Sunday, August 27, 2017

Escape ~ A Summer’s ‘Slog’ down Memory Lane

                            Escape: break free from confinement or control

Never has ‘an escape’ sounded as good as it does right now. 

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Seeing the Peloponnese and its wonders  - 2013
Our summer reminds us of that time back when our lives were governed by our 8-to-5 jobs. It was a time when we lived for those one- or two-week vacation escapes allowed in our employment contracts.  In that life, even the promise of a long holiday weekend made us giddy.  We enjoyed the anticipation as much as the escape itself.

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Setting out to explore the Wadi Rum - Jordan, 2015
Fast forward a few decades and we are again in the ‘anticipation phase’; dreaming of an escape from what will forever be known as our Summer of Slogging. “Slogging” -- the term I’ve borrowed from my ex pat friend Anita who writes No Particular Place to Go -- is the process of cleaning out life’s accumulations in anticipation of having a new adventure somewhere else in the world.  For Anita and Richard it is Portugal, for us it will be Greece.

Slog: work hard over a period of time

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The Stone House on the Hill - a catalyst for change
Now the process of discarding and downsizing was a long-overdue task especially at the ‘boomer ages’ that we find ourselves.  And we are blessed to be tackling it so that we can have a new adventure and not because health or finances have forced the task upon us. While spending more time in Greece was the catalyst to get us off our duffs, the reality is, that it is time.

We are certainly not blazing any new trails, simply following the path of so many ex pats before us: packing up and storing away this life until we are ready to return to it.  And that means discarding and downsizing.

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Our new digs: a 200-square-foot storage unit

The intent of this blog has always been to inspire travelers to step outside their comfort zones, to travel to places they’ve never gone before. And I have to tell you – this summer we’ve taken our own advice and done just that.

Closing out, this longest chapter of our lives together, is proving to be one of the biggest adventures we’ve ever embarked upon. While it sounds simple enough to ‘clean up and clean out’ we’ve found the process in many ways to be surprisingly unpleasant and stressful as deadlines loom and the ‘to do’ list grows.

Frankly, it would be so much more fun to be packing for a summer road trip.

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Monument Valley - Utah, 2016

But the bright side has been taking a road trip of sorts down Memory Lane.

Memory Lane: the past, especially the past shared and remembered by a group of people, thought of as a path that can be traveled along to revisit former times

While never leaving the house, we’ve been back to our childhoods, our teens, and our early years together. Our travels and those never to be forgotten ‘good times’ with friends have been savored as we sift through faded photographs. It’s been a great route though and in its own way has provided a bit of at least a mental escape.

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My friend Mary and I and our first concert - 50 years ago this week

With a Little Help from Our Friends

Since I wrote about our plans to live in our Stone House on the Hill in the Greek Peloponnese for a longer period of time, many of you have shared your stories with us. Those emails and comments have kept us sane as we go about our slogging: Misery does love company!

Some of you have moved short distances to smaller digs or have opted to rent over home ownership and its headaches. Some are moving (or have moved) to a far distant place within your country of residence. Others are taking (or have taken) the quantum leap to a new country. And you all lived through it with most of you being able to laugh about it now.

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Someone else is escaping to a new adventure 
You’ve also shared some great tips and words of wisdom about downsizing that  we are using and that I want to pass along five of them to others who might be contemplating the writing of a new chapter in their lives:

1. If in doubt, take a photograph and toss or give away.  This advice has worked well with those items that I’ve ‘had forever’ but never use and seldom look but with which I hated to part.

2. Weigh the cost of buying a new item someday with that of the storage space rental. My kitchen appliances will likely head to charity and when we return, I’ll get to buy new ones. (And using that discard plan, I can keep my parent’s old electric popcorn popper in the freed up storage space!)

3.  Give gifts back to the friends who gave them to you. They say you give gifts that you would like to receive. I’ve returned several birthday gifts to girlfriends who gave them to me and told them to use and enjoy them while I am gone – we can discuss ownership after I return.

4. Share family heirlooms with the younger generation now – we’ve given a number of things to the next generation of family so they can be used and enjoyed instead of stuffed in a box in a storage unit for years.

5. Give it away. One of the beyond-best things we’ve had recommended to us as part of our efforts is the Buy Nothing Project, a community-building effort that is using FB to achieve their goals. You search FB for a Buy Nothing group in your area and request to join. Once accepted you can give away items to your heart’s content or on the flip side, seek items.  We’ve seen posts from those who’ve cooked too much of something for dinner and have offered to share it with others (and they’ve had eager responses). We’ve given away an incredible amount of stuff to an incredible bunch of people – all of whom live near us, but whom we’d likely have never met.

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My 'toss' has become 'treasures' at Buy Nothing

Words of Advice

We are nearing the end of this process and are now thinking Greece. A number of you have asked for our downsizing tips.  Our answer is: start now. Fill a bag with clothes you no longer wear.  Get rid of Aunt Nellie’s cookie jar that you never wanted in the first place.  Give grandma’s mixing bowl to another family member.  Don’t wait until, like us, you are faced with the task of doing it all at once.

And after you’ve taken that first step, hope you’ll be back with us next week. We are gearing up for our return to Greece and next week want to tell you about the wine country not far from us there. It’s a refreshingly different experience than we are used to in the States. 

Until then, safe travels to you and yours.  Thanks for staying in touch and for the time you spend with us ~

Linking up this week with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
– 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

nking this week with:


24 comments:

  1. What a massive project. I do not envy you the exhausting work, but I know it will feel so good when it's done. I did the same thing when I moved to Australia, and it was both emotional and freeing. :-)

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    1. You are among those I think of when the slogging gets overwhelming and I tell myself "they did it, I can too!" It has been remarkably freeing -- difficult at first to wrap my head around tossing 'treasures' but then I also was surprised when I came across many of them as they'd been tucked away so long I didn't remember having them!

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  2. OMG, The Monkees! Now there's a memory (along with the Dick Clark concert) and now you have a picture of it on your computer should you ever want to relive it. The Buy Nothing Project is an awesome idea as is gifting friends with favorite things. When we went through our *everything goes* downsizing, we gave many things we treasured to friends and fam and had a great time seeing those old faves in other settings when we went on a long road trip in the US a couple of years ago. You are going to be really surprised by what you don't miss! Cheer up, sleepy sloggers - you're almost finished! (And thanks for the plug for our blog, too. 🙂)

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    1. We are slowing the 'packing and hauling' pace a bit as most has been packed and hauled and today I tentatively started our 'countdown to Greece'!!:-)

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  3. I love the idea of taking a photo of things that you are reluctant to throw away. Then you can put all those 'memories' in a photo book and look at them when you want to feel nostalgic.

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    1. It really has been a nice way to save memories and I love the idea of turning them into a memory book - now wouldn't that be fun! Thanks for the suggestion!

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  4. I can definitely relate to the Monkees photos - Oh, how I loved, them, but never did get to go to a concert. Glad to hear that you're winding down the packing process. Lots of fun awaits on the other side of the ocean! The Buy Nothing Project sound interesting - thanks for the info!

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    1. I Amy thanks so much for the visit. I will get back into the blogosphere with gusto once I get us packed up and settled in; miss visiting you regularly!

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  5. It is a good idea to start now and throw some away each week. It is so easy when you don't anticipate a move in the near future to just put it away in the hall cupboard, or under the stairs or in the shed... I've downsized recently - it is very emotional but I love the freedom from possessions we now have.

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    1. I am seeing the wisdom in your suggestion, Jan, doing it a bit at a time isn't quite as gut-wrenching and discarding what seems to be your whole life in a matter of weeks. (But I am seeing freedom from possessions as a new lifestyle!)

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  6. I can empathise with you - I've been going through the process of trying to get rid of "stuff". The hardest bit is trying to find a good home for those things you don't want to throw away.

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    1. We seem to have found a good way to do that through the Buy Nothing program I mentioned above. Everything I've listed has been taken by a real human who knows the story of each item and why we are giving it away. Several have written days later to tell me how much they are enjoying what they took!

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  7. We gave away as well, we are fortunate in that we have Re-store in our town which supports Habitat for Humanity. I gave away an 8-piece setting of Christmas china to the Re-store and took pleasure in knowing that someone was able to purchase it for a much reduced price and the sale supports Habitat. It's a win-win.

    The downsizing is a lot of work and while I don't love the idea that we're currently supporting a 10 x 30 storage garage (in which our car is also parked) I do like knowing that when we return to the US we have what we need to set up housekeeping again, with just the basics and the most treasured keepsakes. It's very freeing! Isn't it?

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    1. Absolutely. Spot. On. We do know we will have our treasures to surround us and the clutter will be gone when it comes time to build a nest here again. Such a blessed position to be in when you look at those who are losing everything this summer to floods and fires beyond their control. Happy travels - hopefully our paths are going to cross in the near future somewhere on the other side of the pond.

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  8. We downsized three years ago and I can relate to what you've been going through. It seemed an unending insurmountable task at times, and sometimes slipped into a diversion down memory lane. I had tried to tackle it in bits and pieces in the two years prior, but that never really worked. It was only when we devoted a full, busy month+ to that and nothing else that we did it. I think you need to also reach a mindset point where you're ready to let go of things. It can feel quite freeing after a you get into it.

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    1. You are describing my experience as well. I've talked of cleaning out things but until I had a real deadline (I always work best with deadlines - ha, ha) I just kept putting it off! It really has become an interesting process: first it was difficult and then it became so tedious that the more I tossed the sooner I finished and the better I felt!! Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. You've tackled a very tiresome and tedious project, Jackie, but have accomplished so much in the process, besides simply tossing/donating/gifting/selling/keeping. It is truly cathartic to complete such a daunting task; I know, I've 'moved house' to Crete twice, so I can relate!

    The Buy Nothing Project sounds promising; I'm sure it will succeed in its goals, and I'm glad you got a chance to help with that effort.

    Best of luck tying up loose ends, although I have a feeling you've already done that and are back in your Stone House on the Hill, enjoying the beauty and tranquility of late summer.

    Happy Thursday,
    Poppy

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    1. Soon, Poppy! Only two weeks to departure and so looking forward to being back in my garden and grove and enjoying at least an early fall!

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  10. Excellent tips for downsizing and purging. I've gone tthrough it several times over the decades and it is never fun or easy, just necessary. Best wishes as you enjoy the next stage of your lives.

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    1. Only you could appreciate how much chocolate I've eaten this summer -- my reasoning is that I need a 'treat' after such slogging and it has worked wonders. . .especially with a glass of wine.

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  11. We're just starting a very slow process of moving from our 5-bedroom house filled with 18+ years of stuff belonging to us, our kids, and several foster/extra kids, down to a 75 square meters 2-bedroom house. We have two years, so we have plenty of time to think about what we want to keep and what we can get rid of. No storage space though; I don't want my kids to have to go through what my sisters and I went through when our parents died. Going through all of their accumulated stuff was really painful. They're just things, after all. They're not what's important.

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    1. Yes, we've both gone through the parent-stuff-sorting and part of what was difficult to get rid of was their stuff (we are keeping a lot of it) somehow I've reasoned we can give our stuff away as I could always replace it. And an even better thought is to stay downsized and not replace anything! Thanks for your words - nice knowing others are going through similar phases.

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  12. We are quickly getting to this phase in our lives. I will try hard to follow your advise and start now instead of waiting until the act is upon us! Thanks for linking in this week! #wkendtravelinspiration

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  13. Great read. I found downsizing liberating. A friend challenged herself to discard or give away something each day for a month. One item day 1, 2 items day2, 3 items day3 etc. She also uses the photo method for special things.

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