barcelona kissThat Fire Sale on my life I promised back in November of 2012 is nearly over. By this time next week, all of my earthly possessions will either have been sold off at garage sale, placed in a metal container at a self-storage unit, donated to the local humane society, or thrown into the trash.

Downsizing is Not For Sissies

If you really want to experience all of your emotions at the same time, let me suggest that there is nothing quite like putting your hands on every single, solitary thing you own, reliving every memory and feeling you have ever had that’s attached to that thing, and deciding whether or not that thing–along with all of its memories and feelings–will continue to be a part of your life or cast away as useless flotsam upon the ever-receding sea of your finite existence.

If you want to know what downsizing is like, imagine going through the five stages of grief over everything you own. Over that old secretary desk you got at someone else’s garage sale twenty-five years ago, over the finger-painting your four-year old created for your birthday, over a roll of old Madonna and Child Christmas stamps you’ve been saving since the 1980s for some unknown reason you can’t quite explain. And on and on and on it goes.

My husband’s criteria has been very simple. He only asks himself one question:

“Do I ever want to move this thing again?”

Since I have a man to move my things for me–no matter how heavy or unwieldy–physics plays no part whatsoever in my decision-making. For me, it’s all about how I feel. There is a utilitarian component to it though, which is answered by my guiding question:

“Does this thing serve me?”


But that one question leads to many others:

  • Does this thing make me happy?
  • Does this thing make me sad?
  • Will I use this thing again?
  • When was the last time I used this thing?
  • Is this thing still in the same box I packed it in when we moved to the Mountain eleven years ago?
  • Do I like this thing?
  • Do I love this thing?
  • Have I always hated this thing but never had the courage to get rid of it?
  • Will I cry if I put this thing in the pile of things I no longer want?
  • Will I have a panic attack if I even dare think about not having this thing anymore? (This is the category that precious finger-painting fell into)

And on this will go until we reach the very last thing, which by my calculation should be sometime this Saturday afternoon.

The Answer is 42

And thus, the first leg of this twisty-turny journey my husband and I began on the second day of January, 2012, will be complete.

Or maybe our journey really began on the day we were born. Did the angels bet God that there was no way on earth these two people, so very, very different, and yet so very much alike, could possibly stay together through thick and thin?

Who knows? Who knows what manner of events, or the timing thereof, conspire to put us on the path to our destinies. Do we even have destinies? Is the trajectory of our lives God-ordained fate–Does Jesus have some wonderful plan for our lives?–or are our lives so entirely random that they are in fact utterly pointless?

It doesn’t matter now. What matters is that we’ve done it. We’ve really done it! We’ve let go of everything that was enslaving us to a life neither of us was happy living. And through it all, time and time again–even when it cost us dearly–we’ve chosen one another over every other consideration.

In November of 2012, we decided to walk away from our house after losing over $200K in equity, post-housing bust. And while there have been some rough patches–including California taking us to the cleaners in taxes–we’ve never looked back. It was without a doubt the best financial decision we could have ever made. Not having any other debt, our credit score barely felt the jiggle. But even so, we were willing to risk it. We were willing to risk everything for a life worth living with each other.

That house, and all of its stuff, was holding us hostage to a life that was making both of us miserable. It, and all of its useless–not-even-worth-moving-again–contents, failed to serve us. And we decided we’d be damned if we’d continue being indentured servants to some things.

Dreams Do Come True

In December of 2011, I had a dream (I know this because I have a post in my drafts file about it that I never published). I dreamed that I woke up and looked out the window of a house I’d never been in before, and everything that was stealing my peace and joy was gone from my life. What I remember most about this dream is how happy I felt. And I clearly remember the words I said to myself in this dream as the sun poured through that window. I said, “Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Maybe Kris Kristofferson was right and freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. All I do know for sure is that right now I have a peaceful, easy feeling.


Empty Nest Starting Over

Ask yourself, “How Does This Serve Me?”

Every month, I pay WP Engine® $50 to host this blog on a dedicated server. I also pay Bluehost money for some reason they’ve tried to explain to me over and over again but I still can’t figure out.

Personally, I think it’s a racket.

All I know is that last year when I stopped paying Bluehost this protection money (that, by the way, those helpful tech support folks in Utah said I didn’t need to pay anymore since I’m hosted at WP Engine) my blog, along with my vanity email address, went dark.Is Social Media Good for us?

I’m thinking about hiring Julie at Fabulous Blogging (who you should hire if you need help with your blog) to figure it out for me, but then I think, “Hell Chloe, (because I always talk to Chloe in the third person), you hardly blog anymore. Why don’t you take this stupid thing down and use the money for something, well, useful?”

Then I decide to do that, and then I don’t do anything.

This has been going on for months.

Just when I make the decision to pull the plug on my blog, I get a pitch for something like FLOR, or I get offered an all-expense paid trip to Miami with AARP. The FLOR thing was a happy little One-and-Done, but AARP is still waiting for their third and last article about how terrific AARP Discounts are.

Unfortunately I’m pretty sure my readers are NOT waiting for a third post about how fantastic AARP Discounts are–which is sort of too bad because they do have great discounts. I know that before I can write another sponsored post about AARP Discounts I need to write something genuinely interesting to my audience. Unfortunately, that would mean writing something genuine, and then…



Okay, not exactly. It’s not that I’m easily distracted; it’s just that I have a lot going on. And frankly, I’m still trying to decide whether or not it’s healthy to have a blog.

After spending an hour or so perusing Get Off My Internets (GOMI) for the down and dirty gossip about BlogHer15 (because I’m sick that way), I am certain blogging isn’t healthy. None of this social media garbage is healthy. Human beings are meant to live real lives, not curated lives fashioned to get page views, likes, retweets, and other totally meaningless shit like that.

But real lives are messy and not easily pinned.


This is My Real Life. And it is Messy

Real lives aren’t squee-filled tweets about how FABULOUS! a time you are having at a blogging conference, or picmonkeyed photos of expensive meals waiting to be devoured while on extravagant vacations.


That’s curation.

That’s the face of our lives we want the world to see; the face of our lives we wish was true if only we were thinner, prettier, and richer.

Real lives are when our German Shephards bite little girls and we have to put them down.

Raynor on the Train Tracks


But I don’t want to write about euthanizing my dog because he bit a little girl. First of all, I don’t want to hear from crazy animal lovers who think I’m an evil person because we put down our dog after he bit a little girl. I don’t want to explain how it happened, why it happened, and how, “No, I’m sorry, but we cannot live another 8-10 years with a dog that bites little girls.”

But the truth is that nothing else I can write right now makes sense if I don’t mention, “Oh, and by the way, we had to put down our beautiful, beloved Raynor because he bit a little girl on the face. And, yeah, any way you look at it that makes us shitty dog owners, but there it is. Suck it if you don’t like it because there’s nothing I can do about it now. The little girl is fine, and our dog is dead. The end.”

Also, how can I explain why it makes total sense that my husband and I now live four hours apart? No, we’re not separated, and, no, we’re not getting a divorce, but if I don’t want to explain the rationale behind our decision to live this way to people I know, how much less do I feel like explaining it to people I don’t?

But then what sort of blog is this? Why in the hell am I paying WP Engine® good money every month–and Bluehost good money whenever they feel like taking it–for what basically amounts to a dead blog because I don’t want to live a curated life, but I also don’t exactly feel like letting every Tom, Dick, and loathsome Hater Bitch into my really messy life?

I can’t figure this out. And, no, I’m not asking for reassurance that my blog matters. The question for me is whether or not I’m living an authentic life and if so what role does this blog have in it, if any.

Then I started reading the book Finding Fraser by KC Dyer and it made me yearn for good, old-fashioned blogging again. Anonymous blogging. The sort of blogging where I’m not sitting with all of my co-workers in the pre-shift huddle getting the daily report from the Manager about all the ongoing real-life dramas in my labor and delivery unit when suddenly from the back of the room someone I barely know shouts, “Hey, Chloe of the Mountain, I found your BLOG!” And all I can think about is that post I wrote about having sex in my driveway. I’m not ashamed of that post. Not by any means! I think it is one of the best pieces I’ve ever written. But am I happy my co-workers are reading it? I’m not so sure about that.

I’m not trying to hide anything, but the truth is that the writer me–the curated me–is not exactly the same as the in-person me. They are both me, but the curated me is far more provocative, while the in-person me is more of a quiet observer. The curated me is outrageously blunt and just a little bit naughty. She is also thinner, prettier, and richer than the in-person me. Emotionally, the curated me has learned to dismiss the haters and mean girls because they are the price of admission. But the in-person me?  Not so much.

The Way Things Are

The in-person me is currently working at the best nursing job I’ll ever have in this lifetime. Every single day I cannot believe I’ve fallen into this amazingly fortuitous situation. But in order to have this job I need to live in the City four hours away from that Mountain my url says I’m of. And while I’m living and working here in the City (Chloe of the City?), my husband is living in a 20-year old, 31′ travel trailer he affectionately calls his Tin Can Under a Tree.

tin can under a tree

Because the problem, you see, is that my husband also has the best job he’s ever going to have in this lifetime, and it’s four hours away from me on our Mountain.

The curated me wants to gush about how amazing this adventure of ours is–and that’s not exactly a lie–but it’s also not exactly the truth. It is hard living apart. But it is working for us right now. It’s working as long as we both continue to keep our eye on the prize which is a retirement we love and can afford.

Last weekend, while I stayed here in the City working, my husband, with the help of his mother and sister, held a garage sale and sold off almost all of our household belongings. We made $1019.39. That’s how much our life–my former in-person life–was worth in cash money. I can’t believe how hard Jeff and I were both working before all of this to support $1019.39 worth of crap!

We’re starting over, but now we’re making very different decisions than the ones we used to make; strategic decisions driven by a sense of purpose and the pursuit of meaning, not emotional decisions driven by our egos and ids.

I suppose I continue to pay WP Engine every month because deep down I do think this life–our real life–Dare I say a Purpose-Driven Life?–is worth blogging about. I want to blog about it. I just wonder how I will find the courage, or the time.


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