The Joys of Letting Go
The two were married on May 3, 1969—a date they're reminded of by a signed '69 Spoleto Festival poster, a wedding gift from a friend, on display in their living room. All the art in their home is the work of people close to them—everything from photos taken in Japan, India, and Paris to groupings from a school of ceramics Joel simply calls "friend pottery." The couple doesn't have children, but pictures of young relatives are everywhere. "What we wanted to hang on to in our new home is what downtown New York represents for us—it's all about our friends," Angela says. "Other than that, we wanted to cut and run!"
An acquaintance of the Solomons, Robert is a counselor who works with Friends in Deed, a crisis center for people dealing with life-threatening illnesses. When Angela and Joel learned that he also consulted on the design of friends' homes, they signed him on to help with their transition.
"Moving is high up on the life stress list, which includes things like the loss of a loved one or divorce," Robert says. A thorough, compassionate listener by profession, he came up with a design plan for his clients that was part talking cure ("There were absolutely daily conversations"), part triage.
She's true to Robert's mantra for moving with a good mind-set. "Focus on where you're going and what you're creating, not on what you're leaving behind," he says. "It's not about less; it's about different. And once you get there, everything shifts in your life, often in marvelous ways."
- Do It Quickly: There's no point in drawing out the process or dwelling on where you used to live, mentally or physically. "You need to get where you're going," Robert says. "As soon as you're in the new place, it's very easy. You've shifted from the loss process to the creation process."
- Be Practical, Not Sentimental: If your move is about downsizing, Robert recommends that you start by identifying the objects that will go with you and those that can be left behind. If there's an item you're not quite ready to part with, consider storage. Better yet, he says, "Give it to someone you love or to a charity. You can also pass something down as an heirloom now, rather than waiting until you die."
- Entertain: "It's a good idea to surround yourself with a support system," Robert says. Include friends and family at various stages of the process—invite them over, pick up some wine, and have a box-packing party. "Then the move becomes a social rather than an awful, desperate thing. Make it a transition that includes the people in your life."