My Great Leap

Published on January 4th, 2011


Bit by Bit, the Packing Begins…

We’re not talking about tossing a handful of things into a backpack for a few weeks on the lam here.   No siree, we’re talking about packing up EVERY BLESSED THING to move out of the country and become a perpetual nomad/expat.

Needless to say the task looms a good bit daunting – what to dump, what to store, and what to toss in the backpack.  And though my target date for this great “Leap of Faith” is still at least 6 months off, nonetheless begin I must – and the sooner, the better.  The truth is, I’d really just as soon cart it all to Goodwill without a second glance.   But honing all my worldly possessions down to what I can carry on my back plus a few gotta-keeps to store will surely take some thought.

So best I bite-bullet and begin the tedious process of winnowing the wheat from the chaff so to speak.  Separating the few precious things I’ll store for an indeterminate duration (in the smallest of storage lockers: 5 x 6 at $30/month) from the remaining S-T-U-F-F:

  1. Stuff to sell on Craig’s list (like the car, a few stray electronics, and most all the furniture save a couple of antiques I just can’t bear to part with.)
  2.  Stuff to sell on Ebay (like the geocoin collection, etc.)
  3. A couple dozen art quilts – each handmade, many w/ scraps of antique kimono silks – these I plan to sell on consignment at a quilt shop on the east coast.
  4. Likewise the best of the clothes – on consignment at my favorite “Funky Jane’s” (netting me 40% each).
  5. A gazillion stray whatnots, kitchen stuff, etc. to sell at a garage sale(s?) – hey, those quarters and dollars add up, no?
  6. And finally, whatever’s left – to charity/Goodwill else the dump.

NativityWoodCarverMozambique350x265Why start so early?  Well it was time to take down the Christmas decorations anyway.  And clearly I won’t be spending Christmas here next year, so – may as well start with those.   A small, but symbolic (not to mention, nostalgic) start on dismantling my life as I’ve long known it.

So rather than tuck the tangled strings of twinkly Christmas lights, candles, wreaths and ornaments back into the storage box, I instead set them aside for a garage sale come spring – saving only 3 small items to keep.   Already the heart-wrenching decisions to keep or to go have begun.   I simply couldn’t part forever with my beloved creche from Mozambique – hand carved by an earnest artist along a dusty road near Vilankulos on the Indian Ocean.  So that small bundle will be the first set aside to be stored.

BitByBitPackingXmasStocking350x263And of the remaining shimmering baubles and glittery garlands, I saved but TWO precious items that will always remind me of my childhood and dear Christmases past:   My tattered Christmas stocking that I’ve had since… forever.  Plus a single 40 yr. old Christmas card depicting a Chicago winter’s skyline at sunset, with Lake Michigan aglow in the reflection of holiday lights.  Inside the card, my Mother hand wrote “See you and baby Angela real soon!” – for we would be flying back to Illinois from California that Christmas, and my oldest daughter turned 1 yr. old on December 22nd of that year.  Needless to say, the card is now yellowed and dog-eyed, but it’s hung on my tree every Christmas since then.  Only these two small treasures shall go with me to Asia, to remind me of Christmases past.

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About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

4 Responses to Bit by Bit, the Packing Begins…

  1. Jo-N says:

    Hi!!!!!! Young lady! (I just read that “lass” means that :-))
    Here is Jo-N (Johanne) from Brussels, Belgium. I can follow you soooooo well: I plan to go on long-term travel as a single mom with my 4 year old daughter… I read you’ve had kids yourself so you might have an idea of how I’m terrified/excited 50/50 myself 😉 Actually I don’t say I’m leaving, not to frighten myself too much, I say I’m dreaming of it and see if I am brave enough to leave in the end. In the meantime I do all that is necessary of course 😉
    If I succeed, hey, who knows, we might see each other!! My plan is to leave begin of november to SE Asia, travel through Vietnam, Cambodgia, Thailand, Laos… and then I don’t know… I guess Indonesia and Australia and then… ? 🙂
    In the meantime I’m busy just like you selling as much stuff as I can to fit a “small” storage locker (G!!! are they expensive!!!) Unlike you I’d like to keep the minimum to live when I come back (if I come back ;-), but I’ll have to for my daughter will want to see her grandma) and indeed they are heart-wrenching decisions. I wish I would have started even earlier, but I’m sometimes so terrified that I can’t even move a single finger 🙂 It’s so good to know I’m not alone 😉 and it belongs to the process.
    I admire you, young lady ;-), 60+, I can’t believe it!! how inspiring, your story. I guess I want to be just like you 😉 I always wanted to be adventurous, never really dared to. So I thought, with the years going by, it’s getting more and more difficult, now I have a daughter! So before it’s too late, it’s time to go. Let’s just do it.
    I love the song that inspired your wanderlust. Me it was a picture my uncle who lived in Africa took of my cousin: the latter was standing next to an ananas as big as he was! I heard that there were people living on the other side of the world, where it was dark when it was light in my country, and I used to think of that when laying in my bed at night 🙂 Fascinated 🙂
    I’ve subscribed to your newsletter, so I’ll be following you and keeping in touch. Hopefully we’ll meet in Saigon! 🙂 (Ho-Chi-Minh if I’m right ;-)) HCM here we come! 😉
    PS: I love your (writing) style!!!

    • TravelnLass says:

      Oh my dear Jo-N – I am sooooo sorry that I’ve only today (after more than a YEAR!) found the email alert down at the very BOTTOM of my email box, pointing me here to your wonderful comment. My only excuse is that it must have come in when I was hurtling into the abyss of the final frantic weeks before moving here to Vietnam.

      So… if you’ve been following my TravelnLass blog, then you must know how very WONDERFULLY everything has turned out for me here. In retrospect it was even more of a HUGE leap-of-faith than I thought. But I guess it’s true: those who take big risks, reap big rewards. And I honestly have to PINCH myself each day now to believe this is actually my life.

      But what about YOU??? Did you too, make it here to SE Asia?? You and your daughter? Do please let me know, as I’m crossing fingers that you too, managed to find the courage to follow your dreams.

  2. TravelnLass says:

    Thanks for the tip RD, I’ll keep it in mind for things that I can’t sell.

  3. RogerDodger says:

    Some people use to get rid of stuff that can’t or won’t be sold. I didn’t because I underestimated how long it would take to get rid of 98% of the stuff I own before leaving the country. By then it was easier to use the dumpsters and Goodwill.

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