Always try to leave a place better than you found it

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 4, 2012

Elise is moving. Again. This is her fifth move in three years. I can’t believe it, either, but her fourth year at Nicholls will be spent at yet another address.

My daughter’s packing style mimics my own. She sorts as she goes, verbalizing both her thoughts and actions. Although there to help, I spent a few minutes observing.

“Where do I begin?” Elise began as she scanned her large bedroom. I was hoping she had a plan that was better than mine. Or at least more honest. I told her to put all the stuff by the side of the road, tell her daddy she was robbed and go shopping. Now, don’t judge me just yet. If you had seen her room, you’d understand. It looked a little like a crime scene and a lot like my sewing space when I’m in the middle of a project. I get it. School, work and friends leave little time for cleaning, hanging up clothes and organizing. In the midst of this clothing chaos, a Scentsy warmer, prominently displayed on an otherwise crowded nightstand, filled the room with a sweet fragrance. I continued to watch the fifth episode of “Elise’s Moving Day.”

“This is Victoria’s. This is Victoria’s. This, too,” she repeated over and over as she handed me her sister’s clothes. Items belonging to friends were placed in a plastic bag for later distribution. Suitcases and laundry baskets were filled with her things, and although we were far from finished in the bedroom, we moved to the kitchen. What was not thrown or given away was transported to the condo she’ll be sharing with Nikki, her best friend. I was little surprised but a lot more pleased as I watched her clean up to leave the house ready for the next tenants. (Or to get back her deposit, but please let me just believe she cleaned because it was the right thing to do.)

If you’ve moved lately, you can relate. Maybe your residence has remained the same for decades, but it’s likely you’ve still made a few moves to a new job, church, ministry, relationship or a different season of life. Some moves we direct ourselves, many are beyond our control. Births, deaths and other people’s decisions often force changes we neither want nor welcome. It doesn’t really matter. Moving and adjusting to new circumstances are part of the journey. My prayer is always for smooth transitions.

I was a little sad about Elise moving from the larger than necessary house to a bedroom with half the space she’s accustomed to. She’s not. Elise is excited because she is looking at the benefits. She’s moving forward and looking forward to this new chapter of her young life. When moving into a new area of life, I need to force myself to look at the positive changes.

Elise sorted as she packed, throwing out what no longer works. Whether it’s a broken hair straightener or a burnt pizza pan, unproductive methods or life-draining thoughts, only bring what you need to your next place.

Stay flexible. To make the most of her new room, Elise’s dresser will hold her TV, her desk will double as her nightstand, and her bookcase will be given to her niece, Adeline. Old relationships don’t have to be discarded in new phases of life, but sometimes the nature of the friendship changes.

And please remember to clean up. My goal is to leave every place a little better than it was when I got there. Thanks to Scentsy, Elise’s old bedroom will smell fresh for a while after she’s moved. May the essence of who we are linger long after we’ve left.

Ronny may be reached at