It has been several weeks since I posted here. Once I got things rolling for the Move Up North, the thing took on a life of its own, and writing (except for some Facebook posts) took a back seat. I did a lot of thinking while I was packing up my old house, and I’ve already written a little about that. Today, I’m going to indulge myself in a ramble. I hope, for all our sakes, that something useful comes out of it.
During the last push before the movers came, I made some decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. I thought I had done a good job of downsizing, but after the movers drove away from Sparky’s Place (my name for my little house in the woods by the lake), I quickly realized that I still had too much stuff. It took me about four days to unpack and organize the house, and I have made at least five trips to St. Vincent’s Charities in Tawas City, with the Equinox loaded to the roof rails every time. On Monday, I made the trip to town with a 5-gallon gas can riding shotgun; on the way home, the can was full and rode in the cargo area. It was a good thing — by Tuesday morning, we had almost a foot of new snow, and having gas for the snow blower is a very good plan in such circumstances.
I came out of the unpacking process with several thoughts.
- First, my default mode from this point forward has to be one of NOT acquiring things. Not only is there nothing I need, other than the usual consumables like food and gasoline; but also, I need less getting and more doing; I need to contribute less to the landfills and more to the health of the earth. So the one thing I did acquire since my move was a composter.
- Second, I need to focus on using up some of the stuff I didn’t get rid of. After I got done with all of the donating, I have quantities of yarn and craft materials, a lot of writing paper, and more dog treats than JD could possibly consume before they go bad. Some of it comes from combining two well-stocked households; some of it comes from years of compulsive consumerism.
- And third, when I build my garage, while I will benefit from the additional storage space, I must be very careful that I don’t fill it!
This week yielded some discoveries that will shape my life going forward. Remember all that yarn I mentioned? Well, it turns out that my new parish, Holy Family, has a very active “knitting ministry” which produces prayer shawls and blankets for a variety of recipients in need of them, including children in developing countries. I will be pursuing an involvement in that ministry! Also, the county’s Humane Society is just about five miles away, and when I stopped there yesterday to drop off several boxes of dog treats, I learned that there is a need for morning volunteers to help with cleaning and working with the animals. I’ll be heading there this coming week. As tempting as it could be to just hole up in my little house and — literally — tend to my knitting, that is not my most healthy lifestyle. I need to get involved in the community!
This week also brought a discovery about that “change junkie” aspect of me that I’ve touched on before. Once I got the house pretty much settled, and worked through some plumbing problems that included a frozen drainfield and plugged sewage pipe, I started to experience some anxiety, accompanied by some sadness. It took a couple of days and some hard thinking to figure out where it was coming from, but I finally nailed it down. I think I was actually experiencing a sort of adrenaline withdrawal. My system had become accustomed, over the past several months, to the adrenaline rush that comes with stress and big changes, and was trying, with the anxiety, to retrigger the flow of adrenaline. I’ve chosen to treat this little syndrome with lot of physical exercise. It is going to be important to push myself in new directions and to seek out adventures without creating the kind of total life upheaval that the past months — indeed, the past two years — have involved.
Finally, a bit about facing up to the reality of the second-biggest change in my recent life (the first having been Tom’s death on July 1, 2012): I made the decision for this change after considering the factors carefully over a period of months. Voluntary change is still change, and it still brings with it some reality checks. My daily life and activities are not enormously different from what they were before I moved, except that the variety of choices actually expands now over what was available before. I still have frequent contact with my family and friends via the same social media that we have always used. The difference — the reality check — is that I am doing all of it at a 160-mile distance. What does that mean? It has some practical implications, sure — but the heart of the matter is that it’s only a longer drive when I want to have lunch!
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