Last year, I had to make some major changes in my life, and let me tell you it was stressing as hell. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
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2016 was not my year!
In this other post, I wrote about how there were several difficult situations that deeply affected my life last year. One of those difficult situations was that we had to move from the large, four-bedroom, four-bath, three-story townhouse we were living in with only a few weeks’ notice.
We were pretty confident we coud find another similar house with an affordable lease, but we were wrong. There just weren’t any properties available. This had never happened to us before. We looked for weeks with no success. Was it bad timing?
The only thing house we could find available was a tiny, single story, one-bath, three-bedroom house. We realized that we would have to downsize. Considerably downsize.
I have to admit I drew myself crazy trying to figure out how to do this, because it really isn’t easy to cram your entire life in only a few square feet of space. But somehow, I had to do it.
So I rolled up my sleeves and got started!
Throwing Out Junk
I threw out tons of junk, several large garbage bags of it. I went through all the closets and drawers, and threw out everything that wasn’t worth keeping- faded or ripped clothes, broken toys, old notebooks, useless papers, ancient makeup, and whatever was simply taking up space.
If you think you can keep your house free of useless junk, you’re dead wrong. I regularly throw out any old junk, but even so, I was truly surprised to see how much of it remained. I was surprised and horrified, to tell the truth.
Why, oh why did we have so much junk?
Necessary Stuff, Unnecesary Stuff, And Yard Sale Stuff
This was the hard part. I’ve always thought I don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. Perhaps you think the same, right? But which of the things you own can you actually live without? Almost surely, the answer won’t be that simple.
Like I said, we had to downsize. Really downsize. The closets at the new house were considerably smaller than at the old house. Plus, there was one less bedroom, so space was seriously limited.
I had to decide which of my clothes and shoes to put in storage and which to take with me. Not easy. I also had to do the same for towels, sheets, and blankets. I just couldn’t believe we had so many of these! Same for toys. My kids had a hard time picking which toys they really liked and which would go into storage. Books were also tough to decide on. And don’t get me started on the china and kitchenware!
I also separated other stuff for a big yard sale. This was stuff that I no longer wanted to keep but that was in pretty good shape so I couldn’t just throw it out. Yep, also hard to decide on some things.
Why, why, oh why did we have so much stuff?
The tough part wasn’t really the packing but getting enough boxes to fit everything in. We had to fish everywhere for boxes.
The funny thing is, we’ve moved around before and getting boxes was never quite so difficult. But for some reason, we could hardly find a few boxes. Just our bad luck!
Plus, my husband had to go back to work and my oldest son had already started school, so there was no one around to help me pack except my 8-year-old and my 3-year-old. Great, just great.
After the few boxes ran out, I got creative. I stuffed things into suitcases and backpacks, I wrapped bunches of clothes in blankets, I put things in garbage bags. I realized boxes are really overestimated.
The only problem here was doing things in a hurry. When moving day came around, I still hadn’t finished packing, so things got pretty loco. I sort of had a little crazy outburst for a moment. You don’t want to know about it.
The little house we had to move into was a cheap lease, but the property needed several repairs and a paint job before we could move in. This made us uneasy, but the landlord assured us it would only take a few days for the work to be finished.
But it didn’t happen that way. For some reason, workers kept missing days and we ended up moving in a week late, barely a day after the paint job was finished. As you can probably imagine, our former landlady was fuming because we didn’t move out soon enough, and this caused us more trouble and stress.
That’s when I started thinking there were some kind of bad luck vibes going on.
Finally, at the end of July, moving day arrived. Horray!
I remember hiring a moving van in the USA was pretty easy, but things in Mexico are a bit different.
Here in Mexico, what you do is go downtown. There’s usually a street where all the moving vans are parked waiting to do business. You pick a guy and inquire about his services. Cost depends on the size of his van, how many movers you’ll need, and whether two or more stories are involved.
But with the bad vibes chasing us, the day we picked to move was an unusually busy day for movers. I think it had something to do with being summer and the end of the month. Anyway, by the time we got downtown, all the large moving vans were gone and the only thing we could get was an old pick up truck with a couple of guys to help. Bad luck? You bet!
Since my husband had a back injury at the time, my oldest son and I had to help the mover guys, and going up and down three stories was definitely not cool. Leg day workout!
We had to go back and forth between the houses at least four times to get everything moved. On top of it all, it started raining just as we were loading the second trip. Some of our furniture got wet. Ugh. And the best part was when we tried to start our car, the battery went dead. We just couldn’t catch a break.
Too much bad luck was going on!
Of course, unpacking can be almost as hard as packing. I’ve heard of people who still have unpacked boxes months and even years after moving. You probably know someone like that.
But that’s not me. I unpack better than anyone else out there! The minute the movers left, I started unpacking.
First, I got the kitchen more or less set up, and then I unpacked enough sheets and blankets to put on the beds so we could sleep that night. The next day, I unpacked almost everything else, and I emptied the last box two days after moving day. Crazy, right?
Of course, it helped that the house was very teeny tiny, so there was only so much stuff that could fit inside.
But not everything went smoothly. The first night, I realized I had forgotten to pack my husband’s whisky bottles and a box with his teaching material ended up in storage instead of at the house. Arrgh!
More bad luck or just my bad memory? You tell me.
Five days after we moved, I had a big yard sale to get rid of as much stuff as I could. I took everything over to my parents’ place, because their neighborhood is much more livelier, and I had a two-day sale.
I went for the cheap strategy. You know, pricing things cheap so people would buy lots of junk. Hey, don’t laugh. It really worked!
The yard sale went pretty good, considering I only had my 8-year-old and my 3-year-old to help me, as usual. My son turned out to be quite the little salesman! We got rid of most of our old stuff and made a few bucks while doing it. This was the fun part.
And there was no bad luck this time, right? Wrong! It rained the second day of the yard sale and shoppers got scared away, so we had to end it in a hurry. I’m telling you, we just couldn’t catch a break.
Sprucing Up The Place
With the money from the yard sale, I bought some things that improved our tiny dwelling- organizers for the bathroom and closets, new mirror, curtains, and so on. The end result was nice. Kids and hubby loved it!
But bad luck still haunted us. The mirror we had nailed to the wall mysteriously fell to the floor, although it didn’t break. In any case, that was the last straw for me!
The Ritual Cleanse
As I mentioned in my last post, my family and I went through some hard times, and it just seemed a little excessive. I mean, death, illness, and near bankruptcy coming at you at the same time was just a bit too much. Did you hear that, life and God?
Oh, and let’s not forget all the troubles we ran into when we were moving. Bad, bad luck!
In light of all this, I decided to ask my father-in-law to cleanse our new house to keep the bad vibes away.
Ok, so this might be the weird part of the story, but let me tell you having a cleanse is rather common here in Mexico. You can cleanse a house, a car, a kid, yourself, or whatever you think has bad vibes going on. Does that sound strange to you?
My father-in-law is an expert at this. He comes from a family of indigenous shamans, and he inherited the “gift” of his forefathers. He regularly cleanses other houses, or people, and he’s very good at it. Let’s just say he’s the guy to call if you think you need to ward off any evil.
At my request, my father-in-law performed a ritual cleanse in the tiny house.
First, he prepared the east-facing altar with several ritual tools and symbols. There’s a large goblet called a sahumerio which is used to light a fire that purifies the place. The sahumerio is filled with copal, an aromatic tree resin that is used in ancient ceremonial rituals. There’s a bell to bring in harmony, water to cleanse the soul, and fragrance to seal away any evil.
Next, our resident shaman lit a fire in the sahumerio while he chanted prayers. Then, he walked through every room in the house saying prayers while holding the sahumerio. The fire remained through all of this, which was a good sign. After that, he rubbed a bit of fragrance on our hands and we ran them through our head, arms, and legs. He rang the bell, and my husband and I drank the water. Finally, the cleanse was done.
This might seem superstitious to you, and maybe it is, but it’s also a very deeply ingrained custom in Mexico. Although Mexicans are very religious and conservative, several ancient customs remain, such as getting a cleanse.
You can also have a personal cleanse. In that case, the shaman would rub you with medicinal plants or an egg, and then cover you with smoke from the sahumerio. This will ward off any evil vibes you think are chasing you. It might sound silly, but there’s a lot of people in Mexico who get ritual cleanses regularly or at least once in their life.
Of course, some people would also ask a priest to bless them or their home. But you might be surprised to know that Mexicans think getting a cleanse doesn’t conflict with our Catholic religion. It just calls on more good vibes.
Living With The Good Vibes
So we had to stay in the tiny house for almost year, trying to get a new start on life. At the very least, we had one less difficult situation to deal with.
But I suppose the cleanse helped a bit. Our business picked up again, my husband’s back is better, and we have improved our finances enough to move out of the tiny house.
Now, we’re going to have a fresh start in a new neighborhood, in a larger house, and this means new schools, new friends, and hopefully a new life.
It’s difficult to move twice in less than a year, but I like to think this means life is looking up again.