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Practice does not make perfect when it comes to moving

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Lynne D. Schwabe was owner of Schwabe-May of Charleston, ran her own marketing consulting firm and is a nationally recognized motivational speaker. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Women's Wear Daily and has appeared on CNBC's Power Lunch. She currently is director of development for the National Youth Science Foundation. She can be reached at lynneschwabe@gmail.com.

Moving is not something that gets easier the more times you do it; practice does not make perfect. I recently moved again. This was perhaps my sixth move in 20 years; I should have my systems down pat by now.

A clue to my organizational skills resides in the five boxes descriptively labeled, "Misc Lynne," that have followed me around through the past six moves. I have no idea what's inside of these boxes, but I'm sure it's treasure. It's comforting to know that they are resting someplace in the house and that there's no urgency to unpack them. Unlike everything else. 

Movers are great. They do all the heavy lifting, and they are cheerful and positive at the beginning of the day. Toward the end of the day, they have had it with the person being moved, don't want to be told where to put things and get just a little crabby if asked to move something that they have already placed. Despite clear labeling as to which room of the house boxes should go in, toward the end of the move, they are slung every which way. This is why I have a box of T-shirts in my garage, sweaters and shoes in the basement, and my office files everywhere except in the office. It took three days to find a glass to drink out of, four to find a dish for the cat food and I am still looking for my GPS, most of my underwear and the salt.

In every move, you aspire to better organization, to getting rid of extraneous stuff. Because moving is such an odious task, you put off packing the boxes until the last minute; then you panic because there's just no way on earth that you'll be finished by the moving date. This means that judicious weeding of your stuff never happens; you end up wildly throwing everything into boxes, which often end up with the dreaded "Misc" label. This is not at all helpful on the other end.

Unpacking is only the second part of the moving equation. You then have to find places to put everything. Somehow, houses are never carbon copies of one another, and no matter where you move, there is never enough storage space. In this new abode, each closet has a top clothing rod and one halfway up the wall, as if the previous family was comprised of all five-year-olds. Since I am considerably taller than a five-year-old, my clothes now have amusing crinkles in them where they have to drape over and around the lower rack.

To solve the problem of having boxes delivered to any which room, I had a handy man come over to help me heft and move. Unfortunately and tragically, he has early Alzheimer's, so the resultant conglomeration of boxes were no more strategically arranged. This means I still have Worcestershire sauce in my bedroom and pots and pans in the bathroom. I may not get unpacked until it's time to move again.

Then there was the "Getting Locked Out" incident. The first night in the house, I went out the door and pulled it shut behind me, never thinking to check for the key. Of course, the door locked. I frantically called all the realtors involved with the sale/rental of the house, and no, there was only one key, the one that was currently inside my house even as I stood piteously on the outside. Bulletin: if you are going to lock yourself out of your house/office, do it during business hours. Locksmiths no longer have emergency services.

So, I was stuck. I hadn't yet moved my cat, Martha Wehrle, so I marched back to the house I'd just sold, and she and I spent the night in a totally empty space. I didn't mind so much, but Martha was totally freaked out. She just didn't get the concept of all the furniture disappearing.

Moving is right up there with divorce, death and starting new businesses in terms of stress. While I am not known for my meticulous housekeeping, I do like knowing where everything is. Having 50 or so unpacked boxes in the basement and no clue what's in them is unsettling. Knowing that I am a pack rat disturbs my sense of my more serene self. And finding three, count them, THREE containers of sage only confirms that I am hopeless.

Taking advice from Donald Trump isn't something that I ever do. However, I think in this case, he'd been right when he said, "Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive." 

I think I'll alphabetize my spice rack.