Dancing Like the Red Bud

Trimming my Red Bud and Japanese maple for the last time before the new owners would move in in 2 days, I had an “AHa” moment! With all the rain in the past weeks, the overgrowth was fierce, and I just had to trim a few things back. With each cut of the lopper, the heavy, low-lying branch would SPRING UP skyward and dance there a moment before coming to a stop in its new place high above the ground. And with each cut, the tree would “S-w-i-s-s-h-h”  as if releasing a big sigh and saying, “Ahhh, I feel so much lighter now.”

One month since I’ve been back from France and when I got home, I hit the ground

running. Four weeks to pack up and move – some things to store, lots to consign, and the rest to donate. Given that I’d been working on this for 2 years, I would be on Easy Street. NOT! Never had I anticipated the amount of stuff I still had left to sort and toss, and where to put what I was keeping with me. With no new home to go to, all of the remainder would be in suitcases, and several Wegman’s bags going with my vagabond, homeless self until I left for my long-stay in France.


I must admit that there were some days when I wasn’t sure I’d make it. It was getting down to the “little” things – things I can’t even describe like a zillion pens and pencils; pads of paper; my extra supply of batteries, boxes of Kleenex, plastic wraps and bags; hangers galore; a “medicine closet” FULL of remedies for whatever ailed me, or whatever might….and still more photos! Never an end to loose photographs representing moments of my life, significant and banal. It all had to go somewhere!! SO MUCH WASTE is what I kept thinking…so much to contribute to an already over-full landfill. I gave away as much as I could, even things like an old Fuller Brush push broom and dustpan brush (am I dating myself?) that belonged to my father, which my landscaper-handyman really appreciated! I remember so well when the Fuller Brush salesman came to our door with his suitcase full of brushes for every task! We always bought something.

One particularly stressful night, late, I still had clothing in the closets that had to be sorted into “store for 1 year, keep at a friend’s for next season, and take now.” I was far from finished, and I was exhausted. So much so that my brain just wasn’t functioning…and I couldn’t stop – the movers were coming in the morning.


And they did. Five of them! They worked for 4 hours, boxing, labeling, wrapping; and sorting into “Storage,”

“Consignment,” and “Donation.” They were amazing, and just watching them work gave me some peace of mind. As my family heirlooms were turned on end, my mother’s paintings wrapped, and things were carried to the truck, I watched as my home became, once again, an empty shell. I thought, “….and as we all must do, we return to the beginning.”

And, although not right away because first came the tears and boo hoos as I said goodbye to the home I’d known for the past 14 years, and recalled the many life stories that were created while I was in this sacred place, I could feel myself lighter, springy-er, and higher off the ground. Now, I could see with new perspective and, like my Red Bud, dance with a lighter step.





16 Replies to “Dancing Like the Red Bud”

  1. Bless you! What a heart-wrenching experience! Safe travels, Kate! ________________________________

  2. I only walked through that door once, and it was only the 2nd time meeting you in person, but I will miss you! I am Happy you are going for it! Enjoy your ride in Life my friend! I will miss knowing you are around the corner! It will make me Happy knowing you are living in France!

    1. Thank you, Liesje! I will miss you, too, and am so glad we got to have lunch together that day at the Firestone’s gourmet shop. We can keep up on Facebook, and through my blog.

  3. Love this carefully constructed analogy, Kate – and how unburdening can be a catalyst for growth.

  4. Your experiences continue to resonate with me, Kate. I recently packed up and left my home of 17 years and landed in my new home town (albeit not in France!). After the sorting and letting go, after the exhaustion and depletion, finally came a lightness, freshness and joy! All the best to you!

  5. You must be a writer in another life. Love your reads.
    Wish I had been around for the clothes sale and plastic hangers. Oh well.
    Hugs and happy trails.

  6. It wasn’t easy, but you did it! Bravo!
    Despite the whirlwind, I’m glad you took the time to write—-eloquently, as always. Now I hope you can get a little rest, before taking off. 💤

  7. I am, again, grinning as I read and savor your writing: you’re on such an adventure, Kate! Here’s to you as you navigate it all. And, remind me when you actually leave again, please. Cheers.

    1. Hi, Peggy!! I am responding via Word Press, so please let me know if you receive it – and if I don’t hear from you, I will assume you did not! Will send you email under separate cover.

  8. A good friend of mine suggested I read this post because I too am downsizing and experiencing so much of what you have expressed in your blog. Thank you for sharing your journey while writing about both the joy and sorrow that can accompany a big life change. Your blog is wonderful. It made me laugh and also brought a tear to my eye. I wrote a weekly blog about my clay art for about 5 years. I stopped writing it on that regular basis in January and plan to post more occasionally when I feel I have something to say. You have certainly inspired me! I’ve signed up to receive your posts and look forward to sharing what’s ahead.

    1. Hi, Laura, and welcome to French a-Musing. Your words were so touching and I am flattered and honored that you decided to follow my journey. Downsizing has been both freeing and sad as I let go of family treasures and mementoes. At almost 70, I feel a new lightness of being and zest for a new adventure, which my « things » were keeping me from – so it’s all good. Glad you will be along on the ride!

  9. Kate, I love your connection with nature, your redbud tree trimming and letting go of many years possessions. Your experiences resonate with many of us. We all face changes at this stage of our life. I remember hearing Jane Fonda speak at the Weinberg Center about our “third act”…a stage marked by wisdom and happiness. Hold on to that feeling of lightness and zest for a new adventure. It takes a lot of energy but now you have the time to slow down when you need to. I love your blog and am looking forward to your next posting.

    1. Thanks! Linda….yes, it is my hope that many will relate to my experiences and perhaps gain some perspective on their own and maybe even a new way of looking at them all together! Some of my posts will seem ordinary, even banal, and some, in my greatest hope, will be inspiring.

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