I split my pants in the Grand Canyon

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Sometimes shopping secondhand means a great “new” pair of hiking pants for just $5. And sometimes it means you spend your day in the Grand Canyon with your jacket tied around your waist feeling the breeze. 

But it makes for a funny story later!

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Stuff and Creativity

As our move is in progress and our trip gets closer, it seems there’s more worth sharing and fewer opportunities to sit and write any of it down. We also don’t have internet yet at our new apartment, so forgive me if this blog isn’t so well maintained for a little while.

We’re in a bit of a warm-up to the coming nomadic season of life. We’re living in two places at once, with basic necessities unpacked in both places and most other possessions packed in boxes. Actually, “most” is wishful thinking since there is still a lot to be packed. But there is definitely an “in transit” feeling to life right now that is both exciting and exhausting. I imagine the next 5 months will have a similar feeling.

The kids are coping really well so far, which is really encouraging since there’s a lot more of this to come. Peter is too little to notice or understand much, and Emelie seems to enjoy exploring the house every morning to discover what looks different than when she went to bed. She stops and looks and says, “What happened here?!” She is not resisting the change or mourning the “loss” of things, and for that we are very happy.

But we’ve had to get a little creative sometimes, when a desired toy is at the other house, or it’s all just a little overwhelming and nothing is quite what she wants. I’ve started saying random crazy things when she gets stuck in the “No Zone” (when the answer to every question, idea or suggestion is a pouty-faced no). It gets her attention and breaks the cycle by making her laugh at “silly mamma” instead. Yesterday, for example, I suggested she could have a diaper for lunch. She came to the kitchen just to see if I had, in fact, served a (clean) diaper – which I had. She pretended to eat the diaper a little, then decided while she was there that she was hungry after all.

Since it worked yesterday, I thought I’d try it again this morning when we found ourselves again in the No Zone. When no toy or activity seemed to satisfy, I suggested she could read a shoe. She looked skeptical, but then grabbed my flip flop. I was expecting her to sound out the T-E-V-A on the tag, but instead she held it up and “read” a title to a story. Her own made up story. Then she pretended to turn pages and on every “page” she told a bit more of her story. She and I “read” my flip flop for about 15 minutes and I got to hear the most wonderful story fresh from the imagination of my almost-3-year-old.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and in our case, not having access to a lot of our stuff is driving an outburst of creative expression and play. It’s driving other kinds of outbursts, too – I don’t want to over-romanticize it. But there’s something about reducing the “stuff” that is really freeing.

This is an overwhelming season of life, no doubt about it. And there are a lot of times when I pop in a DVD so I can get some packing done. But there is also a lot of laughing. A lot of silliness. A lot of creative solutions. Less convenience, perhaps, but more awareness somehow. And I wonder if, after a few months without most of our stuff, I might just be a little sad to get it all back.

Small Spaces

Sometimes I get a little nervous about spending 90 days living out of a minivan and a pop-up camper with three other people. Granted, these are the three people I love most in the world. And two of them are relatively small… but this size difference is quickly compensated for in the volume of stuff needed  to take care of these little people. So while most of the time I am just completely excited about this trip, sometimes I start to think about space and logistics and I feel a bit claustrophobic.

Along the same lines of concern, we just signed a lease on a smaller (by about 25 square meters/270 square feet) 2 bedroom (compared to the 4 we have now) apartment that we’ll move into just a couple of weeks before we leave for our trip. Good timing, I know. And since we won’t really settle in and live there long before we leave, I’m hoping that after these months on the road, the apartment will feel palatial and spacious in comparison. Or at least comfortable and reasonable. I don’t regret choosing this apartment and I really think it will work out fine. But still, I get nervous sometimes.

Let me pause and acknowledge what a first-world problem this is. I know that there are people living in their cars with all their worldly possessions, and people who sleep on the street because they have no where else to go. Women in Africa raising 8 kids in a one-room hut with no windows and a thatched roof that leaks. These people, if they’re gracious, would laugh about my space worries. This perspective is both helpful and humbling, but I still get a little nervous sometimes anyway.

The key, both on the trip and in our post-trip life, is good stuff management. Only having what we really need and what we really want, and organizing those things well. This is, of course, much easier when packing for a vacation than packing for a move. But I’m hoping that this trip will teach us a new appreciation for the lightness, freedom and flexibility of a life lived with less stuff and that we will get a lot closer to only having the things that we truly need, use, and/or love.

So life at the Lindström’s has shifted into major reduction mode, and so far it feels great. Today I asked myself why I have enough socks to wear a clean pair everyday for a month without doing laundry, and why I still have that box of grade school certificates. Okay, I was good at school. But no one over 30 has any business hanging on to an honor roll certificate from the 4th grade. In my opinion at least.