Stafford: Try a ‘moving vacation’ to save money, cultivate deep experience

You save for months for a vacation and shell out big bucks.

You work like a banshee beforehand and return knowing you’ll be facing 137 emails, all of which begin with the words: “I know you just got back, but ……”

And then you ask yourself two questions: Was the vacation worth it and is this life worth returning to?

Well, lay your burdens down.

I have a tried-and-true alternative that will save you the cost and hassle of travel; grant you time away from the daily grind; allow you almost unlimited time with your family; and guarantee you’ll celebrate a return to everyday life when it’s all over.

What is this money-saving and life-enriching solution?

Helping your family get ready to sell their house!

It’s what I call the “Moving Experience,” because it truly can be life-changing.

For painters who wonder whether they gave up their artistic quests too soon, there’s plenty of opportunity to further their development of the technique in latex. True, most of the work is monochromatic, but the skills developed in painting a fine like on the edge of swaths of beige and white can be transferred to other media, including paint-by-number.

And once the paint can is open, you’re only a tip of the bucket away from a multi-media experience. Your heartbeat will elevate and your vocabulary expand as you explore methods in fabric treatment, blotting away just enough spilled paint before adding the correct amount of any of a variety of colors of liquid soap to execute an artistic restoration.

Even if there’s no spill, should the painter have large feet and be the least bit sloppy, he will leave a track of footprints around the house. That can provide children with lessons in animal tracking without the expense of a family’s shipping them off to summer camp.

For those with organizational talents, there also are endless opportunities for personal and professional development. How does one properly label a packed box of items that includes several solo socks, half a box of broken crayons, an irreplaceable computer part an urn with the ashes of a once beloved pet?

For those who would like to work on their issues with heights but aren’t ready for zip lines, there is power washing. For people who no longer see a clear connection between cause and effect in life, nothing is more reassuring than watching a pressurized stream of water erase the green gunk from the bottom edges of the siding.

And for men 60 and older who have to be reminded regularly to clean their glasses, nothing drives home the goal like taking a corner of a T-shirt, wiping beads off the lenses and seeing the world anew.

“A Moving Vacation” also involves invaluable lessons on how we get along with one another as human beings in times of stress.

A richer and deeper experience in that is available – at no additional charge — to those who have their Moving Experience with young children.

Because the accidental wet beds and top-20 all-time diapers that appear during a Moving Experience aren’t just an annoyance. They’re a reminder that everyone’s system is slightly off.

And that helps even those in their seventh decade realize that, under such circumstances, we all have a cranky 2-year-old lurking inside. It logically follows, then that, under the right circumstances, most families are just one baby step away from acting like a poorly supervised daycare.

But that’s not the bad news. It’s the good news, too.

Because once it’s over, it’s almost a relief to get a good night’s sleep and start getting life back in balance.

To catch up on the laundry.

Get the bills in order.

Get back to reading the book that’s so enjoyable.

And to remember the smiles that came at 6:30 a.m. when you see the top half of the 2-year-old’s head over the foot of the bed before he rounded the corner with a smile on his face for the new day – or you saw the 6-year-old successfully scale the slide at the park backwards, pushing through the dicey final moments at the top.

And to recognize the adults who made it through put forth the same kind of effort as well.

Because all that is part of the Moving Experience.

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