What a week

Rarasaur is hosting this year’s NanoPoblano again. I’ve had such a busy exhausting time I decided not to sign on just as I get to a point of things winding down but I’m reading posts (check out the tag #NanoPoblano2022 to see lots of good posts) and enjoying. Ra put up a post today on the prompt “tell us about your week”; thought I’d try that.

I’m dipping the week back to last weekend because it had a lot of impact on the week for me. It was the weekend before my friend Hanna was to arrive and the guestroom still had unpacked boxes, stuff to move out for Goodwill, etc. I arranged for the guy I hired early on to help with moving, clearing, unpacking, etc. to come back for a couple of hours that weekend. So I kept working and also had a pile of stuff for him. Except he never showed. So Sunday, already exhausted to the point of dropping, I did not only everything left on the list for me but also most of his list. Grrr.

Not my favorite way to start a theoretically fun week and I struggled for most of it to rise above the fatigue and enjoy. Starting with never having been to the St. Pete airport, so driving with the anxiety of hoping the navigation system would not do one of its weird misdirections. Fortunately it got me right there and it’s hard to stay grumpy while driving across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Hanna is much younger than I and very lively so she wanted to be out and going! Fortunately for me she had a couple of other friends here so I got breaks, but we did a lot of eating out, a little shopping in the adorable Village of the Arts area, and picking her up from one of her outings I even found out about a really great beach off St. Armand’s and an organic restaurant in St. Armand’s circle.

All of it put me in touch with issues I’ve long been aware of regarding being able to recognize the happy and joyful stuff and be in the moment with it. So I kept moving from feeling “I’m too tired to do this” to realizing how great this restaurant or that crystal shop or this beach, etc. was. Hanna is fun and good-spirited so it wasn’t hard to enjoy being with her but otherwise an interesting dance between old numbness/”no fun” habits and new awareness of happy moments.

All that wandering in the area and finding new restaurants, etc. turned out to be good for feeling a little bit more like I really landed here instead of that life brought me to a strange place I don’t know well. And being in places having fun with a friend felt like a little harbinger of more fun here once I know some people. Been too busy unpacking, getting settled, obtaining new car title, etc. so far to be out meeting people anywhere.

Closer in, some issues I’ve always had about condos and condo associations cropped up when Hanna hung some beach stuff on the front courtyard fence, which is apparently a no no. Instead of coming over here to talk to me, several whiny people with the emotional maturity of a 5-year-old called the office to complain. Though the office manager was very diplomatic, it really ticked me off and reminded me why, after some run-ins with busybodies in the early years when both my parents lived here, I decided I would never live in a condo.

The couple remaining days of the week after Hanna left I sank bank into relaxation. Made a decision that the rest of the unpacking is on hiatus since I have everything I need for day-to-day life set up. Once I could just sit back and be for a while, the reality of being far from the home I’d had for 24 years started sinking in. And questions about staying here.

Most of the day yesterday I was on a schedule that was off from my normal of recent years. Early in the evening, while lounging on the couch reading, I had the sudden feeling I should be doing “the next thing”. Which led, after realizing I’d already done the exercises I usually do then, that SO much of my schedule in recent years was set up around my mother’s schedule and that I’m now free to have my own. May sound small, but to me it’s big and I’m still mulling the aspects that suit me fine so I’ll keep versus what I may want to change.

Quite a week, from frantically working past my limits, through having a mini vacation with my friend, to lounging and having time to reflect…

The energy of stuff

In the last 4 months I’ve had an almost non-stop immersion in the practice of letting go of stuff. Some days so much stuff has been emptied that I was literally buzzing and off balance from the energy shift created.

My mom was a hoarder. Never quite got to the level of whole house piled with pathways through, mostly because of her social sensitivity, me insisting periodically on some clearing and the fact it was a big house, so she could pile a couple rooms and the basement and leave some spaces presentable-ish. Most of that, of course, didn’t belong to me, so when Mom died, going through it was a part of my job.

I was also moving to a furnished condo, so even my things needed to be culled, as well as extracted from the midst of Mom’s piles. Among the challenges Mom left, were years and years and years of bags of bills/statements, etc., many of which involved still existent accounts and I had filing cabinets with tons of out-of-date files so there was also a LOT of shredding and a lot of bags of paper recycling.

Then I got to Florida and needed to clear a ton of stuff still in condo from my Dad and his late, second wife. The amount that a combo of junk haulers, me and a guy I hired moved out in 4 days literally left me reeling with the energy shift.

I kind of got used to the oppressive amount of stuff in Mom’s house though I was sometimes aware of the weight of it. Clearing giant amounts at a time, however, really brought home how much energy all that stuff sucked from us. And every time an extraordinary amount exited in a day, whether auction place taking a ton or friends helping me do some clearing, it was startling how palpable the change in the air became.

I’ve known for years that everything has and is energy, but I hadn’t quite taken in the power of energy contained in “stuff”. The process leaves me so much more thoughtful about what’s in my space and how I want to move forward from here.

What does “my own schedule” look like?

Since Mom’s death, several people have asked me about my new “freedom” of schedule now that I don’t have all the caretaking duties. From my perspective I just traded one set of time-dictating “musts” for another. And it has me contemplating how we all so often set up our days by the “musts”.

Losing my mother set off an emotional roller coaster of its own and on top of losing her, because of a lot of not very smart decisions she made years ago, instead of inheriting the house in which I’ve lived for 24 years and a sizeable trust fund, materially I’ve inherited nothing from her but a giant hoarder’s mess to clean up and the need to move with great speed to pack up and move to the condo in Florida my dad’s more careful ways left me.

Some of the time I’m pretty angry and put upon. Until I remember the privilege that means I have a condo to move into and enough money to scrape by for a while.

The last months of her life, taken up with hospitals, nursing homes, diapers, wheelchair, etc. were exhausting and the second she died I had to begin the even more tiring task of clearing out her unbelievable piles of crap and trying to separate out and pack up my own stuff for the move. So no, at the moment I don’t feel free.

And Salty apparently decided to help me see it. He’s very old and frail and really upset by all that’s changing around him, from the absence of Mom to furniture and items disappearing and moving around, etc. He climbed on my lap a while ago for a snooze. I had a packing schedule in mind and the snooze was interfering.

I sat for a couple of minutes, tense and worrying about being late already at starting. He gently snoozed, his head tucked under my chin. I tuned in and noted the tenseness and chose to relax into the lovely moment with my fur baby. I’m not sure he’s going to live through all this and I’d rather drink in his sweetness while I can than be sorry later that I was too busy packing to enjoy him.

I’ve also been thinking about how nice it will be once I get to FL and at least largely unpacked. No caretaking. No clearing and sorting after I finish getting the dad/stepmom stuff I don’t want out of the condo and my stuff put in place. Ah, but then I remembered, in order to survive, I have to re-start yoga teaching, figure out doing classes on line, etc. Or get a job. How long can I float and relax, schedule-free, before I must get moving again?

Which then started me thinking about how many days when I have nothing on the schedule like an appointment or a lunch, etc. I still feel I “must” go to the grocery, do a load of laundry, make a new batch of granola or cashew creamer. How free is my schedule ever? And don’t most of us have these daily “musts”? Actual days of floating along, doing nothing are pretty hard to come by unless you have the money to pay someone else to fix your meals, including getting the provisions, or to take spa vacations.

Now I’m contemplating how little activity still leaves me feeling my day is “free” and mine. Much relies on perception and how I choose to feel about what I need to do. My mother resented pretty much all domestic tasks (she grew up in a household with a housekeeper and a cook) and I realized years ago that I internalized that dislike.

I have to actively shift my emotions just to get to neutral. Thanks to how much I love the smell of Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and love a clean floor, I’ve come to enjoy mopping and ignore the twinging back that results, which leads me to believe I can manage to shift the “ugh” feeling about other chores 🙂

I figure the whole schedule thing is mostly a question of staying in tune with how I feel about all the aspects of my day and choosing the feeling tone that leaves me also feeling free. But I’m not sure I’m gonna get there about clearing 30 years of clutter or packing for a move…

My shifting world

An estate sale place came yesterday and took most of the stuff in the living/dining room area. A number of family pieces were in the mix and lots of Mom’s finer decorating choices. She was very proud of having nice things. Now I walk through those rooms and hear the echoes.

While there are some chairs and a couch and a LOT of little stuff still in there, it’s largely empty and they took almost all of the artwork, which I think is particularly creating the echo. The emptiness and the echoes make this huge transition so real. It has somehow made my mother’s death hit home more deeply.

Getting those two rooms prepped, given her hoarding habits, was a huge job but the whole rest of the house faces me and I feel overwhelmed. The main task now that I have some clear space is to extract my stuff and get it gathered in one area for the movers to make their estimates and haul it to Florida.
But the crap load of stuff filling all the rest of the space is still there and at this point I have almost too many options for how to deal. My favorite much of the time is just walk away and leave it all. But I have the name of a yard sale “picker” who would come offer a flat fee and haul all or most away. Also tempting but requires more prep from me.

We’ll see. Right now I’m really tired. Since Mom broke her leg in February I feel like I’ve been on a hamster wheel and on top of all the jobs that created for me, my unwinding head muscles have been REALLY in overdrive, so I also don’t get nearly enough sleep. And hanging around here in the house I’ve shared with her for 24 years (and visited her for 12 years before that) I miss all our interactions.

I keep telling people, the crazy one is TV. Since neither of us have felt great much of the time, we both watch a lot of TV and especially in the last few years, as the technology escaped her, we’ve watched together. So it’s weird to watch AGT alone after something like 15 seasons of watching with her. Or to finish the last episodes of the new Bosch spin-off she’d been so excited about. Every day it seems I watch something we would have watched together and wish for one more time we could talk about the characters, the scenery…

Add in the blows SCOTUS is delivering every day and I feel like I’m spinning in a world of madness while trying to cope with my personal grief.

After the big push to clear the two front rooms so I have space to get my belongings piled together, I’m taking a couple of days to kick back a little before tackling the monumental task of getting this place emptied. I’ve lived here the longest of any home I’ve ever had. Hard to imagine how short a time I still have.