Friday, 22 July 2011

Living Light and Lovin' It

Mr E from Sante Fe Relocation Services came over this afternoon to quote on packing and shipping the contents of our humble home to our new destination. After chatting over a cup of coffee, I escorted him around the apartment, room by room so he could take note of what was coming with us (pretty much everything).

It dawned on me, we are really Living Light compared to when we were in Sydney. (If you read my first blog 'Humble Beginnings' you'll understand why Sydney is Sydney and not home, even tho it is and always will be.)

Before we begin, a few comments:  Please understand this is not meant to be a brag by any means, or you think what a show off, or, what on earth is she going on about. These observations belong to moi :) (obviously, doh!). I mean no disrespect to those families who have less, or more for that matter. And my heart goes out to the survivors in Tohoku, and those who live in too many parts of the world who live in poverty.

Next, think about your answer to this one! If you were told you could only keep the clothes and personal items, furniture, house hold items etc to fill 1/2 a commercial shipping container ... what would you choose to take and what would you leave?

Not easy when we are fortunate to live in such incredible countries like Australia, Ireland, Britain, parts of Europe and USA.

This is our story .............................

In Sydney we lived in a 4 bedroom, free standing, single storey house, with formal and informal living and dining rooms, enormous kitchen and large family friendly backyard. We loved having so much space to share on weekends with friends over a BBQ, and mid week the informal living/dining area was perfect for our weekly playgroup get togethers. DH had a dedicated home office, and the guest bedroom allowed mum to sleep over often.

Like most of our expat friends, when we left Sydney we had a specific space allocation and therefore had to choose what to take, and what to leave behind. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and one wonders, if we knew then what we know now (as in we've been gone 5 years, with who knows how many more to come?) wonder what we'd have brought with us that we didn't?

About 1/2 our belongings are in storage. They've been there for nearly 5 years. If we haven't replaced what's there, and don't miss it, do we really need it? A few acquaintences have recently returned to their 'homes' and cleared out their storage units. All of them said it was like a HUGE Christmas Day, lots of memories, lots of 'oh i forgot about that' but all of them said the majority of their stored possessions were taken to a tip, donated to charities or put back into storage. Very few of them shipped stuff to their new home location.

In our case, a lot of stuff was BU (before us) and definitely BC (before child) so would we want it now, or are the memories from a lifetime ago irrelevant to us as a couple? One learns there are many definitions for the word 'sentimental'

We have been so fortunate to have amassed new memories in the shape of artwork from Ireland, ornaments from Prague and Japan and of course, things from home. How would the 'old' things fit with our 'new' things?

We have been very fortunate to have made very lovely homes in Dublin (freestanding house) and Japan (apartment)
Our apartment block. We're on Level 5

Our employer stipulates we are a '2+1' (i.e: 2 adults + 1 child) and therefore are allocated a specific amount of a container for shipment ... no more, but certainly less.

Aussie friends who we moved to Dublin with are DINKS (double income no kids) had a HUGE home in Sydney (just up the road from where we were by chance). They are currently on their 3rd Adventure courtesy of our employer. They move with a small home gym, but a home gym none the less, 2 full lounge suites, 2 full home offices, master bedroom + 2 guest bedrooms etc. Mrs B always made me laugh when they prepare for their moves, cos our employer says that as they are a 2+0 (i.e: 2 adults) they have less than us (we are '2+1'). Trust me, they have sooooo much more stuff than us! Somehow tho Mrs B always manages to secure the move they need. They have not lost any furniture in any move, and in fact, might have gained a piece here and there on subsequent Adventures.

Living Light in a way is an awakening. It's a return to the simple days. It means realising that hosting a dinner party for 6 (cos that's how many chairs we have) is just as delightful as hosting one for 12 (which is what our table in Sydney can accommodate). It reminds us that while crock pots are brilliant, a large saucepan on the stove on a really low light does the same job. However I can not wait to settle in our new home so i can purchase a bread maker , a sandwich press and a crock pot (you can't leave a pot on the stove and go out all day) so one criteria for our new home is a BIG KITCHEN.

Every bowl, platter, serving dish has a story,as opposed to 'i saw it so i bought it'. It was either a gift (Sheil Abbey place mats and coasters were a wedding present), salad bowl (Sydney house warming gift), crockery (Xmas gift), candlesticks and Challah cloth (bought in Prague), bowls for bits'n'pieces (Japan), Waterford Cystral milk jug (late grandmothers) - you get the idea. Every piece has an association with a person or a place. Every time we set the table its FULL of memories - old ones and new.
In readiness for a dinner party

I'm sure many of you reading this (see how optimistic i can be - that there's anyone reading this hehehe) can say the same about your possessions. It's not that we are extra special, or frugal, we've had to make choices to 'unload' when it wasn't our choice to do so.

Have you decided what you'd take with you?

Even the kitchen is affected in our apartment. We only have 2 drawers hehehehehe. One for cutlery and one for cooking tools. The really big items that don't fit in the draw hang about the stove top on 3M hooks.

We don't have any tall furniture. It dawned on me this afternoon as Mr E and I walked thru each room. The book case in Ms M's room and the one in the lounge room are only hip height (obviously the trip to the earthquake centre early on in our arrival had an impact on our purchases)
Not sure why this looks so messy - it's actually very neat

We have memories on our walls too. Aboriginal painting, images of Coogee Beach (birthday gifts), stunning sketch of the entrance to Newgrange in Ireland, framed Musha postcards from Prague, an obi from Japan, photos of family, customised piece of artwork (wedding gift).

We have also started to use technology to our advantage: books are on the Kindle (unless they are coffee table or reference books from an art gallery exhibition, or Mia's storybooks); CD's and DVD's are either downloaded or burned onto a hard drive that in linked directly to the television.

The one thing I won't give up is our photo albums. While we keep thousands of photos on the mac and click thru them every so often, it's the traditional albums we love to read and re-read. With 10 completed albums (and I forget how many in storage) this will soon be our next 'problem' as they weigh so much.

The things we don't have and maybe never will is the choice of carpet, or the colour of walls, to specifically chose the interior design of a room/s, to customize furniture as we'll (probably) not own our home for a very long time (never say never anymore)

So the upside is moving around often encourages you to Live Light.

The downside is not having a mortgage (who knew this is where my thoughts would end up)

As we get ready to pack up our home (again) I'm thankful we don't have a lot of things. The thought of deciding what to take, store, sell, toss would be too difficult to do it every 3-4 years.

Watch this space and see what we accumulate on our next Adventure to see if I've merely convinced myself this time 'round that Living Light and Lovin' It is genuine or a passing phase.

With friendship

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