Moving Update – Reality Isn’t Glamorous

Moving is hard work. Oh, sure it’s fun to get a new place, a fresh start and purge your unwanted things but it’s also messy, exhausting and stressful. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but there’s nothing glamorous about moving the way I do it.

wardrobe moving cartons on A Well Styled Life
I packed 95% of my wardrobe several weeks ago and put it in the garage. WAY too early.

There’ve been some comical moments but mostly it’s backbreaking. I’m too cheap to pay packers which is a bummer. I opened a random box several months ago and discovered a shattered ceramic rooster which used to hold a place of honor in my old kitchen. I did cry and sadly, had no one to blame but myself.

I’ve seen other bloggers move in a pretty way. In one post they’re in their perfectly decorated old home. The next post you see them in their perfectly decorated new home. I’d love those little moving fairies to come in and whisk our stuff to the new house, but that’s not on the agenda.boxes and antique armoire pieces in garage

A little back story. We sold our home last year and moved to be closer to our grandson. I knew we wouldn’t be staying in this rental home for long, so we left about 75% of our boxes packed and stored in the garage. I’ve missed having my special things around me but have forgotten what many of them are now. Which begs the question, how special can they be if I’ve forgotten them in just 12 months?

Two large boxes that I never intended to unpack were mistakenly carried into this master bedroom last May. They hold several pieces of antique china and a special lamp that I don’t want to break so they sat in the corner of my bedroom… for a year. It bugged me… but after a month or two, I stopped even noticing them.

messy garage
base to antique French Armoire

We left our antique French armoire stored in the garage. It’s put together like a puzzle with 10-15 pieces and requires several people to assemble. It used to act as our dresser so we had no place to store our clothes. After living out of a box for a month, we went to the local Goodwill and bought a dresser for $10. It’s hideous and assaults my esthetic eye every time I look at it. But after scrubbing the whole thing inside and out, it’s held my clothes for a year. Mr. AWSL may use it to store tools in the garage of the new house:)

Our antique kitchen table is very squat and needs lifts under the feet so you can get your legs underneath. The vintage glass cups which lift it to usable height have been packed somewhere so we haven’t been able to get our legs under the kitchen table properly for a year.

None of this is glamorous but it’s my reality. I’m persnickety, finicky and downright anal about most many things but I’ve had to put myself in check for the last twelve months. It’s been a tough learning experience.

The movers come next Saturday. It’ll be stressful but when I finally get to open boxes it’ll feel like Christmas as I unpack what I forgot I love. That may have to wait though because six days later, we pack our little trailer and head to Canada for several weeks. Did I mention how poorly timed buying this how was?

Thanks for reading and have a great day.




  1. moving is a trial to say the least. I am happy you are living closer to your grandson and son. Lots of fun. Great you are also having a Canadian holiday. My last move 6 months ago I insisted we had packers. It did cost and it was trial and error. I sacked the first packers. getting gutsy in my old age . LOL Nothing broken though.

    I have a request. If you have time in Canada look at our shops. With the US $ so strong I am reluctant to shop US. You do have different and good clothing however the exchange rate sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Just interested in how u would shop here.

    Love your web site though.

    ps my daughter took your same river boat cruise 1 year before you. Looks like a great way to travel. May do the same trip soon.

    1. I like the Nordstrom in Canada (obviously) but when I lived on Vancouver Island, I shopped at the local boutiques and Canadian Superstore. I know… that’s a big range. I will check out what I find on the Island this summer.

  2. Denise Strickland says:

    But it’s all just stuff right, and it will eventually be sorted. The great thing is you are nearer your grandson and that makes everything ok. Enjoy Canada and looking forward to pics

  3. Pat from Wisconsin says:

    I thought about you and your trailer quite a bit in the last two weeks. I know you are the driver on your trips, and I am just in awe of that. We drove from Wisconsin to the Black Hills pulling our teardrop, which is nothing to pull really, compared to your rig, and we parked it while exploring the twisty roads in the Badlands area and in Custer State Park. But those mountain roads! It was rainy on one of my turns to drive (we just have a Subaru Outback with an automatic, so… should be easy?) and we went up the curvy mountain roads (not so bad), and down again (bad!), through tiny little tunnels and around pigtail loops. Gorgeous scenery, and I highly recommend the park. But! There were people with big campers driving through those tiny places and I was very grateful to be in a car. But the downhills and all the downshifting required! I was trying to use the gears, not the brakes, but when the car seems like it is roaring it’s hard to persevere. And of course, the people behind us…luckily there were lots of turnouts where I could pull off and let people by. You go, girl! Especially if you’re driving in the Canadian Rockies, which we have gone through on the train from Vancouver to Banff.

    1. Good for you Pat!! It gets easier and easier. Our SUV brakes went out, completely… on our first trip with the trailer. It was Sunday and everything was closed on the Oregon coast. We crawled south and with only the trailer brakes slow us down. It was terrifying. When we finally found a mechnic, we had burned through all brake pads and ruined the rotors. It was hair raising.

      1. Pat from Wisconsin says:

        Wow, scary! Some downgrades are just so steep that no amount of downshifting will stop you. You must have had to stand on the brakes a lot! Hope this trip is easier for you.

      2. It was white knuckle driving. Our SUV has 226,000 miles on it 🙂 so we’ve got our fingers crossed every time we hook up the trailer!

  4. Sheila-Merle Johnson says:

    After my husband died 15 years ago, I moved and downsized 3 times and still have too much stuff. When I moved into my current forever home, I decided to take it easy and lived with some unpacked boxes for a couple of years. It made the move less stressful. I hope you can just leave the unpacked stuff and enjoy your trip!

    1. Good for you being easy on yourself. We need to take care of ourselves. I know I will be anxious to get back to things but plan to revel in the escape because reality will hit all too soon.

  5. Good luck with your move. I enjoy seeing your posts and your outfits. I am going on the same river cruise that you were on. We are going from Budapest to Amsterdam. I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions to help me pack. Did you wear shorts? How about atheleisure wear? And bluejeans?

    Thanks for your help and don’t work too hard.

    1. I don’t own shorts but many women were wearing them. I brought black jeans and blue jeans. Both of which I wore. The dress code is very casual. Think resort casual with athletic shoes. Have fun!!

  6. Freda Witt says:

    Downsizing gives you a sense of freedom. We tend to keep way too much stuff. I have done some drastic purging, and need to do more. Keeping things you don’t absolutely love is such a mistake. I had a hard time getting rid of “gifts”. Honestly, I don’t remember what I got rid of, and haven’t missed anything.

  7. You are going to be just fine! Stress, yes. So, breathe deep, go outside or lie down until it passes and unpack in the garage at the new place, just in case there might be a bug or two. Smile!!

  8. Angela in NZ says:

    I have become a continual declutterer since the longest period living in one house has been 5 years. I love it! It’s such a great release, something I learnt 20 years ago when diagnosed with breast cancer and a broken marriage and subsequent new relationship. Letting go of stuff is cathartic. Stuff is just that, memories live within. Here in New Zealand we don’t have basements or lofts for storage so that certainly helps as there’s so very little packed away. Even our garage can fit two cars! Best wishes for your move. Perfect timing for a holiday.

  9. We lost our home to hurricane Katrina but like they say, every cloud has a silver lining. I realized we had to get rid of a lot of stuff to move into our smaller place. The day they came to pick up the destroyed house, I was watching from the new bedroom window of our new home on the left side of our property where we were rebuilding. He put the clipper thingie into the house and out fell all these manaquins I had left in my old sewing room. Arms and legs flying everywhere. I often wondered if that scared the poor fellow. ?
    Bottom line to story: It might be time to think minimalist. I did and it made life so much easier.

  10. Oh, boy, can I ever relate to this post. We’re in the process of relocating from California to Tennessee, and, like you, we opted to do most of the packing ourselves. The thing is, I recently learned we have to get out almost a month sooner than expected, so we’ve been scrambling. Doesn’t help that I’m not only a huge procrastinator, but sentimental as well. I think I’ve spent as much time agonizing over stuff to get rid of and reminiscing over this and that as I have on actual packing! I finally secured us a rental home today (sight unseen), but it looks nice in the pictures. It sure makes one feel better to know others are going through much of the same ordeals. Thanks for sharing this post; it helped to put things into perspective a little.

  11. Pitch the stuff in your new house and run like heck to Canada!

  12. Actually you have timed things well. 6 years ago we moved from South West Florida to Atlanta, but had planned a cruise a year before that happened to be two weeks after we moved. It actually was a godsend because after all the stress of getting one house sold, finding a new home and moving, we needed time to just walk away, relax, and let other people pamper us. When we returned home, we were refreshed and ready to start unpacking and get the new house in order.

  13. Jennifer, I can’t tell you how much I can relate to your (wonderfully written) story. I enjoyed reading your descriptions and dilemmas, sympathized and smiled, and feel your heartbreak over the demise of poor Mr Rooster.

    I have been living in furnished, rented home without 90% of my belongings for over 6 years, to be a support to my daughter who has health concerns. Everything I own except clothing and my art equipment is in storage. I’m a nester, love the familiar, and my “ things” are a source of grounding and homing to me so without them I have felt adrift and disconnected for a long time now. It’s very disconcerting and probably no change in the near future. I fear what I’ll find when I do eventually get all my boxes unpacked. I wonder how much of it will have any value to me then. I’m already thinking of the chaos and planning to give some family heirlooms to much younger family members. None of it seems at all important compared to being here for my precious daughter.

  14. We are spending the next month downsizing and packing to move. I tell myself I am not so much losing things as releasing things into the world to be used by someone else. Books are my burden now and my goal is to release 100 of them into the world and wish them well. We give to the local library and a thrift shop.

    Great point in your post: If things were so special, why didn’t you miss them? Same here, Also agree with others that your real life posts and photos are worth much more than the too carefully curated versions of life.

    Last, I read you first thing in the morning so I don’t depress myself right away with the news. So, you are an anti-depressant. Thanks so much.

    1. I donated many books before we moved last year but still have boxes and boxes of them. They are my downfall. I love to have them around me. Good luck Maryellen and thanks so much.

  15. It is good that you keep doing the things you had planned. It’s nice to take breaks and relax during such a difficult time. We moved from Dallas, TX back to PA last summer and it took us forever to get settled this time around. I was 62 and my husband 70, the energy is not the same. By the way we still have to deal with the basement.

  16. At some point I will have to “let go” of most of my stuff. I have been preparing for several years by getting rid of this and that during vacations. My biggest problem is my husband who simply can’t let go of anything!

    For instance, he has a box of China that he bought when he was in the Vietnam war. It’s a perfect set for 8 that has never seen the light of day and it’s been in that original box for Fifty years now give or take a couple of years but it dates back to 1963! That’s just one item, we now have his parents china plus my parents China plus the set we bought 39 years ago!

    So I hear you about holding on to so much stuff and I have become the one who is desperately trying to get rid of it all! Wish me luck!

    I hope you have a wonderful trip!

    1. Linda, your husband needs that box. It is a memory and must be very important. When you see the box, say a prayer for the young man he was and the man he has become.

  17. I love the fact that you are willing to share the ups and downs of real life on your blog. So much of what we see on social media is so edited, cleaned up, and purified that we see only what look like perfect lives. Life’s not like that and I admire those who are willing to admit it.

    Enjoy your trip! I look forward to seeing where you travel this time.

  18. One day at a time. If we don’t hear from you for a bit, we’ll understand. What stories you’ll have to tell when we do hear from you.
    I can relate. We are simply remodeling and I’m going mad. My husband’s dresser was in the dining room while mine was in the kitchen. We were camped in the guest bedroom while we got new bedroom flooring. What a relief to get things put back together.
    There is a light at the end of the tunnel! ?

  19. Misery loves company and so many have us have been in your shoes. One of our out-of-state moves took place nine days before we were going overseas to visit my husband’s family so that was poor planning too PLUS our kids were 7 and 10 and miserable because they had to say goodbye to their friends. As empty nesters, my husband I moved out of state again two years ago and I can only say you have the rest of your life to unpack. Just enjoy your holiday!

    1. You’re right, Barb. I have been through much worse moves than this one. It makes me feel better just remembering that. Thanks

  20. Theodora Repose says:

    I can relate in a different direction. We moved into my dream cottage, our retirement home. Carried many of our antiques and created a Florida style home with a blend of new and old and whimsical Mexican pottery. Seven years ago my granddaughter was born with no one to care for her. Knowing one way or the other, our lives would never be the same, we took her and are raising her. Well, back to toys and snails and books in all the nooks. Life comes at you fast. But I am blessed.

    1. Bless you, Theodora! That’s a lot to take on in retirement but what else could you do? I bet the joys outweigh the challenges.

  21. Phyllis Hughes says:

    There are packing boxes all over my house waiting to be opened and unpacked. Our last POD arrived four days ago and our family emptied it within two hours. It has all the stuff that has been in storage since February and I have grown used to living without all the clutter. I actually suggested having the POD delivered to the Goodwill parking lot and just unloading it to Goodwill. Husband vetoed that suggestion. I’m struggling to find room to store everything in our smaller house. I DID get rid of a lot of stuff before the move. The guy at Goodwill became well acquainted with me. We had two truckloads hauled away by 1 800 JUNK.
    On the other hand, Saturday, my daughter and I had a good afternoon putting away some things that have been handed down through the family. As we unpacked and put them away I told her the history of each piece and why I kept it. I think she appreciated that.
    My friend keeps telling me that the unpacking and putting things away will soon be over and we will have been here for ten years before you know it. But going through it now is hard and exhausting. I am taking off from it and going to spend a few days with my friend this weekend. We will indulge in lots of sewing and even more laughter. My husband will be staying at home, but I know he will get lots of rest, too, since I won’t be here asking him to help me move things.?
    Enjoy your camping trip. Unpacking will wait. Oh, and anything broken is just something you won’t have to find a place for in the new house.
    Hugs, Phylly

    1. You’re so right, Phyllis. I love your attitude. I could happily drop many boxes off at Goodwill, but my husband would object. In fact, he’s making us keep a cabinet I inherited from my grandmother that I don’t want! The afternoon with your daughter sounds rather magical. Thank you xx

  22. Boy, do you have a lot on your plate. Your story makes me long for the college days when everything fit in my car. The last time I moved was 17 years ago, but helping my kids move over the years reminds me of what a nightmare it is. Keep your eye on the prize of that new house, and remember “this too shall pass.” Thinking of you…

    1. Thank you, Cyndi, it is a crazy time. I think leaving in our trailer will allow/force me to relax…which will be a good thing.

  23. I can’t wait to see the “After” and I’m sure it will appear as if there was never the “Before.” Just like all those other blogs where things just simply seem to happen. Thanks for sharing the not-so-pretty side of relocating. We all know that’s the true reality.

    1. I hope to show the good the bad and the ugly so my after looks good by comparison 🙂

  24. Jennifer, thank you for the reminder that Real Life is Messy. We are delusional if we think we are in control, but we do our best to muddle along. Most of what we see on the web is staged fantasy!
    Sounds like you have had a crazy year. Good luck with the move! I once had to park in a rental for what I thought was a short spell and became 14 months. It was so great to unpack and get all my stuff back.
    Enjoy the process and your new home.

    1. You’re right about the whitewashed and staged lives we see on social media these days. Frankly, I find it sterile and boring. I’d rather be authentic so we can have honest conversations. Thanks Sue.

  25. Jennifer, you are an inspiration to those of us who (me ) despite our lives being on display 24/7 do not sweat when they are being displayed under less than flattering conditions. “ A well styled life” must include styling using our favorite “hacks”: our families, friends , and time together in interesting places.
    You do it with grace and humility and I thank you for showing us that, in addition to showing us how to actually look halfway decent most of the time!

    1. Thanks, Ellen. We all have clay feet and there’s no point in trying to pretend otherwise. Seeing whitewashed versions of other peoples lives tends to depress me so I always prefer to be honest.

  26. Deborah Broughton says:

    Just put it in the new house and get in your camper and enjoy your trip!

  27. What? No picture of your “moving-in” outfit??

  28. Jennifer, it’s all okay. Just keep repeating “the sun will come up tomorrow”. I freely admit to being anal (and proud of it!). I’ve moved/unpacked 3 relatives in the last 24 months. They all are a bit hoarder-ish, and it was an emotional battle where they all wanted to throw up their hands. I should have been a personal organizer instead of a scientist. Wish I could come help you!!

    1. That’s a lot of work, Roxanne. You’re amazing. I don’t know how you did it. I hope they appreciate you!

  29. I can relate to your story. My husband was diagnosed with cancer two weeks before we had to be out of our house when the sale would be finalized!! Since we did not want to lose the buyer of the house, we lived in a hotel for FIVE MONTHS during his treatment for cancer. We already had a new home in Florida where we were relocating so a lot of our furniture was already there. Instead of worrying about cleaning out the entire sale house we gave everything to the new owners. They were so appreciative. I am talking washer/dryer, complete kitchen with dishes, silverware, pots and pans, etc. We lived with boxes stacked in the hotel suite that we had. End of story, my husband is cured and that is all that really matters!!!

    1. Linda, thanks and prayers for your husband’s cure. Anytime I’m in a bad place, I remind myself somebody has it worse…I cannot imagine what that was like for you. Enjoy your new home and life to the max because you all deserve it.

    2. Glad to hear a happy ending!

    3. Wow, Linda, that’s so stressful. You are one strong woman. I’m so glad his cancer is gone…that is what really counts.

  30. I can so relate! We (I say that loosely) are packing too while working long hours and I just came down with a head cold so my nose runs whenever I bend over. We are juggling three moves in one month and although I am organized (all on a spreadsheet) it is tough. ? Enjoy your vacation! Unpacking can always wait!

    1. Susan Gowan says:

      Such a relatable article to many of us. Moved three years ago and have many unpacked boxes in storage areas still. For over a year we dithered about our dining table which sat in our moving trailer. Finally moved it in and voilà it just fits! I agree that moving sentimental items is an eye opener. I am still going through things to dispose of when they don’t give me joy! Good luck in the process and have a great trip.

    2. LOL, I can relate to the packing help. Three moves in one month are insane! Hats off to you. I am fighting a sore throat and earache at this very moment and not helping much at the new house.

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