As I wrote the story, “Moving Coffee” in the book, Coffee Lover’s Devotions to Go, I felt a tear slip down my cheek, then another, and another. Until finally, I just gave in and decided to have a good cry! It felt terrific and I’m finally done with the book (two weeks ahead of the deadline).
But in the process, I learned some important principles about moving and how to do it gracefully. Granted, if you are thinking of retiring overseas, you will have a lot of considerations to make and one of them will be, “What do I do with all this stuff?” Some couples decide they need to bring their belongings with them and will ship a container to their destination. We did that when we moved to Sicily and it proved to be a good decision for us.
This move to Ecuador is different; we’re gracefully separating ourselves from 35 years of stuff. It also comes at a time when our son is getting married (May 30th), and so the sorting out process is more complicated.
Here are some things I found helpful through the process of sorting, sifting, selling, saving and gracefully moving on…
*Learn to let go. This sounds easy, but in reality it’s not. As women we are nurturers. Our home is more than a building with four walls; it’s our “nesting place.” It is where we find comfort; it is filled with memories and a place where we feel safe. Give yourself permission to let go in whatever way feels best: to donate, to give away, or to sell. You still have the memory; that’s yours to keep!
*Let others have a say. Recently my youngest son—who is getting married—came home for the weekend and asked about a paper he had written in high school. I pointed to a cardboard box and said, “It’s in there...I think!” Then I realized, it’s time to hand over all their stuff: school treasures, baby clothes, and pictures. With the exception of their baby albums, I am giving them back their things. They now have a say in what they keep or give away.
*Feel the loss. As I go through boxes, I find treasures, like the boys’ baby teeth. Remember the tooth fairy? Well, all those teeth had to go somewhere and so we saved them (all of them!). I guess I’ll ask the boys if they want them (or not!). No matter how old our children are—they will always be our “babies.” They have memories too and we need to respect them. We have asked our boys (now 23 and 28) how they feel about our move and allowed them to voice their opinions along the way. By the way, it’s all been positive, so we feel we have done our job well (we gave them roots and wings).
*Saying goodbye with grace. If you look at retirement abroad as a new chapter, it’s easier to close the chapter on your other life. That’s not to say that there won’t be moments of sadness, but you will be able to say your “goodbyes” with grace and take your cherished memories with you. And if you’re like me, you’ll find lots of laughter filtering through the tears (like the Mother’s Day cards I found the other day!). My youngest son printed his on computer paper (he’s the saver). The card had a dollar bill printed on the inside that read, “Sorry, I’m poor, so this is all I could afford. Happy Mom’s Day!” Jon was eight years old (it’s a keeper!).
We have moved 29 times in 35 years of marriage, so “moving” is something we do well. But this is also a new chapter in our lives and we plan to do it gracefully. Everyone is different, so do it in the way that is most comfortable for you.
Until next time…hasta luego!
Connie and Mark