downsizing, simplifying, and letting go

September 20, 2012

This life in LA is now becoming this life in PA. A simple change of that first letter brings a not-s0-simple change for my life as I currently know it. This not-so-simple change means getting rid of things that will weigh me down on my trip back across the country. Simplifying what I own, in an effort to simplify the thoughts running through my head.

That to say, I don’t own very much to begin with. I’m not a hoarder, and I typically do not buy things unless I need them. When I came out here a year ago, everything I deemed necessary for living fit into the back of my Ford Fiesta.

Yes, it still looks like a lot.

But keep in mind it’s a compact car.

But now that Fiesta is being shipped across the country and federal law prohibits personal items from being stored in shipped cars.

And checking bags on a domestic flight can become a bit pricey.

So, out with the old.

But it’s really something I’ve not very good at doing in the past.

I’ve tried getting rid of things time and time again. I got rid of plenty in an effort to fit all of the above into my little car. I left many of my belongings scattered across the country- some in my parent’s basement, some in Jeremy’s parent’s basement. I gave away a few replaceable items. But I held on to a lot.

This time around it’s different. I suppose that in the difficulty of letting go of what I emotionally hold dear, it’s much easier to let go of what I tangibly have. Most of my replaceable items have been sold or given away. I’ve been scouring freecycle boards to see if there’s anything people need that I can give them. I’ve been posting and reposting on Craigslist daily. I’ve taken a trip to Goodwill with a full car trunk of clothes and left with it empty. I do still have some pricer items that I can’t happily just give away, if anyone’s interested (watch, silverware, looping pedal), but all in all, I’ve been amazed at what I’ve been able to let go of.

I do hope that I’m able to continue this mindset of downsizing once I am in PA and go through my belongings that were left in the basement. I am not sure I could ever have the true minimalist mindset or successfully employ the 100 Things Challenge, but there is a lot to be said of living with only what you need.

September 25, 2012

And I have been trying to hold on to only what I need. But what does “need” mean, really? I’ve (male) friends who have moved  with only a backpack or two. Maybe one checked bag at the airport. It seems so simple. But how could I do it? I have a violin. I have a laptop. I have various music electronics- a microphone, a mic stand, a looping pedal, an m-box. I have shoes (and I don’t own as many as most females I know, but I still have six or seven pairs of shoes. Is even that many pairs necessary?) I have clothes and I have hangers to go with those clothes. I have a small floor fan. I have kitchen utensils. I have a small food processor. I have bedding and two pillows. I have toiletries. I have miscellaneous office items. I’ve let go and gotten rid of so many things over the past month. But was it enough? Am I still holding on to things I don’t actually need?

My car does not look half as full as it was when I drove across the country last year. From the outside, you can’t even tell there is anything being stored in it. But a big help for that was two 50lb checked bags at the airport, and an overstuffed carry-on. So perhaps I’m leaving with the same amount of “things” I came with. At what point is too much too much?

I intend to continue to be aware of what I own and any purchases I make. I want to keep whittling down my tangible items to what I actually use and need.

Is there anyone else out there trying to do this? What constitutes an item’s need? What constitutes letting go of something?

“how-to” part two

6. Find friends and family to visit and take a very roundabout trip west. (Leave more of your things at your boyfriend’s parent’s house, due to lack of space in your car.)

Our trip took us from Bucks County, Pennsylvania to Lexington, Kentucky on the first day. A trip that we had made before in 9.5 hours took us 11 (a little rain, a little traffic) this time, but I was fine with it. We spent a day and a half in Lexington, enjoying time with the family I nannied for while living in Lexington, a gathering of friends into the later hours of the night, and plenty of Catan and Canasta with Jeremy’s family. (We also stopped by the local “John’s Run and Walk Shop” to buy shoes for our marathon training, see the link to the right to sponsor my running in the LA Marathon in March by donating to Love Without Boundaries.)

From Lexington we drove 6.5 hours to Springfield, Illinois to visit my roommate Laura from college and her husband Jeremy. It is always so great to spend time with the very friends who helped you become who you are today. The evening included an Irish pub, where the only thing I could order off the menu was a double-decker grilled cheese sandwich (no worries there, I love me some grilled cheese), watching their dog, Connor, fall asleep with excitement about carrots (have YOU ever met a narcoleptic dog?), seeing Jeremy’s (clearly Laura’s Jeremy, not mine) live sports broadcast on TV, and making some ridiculously fattening and ridiculously delicious apple tarts while “Failure to Launch” was on in the background (at least Zooey Deschanel’s character is fun to watch). I was sad to say goodbye (early) the next day, but a 16-hour day of driving ahead of us meant not enough time with some of those who we love.

Springfield, IL to Laramie, WY was our longest driving day of the trip. Luckily, it was on a Sunday, so traffic was not a problem. Driving through the states of Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska did not prove to be entirely exciting, but there’s always one of those days. We were still fresh and happy and not worn out yet, so it was a good day for those 16 hours on the road. And as we were on the way to see my best friend from college, driving 16 hours was the least I was willing to do. (And Jeremy was behind the wheel for 13 of them anyway …)

Wyoming is my “most favorite place in the world.” (Quotations due to bad grammar and a clichéd but true statement.) We got in around midnight and so were not able to enjoy its beauty until morning time. There’s something about the sky there. The reality of the world is so apparent. I love being able to see storms from miles away- storms that you may never even feel. To see an entire cloud in the distance light up with a stark lightning strike. Blue skies with white clouds for as far as you are able to see. The effect of a sky so large that you can see the shadows of the clouds rolling over the mountains. The wide-openness of everything around you. That is Wyoming and that is what I love.

A Monday spent with the lovely Becki in beautiful Wyoming was better than I could have asked for. Some hiking in the mountains, homemade ice cream in Centennial, WY (population 100), lunch at a vegetarian restaurant (in Wyoming, really?!), Farkle and Bananagrams. The hours passed by too quickly and the reality of a goodbye was not fun. However, I left my heart there, which can only mean that I will return.

Early morning goodbyes in Illinois

Wyoming storms

Wyoming sky

See, no lies.

Friends in Wyoming

how to move across the country, part one

Jeremy and I (and most of my belongings) spent August 25th through September 1st on the road from eastern Pennsylvania to Los Angeles. We spent time with beautiful friends and family and saw jaw-dropping sights as we made our way from one coast to the next. Here’s the beginning of a simple “how to” guide, Bekah style, if you’ve ever the notion to make the trek:

1. Buy a new car.I chose the 2011 Ford Fiesta Hatchback SE. 3340+ miles and only $315 worth of gas later, I was still very happy with my purchase.

2. Leave lots of your belonging at your parent’s house.Though I chose the hatchback car, I originally owned a Ford Ranger with an extended bed. There’s no way around the fact that there was more storage space in my truck.

3. Pick up your boyfriend at the Philadelphia airport two days before the road trip begins.While we thought harder about this after the plane tickets were already bought, we realized he should have came earlier. Such is life.

4. The night before you leave, have a get together with all of your family who can make it. Spend the night laughing with/at each other. (Pack the car before this.)

5. Leave Pennsylvania at 7:30am for Lexington, Kentucky. Take the stereotypical (but entirely necessary) “We’re going on a road trip! We’re moving away!” picture.

the coolest thing ever

I am in the midst of packing up my room to head home for two weeks before moving across the country. It’s an interesting concept, to pack up my life. As I moved out of my parent’s house last year, and I’ve been through the process of moving to and from college for four years, it is not new to me to pack up and go. But it has been a new experience to pack up absolutely everything.

Due to the simple fact that I am moving clear across the country, in a compact car, without a place to live yet, I am consolidating as much as possible. Of course, I keep coming across items of sentimental value. I won’t list them all here, save for the one I chose for the purpose of this post.

While consolidating my life (or so it seems) today, I found this memory saved on a piece of paper from last summer. I suppose it’s time for said piece of paper to find its way to the trash can, but not before I immortalize the memory on this blog. Enjoy …

The kids got pillow pets as a midsummer’s present last year. I remember being quite surprised to find them playing with these new toys when I arrived home from work, as my mom isn’t typically the type to buy new toys. I have a feeling these pillow pets happened as a result of boredom on the kid’s part. With no school to go to, less structure during the day, and only each other to play with, the little ones are prone to get quite antsy during the summers. Pillow pets seemed to be a great way to curb those feelings.

I spent some time that afternoon playing with the kids and their new pets, snapping pictures, and showing them how excited! I was about their toys.

This is when Cody piped in.

“You hate it. You hate my pillow pet!”

I assured Cody I liked his pillow pet plenty.

“I like your pillow pet a lot! I think it’s the coolest thing ever!”

Shane, being the level-headed and ever-thoughtful one of the group, had only one thought to vocalize (very matter-of-factly) after I made that declaration.

“I think God’s the coolest thing ever.”

Thanks, Shane. I guess I got beat by a seven-year-old.