Downsizing & Moving

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Downsizing, it can be a good thing.

I’m starting out on a glorious adventure. As part of my preparation for this next hare-brained idea of mine, I’ve been busy giving away most of my belongings. Well, maybe not most, but a sizeable chunk.

The background story.

I’ve been struggling to find a farm internship that wants me, particularly at this time of year (Winter) and in the area I want to end up (Northern California). I have a long rant about breaking into the farm industry, but I’ll save that for another day. Suffice to say, I’ll be starting out with an unpaid internship for a couple months… and living in my parents’ guest room.

My original plan, spawned way back when there was a chance that I was going to land a Winter internship spot, was to put my stuff into self-storage. Right up until a few weeks before my move, this was still the plan. Then I had a moment of clarity, and changed the plan. I had been resisting getting rid of things. These are my belongings and I need to keep them, along with the oh-so-practical excuse: it’s expensive to re-buy furniture for an apartment/house.

I realized though, that if I could get rid of enough stuff – not everything, but a substantial amount – then I could skip self-storage and park my things at my parents’ house. This made sense on so many levels that I spent a sleepless night just thinking about how to do it. Decision made, I went about my task of downsizing methodically. I’m keeping my bed and dresser, they’re the biggest items but also the most expensive to replace. I’m keeping my dining room table, I can take it apart and it’s practically flat – thank you Ikea! Everything else was on the chopping block. Some I’ve decided to keep, most I’m letting go of.

What do you mean you’re not selling it?

I had two main options: sell everything online, or give it away. I’ve done garage sales before, and there was no effing way I was going to go down that route again (I was pretty much permanently traumatized). Selling online would work for big-ticket items, but I was looking at 20+ medium sized items. So I decided to just give most of the stuff away; it felt pretty good.

One of my coworkers had recently moved into town, the only furniture she had was a mattress on the ground (been there, done that). It was awesome to help her furnish her apartment, and it was great knowing that the stuff I was getting rid of would be appreciated so much by someone else.

My mom helped me put things into a new perspective, she pointed out that giving things away is good karma. I normally think of karma as consequences for bad/negative actions, as in: that guy who just cut me off on the freeway is going to have bad karma. It was nice to think about good karma for a change.

Still purging, even after the move.

I was so proud of myself; I got rid of so much stuff! Or did I? When it came time to load up the UHaul, I was faced with a certain reality… I got rid of a ton of furniture, but not so much with the little things (you know, random stuff like paperwork and extra towels, oh-dear-lord why do I have so many towels?). There was nothing to be done at the last minute, everything got boxed and bagged and made the trip from Oregon down to SoCal.

That’s where I’m at now, still going through things and purging belongings. I would like to downsize even more, it just feels good to have less things. I am finding a new appreciation for the quote: the things you own end up owning you. (quote from the movie: Fight Club)

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Best moving card ever, from my friend Megan. Card produced by: Curly Girl Design/Leigh Standley

Odds and ends that I have found helpful:

*Stretchy wrap and furniture blankets for moving – expensive but worth it.

*Asking for help from family and friends, for any/all steps of the downsizing and moving process – I couldn’t have done this move, or made this life change, without lots and lots of help; sometimes I feel guilty about asking for help, when that happens I try to remember how much I enjoy helping my friends when they need it.

*When I’m looking at something, trying to decide whether to keep it or give it away: does it have true sentimental value? Really? (if yes, then automatic keep) How expensive was it? Will I definitely have to replace it later on? (expensive and yes = keep; not expensive and no = bye-bye; not expensive and yes = maybe) – there are many other methods available online to help you downsize, these are just the questions I used that were specific to my storage situation.

*When I’m having a tough time letting go of something in particular, or just stuff in general, I remind myself that I’m downsizing so that I can be a farmer; I’m so excited about farming that it makes letting go of my personal clutter easier.

packing_supplies

Turning 30

This post was written back in November, it’s the journal entry that started the blog.

On turning 30.

Today is my 30th birthday; the months leading up to this have been an intense time of introspection and self-reflection for me. The irony is that I’m naturally introverted, at some level I am always reflecting inwards.

I thought I had it bad when, at 25, I hit my “quarter-life crisis.” My friends and I all commiserated about what a difficult age that was; our careers still in their incubation phase, college not long enough past to be a faint memory, and the real world of bills transitioning from exciting independence to scary reality. I still think that 25 was a tough birthday, but it didn’t inspire the level of profound questioning that I’ve gone through for my 30th.

Who am I? What do I want to do?

At 30, I’m ready to face the fact that I’m probably not going to be rich. I don’t have the desire or qualifications to be a CEO, and it would take me years -if not decades- to reach a six-figure income doing the job that I currently have. This realization has been freeing. If I’m never going to make much money, then what is it that’s determining my career path?

I work a desk job, in a field that I have somewhat started to build a resume in. I pushed myself and moved from working in a semi-legitimate for-profit university Registrar Office, to a job in a different department of a high ranked public state school. I made sacrifices to get here, and I did it knowing that this wasn’t necessarily a final destination – but merely a stepping-stone in my path.

As I look at my life right now, it doesn’t make me happy. It doesn’t satisfy me in a way that compensates for the low paycheck and horrible boss. My generation has gotten some flak for having unrealistically high expectations, especially of our careers. I think the description was that we expect not only a green lawn, but a green lawn with flowers and unicorns. I want to be happy, and if that is a unicorn, well then I want my damn unicorn.

Jumping off the cliff, figuratively of course.

Knowing that I want to make a change, and making a good change are two very different beasties. I have rushed head first into many things in my life and the one bit of wisdom that has started percolating through my thick skull is: take a step back and think about it. This nugget of wisdom isn’t for everyone, and in many ways I’m adding a corollary to it. Take a step back and think about it; if you still want it, then take the plunge and give it a shot.

All of this leads to the fork in my path, that little dirt trail that I’m stepping off the highway for. I love animals, I love sustainable farming, I want to be a farmer. I’m college educated, suburb-raised, and what I would consider fairly normal… and I want to try a completely non-traditional career. The deciding moment was when I realized that I might try farming and fail, but if I don’t try farming then it will always be that thing I regret.

I’ve been married and divorced, and while I struggle with the fallout of my divorce, I don’t regret my life experiences. I went back to school and earned a teaching credential, then spent a year as a high school teacher and decided that wasn’t for me. I am okay with trying something and knowing that it isn’t a for-sure, answer to all my questions and dreams, life decision.

I can wax philosophically about the potholes of my generation, about the moral and ethical reasons that I believe in local agriculture, or about the fundamental flaws in the current American lifestyle. Maybe I’ll write about all of these things eventually, but for now I’m more interested in the who-what-where-when-why of my own life – hoping that maybe I’m not the only one facing these daunting questions.

Birthday Cupcakes!

Birthday Cupcakes!