Northern Indiana Life and Short Stories

We stayed in Indiana as Andrew commuted about an hour every day to Chicago. Woodland Village was one of the closer places to park with full hookups and was a great price. This trailer park had a few open spaces where RVs pulled in, stayed a night or two and were on their way. We were one of the few that stayed longer. The trailers in the park were mostly old, many repainted over the years with colorful trims, and had established grass/lawns and flowerbeds. The people here were SO nice and friendly. We really enjoyed getting to know our neighbors and the employees at the park.

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I took this the morning we were pulling out!

We had a little excitement with a fire one windy day. I was home, mid afternoon, chatting with a friend on Skype. There was a bright flash and “BANG!” we lost power. I didn’t really think much of it. We have lost power before, and I knew it would be handled by the people that handle such things. I continued my conversation… until I saw men that live from all over the neighborhood running from all directions toward my RV. Oh @#$%!!! I got off Skype and ran outside to the chorus of my girls’ barking. There was a large branch, in the shape of a V, caught on the power line. It was on fire, shooting flames a couple feet! Oh my! I could already hear the firetruck sirens and even before they arrived the branch had burned through and was on the ground only a few feet from the bike rack on the back of the RV. The electric company came a bit later and all was fine. It was a great way for me to say hello and meet many of the residents. Ha-ha!

Within a 6 minute drive of our home was the Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore on Lake Michigan and about 25 minutes away was the state park. Both were awesome and I enjoyed hiking the dunes and strolling the beaches. The National Park had several trails and before it got too warm on many days Gigi and I would go for long hikes. Often, by the time we got back to the car after a dunes hike my shoes were so full of sand I could hardly move my toes! When I wanted to wander the beaches I drove over to the state park where dogs are allowed on the beach and we would stroll in and out of the cold water and end up with wet, sandy, tired dogs (and human) on the ride home. Beautiful and fun!

I also had a great time getting to know a Dragon’s Way sister as she lives north of Chicago. We met up to practice together and have breakfast a couple times near Lake Michigan and it was awesome to spend time with her! One night Andrew and I went into Chicago to meet up with her and her husband… we went to an art show to support their family member’s friend as she creates, Vincible the Documentary. Then we went out for awesome drinks and Mexican. Like in Texas it was super fun to live in a place where we already had connections that we could build on.

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Lake Michigan from Illinois… I got this shot while I waited for my friend.
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Strolling in Chicago!

Andrew had a long daily commute and plenty of time to play on his new Indian motorcycle (I will be writing a post in the future all about his knowledge and experience with the bike, soon-ish). He said he liked the commute and also enjoyed working with everyone in the Pear office in Chicago. He likes getting to know all the Inkers around the country and then, with better connections and understandings of needs, he is better able to  do his job to support them with his tech “stuff.”

Andrew did have a little excitement one evening on his motorcycle… he ran out of gas. Yep, anyone who knows him knows he does this on occasion. As he tells it, he was riding along and without warning it was out of gas! He was sure he had enough to get to the gas station or home. After pulling to the side of the highway he decided to push the bike off the highway to a station. He pushed for a while when a VERY nice man pulled over and offered to help. Andrew thought the station was like a half mile away. The guy informed him it was much further than that. He offered him a ride and Andrew took it! The guy told Andrew it’s happened to him too and that he now keeps a Gatorade container with gas on his bike at all times; just enough to get to a station if he runs out. Currently Andrew is keeping a log so he will actually know what is what and hopefully won’t need the Gatorade gas container in the future… but I think it might be a good idea anyway!

On the weekends we relaxed around the RV, tasted spirits at Journeyman Distillery, enjoyed sour beer at 18th Street Brewery, ate awesome pies from Marilyn’s Bakery (made with the fresh fruits from the adjoining farmers market) and hung out at the beach. It was a really fun place to live… not that I’d want to be there in the winter!

 

 

 

 

Short Stories, by Lara

I want to share some experiences in the form of short stories. Previously, all too often,  I didn’t take the opportunity to see the beauty around me and the connections I made everyday. I neglected to notice how I felt when I interacted with a pleasant employee at the grocery store. I forgot to notice the colors of the houses I passed (maybe because I was judging the broken window pane or the toys strewn around the yard), and the smiles of strangers in a passing car. I ignored the “goodness,” pleasant interactions, or maybe forgot to notice as I was in my own thoughts and focused on what happened earlier or what was going to occur tomorrow. I am actively looking for a different point of view. I’m picking out moments of what most would consider trivial daily activity and focusing on my thoughts, actions, and emotions in the moment and then recording the moment as I reflect on it. This is a tiny taste of looking for the good.

Your Dogs Are Pretty

I walk on this not too hot, but rather muggy mid-week summer afternoon. My girls, Gigi and Kona, wander right and left to sniff every part of the oil stained blacktop road and every small dead branch that lay in the recently cut grass. There are very large old maple trees about 10 yards apart along one side of each narrow road in the trailer park. I’m grateful for the shade. We wander past so many trailers; old, rusted, dirt stained and yet kitchy and neatly kept. Most with only a chair or two sitting on the top stoop or in the small adjacent yard.

As we wander I notice an older woman, with a long side braid of silver hair, exit the door of her trailer to the small landing out front. I quickly shift the leashes in my hand, Gigi can whine, almost like singing or screaming, when she becomes excited. She is not aggressive, ever, as best as I can tell. She is really just exploding with energy, excitement and wants to tell the world every chance she gets. I try not to bother people with her noise so I move her leash to my right hand and move my body so that I am between her and the trailer porch. The woman has an old cigarette pouch in her hand and is gently closing the door behind her. I intentionally make eye contact and say with a smile, “Hello.”

She responds in kind with a smile and adds, “Your dogs are pretty. They walk nicely together.”

“Thank you; they are pretty well behaved.” I say as I look back toward her, smile, and unexpectedly chuckle to myself. “Hope you have a nice day.” The lots are narrow and at this point we are already past the trailer. We walk on, weaving back and forth to sniff all the smells my girls seem to love. I lessen the grip on Gigi’s leash and notice the slight breeze. I think about how unexpected this comment was and how much I appreciate it. Not too many people comment that my 50 pound brindle and black dogs are pretty.  A truck approaches and we scoot to get out of the road. The older man nods and smiles as he passes. I feel full, connected, a sense of peacefulness.

Kona and Gigi both do their “outside” as we call it. I praise them; we wander back toward our home. We are parked between a fifth-wheel on the left of us that looks rather new and a stationary trailer on the right. I think the woman that lives in the fifth-wheel is new to this trailer park. I remember on the day we arrived that she was edging the grass, planting flowers in newly made garden beds behind her cement patio, and situating her large tan and white outdoor rug and outdoor furniture. She had smiled and waved as we lowered and unhooked the motorcycle before backing into our space. I assume she plans to stay a while; most of the residents here are living in trailers with insulation wrapped along the bottom and traditional window air conditioners hanging from metal framed windows. They are not travelers passing through.

I unlock the door and the girls bound up the stairs into our home. I follow more carefully and remove their leashes. My short afternoon walk was not extraordinary… it was an opportunity to be present, I was, and the consequence was connection!

 

Hello, Good-Bye Kiss

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The love seat… made comfortable by my mother’s love!

I sit, sipping my already cool coffee, on our love seat with the special cover my mom made for it. It is a quilted fabric I picked out at a Jo-Ann Fabric Store over a year ago. My mom, being as creative and giving as she is, “whipped up” the custom slip covers so I don’t have to sit on the sticky feeling pleather. I am listening to NPR One, an app on my phone. This morning I’m only half listening to the short clips of local news from WAMU 88.5 in DC. I guess I am not yet ready to switch my “home station,” yet. I look out the window at the large maple tree across the way. It has a gaping hole where a large branch was probably removed long ago so it wouldn’t stick into the street. The bark patterns on the tree swirls and the bark is really thick. Beautiful.

Our neighbors’ small red Chevrolet pulls up to the curb with handicap license plates. I notice it is only 7:23 AM and notice the man next door coming down the stairs of his trailer leaving their little white dog on hind legs looking out from behind the screen door.

The couple live with their small white-furred dog in a light-blue trailer with white gutters and downspouts (which is pretty unusual on a trailer in this neighborhood). The siding is newer, and there is a birdhouse wind-chime hung from the gutter. The neighbors’ door is on the side facing our RV and opens directly onto narrow wooden stairs with black anti-slip strips on the edge of each step. The single wooden railing has a long nail, half hammered in, near the top. From it hangs the plastic covered dog leash for the small, quiet dog to be able to do his business and have some “yard time.”

The man slowly, gripping the handrail, makes it off the bottom stair and walks to the passenger door of the Chevrolet. As he opens the car door, the woman exits the driver side. She is wearing a work-shirt, the kind with a couple buttons, collar and a name tag. She moves around toward the front of the car, she looks tired, or maybe I’m just imagining how tired I’d feel if I just returned from work so early in the morning. The man puts his plastic bags, containing a large plastic bottle and a square container (I’m thinking it is his lunch), onto the passenger seat and shuts the door.

He crosses to the front of the car. Both stop, make eye contact, and gently give each other a kiss on the lips. They don’t say a word. Their hands briefly touch, “hello, good-bye,” they say without saying anything. Then he’s climbing into the drivers seat. She slowly, carefully, climbs the stairs and opens the screen door. She waits a beat; I can’t see but I think she is petting their dog. She goes in and disappears behind the closed doors. He turns the small red car around, completing the three point turn, he drives away.

No super models; no actors; real life; real love.

 

Starbucks, Jeepers and Educators

I wander toward the small seating area in Starbucks. There is only one other customer here and he is sitting in one of the comfortable leather chairs by the window. The other leather chair is piled with an umbrella and bag. Obviously he doesn’t want company, or maybe he is waiting for a friend. I take my coffee, breakfast (sausage, egg and cheese breakfast muffin without the sausage), and Digesting the Universe, by Grandmaster Lu to the table next to the man so I can look out the window. It is a bright day and the temperatures are already rising to nearly 90. The man shifts uncomfortably in his chair when I sit down; he doesn’t make eye contact. Oh, I think I misread the situation. I think he set himself up to have this no eye contact, no touching space… and I just invaded it.

With that thought I unwrap my breakfast. I glance up and notice a heavy set man and an elderly woman looking in my Jeep windows. They are shielding their eyes from the sun with both hands and have their noses nearly on the glass. As they come through the door I smile, “Do you want me to open it up so you can see inside?” I say.

The guy immediately says, “No,” and dives in with questions about the package we have, if we go off road, and telling me Sahara’s aren’t known to be great off road. I assure him our Sahara did quite well the couple times we went off road and inquired about his yellow Jeep in the lot. We chatted for a few minutes and he sat at the table on the opposite side of the man in the leather chair. “I like to get up early in the morning,” he shares. ” My wife has things to do and I go off in one direction or another in my Jeep. I wish it got better gas mileage.”” He shares that he lives in Utah, near loads of Public Lands, and he off roads all the time.

The older woman comes over and sits at the high top table with the man and now there is a third woman, about the same age as the man. She has salt and pepper hair and is quite attractive. She sits with her back to me. The elderly lady says hello to the man in the leather chair, calling him by name. He says hello in response and she jokes with him, ” I know, you probably don’t appreciate my interruption.” He seems to miss the sarcasm in her voice and responds, defensively, that he doesn’t think of her as an interruption. She tells him she’s just kidding. This reassurance makes him smile.

Our Jeep discussion turns to how he is visiting here from Utah. “I’m from here,” he states.

The elderly lady chimes in, “I have five children, this is my oldest,” she says gesturing to the middle aged woman, “and this is my oldest son. My husband died a year and a half ago and I don’t like to be home so I mostly just sleep there and go out during the day.”She shares about her favorite places to spend her days and how she sees so many friends. I like her.

We chat a bit about Texas, the middle aged woman’s kids and grand kids live there. I’m told about the recent family trip to North Carolina and about a cool motorcycle museum in the mountain area. I learn about Chicago and the shore area and that we should rent bikes and ride the shore. The man in the leather chair shares photos of Chicago at night that he took on his iPhone. The photos are of buildings lit up in the dark.

The conversation turns.

The middle aged man inquires why I’m here from Texas. I give the short version of moving into the RV, quitting my job in VA and traveling so my husband can still work full time as we experience the country. “Are you looking for a new job?” he asks.

“Not right now.” I explain that I don’t need to at the moment and I have no idea what the new job would even be. He asks what job I quit. “Teaching, second graders, ” I say. I don’t like where this is going. I’m not in the mood to discuss schools with people who likely think second grade teaching is so fun and easy… as people normally comment to me.

The man in the leather chair suddenly jumps up, he is very excited as he just found a video clip from a 1950s movie, that I am not familiar with, and shows each of us on his iPhone. I’m relieved for the break from our conversation. Suddenly he realizes he interrupted and apologizes. The man tells him this particular performer could never be considered an interruption. I smile and tune out the conversation. I’m reminded of my hometown, of how everyone knew everyone else. I remember a special, older man (he was actually a classmate of my dad’s, I think) that came to the grocery store, where I worked at 16,  everyday. He lived in a group home nearby and was in love with one of my classmates from school who also worked at the store. He professed his love for her each time he saw her. If she wasn’t working when he came in he’d ask about her and tell the rest of us how much he loved her. He was so sweet. I tune back into the lecture about this movie and the actors, from the man that clearly has a photographic type of memory. The middle aged woman comes to the table where I am sitting after throwing away her napkins and other breakfast items, “What are you reading?”

I show her and ask, “This is written by Grandmaster Lu; are you familiar with Chinese qigong?”  I expect one answer and receive the opposite. “Oh, yes! My uncle, my mom’s brother, teaches qigong 12 times a day in Utah. He doesn’t do the spiritual aspects, he discusses more Christianity and teaches qigong and tai chi.” I ask his name, curious to look him up at some point. I tell her I’ve done this practice for a couple years and how it has opened me up to change my life. She shares that her uncle is in his 80s and is quite healthy. She walks back to the table where she had been sitting.

I listen to the end of the history lesson about the movie clip and all the details offered and watch the man settled back in the leather chair and stop engaging with us.

“My sister rolled her eyes when you said you were a teacher because she represents the local school board.” the middle aged man says. The conversation is shifting to public schools. I don’t want to discuss my old work. I am tired of justifying why I was unhappy, I don’t want to try and make another person see my perspective of schools and how we are all squandering the only opportunity for so many kids to get what they need to have a life where they can find happiness. I don’t know how to help people see that children develop differently, that they are not numbers, not widgets that should be treated the same, with such disrespect for their emotional, physical, and educational needs. I prepare myself for an exit. Maybe I just take my book and coffee and say good-bye. I do have to go to Costco…

The middle aged woman shifts in her chair to face me again, “I work at the state level to try and change some of the policies around schools. I work here, and represent this district. Where did you teach?” she asks.

I tell her. I briefly describe our Title 1 school and that I loved the school, my coworkers, my students and principals. I tell her after 16 years things changed so much with testing that I was jaded, I needed to leave. She nods her head as I speak in understanding and shares about her local schools. They are Title 1. She tells about the burden of paperwork, testing, the school system operating in the red. She tells about not being able to compensate her teachers; how here their pay is tied to test scores. “Last year we tried starting kindergarten with play. Let the kids get to know the teachers and play for the first week. Do we really need to test them on the first day of school? The year started off less stressed, but, by the time November rolled around you could see the stress and anxiety building in the teachers.”

I realize all my “fears” about this conversation are the opposite. My assumptions today are all backwards. I bet I do this all the time.

We go on to talk about her family. Her grandson has a 504 as a ninth grader and he is worried about it. He also decided he wanted to take welding as a class this year because, at 14, he knows he wants to put bars and other “cool stuff” on the truck he plans to get in a couple years. He knows his dad is too busy to help him so he wants to learn for himself. His mother was originally set against him “wasting time” in that class but after a family meeting she was finally convinced he should do it. What a great example of how to set a goal and have a plan to make it possible. Her grandson has interests, priorities, and it is too bad that a 504 is making him feel stress, because the point is to help alleviate stress.

“I’m feeling cold. Do you want to sit on the patio?” asks the elderly woman of her children and me.

“I actually have to go… I do need to go to Costco or my dogs won’t be eating later today!” I respond. What awesome connection and a pleasant way to spend the morning. I’ve been here for well over an hour. I toss out my breakfast trash. We wander out the double glass doors. It is very humid out. I say good-bye to all three and they wish me safe travels.  The middle aged woman walks me to the car.

As I open the Jeep door she confides in me, “I am not sure I want to do this job anymore either.”

I understand her situation. I know how hard it is to decide. I tell her I understand and wish her all the best. She hugs me. I hug her back. As I drive away I wave good-bye as they wave, and wonder at the way we are all connected… when I let myself be.

 

Coffee stops!

Livingston, TX

We were staying at the state park, Lake Livingston, which was large and could accommodate lots of RVs. It was a big space and really beautiful for only $10 if you have a Texas State Park pass. We of course do! We were nowhere near the lake but in a heavily wooded area where each spot had a fire pit and lots of outdoor space for extra tents and furniture for lounging. Very nice.

The only strange part was the three very large tour buses that stopped, and let EVERYONE out to use the little park bathroom that was available for campers. This was not a huge problem for us but I’d not be happy of I was tent camping and needed this as my primary bathroom.

Bull Shack was the closest coffee shop and about 10-15 minutes away. Super friendly environment with customers and employees chatting me up. Great coffee, I had a caramel latte, Andrew had their frozen house specialty, and we both enjoyed the apple cinnamon and chocolate muffins. I was invited by the group of patrons to join them for their morning chats (they are there to hang out a couple times a week) and to put a pin in the board for where I’m from. It was a really great place to start the day!

Bryant, Arkansas

We parked at the Walmart. RV parky said they allowed overnights but when we arrived there were signs showing no semi parking. To be sure we were not going to get a knock on the door in the middle of the night we went to the service desk to ask. All good for RVers! So, as always, we spent some money in the store getting fruit, and snacks and enjoyed our evening! Nice, quiet stop!

Speakeasy Coffee Bar

This is a six minute walk a couple strip malls back from Walmart. The owner had his personal bike out front which seemed to be the inspiration for the shop name and decor. The coffee was delicious, a nutty and smooth caramel late for me and Cuban for Andrew. We didn’t try the baked snacks as they didn’t look as appealing as the muffins we had the day before; anyway, we had lemon poppyseed muffins waiting in the rv!

This was the bike parked out front.

We often look for great coffee and come up short. These two shops are really great and places we would seek out in the future!

How did we let go of our things?

I’ve been asked this so many times I decided I should share. Here is the story with tips if you care to downsize, or just purge the space you have (take it or leave it)!

First of all, I spent my entire childhood and teenage years collecting furniture, dishes and other things for when I was a “grown-up”. I had two dressers and a nice sized closet to myself. Not to mention the fact that my bedroom was half the attic of my parents’ house! I had space and I filled it. Everything I had stashed away for “someday” had great meaning to me. When my grandmother moved into a nursing home I was able to find space for a few more items that I knew were her favorites including a hutch, a large side table, dishes, chairs, etc. I collected, collected, and collected.

Then the moving day came and we could hardly fit all my stuff in a carefully packed U-haul that was 20 some feet long! I was 21 years old and had basically collected enough to furnish a two bedroom house before moving out of my parents. I also had porcelain dolls, music boxes, special lamps, etc to put everywhere. Looking back, it was over the top and not especially healthy as I was  very emotionally attached to the things. A year and a half later, when my beloved cat not so carefully ran across a windowsill and caused a trinket (I honestly don’t even remember at this point what it was) that I loved to crash and be destroyed on the floor, I cried. I still remember the feeling of loss I felt, even now, which shows how powerful our emotions are.

“You are what you think.” –Grandmaster Lu

Fast forward through three houses (the townhouse, the two story condo and the large ranch) and 10 years later. We were living in a four bedroom, three bathroom ranch style house we meticulously renovated ourselves. We had an enormous bedroom with a whole section full of IKEA armoirs for all the cloths, shoes, and accessories we owned. I won’t even get into all the other furniture and what not we owned in this house that was fully furnished and nearly 2,000 square feet. It was towards the end of the renovations, I was 31 years old, and SO SICK. Many doctor visits, tests, specialists but no information to explain my debilitating symptoms. Finally, I found a functional health doctor who told me I was allergic to a long list of things including gluten, cats (we had two), dogs (we had one), and on and on. She also told me I had adrenal fatigue and deficiencies of vitamins, good gut bacteria, etc. In hindsight, I was actually suffering from stress, overworking, not enjoying life and generally not listening to my body to slow down and enjoy! I didn’t realize that stress could cause me to become sick. Our culture rewards being busy… you seem important when you’re busy.  At the time, the best I knew to do was get more into yoga, and eat a mostly plant based diet, so I did. Between the doctor and yoga I saw some health improvements, my arthritis improved, my fatigue lessened, and I was able to control the extreme emotions I was feeling a little more easily. By using my yoga mat as a mirror (this was a Baptist philosophy I found quite helpful) I could see how angry I was, how competitive, stressed… through the yoga instructor program I completed I started to see my lifestyle, including our house and all the things in it, as too much. I wanted to let things go.

I decided to start with the things in the basement. The precious items from my childhood in the boxes. I had moved all the dolls, stuffed toys, etc from my childhood-home to house to house to house! Three times!! I never looked in these boxes, so I decided to donate them without even opening them. I took most of it to work for the “thrift sale” we have during the Fall Festival to raise money for the school. It felt good to do good for the kids and the school. Don’t get me wrong, I was feeling emotional and physical angst in my stomach and shoulders as I carried the stuff into the school and drove away. By the next day, all the stuff (many of my things sold very well I’m told) and the emotions disappeared! I decided I could do more. I began letting go of clothing I had not worn in 5 or more years, then some dishes that we really didn’t need because we had two other sets already. It just got easier to let things go and feel good about it.

The second largest purge to date was prompted by the move to the house we built in Arlington. This was the fifth place we lived in, as I count the tiny condo we rented for ten months as the fourth. We went through the process of selecting a building plan, building company, etc. and were lucky enough to have friends let us crash for a couple months and then live in the condo while the house was being built. The items we didn’t expect to need for a long while went into a storage pod. The week of the pod-move we were both sick with the flu. We were beyond tired and not careful or strategic about packing items into the pod. We quickly ran out of space! We were over the stuff and called friends, Vietnam Vets, and posted on freecycle for the items that didn’t make it into the pod to be taken away! Then, we lived with our two cats and dog, with two chairs, an armoire, a bed and minimal cloths in 500 square feet (a cute one bedroom apartment that a friend, I met through yoga, was nice enough to rent to us… Thank you, Suzie (she is the creator and owner of Honest Soul Yoga in VA)! We didn’t have most of our cloths, dishes, etc. Guess what? We LOVED it! When we moved into our new house we emptied the pod, and I can honestly say, we did miss our sofa… but that’s it! We no longer felt a connection to our stuff and the reason we missed the sofa was we like to lounge together, so that was a very different feeling than missing an item just for the memories it seems to hold.

Once in the house I really got into purging. The house had no basement or attic by our design and had an open floor plan. Anything that was sitting out could be seen from everywhere else! So that was a huge motivator to clean out! I started selling some of my favorite things on craigslist. I wanted grandma’s hutch, and some other sentimental things to go to a good home. I figured if people were willing to spend $50 or $100 and come get it, they really wanted it. I cannot tell you the joy I felt when a lovely elderly couple came to buy the hutch. The wife was so excited because it matched her kitchen cupboards! Meant to be!

Fast forward to today. I now know I was ill for so long because we were on the bigger, better, more rat race. We were never happy with the way things were and I was always putting stress on myself. Stressing about how the house and yard looked, work, higher education, THINGS. I was hardly allowing myself time to sleep and eat let alone enjoy the THINGS I owned as I worked to earn a master degree, National Board Teaching Certification, renovated an entire home, remade the entire yard into a garden full of plants and flowers, spent money on keeping up with the neighbors and all the people on TV that had such nice THINGS. It took getting sick, really sick, to finally see that I had to change. Once I was ready to be different I found the Dragon’s Way®, a fabulous instructor, a group of women I call sister-friends, and a new way of life.

“When the student is ready the teacher appears.” -Buddha

Getting really sick was my spark to realize that THINGS (including an unnecessary master degrees, fancy cars, cloths, sentimental items, and whatnot) are not what makes me happy. For me, I love being outside doing almost anything, spending quiet time alone, and time with loved ones and friends. Eating fresh foods, going to bed early, sleeping in and having the time and energy to walk my dogs to my favorite local coffee shop in the morning makes me happy and feel alive. So, now we have purged almost everything we ever owned. The last of it to a couple friends, the young couple that bought the house we built just a few years ago, and the “junk” to the Goodwill (we really didn’t try to get our friends to take “things” they were going to regret later). We live, full-time, in a 35′ RV… life has a calmness and simpleness to it. I make the bed everyday (it can be seen from the rest of the RV in the reflection of the mirror). I put away cloths and shoes after letting them air out. I mostly follow the ways of the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, as far as keeping my closets and drawers organized (thank you to my Dragon’s Way® participants for the book recommendation).  We probably still have more to purge. After living in the RV for about a full month I was able to go through the bathroom and some other odds and ends closets and purge two more bags. Andrew has purged a ton through this process, too. He had an entire three car garage full,  a basement, and closets to match mine when we lived in the third house. He has really taken on the philosophy of “letting go!” We are living with few extras… it feels great!! It also makes keeping the house clean super easy.

Current Home and Storage (I’m going to let you look inside the drawers and cabinets!)

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Ways I suggest you purge based on my experiences (if you’re interested):

  1. What do you have in your house, storage unit, garage, shed that you have not looked at in who knows how long? Can you give it up? How many spaces, closets, drawers, boxes do you have like this? Do you need every greeting card and letter your grandparents ever gave you? Can you toss them all? Maybe you keep just one to represent them all and frame it… be creative and feel good as you honor the stuff you decide to keep and let it go.
  2. After getting rid of things you do not see day to day, look at your cloths. There are lots of ways I’ve heard of people purging clothing… like turning the hangers backward and after wearing the item turn the hanger around. At the end of the season or year, all the hangers that are still backward contain clothing you didn’t even wear once! The book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, I referenced earlier suggests not doing clothing in small chunks at a time. She actually says you should gather all the clothing, shoes, etc from the entire house and dumping it on the floor. She says you should hold each item and ask yourself, “does this bring me joy?’ I have not tried this method… but I know we still have clothing we don’t need and after living in the RV for another 6 months or so I plan to make my husband do this with me!

The way I purged cloths and shoes to get to our current state was by first removing all things I could not remember wearing as well as the things I remembered wearing and not feeling good in. I just pulled out the items and made a huge pile, bagged them up and took it to the Goodwill. Then I started to refine my purges. There were old t-shirts that I wore around the house. Did I really need “around the house shirts” to be different than what I would wear out? Nope. So those went. Oh, the shoes. Many never even broken in… gone, don’t wear ’em, don’t need ’em. How many pairs of jeans do I actually wear because I love the way they fit? The rest, gone. Do I wear slacks and skirts to work? In my case, I was a teacher and the answer was “NO! I sat on the floor everyday.” I decided a couple of each is more than enough. In the summer do I wear all those cute dresses? Nope, I love my jean shorts and tank tops. Good-bye to most of the dresses! This was done over a couple months. I’d feel the “purge bug” and jump up to do it! You may want to schedule time for yourself to go through your closets and home. You likely need to keep different cloths than I did. For you, you may keep only a couple pairs of jeans and leggings and more slacks. It all depends on your current job and lifestyle.
3. Look in the rooms of your house. Do you have furniture that seems to be a dumping ground for other things? I would suggest going through the piles and either find a system for the things to be put away immediately or get rid of the “stuff-collecting furniture” in your house. If you have no place to dump the mail and all the other random items you’re more likely to deal with the clutter. If your only flat space is the kitchen table where you eat, you are motivated to deal with the stuff often as you want to sit there!
4. Empty the junk drawer(s), get a drawer organizer or use inexpensive gift bags to organize by cutting off the top of the bag to the perfect depth (they come in all sizes and are inexpensive), and only put things you need in the drawer. Do you need five bottle openers? hundreds of pens? old earbuds and other random tech stuff? Will you ever use these things?
5. How many coats can you wear? How many suitcases can you carry? How many sets of dishes can you eat off of? Why are you eating off the mismatched set rather than the nicer set you really like? Get rid of the junk and use your nice things! Enjoy them! Yes, something may get broken (in our house, with four animals, a couple roommates, house sitters and Airbnb guests things got broken), so what?!? At least we and others enjoyed the THINGS we spent that money and storage space on!
6. Throw away all the partially used stuff you’ve not touched in three months or more including condiments, makeup, lotions, etc. If the last time you used that Chapstick was 6 months ago when you had the flu, or the last time you used the BBQ sauce you didn’t really like, why are you holding on!?!
7. STOP BUYING. Do not buy anything that you do not go to the store for. For example, I needed new flats to wear to work. I went shopping for new flats to wear to work. I saw purses that were SO cute, jeans that were on sale, and beautiful boots. I left with nothing because I went there for flats for work and they didn’t have what I wanted. In the moment I so badly wanted these other things. I really did, but I left without them. Guess what? The “want feeling” was gone by the time I got to the next store. The wanting went away.