Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Unloading

I've been away from this blog for a long while, mostly because I've been immersed in the research, writing and preparation necessary to do a credible job of conducting Anti-Racism Trainings and Train the Trainer workshops for the Episcopal Dioceses of Wyoming and Northern California in June and July. The actual work "performance" only lasted two days in each place, but the participants definitely got the best that I could offer in terms of research, reflection and prayerful preparation. And my training partner and I worked with a new training colleague in Wyoming, which meant some extra time spent reading that newcomer in.

Everyone has her or his own process for getting work of this type done. My process is one of immersion, where I eat, sleep and breathe readings, videos and conversations about racism, racial justice, teaching and facilitation techniques. I've worked this way pretty much my entire life, including the thirty some years I worked in the corporate financial world. When I was putting together a new bank department or launching a new banking product, I lived a pretty workaholic existence. Thank God that my husband and my daughter were independent and resilient, because sometimes I just wasn't very present at home.

At the beginning of July, our family and household also underwent a major change. My brother, Jon, sold his long-time home in Newport Beach, California, and moved in with us - Herb, mom, me and the cat. Jon has been unemployed for four-and-a-half years, and we invited him to come live with us. It just seemed like he could use the support of family nearby, and Mom was ready to have more than just me in her everyday life. Happily, the transition has been a smooth one, with everyone adapting quite nicely to a new person in the household. We are blessed with enough space for everyone to have a room of their own, and all of our waking and resting hours, and eating and TV habits are compatible.

Jon showed up on Saturday, July 9th, in a 24-foot Penske rental truck, and he and our handyman-friend, Steel, unloaded the truck from Sunday through Tuesday. Unloading the truck sounds simple until you factor in the need to rearrange our three-car garage full of boxes that we moved in with 11 years ago and haven't unpacked to this day. Plus our cousin Cal sent furniture in the truck for his son, who's attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, to furnish his room in the house he'll be sharing with his buddies this academic year. The rental truck got returned after hours on Tuesday night, and I got to ride in it, hanging on for dear life as Jon maneuvered it around our two-lane back roads to Loveland, 30 miles north.

Jon's move-in has had the beneficial effect of forcing Herb and me (mostly me - I'm the pack rat in the family) to sort, recycle, give away and pitch countless amounts of "stuff." The biggest challenge, surprisingly, has not been being ruthless about what to give away and pitch. I've actually been able to let go of "love me" mementos and tchotchkes relatively easily, and I was long overdue to let go of clothing that no longer fits any of us. Plus, who really needs so many duplicates of staples like teeshirts and turtlenecks? We're determined not to keep paper files anymore, and I promise to resist bringing any new brochures into the house. A high speed, high volume scanner is on order.

The surprising challenge in all the sorting and pitching has been finding enough space in the recycle and trash bins to get rid of everything as quickly as we would like to. We'd rent a roll-away trash bin if we thought we'd be able to fill it quickly enough, but we're slow and deliberate in the sorting and pitching. We've also been interrupted by good things like the stray consulting assignment - to read and evaluate a set of technical documents here and there - that have taken our attention for a day or two at a time. I can't begin to describe how light and good it feels to unload all the little albatrosses that have bogged us down for so many years. It's clear to us that our children aren't going to want most of the stuff we've hung on to.

So, we are going to continue cleaning and clearing away clutter and accumulated stuff for the rest of our summer vacation and no doubt will count it among the best of all summers we've experienced. What about you?

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