Some Thoughts About Life on the Road and Changes to my Art Activities
If you are visiting for the first time or monitoring my activity, a short explanation of my absence of almost a year. My husband and I decided to do a less than traditional transition into retirement and are currently on the road travelling, destinations decided on a whim and end date undetermined. As a result this past year has been a scurry of preparations and adjustments that have limited my will and ability to return to my art work. That recently changed but more on that later.
I just receive an e-mail from a friend that has triggered some reflections that I would like to share. She asked:
Will you be downsizing to a trailer or will you rent/buy something smaller? Either way, I’m wondering how you can bear to part from some of your lovely things and all your creative “ingredients” (fabric, paint, etc). Dealing with things in my father’s house after his death in May (either in person or hearing from siblings who had more to take of than I did), I am aware of just how much junk accumulates. So, I am trying to give away/throw away things I don’t need. However, there seems to be a great deal that I feel I do need or love, so it’s a challenge and I’m interested in any advice you can provide.
From this I’m gathering that she hasn’t visited our travel blog! We have been travelling in a 40′ Monaco Diplomat since January 9 this year and for an update on our adventures you can check our blog at www.travelpod.com/members/momadunc This adventure has proved so right for us that we intend to continue indefinitely. Anyway here is my response:
We are traveling full-time until health or other circumstances intervene or we decide that this chapter of our life should close. The 40’ Monaco Diplomat has turned out to be a good choice and quickly became home to us. I’m fortunate in that I was able to bring a lot of my ‘studio’ stuff with me and am working on projects while Don pursues his interests. However, I’m developing a list of additional items and have identified items to leave behind at some point.
As to the possessions issue, that is never easy. We planned towards scaling back for 4-5 years before embarking on our adventure. My approach was to go through things each year asking myself
whether an item was part of my present life, could I see it as part of my future life, or was it something I had a strong emotional attachment to.
If it went into the ‘sale’ pile, I asked myself if it could easily be replaced if I changed my mind. I also attempted to give away things. I learned through this process that the next generation has very different tastes and that unless an item has strong family history elements, it probably wouldn’t be of interest. I also learned that I had a lot of ‘stuff’ that was important at one point of my life, but was no longer important and probably would never be. I also came to the realization that my family had been using me as a curator, not willing to house items but not wanting them to go out of the family. It was amazing how much of this stuff I could not find new homes for by giving them away.
Each year of the ‘downsizing’ period I went through things and separated things according to this criteria and held a garage sale or two. The first couple of years it was mostly ‘junk’ and old decorating items but I was amazed at how much found new home and I had great visits with people as a result of the sale. Each year I was amazed at how much more I was adding to the sale pile, things that I couldn’t part with the year before. In 2007, I filled the driveway (completely) three times on the major holiday weekends and got rid of it all! By that point I started packing the stuff that had survived and giving it one last check. Very little got discarded at that point. I now have a house that is 80% packed and only some of the larger furniture items to dispose of. Early on I had gone through and decided on the pieces I didn’t want to part with or would have to keep for house showings. I sold a number of pieces at that time. I left the house looking lived in and it is currently rented.
All this was spurred on by a similar situation. Both mother’s left longtime home at the end of April 2006 and we had to quickly disperse of their belonging so that they could go into homes. Knowing that I only had sons and that they were half way across the continent, I was spurred on to make some of these decisions sooner, versus later. I also watched as some older friends were faced with downsizing and the difficulty in doing this when one is in failing health or facing other major life changes.
I found the process freeing. I rarely miss anything. I know that if we ever settle again, many of my treasures, now packed, will be enjoyed once again but they are not essential to a good life at this time. Don and I have the gift of time in a shared adventure, something many people never have and which would have been much more difficult if we had opted for a more traditional approach to retirement. We look at each other frequently and ask, how could we have gotten it so right!
I have to add at this point, my books and my ‘studio’ were left to the last and these items were some of the hardest to do. In the end, I only parted with popular fiction that can easily be replaced and passed on some childhood books to a niece that I know will appreciate them. Some of my treasures were also given to family members because that is where I wanted them to eventually go anyway. I also parted with books that reflected interests of the past that probably wouldn’t resurface in the future.
As for my studio, most of my books and supplies survived and triggered my
‘Use It or Lose It’ campaign
that continues as I work on UFOs and other projects that utilize existing supplies and equipment. I’m actually have fun and find that the limitations imposed by this focus are triggering creativity that might not have otherwise emerged. More on that to come. I’ll try and bring you up-to-date on some of my projects over the next few weeks.