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Moving to France: how to let go? – #5

If you’ve been following this ‘Moving to France’ mini-series, you’ll already know my story and why I’ve made the decision to move to France. I’ve already shared many of my early experiences, quandaries, and delights in the first four episodes and now it’s time to tell you about one of the biggest challenges of all: how to let go of things, chattels, and deal with emotions. ‘Letting go’ can create huge emotional upheaval, and that makes sense as it’s your life you’re raking through as you’re trying to simp, declutter and purge! And I love the French word for declutter – désencombrer – which is great because I needed to embrace it!

You’ll find the first four articles of Moving to France here:
1. Taking the plunge #1
2. The first-month #2
3. Buying a car #3
4. L’Assurance Maladie #4

Declutter – Désencombrer

Before I could do any of the above, I had to sort. Decluttering is today’s topic. Next month, I will focus on the actual implementation of the sorting.

If the question is ‘How to let go’, then resources abound…

At any given time, there are hundreds of minimalist videos on YouTube, heaps of books, countless blog posts on how to declutter, and even new jobs for those who specialize in the art of ‘letting go’ of the things we have accumulated over time. When I wander about a bookstore, I see sections devoted to this topic. Decluttering had been on my ‘to do’ list for too many months to count, but something always took precedence.

When I received word that my visa had been approved, I had two weeks to get ready to move to France. I was still working, so I needed to pack, sort, and toss during the evenings and the one weekend before my flight. I spent that time going through memorabilia from my study abroad in 1990, boxes of photographs, baby blankets and trinkets from the early 90s, and numerous treasures that I had collected from various voyages.

We keep what is precious to us. For me, it was also deciding what I want from my old life to be carried into the new. In the end, that which brings me joy stays. And not everything can come.

Amy Gruber

A declutterer’s reflections & discoveries – any regrets?

A popular post on social media is: ‘What do I do with personal items when moving overseas?’ After almost 8 months of being in France, I have realized that there are various forms of letting go. I would like to share those thoughts with you today.

Within a day of receiving my visa, I had told my employer that I was moving. This was not easy, as it was a job I truly enjoyed. I had wonderful colleagues, many of whom I had known for over a decade. I had built a reputation for myself in the community and I was going to leave that behind. I was stepping into the unknown, personally and professionally, so the first thing I had to let go was of the fear of failure. I had to let go of professional and financial security and tell myself “The worst that can happen is that it does not work out. At least I will have tried.”

Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.

Steve Maraboli

Upon telling people of my news, I had to let go of the idea that everyone would be happy for me, for fulfilling a 30+ year dream. This was a hard letting go. It is also the letting go of people you thought would be in your story forever but were in truth a chapter. For those people, I gave – and continue to give – thanks for the good moments and I let go of the rest, the promises unfulfilled (by the both of us), and I wish them well.

How to let go of personal possessions: the most difficult

This was a rather overwhelming task, to say the least.

A random piece of furniture purchased at a garage sale or a big box store is one thing. My grandmother’s rocking chair, a small cupboard that my grandfather made me, and my great-grandmother’s table… are harder to part with.

  • I consulted forums on social media for what to do. I realized fairly quickly that there are several options for physical objects.
  • Donate them to someone who needs them
  • Have a virtual or in-person garage sale
  • Store them
  • Ship them

Before I could do any of the above, I had to sort. Decluttering was today’s topic. Next month, I will focus on the actual implementation of the sorting.

Have you ever had to deal with this level of decluttering? Have you ever moved from one country to another? Share your experiences in the comments below.



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1 Comment




  1. Elisabeth Sauvage-Callaghan
    2 months ago

    When I retired and moved permanently to the house my husband and I own in Hagerstown, Maryland, I had to get rid of a lot of stuff. I got rid if some furniture, but none had any kind if special meaning to me. I kept only my bedroom suite (now our guest room furniture) my dining room table and chairs, my couch, and my big-ass TV.
    I divested myself of a lot of books, many if which I just threw away, because I had no one to give them to, and had no time in my hands to sell them. I gave tons of stuff to Goodwill. I gave my guest room furniture to a student who had just moved into his first apartment. A charitable organization came with a truck to pick up more furniture and kitchen stuff.

    Overall, it was weird, because I did not have tons if time to get overly sentimental about this process….