’ve only been married 36 years and have accumulated so much stuff. We weren’t blessed with children so now what!? Time to go through boxes in the basement-my nieces don’t have the same styles so my vintage things will not suit them. My treasures are going to be donated. oh and this is one of my goals for the year!

  39. Amen, sister! Been there & am still there. So hard to get rid of my grandmother’s precious handmade items, but I know my kids have no wish to own those things. I’m slowly distancing myself from my possessions-moving always helps.

  40. You are not alone, sister! I too, moved after 20 years in my husbands dream log home Wow I still have a smal “hoard” of boxes to go through. Thank heavens for a finished basement. My weaknesses were garden & decorationing books. They are so heavy to move ! Out. Went the high heels reduced handbags Still gave too many clothes. But my real difficulty is dishes. All kinds
    So true kids don’t want your stuff well only the good things I.e. Oriental rugs. Hint go to storage places that sell wardrobe boxes. They are a great Good luck Oh did I mention my Christmas decor….

  41. Your article couldn’t of come at a better time. I too am working on getting rid of lots of stuff. You’re right, our children and grands certainly have different design ideas and don’t want our stuff. So off to donate or consignment I go.

    The very best on your new home and all the excitement it brings. Love your ideas and experiences that you share!

  42. Letting go is so very hard! I have moved twenty-seven times in the past forty years. Yes, 27! And still I hang on. You never know what you might need in the next house. I have letters from my mother (who died in 1984). Letters from some great grandparent that date to 1817. I recently came to the realization that my “stuff” has become what to some their home is. The “stuff” is the home that I just keep moving around. Granted I don’t need the size six clothing that long ago managed to shrink or pounds and pounds of books I’ll never read again (all those went in the last move). The difficult thing is that our children won’t be the caretakers of the past. I might be the last of a line of silver polishers and linen ironers. But I’m hanging on to the end!

  43. Phyllis,
    I love today’s post and I hope you share pictures of your new home.

    You are right…we keep things with such good intention thinking, okay “hoping” our children will want them someday and then reality sets in. I too have one of those large pictures…my oldest was a bit chunky that year and my youngest wasn’t feeling well. It is obvious neither are that happy but I love that picture and it was taken by a professional. Still hangs in my family room. Then there are the two professional drawings of my son’s when they were around 18 months each. They
    are cherished by me…but will they want them someday? I guess time will tell.

    I come from a large family and my boys are on the younger side of 25 plus cousins. One thing I have started to do is when they tell me no to something that was my grandparents or parents and I’m ready to let it go…I pass along to a sib or niece/nephew to enjoy. My boys never knew my grandparents but some of their cousins did. Cannot think of a better way to share what I love with others that have some of the same memories.

  44. Phyllis I smiled the entire time while reading your story. I was married 2 years ago and went through the same process of cleaning out. There were many things I thought I’d want forever, but while packing I realized that I didn’t need them. I donated lots of clothes, shoes and books/CDs . Many other items were thrown out, because they wouldn’t matter to anyone else. It was a great feeling to have less “stuff” and I don’t miss any of the items. Now when I shop, I think twice (maybe 3 times) before bringing something new into the house. I’ve shared my thoughts with my Mom (who saves everything) and at 83, she too is realizing that her clothes are so outdated that no one would want them and it’s time to throw away and clear out the closets. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, and I wish you and Neal all the best in your new home.

  45. Thank you for sharing your life and ideas with us!!

    We just celebrated 50 years of marriage and have had only two homes in that time.

    I laughed at your thoughts of saving. We all do exactly the same… we’ll can’t say alll, but believe me I saw MYSELF IN EVERY CATEGORY!

    Because of your wonderful funny and in part ….sad somehow, I am going to begin doing what I should have long ago… go through drawers and cupboards and give away or throw!

    Thanks again, I wish you all the fun and happiness you so deserve in your new home…. as you have enjoyed and made memories in the old.

  46. Congratulations on the new home. We know it will be beautiful. I just finished the Marie Kondo method of tidying up. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to open a cabinet or closet and only see things I absolutely love. Instead of being frustrated by clutter, all I have sparks joy. Give yourself the gift.

  47. I’ve moved about three times over the past 20 years. Every time I am amazed at how much stuff I have accumulated. I never seem to make time to through those boxes in the garage in the Winter (too cold), in the Summer (too hot), in the Spring or Fall (the weather is to nice to be doing that). I hope you enjoy and love your new home. Best of luck with the move.

  48. Perfect timing for this wonderful article!!! We are downsizing from fifty years into simple living !!!! Overwhelming sometimes but you helped with this article!!! Love you thoughts!

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