I smiled as I typed that title, realizing as I looked at the words that while I meant literal stuff, this phrase also sums up the work I have been doing figuratively as well.
In the past six months I have undergone a tremendous shift, literally by moving 2000 miles from the state I had called home for over two decades, and figuratively by letting go of all of my external titles and roles that had, up to this point, defined me.
The actual move involved leaving most of my belongings behind—furniture, bedding, dishes, cookware, house décor, boxes and boxes of photos and mementos—all I took with me were my clothes, my books, a few precious items given to me by those I love, and my dogs. Right now I am in a furnished rental, a summer house on the lake that I am struggling to survive winter in. I am surrounded by stuff that is not mine.
On a day like today—Christmas—that’s rough. It is the first time in my entire life that I haven’t had a tree, as I left my holiday decorations behind. Yet on most days, I have found that not having stuff is quite freeing. The few items I brought with me to this rental are meaningful to me: one photo of my children, a paw print of my beloved dog who died of cancer, two angel figurines given to me by one of my sisters, and a beanie baby that belonged to my other sister, who passed in 2010.
Letting go of material stuff proved to be quite easy. Letting go of emotional ties has been much more difficult. Some days I miss my ‘old’ life, including my role as an active parent (my children are grown and off discovering their own paths), my relationship with my children’s father, and my previous community and home so much that I feel hopeless. Yet by shedding these roles that defined me for so many years, I am forced to sit with a stripped down version of myself, and when I stare at her in the mirror I have no idea who she is.
Hopefully this realization is leading me to a new phase of self-discovery as I plan my own tiny home—a space that is truly my own, designed by me and for me—a space that will contain only what I need and what has true meaning to me. I am creating a home that will warm my heart and feed my soul. I am beginning to learn to take care of me.
My new journey has begun.