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It’s been a bit.
The nutshell version of the past 3 months is:
1) I retired, freeing me to
2) spend more time with family (especially Mom) and to
3) put our home on the market to move.
Yes! in July I retired from my regular position as an occupational therapist at the neuro-rehabilitation clinic I have fondly mentioned here for years. I still fill in as needed. It’s been a sweet way to cut the cord, as I love the work and the people.
A huge component of wanting to retire has been to gain flexibility to visit my mom across the country more frequently and for longer periods. In fact, I was able to go see her for a good part of September. That was significant to us both.
Here we are last month, in Southern California, with a backdrop of sorrowfully ashy sky. After the shot we each said, “Do I really look like that?!” (Ummm, perhaps it actually was, “Do I really look that old?!) We said that, but I honestly think we look just right. I love and appreciate this woman so much.
In addition to attending to a bunch of doctor appointments, doing a fascinating 4-layer puzzle of Los Angeles, we purged and organized. This is a monstrous, large-looming theme over the past months, both with Mom and back home.
At home, we are sprucing up our abode and paring down our possessions in order to put this house on the market. Now that the kids have grown and gone, it’s time to go traipse after them (with their permission!).
In encouragement to purge well, one of our daughters briefly described the idea of “Swedish Death Cleaning,” adding with a good-natured wink how thoughtful it was of us to unburden the family of things now so she and her sister would not have to do it later.
The hubs and I have laughed over this often since then, because in actuality, our versions of cleaning out are perfect reflections of us. So he is out in the garage surrounded by stacks of boxes, in a thoughtful reverie of Norwegian Death Cleaning, wherein he carefully reflects upon every backstory and possible future need. Meanwhile I’m whipping through the house with my DNA-bestowed German Death Cleaning skills, winnowing items with a 2-second decision and a flick of the wrist.
I should add that we are both eldest children and thus we are each certain our approach is best. I will also add that we have managed this with no fights and with frequent interludes of laughter.
(I did check out Margareta Magnusson’s “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” from the library to see what fine points I might be missing. In a nutshell, she recommends giving away one’s dear possessions while one is living, to people who have admired them or who have similar passions. While at present we’re mostly getting rid of excess stuff that’s not especially meaningful, I do plan to take her advice to heart in the future.)
One more note on the topic of purging. For several years I’ve been grateful that my husband has tolerated the multiple stacks of felted wool sweaters everywhere: on open shelving in our loft, in my work areas, and finally standing tall against the walls of our bedroom. The numbers became overwhelming even to me. So I challenged myself to choose my favorite 2/3 of the sweaters and pass the rest on. I again employed my 2-second-decision-and-flick method, and I cross my fingers that I don’t live with regrets. But honestly, thinning out the throngs brought a new sense of lightness and inspiration to me, and I can’t wait to set up my workspace again in a new place. I miss sewing so much!
After sorting, I photographed several beautiful stacks of 1/3 of my wool collection, and put a call out for shoppers on Facebook Marketplace.
In less than 24 hours, I had wonderful, creative, interesting (and bemasked) “strangers” slip into my family room, just inside the sliding glass door from the deck, where I had set up a browsing area in the shade but it was still TOO DARN HOT that August week to be out there handling wool.
Each person who came had a different plan for the wool. First was a mitten maker who pored through sweaters looking for appropriate sweater weights and edges for cuffs. The next woman was planning her wool appliqué work. Another was looking for cashmere for her favorite baggy bed socks. Later came a teacher in search of materials for right-brain projects to relax at the end of her work days. The final woman of the afternoon wanted to make simple items for an annual handmade Christmas gift exchange with friends. She was considering little pocket purses, or maybe coasters with flowers.
All in all, I was very happy for the in-person human interaction, so rare lately, and found this a delightful way to say good-bye to much beautiful wool ♥.
And one final reminder:
10 thoughts on “A Pause and a Purge”
Congratulations Joan! And all the best to you in Michigan!
Thank you, Sally! I hope your family is doing well these days!
Dear Joan. I enjoyed reading this email. Congratulations, I’m so happy for you and Erik. Im sure your daughters and youngins, will be Blessed as you’ll be close to them. You look as beautiful as ever as well as your mom. So happy your able to spend time with her in Cali. Miss your insights and wisdom. Hugs and the best is yet to come,my friend.love to you
Oh, Lo :). Thank you for the note. We won’t exactly be near BOTH kids, as G and fam are north of Seattle. But at least when they come back to the Midwest, they won’t need to visit two states anymore. We wanted to make it easier to get together. Thank goodness for air flight!! This country is crazy big! Being with my mom was wonderful, and I’m thankful to be able to make that happen in ways that won’t seem so hurried. And…I miss you, dearie!
I really miss you
Yes, Nancy, and I you!! Also, I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about you clearing out your house, choosing a sailboat, retiring, and shipping off to new parts–in what, a month?! What an inspiration :).
You and your mother are such a wonderful example of mother and daughter looking alike and aging beautifully …❤️❤️
Thank you, Maureen. That is so kind!
I wish I could have come to your wool purge Joan! You are so brave! What part of the country will you be moving to?? The picture of you and your mom is precious…
Oh, Saundra, that would have been a delight to have you here! I’m not so brave, though; just German! We are planning to move to southwest Michigan where our youngest lives and where the in-laws of our eldest live. It just brings a lot a related people closer together :).