lessons learned

So I have been living out of a suitcase for three weeks.  I brought too much.  I could have got away with half of what I brought with  me.  But every lesson learned is a good lesson.

Time out, and certainly time travelling (as in time spent travelling not the Tardis variety) gives you plenty of time to knit and to think.  Time spent living out of a suitcase gives you plenty of time to think about what you should have left behind.

When I was packing I kept to a simple colour palette.  That was good.  There was not one item in my case that could  not have been worn with practically every other item.  Lesson learned: cull all those items in my wardrobe that can’t go with at least 50% of the rest of my wardrobe (wedding dresses/ballgowns should you need them are exempt from this rule 🙂 )

I love linen, bamboo and cashmere, I love loose deconstucted shapes (think Japanese).  Lesson learned: cull the items that I don’t love to feel against my skin.  I would rather have one fabulous cashmere jumper than three okay scratchy wool ones.

I wear shoes for comfort.  Even my “smart evening” shoes have to pass this test.  Yet despite a huge shoe cull I have shoes I never wear not because they hurt but because they aren’t comfy.  Lesson learned:  I do not need five pairs of black suede shoes and those pink peep toe wedge sandals are not comfy whereas the blue suede peeptoe sandals I could wear all day and not notice.  Lesson learned:  if you don’t wear them then don’t keep them.

None of this is rocket science.  Most of this I knew already.  But still there lurk things in our house that need to go.  Our children our growing up and in a couple of years they will all have left home.  Our house is too big for two.  We need to move somewhere more practical and somewhere a little closer to civilisation.  Something was holding me back.  I didn’t want to move into Durham.  Then we had the Eureka moment, there was no reason we had to move into Durham.  We could move anywhere we wanted.  With that thought in mind it has become easy (at least in my mind) to shed even more.  I want to start the rest of my life in a free flowing space, without the millstone of stuff I don’t love, need or admire.

This is pretty much all I have worn for 3 1/2 weeks.


18 thoughts on “lessons learned

  1. I say this *every* time I go on holiday, but clearly my memory is that of a goldfish. So, now you’ve realised you don’t have to live in Durham, where are you thinking of living?


  2. My Grandfather’s advice when packing for a holiday, halve the number of clothes and double the spending money!

  3. I want to be you someday! Your thought process is so liberating and so sound and simple. Why can’t I be you now? I guess I feel so tethered to THINGS because I can control things. People, not so much? Myself, hardly at all (thus the amassing of things). Sigh. They say that admitting it is the first step out of the black hole of addiction, right? I hope I’m getting somewhere.

    1. Oddly enough it was when I got to the stage that I felt that the things were controlling me that it became easy to let go. Your wardrobe is, however, quite stunning, I don’t think the same could have been said of mine 🙂

  4. I have become a PRO at packing for trips. I wear every single piece I bring (more than once, I’ll have you know) – I sometimes don’t bring enough! We have learnt to have one carry-on per person with one big-ass suitcase for the “fancy” clothes – if needed (such as on a cruise). Friends and family always marvel at our “lack” of luggage!

    Now, if I could only apply that AT HOME!!! I have a closet full of shoes that I don’t wear. I have been shucking myself of clothes that no longer belong but it’s been harder losing the shoes (fettish, anyone?)

    1. I’m getting better at packing but still not perfect! I seem to recall it was easier when I was young and skinny and looked good in a paper bag. It is a little harder these days!

  5. LOL I was just thinking the same (about how “ways” of wearing things no longer really works!!) because I have taken on the Six Items Challenge for 6 weeks. We will see how I do! But I am sure it can’t be that hard (I’m having to prove it to myself, I’m stubborn like that). I never find it hard to put a capsule together for holidays, so…
    You are really doing well in your thinking processes and have a lot to show for it – I will be interested to see where you land down the line! Really, Australia?! A friend of mine is sorely regretting realising that dream, sadly. But everyone is different and you have experience of living abroad, so why not… ;o

    1. I’d be interested to know what didn’t work for your friend. We have two years to wait until our youngest two finish school. But one thing is clear I am not moving into Durham. I think we are ready to move a little further afield 🙂

      1. I can understand that!
        It seems the stresses of finding work and the changes in dynamics within the family/couple in such a very different environment are taking their toll on my friends, unfortunately, especially after the initial euphoria wore off. I think a certain amount depends on life experience and position – if you are planning to retire there, there won’t be the work thing (though adjusting to retirement is another thing!) and if you’ve not always lived in one place, that probably helps in being more flexible, too! As an “international” myself, I’d have fewer qualms, though personally I wouldn’t want to move too far away from family, now, having grown up away from my own grandparents.

      2. Interesting. In our case we will both be semi retired in that neither of us will need to go out to work and both of us have a steady self employed income that can be earned anywhere in the world. My only concern would be my mother and stepfather left in the UK. My father lives in California so moving to Oz would not make a huge difference in the stress factor there! Our children will probably be at university in the UK and that is a factor we have to consider. But hey ho, we have a couple of years to work out what we are going to do. Both of us have lived abroad and I was an ex-pat kid so the living “away” isn’t an unfamiliar scenario for either of us.

  6. Gillie,
    Good stories, good lessons learned, and a good words to live by.
    Years ago I lived out of a small rucksack for two months traveling through the UK. I had three pair of pants, four shirts, three sweaters, one raincoat and two pair of shoes. And I remember feeling that it was way more than I needed, or wanted to carry around. But that lesson in “less is more” didn’t stick. A few years later I traveled to South Korea for two weeks and my son and I each brought a filled-to-the-brim suitcase, and we brought a third suitcase filled with gifts for our friends, along with other odds and ends we thought we might need. Near the end of our trip, after we had given away the gifts, that extra suitcase became lost on a train. Everyone was worried about our lost luggage. But I was relieved. It was a great relief to be rid of that extra suitcase.
    Regretfully, eventually our luggage was found, and I had to tote it around, which taught me a great lesson. From that day forward I now always travel with only one small carryon bag. But sometimes I allow that one carryon bag to be stuff and too heavy, and I’m glad to have your story to remind me to pack light!

    1. Well I didn’t manage carry on only to Australia and we have bought presents for our daughters but we are still way under our luggage limit (who needs 40kg???). I used to be much better at travelling light. I spent some time living in Africa in the early eighties and during our holidays we hitched all over sourthern Africa from Zambia to SA. I do remember carefully putting my only respectable dress under my sleeping bag in order to “iron” it so that we would be allowed into the Vic Falls Hotel for breakfast overloooking the Falls!!

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