Monday, September 10, 2012

The Low Road’s the Right Road for Me (#6 of 11)

After working for sixty years, I am finally retiring, lured by visions of great chunks of free time in which to practice music, dabble in art, relax with needlework, and read everything I can hardly wait to read. I’ve been walking around the house singing the lyrics of a catchy song from the 40‘s by Jamie Cullum which go:
“Some like the high road, I like the low road,
Free from the care and strife.
Sounds corny and seedy, but yes, indeedy
Give me the simple life!”

That’s what I want. In The Simple Life, I would not be drowning in paper that pours from the mailbox, the front door, and the computer printer. There would be fewer phonecalls, e-mails, catalogues, and bills. I would have all I need and nothing extra. There would be  time to meditate, exercise, eat right, read, practice music, enjoy at least one more activity of my choice every day, nap, and still get the laundry and shopping done.

But Elaine St. James, in her book Living the Simple Life, recommends having only three or four ongoing goals at any time, to avoid self-sabotage by overwhelm. So I have narrowed it down to:

1. Exercising
2. Practicing music
3. Enjoying time with my husband.

I figure that meditation, socializing, reading, crossword puzzles, and laundry will fit into the spaces and not get overlooked. And in the Simple Life, I can cut myself some slack.

Now that I can see it manifesting right before me, all I have to do is finish the decluttering project I’ve begun, responsibly close my professional practice, and embrace what lies ahead. 

But another complication has arisen.

A couple of posts ago I wrote, “I’m seriously considering selling our cluttered house in exchange for a neat one.” I wasn’t kidding. Now Husband and I have decided to leave our home in New England and make our vacation in Florida our permanent lifestyle, instead. So I am paring down my life while simultaneously redefining it and also relocating it.

I’m giddy at the prospect of living in the sun by the sea, where it’s always Summer (by New England standards), with the wonderful new friends I’m making there. 

Have you ever noticed that when a room or a whole house is being cleaned and tidied, first there must be some disorder? As drawers and closets are emptied, and the step stool and cleaning supplies and equipment are added to the mix, the room or house can quickly resemble a disaster area for awhile. It seems that creating order requires first an increase in chaos. 

So my home has become a shambles of boxes and piles of dishes, mountains of clothes and books. The decision-making (keep? store? recycle?) is endless, and exhausting.

I can barely tolerate thinking about all the upcoming goodbyes and sad partings from family and old friends.

As I pursue my dream, The Simple Life, the burning question for me is, “How can I keep this simple?”

I'm wide open to ideas and especially encouragement.

(To be continued next week.)  


  1. My mother once told me "You have to make a mess to clean a mess" and I have found that to be true. When I am "overwhelmed" by things that need to be done..Creating a list of importance helps me...A master list of all the things that need to be done..but a smaller daily breakout list that helps me not be overwhelmed but still be moving forward and accomplishing things on the master list in small manageable pieces. I suggest less thought on the saying goodbyes right now to family and friends..and concentrate on the goodbye to things. If you haven't used it in a year...Donate it..If you use it and it brings you joy and makes your life easier...Keep...IF it is important for sentimental reasons find a place in your life for it...If somethings are heirlooms that you want your family to have, give it while you can see them enjoy it. We all have a lot of stuff...but try to concentrate on being freed to let go and be joyful that the simple life is now within view...and it will be wonderful :) <3

  2. Thank you, Ambianced. I'm headed for the bedroom right now to do a little more packing before I call it a day, and I'll keep your advice in mind. I'll do just the vanity area, and that's all for tonight. Not too much there of sentimental value, just an AWFUL lot of duplication! 'Gonna fill that trash barrel that goes to the recycling center, and feel good about it!!!

  3. I have some regrets from downsizing, there are books I look for, and no longer have them! And as I have cut back on my crafts, due to both health and room constraints, I sometimes long for all that...but the convenience of not having so much of "things" is a blessing, as a whole, and a chance to live a fresh life, with only your treasures, will be a long-term benefit!

  4. Laura, your comment is exactly what I needed! Thank you so much for telling me! I've been agonizing about how much to keep, how much to relinquish, and hoping I'm not being as foolish as I'm sure some of my relatives think I am. Thank you for telling me that the fresh life with only my treasures will be what I'm hoping it will be. I think that what we long for is the energy and good health we no longer have. I know I miss all the activities I used to enjoy, but I think that having just the things that matter most will give me time and space in which to enjoy them more. Thank goodness for Kindle! I carry 100 books around with me in that little thing!

  5. I agree with Laura. I've moved seven times in my life and know the chaos and disorder that ensues and I've also done quite a bit of downsizing over the last year in an effort to simplify my life for health reasons. It's very hard to let go of "treasures" and there's always the worry that something we give up will be the one thing we really wish we had kept down the road. But I've found that freeing myself from things of the past has opened up fresh ideas for me creatively in my writing and allowed me to see that there are new adventures still ahead in life. And as you mentioned Samantha--Kindle, the Internet and DVD storage makes it easier to hold onto things like books (or in my case scanned versions of historic brochures) without having to lug them around with us. I wish you all the best with the move and will be praying it's the start of a whole new adventure in life for you, too.

  6. This is so good for me, Cathy and Laura (and Ambianced, too). I just had an idea I haven't broached to my husband, yet, and that is that we give up all this culling and choosing, just pick out the things we love and wouldn't want to be without AND would be expensive or impossible to replace, and then just call the charities and the Trucker Who Recycles in to take the rest. I've been doing it my usual compulsive way, handling and deciding on each object . . . maybe I need to reverse it, and just set aside the things I'd miss the most, and let go of all the rest. Does this sound sane?

  7. It definitely sounds like a good plan to me. When I downsize, I do go through some things compulsively--for instance if you have a collection of a particular item (again, in my case historical magazines/brochures), I think it's a good idea to take your time when winnowing the collection and give some thought to what you really want and might need in the future. But in general, I do exactly what you said, pick out things I know I'm attached to or might need and try to just close my eyes to the rest, pack it up and send it off. One time when I was doing a clean out, I packed up a box of items to donate. The donation pick up got canceled due to bad weather so I stuck the box in a back closet and forgot about it. I came across it a few months later and when I opened it, I honestly had forgotten about some of the items I put in there! Actually, that's one advantage of getting older--forgetting is easier! ;-) (I also recommend donating as much as possible, don't do yard or tag sales! I tried that once and it's really heart wrenching to have total strangers haggling over your treasured items and offering you a dollar for them!)

  8. Thanks, Cathy. I keep reminding myself that when I die almost all this stuff will not mean anything to anybody. The guy from the church will take away our donations tomorrow, and I'm planning to have heaps and heaps of stuff for the trucker to take for recycling on Saturday morning. The trunk of my car is filled with clothing to be dropped in a charities bin. I'm finding that the more I divest myself of stuff, the more triumphant I feel. It has taken a lot of effort, support, encouragement to get this far. I really appreciate your support!