Life has been a little hectic for me lately, with five days to go until I leave the UK, I’ve been feeling more than a little stressed and overwhelmed by how much I have to do. Recent weeks have been dominated by lengthy to do lists, emotional goodbyes and what has felt like a mad scramble to sell everything I own.
In this post I want to share a little of what I’ve been doing as well as a few lessons I feel I’ve learnt along the way. This feels like quite a difficult topic to write about precisely because I am so in the middle of it all, but such is my life right now that I wouldn’t be able to write about anything else.
At some point in the future, probably as I lie on a golden beach in Thailand, my thoughts on how best to prepare for a life change like this will hopefully become a little clearer and there are many tips and hints that I have gathered which I hope to share with you in the future. For now though, I would just like to talk about the three things that have dominated my life recently. Letting go of stuff, saying goodbye and dealing with stress.
Letting go of stuff
Lately I have turned into a one-woman, selling machine. A few weeks ago, someone said to me “I like your dress” and without blinking I said “it’s yours for £20!”
I didn’t know what to expect when I made the decision to get rid of 95% of what I own rather than put it into storage. I felt good about my decision to de-clutter my life and to leave for my travels with nothing more than what I needed on my back.
I wholeheartedly stand by my original decision but there have been a few surprises along the way. I’ve given away a lot of stuff, both to friends and to charity but I’ve also sold a lot of stuff too, including bikes, iPods, curling tongs, a car, clothes, bags, a surf board, shoes, sports equipment and the list goes on. I’ve sold on eBay, Gumtree, to friends, to family, to work colleagues and I also threw in a car boot sale for good measure.
In the main I haven’t found it hard to part with my belongings, with the exception of my car, which I felt surprisingly emotional about. But what I have felt anxious about is the feeling of waste that I keep having, comparing the original price of some of my things to the final selling price has left me wincing on more than one occasion but as my heart started to get heavy about the value of
‘things’, I soon remembered the reason I’m doing this in the first place and that’s to feel free from the weight of clutter and material possessions in my life.
For those of you who are interested in what the remaining 5% represents, it’s mainly books that I couldn’t bear to part with, as well as some letters and photos. There is Jib, a pink teddy bear sent over from Spain, when I was born, by the Grandmother I never met and then there is the small bag (52l to be precise) of belongings I’ll be taking on my trip.
I’ve had a solid month of goodbyes, with a few more big ones still to come and it has been tough. I’m surprised by how emotional I’ve felt about saying goodbye to friends and family but there is something about the uncertainty of my return date that has left me feeling very sentimental.
Leaving for a trip like this has definitely seen me wanting to spend more time with the people who are important to me. But as I’ve thought about this, it’s made me realise the importance of investing time and effort into the relationships in your life everyday, not just when a separation is looming. A big lesson that has come out of this for me is to never leave it too late to tell people you care or to spend time with people you love.
Dealing with stress
With so much change going on in my life, I’ve been feeling a tad stressed out. I’d like to think I’m pretty robust at dealing with stress and change but what has surfaced recently is a tendency to try to deal with everything on my own.
Part of me doesn’t want to make a fuss by asking others for help and part of me doesn’t want to face asking for help and being turned down. The up shot is that I go into a place of trying to do everything myself and inevitably I overlook and inadvertently alienate friends by rejecting their offers of assistance. I recently had an amazing talk with a good friend of mine on this very subject. She sent me this poem, which sets out to define what it is to be a “servant-leader”.
Strong enough to be weak
Successful enough to fail
Busy enough to make time
Wise enough to say “I don’t know”
Serious enough to laugh
Rich enough to be poor
Right enough to say “I’m wrong”
Compassionate enough to discipline
Mature enough to be childlike
Important enough to be last
Planned enough to be spontaneous
Controlled enough to be flexible
Free enough to endure captivity
Knowledgeable enough to ask questions
Loving enough to be angry
Great enough to be anonymous
Responsible enough to play
Assured enough to be rejected
Victorious enough to lose
Industrious enough to relax
Leading enough to serve
I love this poem and the lines that resonated with me the most are ‘strong enough to be weak’, ‘assured enough to be rejected’ and ‘busy enough to make time’. These are definitely areas that I’ve struggled with lately but talking it through with my buddy has definitely helped me gain a bit more perspective and balance in my life. The lesson here: ask for help when you need it!
I’m undergoing a huge life change at the moment and everyday brings with it new challenges and rewards. There have been times when I wish I’d been able to talk to someone who had gone through something similar. If there is anything you would like to know about planning for or going through a change like this, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line or ask me in the comments below and if you enjoyed the post please do share by hitting one of the buttons below.