Monday, April 9, 2012

Living Lightly

With the exception
of the last decade, I
have moved nearly
every three years or
less my entire life.

One big benefit that
came with a nomadic
existence was the necessity
to take a thoughtful look
at my {and then, our} 
possessions and decide 
what really needed to 
move with us and what 
really did not.

When my husband and
I made our first move,
from a tiny one-bedroom
rental apartment into a
bit bigger, first mortgage,
one-bedroom condo, all
of our worldly goods fit
inside a U-haul trailer.

That was the last time
that it only took one trip.

Each subsequent move
was preceded by a process
that we dubbed the Big Zing.

Bulb digger attachment
for the electric drill that
we never used?


Five year's worth of
Family Handyman and
Victoria magazines?


Basic blah dishes
with chippy edges?


Methodically, we'd go
through the inventory
of our lives and determine
 what we really wanted
to pay to have moved.

{Or, if it was a company
move, what we actually
desired to unwrap and
put away on the 
other end.}

Because we haven't moved
in 11 years, we haven't
had the Big Zings like we
used to.

So, things have piled up.
Cupboards and drawers
are full of zing-ables.

Oh, I have my mini-zings
from time to time.  But
without the pressure of a
move and preparing to sell 
our home, it's been easy
to avoid staying on top 
of it all.

I recently read this quote
in a magazine and it had
me hungering for a 
Big Zing.

Keep only what you
use, make peace with
imperfection and help
those in need.

I want to live like that:

Because really, beyond
pictures and family 
memorabilia, the rest 
is just stuff.

My aunt and uncle moved
to London last summer for
my uncle's job and were
limited as to how much his
company would pay for
personal belongings to be
sent across the ocean.

They had to be certain that
what they chose to move was
genuinely meaningful
and necessary.

That must be freeing.

In 2012 I have participated
in my friend Lisa's monthly
blogging challenge called
Before and After.  I am going
to combine the April and May
challenges and begin a
Big Zing, going through

and more ~

the Before,

in an attempt to

The timing couldn't be better,
as our church begins collecting
items for its annual rummage
sale on June first.  It is always
a lot easier to part with a Zing
if I know it is going to be used
and appreciated.

Lest you think that I am
oblivious to how very lucky I
am to have such a problem as
too much stuff, believe me, I
am not.  With every item that
I set aside ~ zing ~ into our
charity bin, I realize what a
privilege it is to have a life
abundant enough to share.

How about you?  Are you a
regular zinger or a periodic one?
Do you enjoy living with a lot
of things, or, like me, do you
hear a voice whispering in your
ear, nudging you to live more 
lightly, too?

Stay tuned for my After post
at the end of May.  It will be
here, before we know it.  

Now, I've got a drawer 
to clear out....

Cultivate generosity.  
Delight in giving.
Learn to live lightly.
~ Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo



Susan T said...

Love the word 'Zing' perfect for the buzz it gives you when you have a good clear out. We have been in this house for 19 years now, say no more. Like you, previously I was a frequent mover. We have a village charity shop which could benefit from our cast offs. A MUST DO exercise.

NanaDiana said...

Holly- I have the same thing going on. In 36 years of marriage we have moved 14 times with one more move coming up as we downsize. I, too, need to do another BIG ZING! It is hard to do just let go...and give it over. I am getting better at it. I have also quit buying more THINGS! I don't NEED more things and am trying to count my blessings for every single THING I DO have. Beautiful message here today- You have inspired me to "get busy". xo Diana

michele said...

i'm a humdinger of a big zinger, suzanne. i love to give away stuff. because it does not own me so it's easy. almost always. you may remember i gave away too many pairs of shoes once and experienced remorse. anyway, if things get a little crowded in my closet...donations! there's a rotation but not because i have rubbermaids of more in the basement. it's from the giving.

best to you as you let go.


michelle said...

Oh my, I need to do that too! When our basement flooded a few years ago we had to get rid of alot of stuff but it felt good to clear things out. Now it seems like stuff has been piling up again (not sure where it comes from :) ) and I need to do some 'zinging' myself. Good luck!

Mary Timmers said...

The more you have, the more you have to take care of. Simple and light is a choice in the U. S. Other places in the world, it's a necessity! The older I get, the less I feel the need to "get stuff" and more the desire to simplify and pare down. I love lots of beautiful things around me, but having less clutter is calming. I just cleaned out my library last week and brought seven bags of books to the Goodwill. It felt good, and the library shelves now look a lot happier. Thanks for the encouragement, Suzanne.

Julie said...

Inspiration and Motivation flowing right out of this post...Love the word ZING! Sounds like a "Bewitched" sound effect for touching the items with a wand and presto....they are GONE!...just like that. *wish it really were that easy...then I think I would easily be a REGULAR zinger. Moving actually helped...but getting into a new and different house has brought "things" back IN now...I want to do a BIG zing again, and have been feeling the pull to do it. Just waiting for Warmer weather, and NOW...your post is the *!ZAP!* to hopefully get me to get serious! Yes ~ I hear the whisper. Missed you Suzanne! Hugs, and Hopes that Spring Break and Easter were wonderful memory-makers! xoxo

{laura} said...

As we are getting ready to do our first cross-country move as a Marine Corps family, I am zinging a lot!! Goodness, but we have amassed a lot of special things that will soon become someone else's treasures! And I have found going through our things has made me very conscious when shopping, so perhaps this will be very good for my budget!

Lisa Scibilia said...

Oh my friend, how you inspire me.
I love this before and after and I thank you for participating in my parties month to month and sharing such thoughtful challenges. I am a zinger, I constantly am thinking that things we don't use regularly could be helpful to and love by someone else. Moving into a smaller house has inspired me even more to purge and to live with less and it's so freeing!! Now if I can just get my husband to let go of some baseball hats and golf shirts, I'll be all set!
Good luck with your goal to live lightly; I look forward to hearing about how you progressed in May! xox

My Grama's Soul said...

Oh sweet 65 I have spent a lifetime trying to unclutter, downsize, throw out, donate, etc. But it does seem that "stuff" just keeps showing up......I promise that I will get rid of something that I haven't used in a ;year....then I stop and think "oh....I may NEED that.".. Ahhhhh...perhaps I am a hoarder. LOL LOL



Alicia said...

oh girl! i got rid of SOO much stuff when we moved!! sooo much! some of it i regret getting rid of, some of it i don't even remember. purge on, sweet friend. :)


I am a regular zinger ... in our family we called it "bif," as in, "let's bif this." It gives me a little high.

Moving regularly helps with that.

Anonymous said...

I am a constant zinger but still seems to be surrounded by too much stuff. Living lightly is my ultimate goal...and to give to those in need is one of the best things about it. I'm at the point where I don't even want furniture...just a small table for intimate gatherings, my piano to make music and my couch to snuggle together on. I just want open walls and lots of light.
I love the last quote...I think I will put it next to the prayer I say for my children everyday.
I hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying the arrival of spring ~ :)

pretty pink tulips said...

Hi Suzanne!

I love cleaning out on a regular basis and always take up the opportunity when my local VA sends me a notice they'll be in my neighborhood. Next week is one of those "rounds" so I'm gathering and packing and getting excited to "let go" and lighten up.

Like you, I have moved often. This will be the place I've lived the longest since I was ages 6-13. Funny how much you can accumulate.

xoxo Elizabeth

traci said...

i should do it more. i always feel so good after i've cleared some out. i need to do this in my basement. yikes.

Wild Oak Designs said...

I just found your blog! So, glad to find you!!
Come for a visit...

Olive Cooper said...

The more you own the more it own you. Joe acquired an additional acre of land by our yellow house which is great but trees need to be cut down-it owns us and it costs. I try to donate to thrifts frequently. Especially since I buy from them too. I emptied two boxes of old photos today and got rid of frames and thinned them out. Found an image of my dad and cried a bit but it was a good cry. I was happy to discover that photo. Hugs to you, olive

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Such a great post, Suzanne! I am working hard to simplify...being a vintage dealer, I need to have stuff, but I got rid of my paid storage last week! Another sale next month will empty out even more! Your post inspires me, my friend! See you soon! XO

Jemsmom said...

Are you reading my mind???? I swear your posts are always so in tune with what is going on in my life! I did major zing when we moved to Charleston from Michigan and have periodically zinged around here since. I have been quite proud of myself and have made over 15 trips to Goodwill in the last three years! I haven't even had time to think about zinging with this move as it has all happened so fast and goodness knows we are going to have plenty of storage in our new home! I do love to purge though. It is so freeing! I will probably do it again as we unpack. We will be moving into our new home the first of June! Can you order some warm weather for me so I can acclimate? :-)

Charm Bracelet Diva said...

I am a culler, periodically culling stuff we don't need. My husband is a keeper. I throw it out and he pulls it out of the garbage. I've been known to say, "If our house was a ship it would sink!" (from all the stuff!) I'm a frequent Amvets donater, they love us and drop by every time they're in the neighborhood. Yes, we are blessed.


Teacup Moments said...

Suzanne, I too am preparing for a move soon and this just hits home. Through the years I've learned to pare down more. To save only what are irreplaceable or meaningful. But the state of minimalism I aspire to is still very far away. The motto "BE MORE rather than HAVE MORE" helps me a bit, but there's always more paring down to do!

Cindy said...

Oh how you have inspired me! I am really trying to keep only what I love...and right now...I am not loving my junk drawer..Your post has jump started me! xo Cindy

Happy Homemaker UK said...

3 houses in 3 years with an international move has required a lot of purging as you can imagine. Thank goodness for electronic letters, books, and photos! It helps with the declutter :) Every broken plate, etc is just one less thing to pack next time :)

Stitchfork said...

Have been too complacent over the years here with only small zingers and need a really big zing event. Will try to follow your lead and go for it!
xo Cathy

Tricia said...

I absolutely do not like living with lots of makes me feel smothered. Lately though, I feel like things are getting too far out of control around here, so I have big plans to do some zinging of my own. The bad thing is, that my husband doesn't like getting rid of things as much as I do.

Good luck with your Big Zing :)

Biz said...

Well Suzanne,

You know that with Bud being military we too will be moving frequently over the next 20 years. Each time we move...the big purge happens. It's normally as we are loading the truck and running out of room. We are quick to say "We can replace that broom" or "We don't need those barstools anymore, there is no room"!
Since having Bitsy though I think I'm a bit more on top of the clutter. I dislike stuff more and more. I want everything to have a place so in deciding that I know that I have to get rid of things.
We literally unpacked the last few boxes in the garage this past weekend and as we came across things we made the conscience decision on whether we really needed it or not. It feels good to have a car full of donate-able items. It feels even better to open cupboards and see space vs. crammed clutter.
I can't wait to see your before and afters!

Be blessed!

Leslie said...

Hi Suzanne,

It's wonderful to de-clutter every now and again. I'm always amazed at how quickly we accumulate things that we do not need. Your quote is perfect and we should all live by that.

Spring time is the perfect season, moving or not, to heed this message!

Have a lovely day.


Mary said...

We are going thru this same "unfettering" process right now. Louise Hay says it so well: "If I am not using something I own, I give it away or sell it. I release all things that no longer benefit me: objects, ideas, habits, or relationships. I make way for the new to come bursting forth into my life. I am fulfilled in every way."

Anne Lorys - Fiona and Twig said...

I have SO much zinging I need to do!
And you are right, it IS all just stuff. And in the final analysis, most of it will not matter one bit.

It's getting easier for me to let go of things as I lose more and more of what really matters in life.

Love you, my friend. Always thought provoking. :-)


A Cottage Muse said...

I tend to associate my things with memories and have a hard time parting with them. I am slowly learning that the memories are in my heart, not in my stuff. I usually do a little purge with each season now, but I could probably do a bigger one!

Beatnheart said...

just a quickie...went right so see who was playing the Uke...whatta great song!! thanks...I gonna try and cover this.....weeee.

lisaroyhandbags said...

Well I can certainly relate to this! We have moved over 20 times in our lives so I've done a lot of Zinging! Last year before moving to Dubai was the biggest Zing ever - and the charities certainly benefitted - multiple carloads of clothes, kitchenware, furniture, small appliances. Not only did we store only the stuff we really love, we only shipped a few key pieces. It feels good to do a good Zinging, knowing that when we finally unpack those storage boxes, every piece I unwrap will make me smile instead of groan! xo

Leslie said...

Suzanne, I know I've already commented on this post :) however I just wanted to come back to say thank you for sharing your story on my recent post.

Have a wonderful day.


Vale ♥ said...

I cannot throw anything so I find myself surrounded by too many things, I just can't help it...but I wish I could put some order in my house also cause when you got too much you end up for losing the things all the time and I get nervous LOL

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Miss Gracie's House said...

Inspiring...that's what it is...I am trying to *zing* but really am not good at it...I have so many emotional ties to *things*...thanks for the encouragement!


I was always moving too! BUT I have been in this house 18 years ( the longest EVER). I could use a move just to weed it all out! You have inspired me to start.....even small!