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Your Journey’s Moving Boxes: Hold On’s, Take Along’s, and Goodbye’s

I’m moving right now, and I’m moving fast. More now than ever in my 23 years of living on this earth am I moving and chasing and dreaming and doing. I’m finally seeing results and creating change. I’m finally, well, happy. Truly.

But despite flying high and having found the courage to actually believe in myself that I can do these BIG, mountain-moving, wild and crazy and meaningful things, there are other pieces in my life that which I haven’t quite been ready to say goodbye to.

I wonder, when we’re moving forward, how do we know which pieces of our old life to say goodbye to, and which pieces to keep with us?

IT’S MORE THAN DUCLUTTERING

It’s almost as if you’re on a mission to declutter your home of all the material possessions you no longer truly need so you can either fill that space with other pieces that will teach you more, or inspire more, or challenge you more, or spend more time using the pieces that are already there that were put on the back burner.

Then, despite all  your momentum and all the trash bags of your old cluttered life going out the door, you come across those few things that you just can’t seem to part ways with.

And it’s always the sentimental stuff. It’s a movie stub from your first date with that guy you loved. It’s that stuffed animal you’ve had since your first Christmas. It’s old yearbooks and the notes in them written by friends you loved but haven’t talked to in years.

It’s the stuff that weighs little in your hands, but weighs more than you can bear in your heart.

COULD IT BE JUST SEE YOU LATER  INSTEAD OF GOODBYE?

And so you sit there as you pack your things up staring at this tattered up memory in your hands reminiscing over how much it meant to you. You smile at it.  You want to put it in a safe place where you can protect it and come back to it whenever you need to. You want to hold onto it forever.

But here’s the thing… you can’t always go back once you say goodbye.

You can’t always pick it up, and hug it, or read it, or talk to it once you put it away. Sometimes those old pieces of your life don’t have a safe place to be kept. Some fade too much with time. Some can’t stay because they too belong somewhere else. Some resent you for putting them away.

MAKING THE DIFFICULT CHOICE

Now you’re at the moment of decision. There you sit with 3 boxes beside you: 1.) Goodbye’s to your left, 2.) Hold Onto’s to your right, and 3.) Take Along’s in front of you. What box does this piece of you belong in?

Remember, you’re moving forward and you’re moving on. This is about you and your journey and your mission. And because of that, there’s a chance that you won’t be able to switch boxes along the way.

So how do you choose? How do you know if it’s time to say goodbye? How do you know if putting it into that Hold Onto box is the right or wrong thing to do? How do you know you won’t desperately miss  it once you decide not to put it in your Take Along box?

For me personally, I’m at a point in my life where I’m 95% finished packing up these 3 boxes. But that other 5% – the part that weighs the most – well, they’re still spread out on the floor all around me and I’m stuck staring at them in bitter sweet wonder.

FINISHED PACKING

The truth of the matter is, you don’t always know. You just can’t. And so all that’s left is trusting yourself, your gut and your heart, and remembering that you’re going where you’re meant to be going.  If a piece of your old life is meant to come with you, somewhere down the road, be it now or much further away, it’ll be there.

Because that’s the difference between packing up stuff and packing up pieces of your life. Stuff you throw out. But the pieces of our lives, be it memories or people or passions, well, they transcend time, hurtles, challenges, breaks, and even goodbyes.

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About Lauren Rains

Hi my name is Lauren Rains. I write about the human experience. Through thick and thin, I’m dedicated to growth, adventure, integrity, and love. The Mad To Live is based on my pursuits, experiments, research, and lessons of challenge and triumph in all areas of life, including being entrepreneur, a writer, a philosopher, a traveler, a teacher, a student, a creative, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a significant other, a stranger and the list goes on. At the end of the day, I believe human beings are here for two reasons: 1.) to love one another with total acceptance, and 2.) to see what we’re made of as we create the possibilities for an abundant life for ourselves and for others. No more bullshit, let's just enjoy our lives.

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  • Know what you mean. The first time I moved, I took some stuff to the Salvation Army, threw some stuff away, and saved some stuff thinking, “I might need this”. The second time I moved, I threw away a lot of the I-might-need-this stuff that I saved from the first move. Peace and Love!

    • Hey Ricky! Yea moving “stuff” is a lot easier. I wish declutterung life in general was as 1,2,3 as throwing away junk when you move 😛

  • I’ve been in the process of de-cluttering my room and possessions for a few days now. It is so liberating. I don’t NEED twenty things to commemorate just one event. Also I’ve taken things out of their dusty places so I can start using them again and have been thinking about using things more artistically rather than just have them sitting around. Scanning pictures/drawings/certificates/awards into the computer has been good too.

    Nice post Lauren! Definitely good to remember.

    • Hey Grace!

      Well good for you! Sometimes decluttering your possessions can do wonders for decluttering your life in general. Maybe you come across an old picture of you and a past boyfriend you once loved, and at that point finding it and recognizing how you feel you realize you’ve finally moved on. WHo knows – there are so many things!
      Hold onto the memories – but only the ones that keep you inspired!
      Lauren 🙂

  • When we were decluttering our lives to travel, I had the strangest feelings about it. The more we whittled away at our stuff, and finally when we were without our home, I felt really, terribly small. Like I was unidentifiable and that I didn’t fit anywhere – no one could say, “Hey, you know that woman, she lives in THAT house and drives THAT car.” Funny how we are raised to be identified by our stuff.

    That lasted maybe a day, thankfully 🙂 Then I felt so free, so completely unburdened.

    I also found it interesting that most of my “Hold on’s” are things from OTHER people. Like, gifts family members gave me, or things that belonged to them (that are cherished since they passed away). It wasn’t stuff that was a “steal of a deal” I snagged at Pier 1, etc.

    Great post Lauren. 🙂

    • Hey Dalene!

      Thanks so much for sharing such an awesome comment. And now that you mention it I realize the same thing. Everything I own that’s really important to me are the things of other people, be it something they gave to me or passed on to me or we shared together. They symbolize so much to me. Much more than the knicknacks I’ve picked up along the way.

      There are certain possessions i think are great for us to identify ourselves with, and others that, as you said, a day later, we don’t even remember what part of our identity they made up 🙂

  • carole

    I interpreted your article a little differently than the other commenters so far. what I took away from it was the challenge in deciding what parts of your life/lifestyle/associations you want to let go of, or hold on to. that’s more difficult than deciding whether to keep a souvenir. everyone faces this challenge at various points in life, and you just have to trust your gut.

    • Yea its really funny actually – I wasn’t even thinking about packing up actual stuff. I was thinking about packing up your life and the whole packing up and moving was a metaphor haha. Although, it works both ways lol.
      Packing up your life and deciding what boxes things should go in is a bit more difficult sometimes!! 😛

  • Hey Lauren!

    Another great post again. 🙂

    When I had to pack up to go home after uni I had to declutter my room of 4 years. It was quite tough dealing with some of my posessions but funny thing is, the end of my uni life also saw the end of several other things as well. The kind of music I listened to, my compulsion to collect postcards and even some of my friendships came to a halt. This made it easier for me to throw things out. I felt bad at first but I knew all the excess emotional baggage was useless back home. Besides, the best thing out of uni (which was Tariq) came home with me anyway. 🙂

    It IS hard decluttering and saying goodbye to things, memories and people but I do believe that if you have at least ONE thing you keep close to you (be it your principles, your car or your family), leaving everything else would be much easier. Focusing on that thing as well as your present and future will make you forget or water down your memories of the past.

    Good luck with moving Lauren! Where r u heading to next btw?

    Shaheera

    • Hey T&S!
      haha you guys are so cute 🙂 You’re a great couple! I think you make a really good point abou thaving that ONE thing with you. It’s like for me I recently moved down to FL for the winter and could back only one large suitcase and one small suitecase. And not to sound corny and lame haha, but my ONE thing was this stuffed animal bear named Richard. He’s small enough that I bring him all around the world with me. I know, I kjnow – 23 years old and I sleep with a stuff animal! haha. But I dunno, I love it.
      That an I bring a stack of photos with me everywhere I go of my friends and travels 🙂

      • Hey Lauren!

        Oh my, I’m almost 25 and I still sleep with a bolster I’ve had since I was a baby! 😛 So don’t worry, you’re not in it alone. 😉 (oh no, did i just confess my secret guilty pleasure to the whole internets?)

        It’s good that you bring something that keeps you grounded. Hope you’re settling in your new place pretty nicely!

        Shaheera

        • hahaha don’t worry…your secret is safe with me. hehe
          – Laur 😛

  • Once again a magnificent post Lo! I could really resonate with a lot of these things as I thought about some of my big moves in life, thinking back especially to going off to college and then my divorce last year, and subsequent launch into travel and being a digital nomad. I’ve made a somewhat clean break each time, that when I’m moving (forward), I want somewhat of a clean slate. I don’t want all this “extra baggage”. It reminds me of the Kierkegaard quote in which he said that life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. I see it as one chapter closing and another beginning, with new things that I can hold firmly to until it’s time to “move” again.

    • Hey Spence!
      First of all, thank you for your kind words 🙂 Second of all, I totally relate to you on the clean slate thing. Sometimes arranging and rearranging your life so you can have one of those is the best decisions and actions you can ever take. Honestly, since the clean slate I gave myself a few months back after returning from China, moving down to FL, and coming out of a relationship, the clean slate I gave myself has made me happier than I’ve ever been in my life. Getting rid of that extra baggage so you can replace it with things that really matters to you is essential!
      Now, there are some things that I’m still carrying around with me that made the clean slate a little dirty from the start, but I’m working on it. It’s part of living life.
      LOVE LOVE LOVE the quote you shared here. I am writing that one down as a keeper.
      May the chapter you’re on be jampacked with adventure and learniung and fun G-chats with me 🙂
      Laur 🙂

  • Jossie

    Say goodbye to it now, or you’ll be debating about it (again) later. Those lil’ things we think we need, most often only hold us back. I throw/donate/give away EVERYTHING and only keep 3 types of material things in my life: things I find useful and functional, pictures, and anything my husband and I exchange….everything else goes away. As I look around my office, I can see I’ve been slacking a bit. Good luck in your decision-making. Just remember that getting rid of stuff doesn’t get rid of the memory, it’s just stuff 🙂

    • Hey Jossie!
      Haha I like your mentality! Honestly I need to incorporate that into my own life, not just in my possessions but just in life in general – habits, relationships, jobs, etc.
      I also think what you said about those “lil things we think we need but most often hold us back” correlates well with life in general as well. Think of all the things we do just because we think we need to or should. I mean, it doesn’t happen all the time, but many people fall into that limbo trap here and there throughout their lives because of that very principle.
      Thanks for the comment Jossie!
      Laur 🙂

  • “There you sit with 3 boxes beside you: 1.) Goodbye’s to your left, 2.) Hold Onto’s to your right, and 3.) Take Along’s in front of you. What box does this piece of you belong in?”

    Love this line…who hasn’t been there?

    • Hey Tess!
      Thanks so much! It’s actually really comforting to know so many others have been there in many different ways. And you know what? We all get through it, and we all come out better and stronger 🙂

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  • I would say that I’m the type that easily tosses things, and for the most part that would be true. BUT there are some boxes that have made each move with me and are never unpacked. I go through these each move to determine if any could be relegated to the trash but, with the rare exception, it mostly ends up being a trip down memory lane and then right back in the box.

    • I have to say sometimes the funnest part about moving is that part! The part when you open up that box and you find that picture or random knicknack or keepsake, and this rush of memories comes flying into your mind. You can practically smell it, hear it, see it, taste it.
      I love that feeling. 🙂

  • I love this and definitely just recently went through the packing process. But I was amazed at how much of an internal packing process it truly was. Inside of me lay the Hold Onto and the Take Along boxes and I had to learn to compartmentalize, recycle, or store. To ponder on your question: ” I wonder, when we’re moving forward, how do we know which pieces of our old life to say goodbye to, and which pieces to keep with us?”… I’ve found that those pieces will say goodbye to us and not the other way around. When they are ready to leave, they will wave a nice little goodbbye and say “It was nice to be with you. But it’s time for me to move on.” It’s a natural thing, and we have to learn to be okay when they leave. We have to give them enough grace to wave back and say “It was nice to meet you to. But it’s time for us to move on.”

    • Hey Quinn!!!
      Thank you so much for this. To be honest, it’s been the mental part, the metaphorical part of this that I’ve actually been pondering a lot lately. That’s really where the inspiration of this post came from. I was using packing as an analogy actually haha.
      But you’re right, we do have to have the grace to simply say so long. To say thank you for being there in my life. But just like we we must go, so must our past memories and keepsakes. It is a natural process.
      Even though sometimes it hurts and its hard, it is always so worth it in the end.
      And I am so thankful for every thing in my life no matter what box I’ve had to place it in down the road.
      Thanks Quinn!
      Laur 🙂

  • Great post Lauren. Unlike you, I’m just finally moving. Getting off my chair and leaving to Oregon finally. Hope we could see each other in real time some time.

    • Hey Jonathan!
      Nothing would make me happier than to sit across form you in a coffee shop in Oregon and talk about life and writing and how you pick up girls haha. 😛
      Have a great move!

  • Ugh, we’re in the process of selling everything we own… and it’s crazy the things we are attached the most: like this semi-dying pot of plant we just can’t seem to get rid of. I’m not looking forward to making these decisions 🙁

    • hahaha that is hilarious. Yea I know what you mean! But don’t worry…once you make the decision and you figure out which box each thing belongs it, suddenly it becomes a lot easier. And a huge weight will be lifted off your shoulders. It’s bitter sweet, but I think it ends up being far more sweeter than bitter in the end 🙂

  • this is one of the hardest things about growth. the tricky part is moving forward personally and changing how you relate to someone like family, who may not be ‘going away’. essentially you are breaking the close bond you might have had and resetting it into a proper state (like resetting a broken bone by breaking it again – ouch!) it is one of the most painful things but necessary to move forward and more importantly to sustain health in that relationship and in your relationship to others.

    i think what makes this harder these days is that it is so tempting to re-establish unhealthy bonds with facebook giving you the opportunity to snoop an ties you cut, which tells your brain that you are still connected regardless of whether you actually communicate with that person.

    and with the dramatic changes that are going on these days, the frequency of this happening is more often ties can be made and broken or changes online very swiftly so that creates a lot of stress on all of us relationally and emotionally.

    thanks for sharing this… something i’ve thought about a lot lately!