I have been asked more than one time, “how do you know so much about moving?” There are a couple of different answers to that question. If my memory serves me correctly, I have lived in about 20 different homes since childhood. That alone does not qualify me. I’m a visual learner and also enjoy the challenge of problem solving on my feet. I compare a move to a puzzle box; when you empty out all of the pieces and then assemble your puzzle. My last move was one of those 5000 piece puzzles that literally took years to put together. Within those years I solved the puzzle and learned many life lessons.
It began as a series of moves and ended with me living in my current home. The first part of this move was a very painful process, dissolving a long-term marriage. This was, by far, the most difficult thing in my lifetime. Initially, I had the support of my daughters, my sister, her family and a few friends. That quickly faded into all of them having to go back into taking care of their own lives and families. I also lost support from well-meaning friends trying to project onto me what they would do in my situation. Well, how would they actually know until they were in my situation? More than one time I had been told, “you have money and therefore this should be fairly easy.” What this told me was my friends thought my wealth was me; my self under the wealth was not seen. This made me confused and hurt about how I portrayed myself to make friends say such things.
The division of property was easy and we knew immediately everything would be split in half. I received the lake house, our dream home where I imagined family parties and grandchildren playing. This beautiful piece of property had 40 acres of wooded land, was on a small and very private lake but was also was an hour out of Milwaukee. My closest neighbor across the lake had 50 acres of property and my next door neighbor (the state of Wisconsin) had 250 acres and no public access to the lake. Prime land is what most people would call this.
The first summer I was alone in this very large home, it was the first time I had ever lived alone in my life. I could not sleep well and took to sleeping in a small guest bedroom in a twin bed, never really sleeping, always trying to listen for an intruder. I immediately lost 20 pounds and that put me in the cardiac wing of Elmbrook Hospital. From there I went into a deep depression. I did not want to live this way so I entered myself into Rogers Memorial Hospital.
Next, was the Fall and I was on medication and trying to gain the weight back. Fall ended about mid-October and the leaves were gone and the Fall rain came. The days shortened and now I was facing more time indoors and looking out at the gloomy weather and starting to wonder what winter would bring.
Winter arrived and came with tons of snow. It was now time for me to switch rooms. I would now sleep on the sofa in the living room. I could get up every couple of hours and check on the snow coverage. If there was a heavy snow, I could go outside and shovel a pathway for my two small dogs. I clearly remember getting angry with my husband for leaving me in this lonely mess. More than one time, I could not get the driveway plowed out for three days. Somehow I survived that winter.
Spring arrived and the first thing I wanted to do was leave that house. No longer my home, just a house. I decided to take my first trip alone. it would be a cruise and this would allow me to have people around me. The trip came and went and I was happy that I went out of my comfort zone alone.
Summer was now here and I decided to make a drastic change; purchasing a condo in downtown Milwaukee. The purchase of this condo included a build-out which would take some time but I was able to select finishes and furniture suited just for myself. The condo would be finished by late fall.
I moved into that condo and felt secure and my plan was to rent out my lake home. Well, the first person to stay in my home was the widower of my girlfriend, Carol. Her husband Howard, who ended up staying for a year. Now he was ready to move on and I felt that I helped my dear friend Carol. Next came another man, an acquaintance of mine. He would rent at a low fee and keep an eye on the house while he was going through a divorce. Following this, came another man and in the same situation and then still another. My feelings were that each of them was doing me a favor. This also really helped me make the final disconnect to that home.
Time to sell the lake house. Now my former husband had told me that if I ever thought about selling that house he would purchase it back. The contract was drawn up and sold.
Now, the condo was small for the many items in storage and I needed more space to have friends and family over. Another decision; I’d sell the smaller condo and purchase a larger condo. That search and the build-out took another three years. While the build-out was going on, I moved into an 800 square foot apartment with my niece. I also traveled back and forth to Naples, Florida. The sun was good for me and each time I came back, I was able to see progress. It was also about this time that I decided to join The Women’s Club of Wisconsin. I started my own foundation at about that time and thought WCW could help me learn about granting and foundation work. This was also a good way to get involved in my new community.
I was extremely excited and proceeded to do exactly what most people do; I started by making multiple trips in my car. This meant pulling into the parking structure, getting on the elevator and then going up and down for a few more trips. This was when I found out that the builder did not have the same standards of cleaning that I did. This was a large home by most standards and I did not have help. So, I cleaned and then put some of the items away. A lot needed to be completed before the movers could come and my storage unit could be emptied out. I did have help on two occasions from a friend. He meant well, but when I went to see how things were put away, I knew when I had the time, I would need to reorganize.
Now I’m ready for the moving truck. This is another exciting time. I had worked with a good friend on some fabric selections and she had some pieces re-upholstered. Since I did the furniture layout, I knew where the art was to be hung. I said to Donna, "I can handle this, you’re busy with people that need more help then I do.”
Little did I know how quickly professional movers move! The first day I had to tell them to leave early. There was no way that I could direct traffic and unpack. Not only that, but things were quickly becoming messy and my clean home was becoming dirty, with footprints, empty boxes, and packaging paper all over the house. I then asked if we could book more days but maybe a half a day at a time? ABC Kortch was the mover and they were happy to help me in any way possible. This, along with finishing the punch list. took more than six months for me to complete. Clearly, this was not a one person job and it took the joy out of moving into my new home. Joy was replaced by a sore back, aching muscles, lots of stress and crabby days.
I vowed never to make a personal move in this manner again. A seed was planted in my brain but remained dormant for a couple of years. Then, just like a spring flower, it popped up one day. I was out to lunch with a friend and we pulled up in front of my condo building. A moving truck was parked in front of us. Out came two men and they started to pull up their pants and pull down their shirts. As I was walking toward the entry of the building, I glanced back and could see a dashboard of basically, trash. I wondered how they were going to bring things into someone's home when they were disorganized and unkept themselves. Within the next couple of weeks, the concept became clear. I already lived the perfect example of how not to move, so I took that knowledge and turned it into the best way to move, in order to avoid stress, value your own time, make your move a joy and have this happen pretty quickly.
LifeMoves was born! I am pleased to be able to share my personal moving story with you and I sincerely hopes it helps you. I am honestly happy to say that I have experienced what many of my clients have. For me, this is about helping them through one of the most stressful times in their lives. My story is theirs. It is about loss and grieving, selling one home and then putting things into storage. Selling another home, removing things from storage, and then finally the many months of hard work to move myself in. I am my client.