(Not all the lyrics fit my point--it's the refrain I was going for.)

We’re creatures of habit. We floss daily—or we don’t. We sleep on the same side of the bed every night. We buy the same brand of cereal or variety of fruit over and over. When a kid does something we hear our parents’ phrases come out of our mouths even though we swore we’d never do that.

We tend to take the same route to work every day. Although I’d argue that riding a bike frees the mind so I’m less likely to get stuck in that particular rut, I do park in the same spot in the bike rack every day. When I had to change “my” spot because someone else was getting there before me and using it, I felt the mental wrench. Now my “new” spot is “my” spot and I don’t even look at the other one. So we can change.

What would it take for you to make radical changes in your life? To develop all-new routines and relationships?

While I wasn’t looking to shake things up dramatically, that's what the next phase of my life holds, at least for a while.

Given the chance of a lifetime to pursue a long-held dream—to run an organization doing something I believe in passionately—I’ve accepted the position of executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. With headquarters in Seattle. And I start in four weeks. The professional opportunity excites me and offers a great challenge, coming as it does at a critical time for active transportation because of the cuts in federal funding

There are losses as well as gains, of course. This post isn't about the sad parts of moving, like leaving my best friend and my older daughter (Skype! Text! Facebook! Maybe even actual phone calls!) and my work and colleagues at WSU Spokane. I haven't had to do those things yet so that will hit more as the departure date draws closer.

Instead it's about the chance to reshape some other elements in my life, which is giving me a charge I hadn’t expected as Eric and I pack up the house. For example:

I get to walk away from every decorating decision I’ve ever made! We’re going to rent our house furnished rather than try to sell it in this market and initially will live in a small furnished condo belonging to my brother and his wife while we look for a permanent place.

We’ll put a few pieces into storage, but only a few. When we settle I can change everything: color schemes, style (such as it was), the overall mish-mash of things from my childhood and pieces I’ve acquired through more than one marriage and move.

I will finally acknowledge that certain craft projects will never come to fruition. I already gave away two big bags of leftover yarn that will go to a high school knitting club. I have 5 yards of a beautiful lightweight wool herringbone that I snagged when I cleaned out my parents’ house—in 2001! After more than a decade I’m clearly not going to whip up a fabulous suit the way I thought I would and I’m giving it to a friend. I bought candle-making supplies, did it a few times, wasn’t all that great at creating candles that would burn down consistently, and am giving those away.

I’m not getting rid of my grandmother's knitting needles or my mom's sewing machine, mind you. I’m just getting rid of the flotsam and jetsam of projects both finished and abandoned.

How old are those spices anyway? I love to cook so over the years I have accumulated many a jar of something used once, then filed alphabetically in my spice drawer. At some point in 2008 I started writing the month and year of purchase on the tops of the lids so at least I know just how stale most of that drawerfull is. I’m going to pitch everything older than 2011 since they all smell roughly the same and presumably would impart no flavor to the dish.

Where did all these dishes come from? I’m not quite clear on how I ended up owning five glass pie pans but I know I’ve never baked more than three pies at a time. I bet I could make perfectly good layer cakes with  a set of nine-inch pans or a set of ten-inch, but I've never needed both at the same time. And so on through utensils, pots, pans, knives, and everything else in an  over-stocked kitchen.

Many of my books deserve new readers. This actually started 6 years ago when we moved out of a 5,000-square-foot house with lots of built-in bookshelves and wall space for even more. The house we moved into has less wall space and only a few built-in shelves.

At that time I set free quite a few books to find new homes and acquired a whopping credit at Auntie’s in return. The inevitable result of that, of course, was that the stacks of books crept back up. I now own a Kindle to reduce my carbon footprint and am going to keep only a few special volumes. (The signed copy of Joyride by Mia Birk goes to Seattle with me, of course.)

Style purge! This one is trickier. I’m changing to a different climate and my sweaters will come in handy. But anything I’ve been keeping with the thought that it’s perfectly good and surely I’ll wear it one of these days is going away. I've been shopping for bike-friendly fashion for a long time so no big adjustment is needed there.

So there you have it. I'm packing, sorting, dumping, and giving things to friends; visiting favorite places one more time; tying up loose ends on work projects; and looking down the road and around the bend to something new. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes indeed!

Related Reading
Your Turn
  • If you cleaned as if you were moving, what would you get rid of?
  • What are you waiting for?


  1. Big congrats Barb. The Alliance is lucky to have you. I'll have to buy you a coffee once you make it over to this side of the mountains.

    1. Thanks, Kent! Looking forward to it. Once I get past all this packing and sorting, that is... Freeing myself of old decisions appears to involve a great deal of work.


Comments are like karma. The more you give, the more you receive. (Spam is like karma too.)