Ticking off the boxes on a daunting project

Liz Sumner Commitment, Motivation, Resistance Leave a Comment

A year ago I was totally daunted by the thought of packing up my house in NH. What would I do with all the stuff? If the subject was raised my overwhelming desire was to put my hands over my ears and say blah blah I can’t hear you.

Now it’s happening. In two weeks I leave for the US to clean out 20 years of accumulated belongings and baggage. How did I get from Unwilling to Face It to Ready to Tackle? I warmed to the idea slowly. It almost feels as though I defrosted.

Step One – Ignore for 3 years

Step Two – Recognize that it’s not good for a house to be empty. It deteriorates.

Step Three – Realize that there isn’t that much I own that I miss.

Enter Serendipity. In the beginning of this year an ex-pat friend offered to share a shipping container with us. This was something we never would have attempted on our own because it seemed both expensive and complicated, but with someone to manage it and share the cost it suddenly had possibility. We began to imagine life here with our US belongings– my Pendleton blankets, my tea pots and pottery bowls, the high boy*! Not everything was worth shipping but we began to get excited and that surpassed my dread of cleaning out the house.

While not a hoarder per se I have a fair amount of souvenirs, and what nots, and this-ought-to-be-good-for-somethings. I know for a fact that there are at least four, possibly more, broken computers; and probably as many busted bird feeders in the garage. Don’t ask me why.

Step Four – Commit. Make the plane reservation. Start the process.

Step Five – Call the Vendors: rental agent, repair company, antique dealer, professional cleaners

Side Note: You’d be surprised how many companies have online contact forms that they never respond to (moving companies I’m talking to you #missedopportunity).

I fantasized that I’d get a dumpster in the driveway and be ruthless, but those things are damned expensive! $500 bucks for one month? I don’t think so.

What to do with my father’s reference library; my Mary Quant crayons from 1970, my pebble collection, and 40 years worth of Clinique Bonus gifts? While dear to me, do they really deserve a space in the incredible shrinking shipping container? Probably not.

If there were world enough and time we could probably make some money from the book and record collections but we have only four weeks to get the house ready for renters, make repairs, pack what we want to keep and chuck the rest. At the same time we are intending to have a farewell concert, see friends and clients face to face instead of virtually, and make a living.

Wish me luck that the weather cooperates for our yard sales; that our measurements are accurate and everything fits.

Oh and the friends with the shared container? They had a change of plans. They aren’t bringing their furniture so we’re doing it alone after all. A disappointment, but at that point we were committed.

The momentum of the decision is carrying us. There are still a lot of unknowns– what will we sit on an eat off of after we sell everything? Is anyone interested in Empire period upholstered furniture?

And what about Buddy?** That’s too horrible to even think about Blah Blah Blah I can’t hear you.


*High Boy – beloved piece of family furniture. Early 19th century mahogany chest of drawers.

**Buddy – beloved little brown bat who has summered in our window for 10 years or so.

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