moving – not for the timid

Malcolm and I have always valued experiences over stuff, but lately we have been forced to face reality. We have a lot of stuff! While most of it enhances our lifestyle and is valued, a lot of it is simply excess.

We have always been diligent about ‘spring cleaning’ and managing our clutter; or so we thought. As it turns out, it was all an illusion and mostly we are just really good at hiding things. That is both the blessing and curse of living in a big house. There are lots and lots of hiding places.

During this past month we have unearthed hidden stashes of craft supplies, cooking gadgets, collections long forgotten (DVD’s, CD’s and children’s books) and hobby paraphernalia to ridiculous extremes. Did I really need 6 bottles of Elmer’s Glue and eight spools of floral tape? Did I need to save every scrap of fabric, extra ribbons, trims and buttons left over from sewing projects? Why do I have ten lids but no matching plastic containers? We have a pasta machine?? When did that happen?

It all happened during our thirty-three years of enjoying life together, with the past twenty of them in the home we are about to sell. To say we have lived abundantly would be an understatement. That word is not just a reference to our excessive compulsions, but is also a reflection of our lifestyle.

Making the decision to sell and downsize was not considered lightly, but at our age and stage of life, it feels right. We no longer want the responsibility of a big house and have come to view it as a burden rather than a blessing. We have things that serve no purpose in our lives and will never again be used. Those items were easy to donate or throw out, but there are many things that we are not quite ready to part with.

When we moved into this house, we didn’t do a fine sift and sort of our previous thirteen years together. We just packed boxes and moved. It wasn’t important then to decide if we would ever again need or want a thingamajig or doohickey. Now it is.


I mentioned in the last post that our sorting process includes ‘pitch, donate, keep.’ We have had a few disagreements about what that means so we further defined the process. Basically it comes down to one question. Can I envision this item fitting into the next chapter? The sorting gets much easier after that. Just to be clear, we LOVE our stuff and are not those brave people who sell everything and start a new life. We are however, amiable to streamlining.

Moving Forward

As we near the end, sorting becomes less important and expediency has taken precedent. The three boxes on the right were packed a few years ago and stacked in a closet, presumably with things we weren’t ready to part with, but there is no label indicating contents. Not wanting to take the time to unpack and deal with it all, I am sending them to storage – as is. Yes, I know that is akin to ‘kicking the can down the road’, but it is the best I can do right now.

As stressful and physically demanding as this time has been, it has also been cathartic and extremely liberating. Whether you plan to move or not, I highly recommend taking stock of your situation. It was long overdue for us.

The plan going forward is to donate a few rooms of furniture from Malcolm’s Mom’s home and update/redecorate her home with some of our furniture. We will also send a few pieces to storage along with about 75 boxes that will be moved into an apartment or possibly our ‘forever home’ at some future date.

In the meanwhile, we will have a room at Malcolm’s mom’s house and will bounce around among short-term rentals, her place and travel.

First up is a one month stay in a Vrbo condo at our favorite local beach. That stay will begin mid-September. After that, we have plans to fly to the UK with the family in November to celebrate Thanksgiving and after that, who knows.

Taking a leap of faith is not uncommon to us and we are optimistic that the future will evolve as it should. This home has served its purpose well, but now it’s time to move on – with a lot less stuff!

Abundance is not something we acquire, it’s something we tune into.

Wayne Dyer

54 thoughts on “moving – not for the timid

  1. Hi Suzanne – exciting times ahead for you. We lived in our previous home for 23 years and are up to year 11 in our current house. This house is actually a bit bigger than our previous one – lots of room for family to stay and for my husband to work from home. We know that we’ll downsize eventually and I’ll be happy to cull some of our stuff – but I know there’ll be a lot more to it than I envisage (just as you’ve found), so I’m grateful it’s still a way off. Enjoy your nomadic lifestyle – it’ll be a good way to get a feel for the perfect place when the time comes to settle again. x


    1. Hi Leanne, even though it may feel like a way off, it’s never too early to start. Knowing what I do now, I wish I had been more proactive about discarding things. I am looking forward to just hanging out for a while and not jumping into the next thing right away.


  2. Suzanne, your plan for the resting this year sounds really fun. You deserve a break after going through all your sorting and packing. We’ve been in our house for 38 of our 51 years together. We are slowly going through our stuff. It’s hard to know what to get rid of!


    1. Beth, some of our sorting has been agonizing and some not so much. Malcolm and I have very different ideas about what is useful, sentimental, valuable, or just junk. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of time to debate everything we own, so it’s been interesting. Slowly sorting is a good place to start. I have to admit, it feels really good to lighten things up a bit!

      I have been enjoying your photos, but don’t always take the time to comment. I will get back into my regular routine soon. Take care

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m following your journey with a keen eye. We are living in our home of 20+ years, not ready to downsize in the sense of selling the house, but in the sense of having less stuff. I can only imagine how freeing it must be for you to go through your belongings, and then decide what to save. You inspire, but you also make me realize how tiring the process is. Still, it seems like a worthy goal.


    1. Aly, it is a worthy goal and one that I recommend doing sooner rather than later. It is a tiring process with or without time constraints. When we moved into this house, it felt so big and I never envisioned filling every nook and cranny. Well, that happened. Even after the big purge, the end result is much more than we need. We didn’t want to make hasty decisions and regret them six months from now. Thanks for checking in with us. I needed a break!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Food for thought here – not least wondering just how much stuff we have accumulated in our 35 years in our current home! The plus point is that it’s a small house, relatively speaking, but there are still hiding places where I know ‘stuff’ is lurking 😉 We’re not yet at the point of deciding to move on, but I’m aware that when we do it could be a big challenge! Good luck for all your plans for the rest of the year, and I hope you manage to get over here to the UK in November.


  5. Wow, thirty-five years in one home. Even the most disciplined minimalist would be challenged to sort those memories. I have learned over the years that the size of the house doesn’t really matter – we still manage to fill it beyond capacity. If and when we have another home, I pledge to do better!

    We just noted that the UK lifted the quarantine restriction, so all looks well for now. Things change quickly though so we will have to keep our fingers crossed. Thanks for stopping by.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good luck with your downsizing! I went through that in 2020 prior to my cross-country move, and feel like I could do yet another purge. Despite getting rid of so much stuff, I am looking around my place wondering why I bothered to bring certain things with me! Oh, it’s a journey I tell ya….🤣
    Have fun being nomads for a bit!



    1. Deb, I remember when you were going through a similar time, but you moved completely across a country. I am just going across the street! I know that when I open the boxes that are going to storage I will scratch my head and wonder, WHY? Still, though, I am proud of us for purging as deeply as we did. It was quite painful at times but necessary. Thanks for your good wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, yes, yes, downsizing is VERY liberating. Even for me on a much smaller scale. Even though all our stuff fits in a rental car, I still feel like I have too much clutter. 🙂

    Congratulations on what you have achieved so far. And, one day it will be fun to sort through those three boxes. Are “thingamajig” and “doohickey” real words?

    I have about six boxes on the attic of my cousin in Belgium. They contain souvenirs, photos albums, and diaries. When I was there, last week, I had the grand idea of looking through old photos to use some for an anthology story.

    Faced with well-packed and pretty much unlabeled tubs, I soon gave up on the idea. I was short on time and the attic was hot. Maybe next year I’ll sort through some of this stuff? I’ve been saying that for eighteen years, ever since I left my home country in 2003…

    Happy travels and beach time!


  8. Ha ha, ‘thingamajig;’ used to refer to or address a person or thing whose name one has forgotten, does not know or does not wish to mention. ‘Doohickey;’ a small object or gadget, especially one whose name the speaker does not know or cannot recall. Whatchamacallit is another favorite that means the same thing.. Somehow I can’t picture you saying any of these.

    We had stuff in the attic too. Malcolm crawled up on a very hot day and brought it all down. He slept a lot the next day. We have six days to go before we move out completely, and then the real fun begins – blending our stuff into the MIL’s house without too much disruption to her life.

    You crack me up with ‘too much clutter.’ Actually, I admire that you can live with very little and be perfectly happy. I know it’s possible, just not willing to go all the way. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for explaining those terms, Suzanne. I don’t even know if I can pronounce them!

      My key to minimalistic success is that I don’t know any better, haha. I’ve never had a lot of stuff, so I never had to get rid of a lot of stuff. The advantage of never having owned (or rented) a real house. 🙂

      Let the real countdown to moving begin! I hope all goes well and wish you success with the blending.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m doing the same thing. I’m finding a lot of expired, broken and unusable things stuffing into the closets. (a lot of dried up Elmer’s glue and about five thousand crayons.)


    1. Suzanne,
      Been there—sorting 40 years of our stuff, plus another 40 years of Helen’s Mom’s stuff. Big houses can hide a lot of sins and we overdid it. Our way of dealing with the trauma of parting with the treasured items was to acknowledge that we had enjoyed it and would take pleasure in knowing that someone else would also. Then we put it onto the “Estate Sale” pile. So liberating…
      Good luck and keep us posted. Joe


  10. I’m so excited for you. When we moved into our last house we just packed without sorting – we were, after all, moving into a larger home. 18 years later it was a different story. When we packed to come here (almost 4 years ago) we did it in stages – mainly because my husband’s tendency is to hold on. The first sweep was throw (ie donate or otherwise), keep, maybe. The 2nd sweep we much of the “maybe” pile went into the throw pile. All the very best with it.


    1. Jo, ‘stages’ is a great word to describe the organized chaos that has developed during the past two weeks. The ‘maybe’ pile gets smaller every day as the urge to pitch is stronger than the thought of packing and storing.

      Thanks for your encouragement. I’ll get excited next week but right now, I just need coffee! Lots of coffee!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Suzanne, You took the proactive approach to right size your home and possessions for your future. Applause from me 🙂 All the best with your move and after that, enjoy the freedom and less home maintenance lifestyle!


    1. Hi Natalie, I am proud of us for taking this very necessary step. I can already see how liberating living with less stuff and fewer encumbrances will be. Sorry I haven’t been to your link up lately. I barely know what day of the week it is and remembering blogging schedules is impossible. Take care.


      1. No worries about the link-up, Suzanne. Packing and moving are your priorities atm. When I read your comments about Stuff, I thought of George Carlin’s talk about Stuff. Have a great weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. This was a fun read. I think I responded before by saying how cathartic it is to have a thorough de-clutter, but such a thing is only possible when enforced by circumstance, it’s the only time you can be sufficiently ruthless! Hope you get to the UK OK…


  13. I think you are right about being ‘forced by circumstances,’ to de-clutter, but I see ways we could have been proactive. Spilled milk, as they say. We are dealing with it all now, and that’s what matters most.

    In my downtime, I am living vicariously through you guys. Enjoy your fantastic adventure! We are keeping a watchful eye on things in the UK.


  14. That is such a huge job! We’ve been here 28 years and I sometimes look around and wonder how I’m going to get rid of all the STUFF! Especially in the basement…but every closet is full too, every kitchen cabinet. When we moved into our newly (then) remodeled kitchen I was so excited I had enough drawers that I could have a knife drawer and a spatula drawer. I even had drawers with nothing in them. Now I’m still glad to have the space but I know I need to toss a lot of stuff. Ahhh…maybe tomorrow.

    Your adventures sound so fun, it’s definitely worth it to downsize if it gives you that sort of freedom!


    1. Hi Dawn, we could not have done this without my MIL’s cooperation. Our ‘courage’ came from knowing that we had a place to land when/if we did sell. It is amazing how big a house can feel in the beginning and then just a few years later it is filled with STUFF! Wishing you the best. S


  15. Oh MY!
    I can totally understand the exhaustion and the freedom you are speaking of. We purged from our house 2 1/2 years back and now are in a “new” home.
    The travel and gypsy adventure you are on sounds lovely. I love that freedom from stuff, my husband struggles habit more, but even he is enjoying the space less things crate.
    Even after our major purge of 2019 we have a garage that has boxes in it. Funny thing is, we aren’t missing anything or needing anything from them. Sound like a motivation to purge again.
    Congrats on your house sell and your new adventures.


    1. Hi SimplyLive, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Sounds like you know exactly what we are going through. We are looking forward to having less to worry about – beginning with the responsibility of a big, aging house at this stage of life. I am sure after a few months with Malcolm’s mom we will evaluate and purge again. I just ‘followed’ your blog and look forward to receiving new posts from you. Take care and thanks again for the comment.


  16. Suzanne, your photo of your ‘mystery boxes’ made me laugh out loud!! It’s astonishing how much stuff we accumulate in life. Eric and I went through a major ‘detox’ of our material possessions when we rented out our home in Southern Oregon to travel full-time eight years ago. But we still have a small storage filled with stuff that we weren’t ready to part with. And now, here we are settling down in Florida, with a storage unit in Oregon…as you said, we’re just going to kick that can down the road for a couple of years, haha!

    How thrilling that you’re embarking on a whole new chapter of life adventures! I’m looking forward to following along with you.


    1. Thanks Janis, some days are more organized than others, but considering the short time frame, we feel that we have done as much as we can to help things go smoothly. I honestly thought we were in good shape when we started, but I severely underestimated the amount of ‘hidden’ stuff. Thanks for dropping by.


  17. I so enjoyed reading this post because I can and do do relate to the downsizing, the sorting, the whole process. It’s gotten easier and easier for us as the years have gone by and we became and are more nomadic. But that first big move when I gave away tons of things I had had for years such as the kids toys and beloved furniture and collected things over the years. I mostly love your mystery boxes … my guess is, from experience, that when you do finally open them you will wonder why you held onto them for so long. I like that terminology of “streamlining” and your honest transparency about your approach.

    Best of luck with the move and new digs!



    1. Hi Peta, I don’t think we will ever reach authentic Nomad status, (like you guys) but we can and will continue to lighten the load. In the end, it’s all just stuff that our daughter will have to deal with, so why put that on her. I think you are right about those ‘mystery boxes.’


      1. Yes keep lightening the load.. One rule I use today before we buy anything is “do we really need that?” Or, “will it bring us immense joy?” If we can’t answer yes, then no purchase. It has helped us to stay on track and not accumulate stuff and have to start the process of lightening the load yet again. It is so hard to avoid the consumerism we are all so used to from doing it for years.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh, Suzanne, having just spent an entire pandemic packing up 32 years in one house and moving what was left, I feel ya! Your first couple of paragraphs could have been mine! LOL! I’m sure you recall that we moved from Sacramento to Spokane, WA area at the end of 2020. Once we bought the land in February 2020, my goal was to empty at least one drawer a week. Well, I did a lot more once the pandemic shut us all down, and we moved up our sell-the-house date. I had my share of stuff mostly packed in a 12×12 shed in my backyard (no garage) and squirreled away in extra drawers. Enter my sweet hubby in 2009 and more tools than any man should be allowed to own (quite handy though!), and all. his. boxes…that were never looked at the last 3 times he moved! One good thing in our old neighborhood was we had 3 free piles of junk that we could leave on the curb for our waste mgmt company to haul away. If you have that at your disposal (pun intended) be sure to use it. Three storage units later, (One recently emptied), we learned some hard lessons about too much stuff. I made hubby watch a few episodes of “Hoarders” and we both watched Marie Kondo on Netflix! Her philosophy of thanking your items for donation for their service makes it easy to say goodbye and quite cathartic! You know, once you move, you are going to want some new furniture…have fun! Congrats on your decision to right-size and glad you are doing it while you are still standing (as a colleague used to say).


  19. Terri, waste management has saved us a lot of work these past two weeks. Our county allows bulk items once per week and bagged trash once per week – no limit on either. We definitely took advantage and lined the curb across the front of our house! The neighbors are still talking…

    I am a big fan of Marie Kondo and although I have aspirations, I lack discipline. This process has taught us both a lot about what we want ‘life’ to look like moving forward so maybe we will try harder.

    I remember your relocation very well. Thank goodness we don’t have ‘building a house’ to add to our list of things to do. I still marvel that you guys did that from so far away. You are right. I will want new furniture for the next place. Everything we have taken to my MIL’s house will stay there when we leave (except for a few personal items and our clothes). We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel and it feels pretty good.


  20. I chuckled at the “we have a pasta machine” comment. Yes, I found things I didn’t recall having. Even though I really tried to downsize, I still kept too much stuff. I’ve already put on my calendar next year to take everything I have not used in the year here and get rid of it.

    Here’s one watch-out, plan where you’re going to put “important things” in the temporary or new space. We’ve lost a number of items in the move…. I am sure they are somewhere, but not sure where. One thing missing – our vaccination cards! Yeah.

    Enjoy your temporary living plans… it will be fun following along with this nomad lifestyle for a bit!


      1. Suzanne, Merely FYI for expectations – when the movers unpacked, they did NOT look at anything written on the boxes. Just stacked them up as they came off the truck. If I could intercept (4 of them, one of me), I got some things in the right places (inside house, right room), but a lot was after they left and we started to unpack and move boxes around ourselves.


  21. Pat, while Malcolm was filling out paperwork at the storage center the movers took our boxes off the truck and stacked them high and tight, in spite of having two units to move into. Our instructions were completely ignored. We had intended for the second unit to be for boxes and furniture we wanted access to. Oh well…. live and learn.


  22. Your tag line made me smile, Suzanne, ‘beyond Spring cleaning’ Wayne Dyer’s quote is great! He was one of a kind and still sharing his wisdom.

    I am shuddering at the thought of “stuff.” Our own stuff. We have been storing my brother-in-laws personal effects and more since he passed away unexpectedly at a young age in October, 2019. We are helping my daughter and her family move this month. Everyone is feeling a bit overwhelmed………with “stuff.”

    Suzanne, you and your husband strike me as very organized and minimal stuff hanging around. Again, I shudder about us, even though we periodically try to purge/minimize. A larger house means we are also storing other people’s stuff. A huge lol when I read the titles on your boxes. Thank you for the inspiration!


  23. Hi Erica, we are tidy, but not organized if that makes sense. Although not a trait I am proud of, I was serious about ‘hiding stuff well.’ It works great when you have plenty of space, not so much when planning to downsize.

    Dealing with your own stuff is overwhelming. I can’t imagine accommodating things that belonged to someone else. But, I’m sure you will let go when you are ready. Good luck with your daughter’s move. It isn’t something anyone should have to do alone. Thank goodness we had family who pitched in to help. We can see the finish line!


  24. Christie Hawkes

    How exciting Suzanne! I wish you the best of luck with this new adventure. I don’t envy the sorting and decluttering though. We need to do that in the not-too-distant future, and it’s daunting. We have started with a few shelves, and it’s amazing what we’ve discovered that we’d forgotten all about. I can’t remember the last time I used a bread maker! And why do we have so many old coffee pots? The curse of too much storage space…out of sight, out of mind. Enjoy the beach and UK! I can’t wait to hear all about it.


    1. Christie, too much space was definitely a curse in our case. If you can’t see it, you don’t know you have it. Seems really wasteful, now that I see everything out in the open. Good for you for taking on some decluttering and reorganizing projects now – better sooner than later. Be well.


  25. Right there with you, Suzanne! My husband is being considered for a position in California and we have been talking about moving as well. We are empty-nesters and have an oversized home. Moving to Cali would definitely mean downsizing for us, as a home this size in Cali would cost millions. But I am looking forward to decluttering my life – to downsizing – to having space to breathe! Even if he doesn’t get the position and we don’t move, I am still going to talk my hubby into decluttering with me. It is just good for the soul!


    1. Hi Vivian, thanks for visiting Picture Retirement and for leaving a comment. Decluttering is good for the soul! We are in the process of doing a ‘first pass’ at my MIL’s home (with her involved in the process). She’s struggling with letting go of some things, so definitely better to do it sooner rather than later. I’d love to hear the outcome of your move/not move situation. Keep us posted.


  26. Hi Suzanne! I am woefully late on commenting on this post but I so congratulate you on your move to “rightsize.” I actually think one of the easiest ways to do that is to move….not easy at all but it helps when you have not only a set time line but a big MOTIVATION to do it. I read sometime that one in 10 U.S. citizens has a mini-storage unit and on average the value of the items stored there is far less than the amount of rent the owners have paid over the years. Of course it is impossible to put a monetary value on memories, but still the money might help to motivate. And as some of the other commenters said it is a process and something we all need to do over and over again with the choices we make all the time. ~Kathy


    1. Hi Kathy, thanks for stopping by. It’s never too late to offer a comment. I believe the statistic for storage unit owners. A friend of mine who moved to Florida thirty years ago still has a small unit in NY. She says she’d rather pay than deal with it. A lot of it belonged to her parents. I hope we won’t be like that and will keep weeding things out as time passes. Eventually, we plan to move it into our ‘next home’, whatever that may be.

      As with the initial purge, time was definitely a motivator. From contract to closing was about a month. We paced ourselves and tried to be as methodical as possible about pitch, save, giveaway. But, towards the end, a lot got packed and stored to be dealt with later.


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