Launched! The 48 Places Plan Begins

22 07 2010

It’s done: I’ve found a place in Hana (#1 on Next 48 Places list), so my journey is launched. Best of all, it’s my own little apartment; no need to share a house with others. It’s just what I wanted: within walking distance of town and Hana Bay, high-speed Internet and cable TV, just the right amount of down-sizing, smart and helpful landlady. I’m just so thrilled to have found the perfect spot. As a friend said, “Sounds like a round peg in a round hole.”

So now the planning, sorting, boxing and chaos begin. Since I won’t be making the physical move until the second Saturday in August, I am putting off the chaos for another week. Want to enjoy my current apartment for one more week. I am the moving pro … I know from past experience that once the packing begins, it doesn’t take long to get it done. But I have started making preparations: collecting boxes, changing my address, making arrangements with friends for help during the move, seeing my dentist and optometrist, planning what will go where in my new apartment, plus a thousand little details to make the move as painless as possible.

My one sad task is finding new homes for my cats, Divinity and Cocoa. (See their photos below.) They have been my loyal and loving companions for the past 10 years. I know I will miss them terribly. But they are, after all, just cats … not children. I’ve never been one to be over-sentimental about my pets. I had to leave two cats in California when I moved to Hawaii in 1996. It’s hard but not impossible. Life goes on for me and my cats.

So dear readers, if you or someone you know would like to adopt either or both cats, please let me know. If I don’t find a friend to take them, I’ll put a flyer us at my vet’s office and post something on craigslist. I just pray that I find quiet, caring homes and that they adapt well. (Now that I won’t have pets to talk to, I hope I don’t turn into one of those old women who talk to themselves.)

Finding new homes for Divinity and Cocoa is the big hurtle. After that I should have smooth sailing as I begin the 48 Places journey. Hold onto your hats!




High (Moving) Anxiety … less after 48 Places

13 07 2010

It happens every time. Once I know I’m moving, by choice or not, I go into panic mode. What if I don’t find a place in time? Will I get a place I really love or will I have to settle for the best I can find? How will I ever get everything boxed up and ready to move? Will I remember to do the bazillion things involved in a move? Who will I get to help me? What if I don’t like the new place? On and on, ad nauseum.

I don’t sleep. I over eat. My thoughts keep racing. I’m a mess … until I find the new place, make the deposit and commit to the move. Then the stress melts away. Then I’m a bundle of energy. The joy of decorating a new place, the hope of new friendships, the expectation of new experiences, all propel me forward. My mood turns like magic from despair to excitement. Everything starts “clicking.” I’m happy as a clam.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone through this scenario over the years. Once I actually know where I’m going to move, my natural talent for logistics and organization kick into high gear. The delight in streamlining my life and clearing out the clutter replaces the angst of uncertainty. After all, I’m a pro at this moving bit. I’ve done it enough times already. I love feeling on top of things. And once I’m packed and ready to go, I love knowing exactly what I have and where everything is. There is a certain element of control over my life. Do things go wrong? Do precious family heirlooms break? Do I forget something important? Sure.

What I love about the 48 Places plan is that, as I progress on my journey, the period of stress will be less each time. Each transition to each new place with become easier and easier. The high (moving) anxiety will give way sooner to a sense of freedom and spontaneity: I am becoming “a feather on the breath of God.”

Borrowing Other People’s Stuff … in 48 Places

5 07 2010

After my last blog post … with the list of the things I will leave behind when I begin the 48 Places plan … I’ve been thinking a lot about “stuff.” I wonder what it will be like to let go of the things that have made my life so comfortable. I’ve spent the past decade accumulating all this “stuff.” Will I regret selling or giving away so many of my possessions? What will it be like to rely on the people with whom I’ll be living? Will I mind constantly asking, “Do you mind if I use your (fill in the blank)? I have been independent for so long, how will this interdependence thing work out? 

I remember when I moved to Tahiti in 1999 to live with my then-husband, Maurice. We owned next to nothing. He worked at a minimum wage job. We lived in one room in the apartment of a family from the Marquesas Islands. We had very little money and were forced to rely on these people’s generosity. It was difficult at first to admit that I must ask for help. Since I had no choice, I learned to accept their offers of food and the other necessities. It was an important lesson to learn. In the past, I found joy in being generous … now it was time to let others feel this same joy. I learned to express my thankfulness and to accept their generosity with grace. 

As I now prepare to embark on the 48 Places journey, I realize I will be in a similar position. Although I won’t be as destitute as I was during my stay in Tahiti, I will need to depend on others to offer some of the things that I can’t lug around with me. This time it will be out of choice, not out of necessity. (I just pray I don’t break someone’s family heirloom.)  

Looking back over the years at the many times I have moved in the past, I realize I left things behind with each move. Six months after a move, I would be hard pressed to even name or describe any of the things I gave up. Over the course of my life I can think of maybe two or three things I regret selling or giving away. After all it’s just “stuff.” I’m often reminded of George Carlin’s riff on “A place for your stuff.” (Love especially his use of traveling to Honolulu, and then Maui, as illustrations of our attachment to stuff in this monologue.) 

I am also reminded of the PBS special: “Afflenza.” This show, and book, illustrated the epidemic of overconsumption that plagues the Western World. The photograph of the American family in front of their two-story house with stacks and stacks of possessions was shocking when juxtaposed with the photo of the family from India (or were they from another third world country?) with just a small pile of basic necessities in front of their humble home. How do we Americans accumulate so much stuff … and why do we attach so much importance to having the biggest, the best, the newest? If I can cure myself of the disease of materialism, if I can begin to place more importance on relationships and experiences, I will gain Freedom from Stuff. And in the end, this is the choice I’m making: Freedom vs. Stuff. I will be ree to pick up at a moment’s notice and move to the next spot on my 48 Places list. As I’ve said before, I can’t have it both ways. I can’t both cling to my stuff and be unencumbered so I can live out my dreams. In the end, it is a small price to pay for all this freedom. By shedding all this extra stuff, I can embrace “The Bearable Lightness of Being.”

Decision Time … 48 to Leave … 48 to Take

27 06 2010

As I prepare for my move to Hana (#1 on Next 48 Places), I must choose which of my possessions to take and what to leave behind. This is not new: each time I move … 67 times now and counting … I feel lighter and more organized. It is good to sift through boxes, drawers and bookcases, deciding what is important to me and what is merely “stuff.” Below are two lists: “48 to Leave” and “48 to Take.” Naturally some decisions will be easier than others.

The hardest part will be finding a new home for my two cats, Cocoa and Divinity, plus my Betta fish, Mr. Bojangles. My cats have been the joy of my life for 11 and 8 years, respectively. I love them dearly but it is because I love them that I must leave them behind. The trauma of an airplane flight to the mainland would do more harm than adjusting to a new owner. Some friends have expressed an interest in Divinity (the beautiful white imp with blue eyes); just need to appeal to them to take Cocoa (aging brown tabby with diabetes)  … plus Mr. Bojangles. I’m sure it’s selfish of me but I keep thinking of the advantages of not being a cat woman: no more scratches, no litter box to clean, no food to buy, no vet bills. But I will miss them terribly. I just hope there are more pets to love in the homes where I’ll be living. Since living near Makawao, I realized I haven’t spent enough time around horses. A friend says she envisions me on a hacienda in South America … with the tall, dark and handsome man of my dreams, I hope.

The easiest to give up will be my car. Not only is it a menace to the environment from burning oil, but it is a hazard waiting to happen. I never know when I get in if it will bring me back home. It has more than served its purpose. I bought it from a friend for $500 two years ago, thinking that I would be lucky if it lasted me for a year … driving it just on the weekends to run errands. It has exceeded my expectations: I drive it all over Upcountry Maui and into Kahului all the time. If it is still running when I move to Hana, I will drive it (slowly) over the infamous “Road to Hana.” Who knows, maybe I can resell it for $500 when I move to San Francisco (#2 on Next 48 Places).

So here are my lists. Hard to believe I have acquired so much junk, as my father used to call it. It will feel good to choose the things I really need and love and to shed the excessive excess. “Nothing succeeds like excess.” Oscar Wilde

48 to LEAVE

1. Books (diet and other self-help books, art books, etc., etc.)
2. Clothes (those I don’t wear or that don’t fit)
3. Shoes and handbags (old and falling apart)
4. Jewelry (costume, duplicates in color and style)
5. Jewelry and ring boxes
6. Framed watercolors and lithographs
7. TV
8. TV stand
9. Computer desk
10. Answering machine
11. Double bed
12. VCR
13. Space heater
14. Vacuum
15. DVD cases
16. Old phones
17. Dresser
18. Large wood deck table 
19. Sofa
20. Chair
21. Bookcases
22. Kitchen table and chairs
23. Extra folding chairs
24. Bamboo room divider
25. Rattan window shades
26. Ironing board
27. Iron
28. Water purifier
29. Cleaning supplies
30. Old diaries and papers
31. Bird feeders
32. Excess pots and pans
33. Microwave
34. Toaster
35. Toaster oven
36. Electric can opener
37. Excess dishes and glasses
38. Comforter and bedspreads
39. Throw pillows
40. Excess sheets and pillowcases
41. Plants: indoor and outdoor
42. Pots and containers 
43. Emergency hurricane supplies 
44. Pet food and supplies
45. Mr. Bojangles
46. Divinity
47. Cocoa  
48. Car                         

48 to TAKE
1. Books (spiritual reading, travel guides)          
2. Clothes (those I love and/or travel well)       
3. Shoes and handbags (ditto)                              
4. Jewelry (the pieces I love)                               
5. Koa jewelry box, bowl, platter              
6. Small, unframed art                                           
7. Camera and equipment                                      
8. Camcorder                                           
9. Laptop                                                          
10. Computer speakers                              
11. Surround-sound system                 
12. Blu-Ray disc player                                        
13. iPod and MP3 player                                      
14. Noise-cancelling headphones               
15. DVD’s                                                                
16. iPhone4                                                            
17.  Printer                                  
18. Postage scale                                                    
19. Software discs and computer supplies          
20. Airbed and down pillow
21. Sheets, pillowcases, Mom’s Afghans
22. Wind chimes and temple bells                                                
23. Light catchers (My favorite: dichroic glass mobile)
24. Blender (My parent’s old sturdy Osterizer)
25. Popcorn air-popper
26.  Dishes and cups  (2 place settings)
27. Coffee cups
28. Coffee grinder
29. Hot Shot
30. Glass coffee bean jars
31. Jars for tea bags
32. One pot, one pan                                                  
33. Silverware                                                            
34. Spices and teas                                                     
35. Vases                                                                     
36. Lamp                                                                      
37. Candles and glass holders                                   
38. Family photos and mementoes                          
39. Rocking chair from babyhood                             
40. Prescriptions and OTC drugs                            
41. Toiletries                                                                
42. Towels                                                                   
43. Snorkel and fins                                                    
44. Luggage                                                                  
45. Plastic storage tubs                                               
46. Antique end table                                                  
47. Yoga mat                                                                 
48. Eyeglasses: 3 pairs

Friends can call “dibs” now on the stuff I’ll be selling.

Been There, Done That … Prior 48 Places

15 06 2010

Today I added a page with a list of 48 Places where I have lived or visited. Seems I was a Vagabond Wahine before I even knew it. In some instances, I should say, “Been there, wish I hadn’t done that.” While I’m waiting to get launched on the 48 Places plan, thought it would be fun to talk about all the places I have lived and loved. Because my Dad’s work took us to Virginia, Canada and Michigan every year, from my 2nd through 6th grades, I got the “travel bug” early. Each year, my Mom would pack up all our necessary belongings into our Plymouth station wagon and small trailer, and Dad would plot our cross-country drive. In July, we would leave California and take the northern route through Colorado, over the Great Plains, stop in Chillicothe, Missouri to visit my mother’s family, then on the east coast to Harrisonburg, Virginia. While we lived in Virginia, we got to take weekend trips to New York, Niagara Falls and the beautiful caverns and Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Our small family was always ready to take a vacation. In late summer, we would pack up everything again and head north to Ontario Canada. We lived near St. Catherines in Port deLucie (which I cannot find on any maps now). I learned to swim in Lake Ontario. Then in the fall, we moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan … just in time for the cold, snowy winters. We sometimes rented a cabin or apartment from the House of David near Benton Township. The next January, Mom would begin packing again and Dad would map our return trip to California … choosing the southern route to avoid as much bad weather as possible. I’m sure that these 1950s cross-country trips were the origin of my wanderlust. As I traveled through the states in my own private space at the back of our station wagon, I dreamt of a time when I would return to all the beautiful locations we passed through. Now that I will have the next 12 years ahead of me to revisit some of my Prior 48 Places and add the new 48 Places, I will be the epitome of the “Been there, done that” expression.

The Plan … living in other people’s homes

5 06 2010

Because I am not independently wealthy, the only way I can afford to live in my 48 Places is by living in other people’s homes. I will relinquish my apartment, sell or give away most of my possessions and take to the road. My idea is to box up everything and send my “necessities” to each new location. I will select places with public transportation … plus I’ll do a lot more walking … so there won’t be costs involved in owning a car. I will trim my expenses to only the basics: putting a roof over my head and food on the table, a mobile Internet connection and cell phone, money for local transportation and admission fees to museums and attractions, a few small mementoes from each new location. By keeping my needs and wants to a minimum, I’ll live a simple life in the 48 Places.
I believe that even in the most expensive resort locations, there are people who work in hotels, shops and restaurants living in low-rent neighborhoods. I hope to find a room with one English-speaking person in each place by networking: friends of friends, utilizing Facebook and Twitter contacts.  I also plan to contact the HR managers with the better-known hotels and eateries in my next location, getting leads on people who may have a room to rent. “Just folks” will become my peeps.
Yes, it means giving up my privacy and some of my independence. But I will be gaining a world full of experiences. I can’t have it both ways: I cannot both stay in my comfortable home and live out my 48 Places dream. I’ve made my choice: it’s the vagabonding life for me.
In my next blog post I will explore which things I will need to leave behind and which things I’ll want to take with me as I begin living in other people’s homes

Why Hana … and when?

30 05 2010

Since my first visit in 1978, I have wanted to live in Hana. “Heavenly Hana,” as it is known, is one of the most beautiful, inspirational places on earth. Stunning coastlines, with mountains and valleys in a thousand shades of green, the scent of white ginger and sea breezes, plus the friendliest people in Hawaii, make this area a natural for my #1 spot on my 48 Places list. Since I am already living on Maui … and it may be several years before I return … I can’t pass up the opportunity to make my dream of living there a reality. To my mind, it is the perfect place to implement my 48 Places plan. Over the next two months or so, I will be divesting myself of all the possessions that have defined my life over the past decade in Hawaii. As I begin my 48 Places journey, a three-month sojourn in Hana, beginning in August, will give me the time and space to prepare mentally and physically for the rest of my adventure.  So … of all the awesome places on this planet, which one would you select for the #1 spot on your own 48 Places list?