I started 2019 feeling as though 2018 didn’t amount to much. Despite my efforts, I hadn’t turned my passion (blogging) in to pounds. Then three things happened. One, I joined in on a live chat hosted by livethreesixty and alifemoreinspired on ‘wellness lessons’.  What stuck with me was using time more efficiently as well as taking time for wellness. Two, I discovered alifemoreinspired’s ‘Write Your 2019 Story’ project. I promptly signed up. My inbox pinged. First task was an audit of 2018. Suddenly, there was a light. The year that those nine squares made me feel (#bestnine2018 ) wasn’t awesome, was a lie! Three, I stumbled upon Marie Kondo’s Netflix series ‘Tidying UpWith Marie Kondo’. Oh the universe; again with the audit/tidy up task! Marie’s rituals made me realise I was holding on to baggage literally and figurative. The moment I opened my mind the mission of letting go, joy returned.


Baggage and Clutter


As a newbie expat, my first job in the UK was in a major retail store. I enjoyed being of assistance and keeping things in order. What I didn’t enjoy was the folding. I even got scolded by a customer for badly folding get bathrobe. Back then I lived out of two suitcase and I’m not sure I’ve totally let go of the ‘pack bags and go’ mentality.

Limited folding skills aside, I still managed to keep a tidy home. After I got married I still managed to keep a neat and tidy home but I was cleaning constantly always fussing about keeping order.  Doing that and travelling across London for work lead to me having an anxiety attack. Then I learnt to slow my roll a bit. I found a job closer to home.

When our son was born, I had the hard decision to stay at home care for him and the home. It was not an easy decision. I was sad and if I’m honest disgruntled that organizations were not more supportive of returning mums. Hubby and I were on our own. (One of the downsides to expat life).  As you know I also struggled with PND. So I decided to focus more on my son. By the time our daughter was born life we decide to move from a flat to a house. It was a sad day when I gave up my last suitcase.

Moving into our house meant we were moving forward as a family. I was grounded, which for me was bittersweet. There was less movement and less time for me… AND I still hadn’t learnt to fold.



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My first job in the UK was in a major retail store, September 2001 . I enjoyed being of assistance and keeping things in order. What I didn’t enjoy was the folding. I even got scolded by a customer for badly folding get bathrobe ??? … Back then lived out of a suitcase and I’m not sure I’ve totally let go of the ‘pack bags and go’ mentality. I still can’t fold. Hubby does it ? Of course we’ve done it together. He’s shown me how but I get so frustrated with house chores. Surly there’s more exciting stuff I could be doing, like being outside mowing the lawn ☺️ Then last night I stumbled upon @mariekondo show on @netflixuk all about tidying up. Her rituals really spoke to my soul. Best of all she covers folding and organizing when you have kids … … ok gather bags and boxes let the games begin ?? #mumlife #expatlife #tuwmk #wellbeing #wellness #thetigertales #lblogger #pblogger

A post shared by maria tumolo ???? (@msxpat) on


I dug deep and focused on my family. We have a happy home that’s functionally clean, marginally tidy. When the kids see me working in a frenzy, they usually ask who’s coming over. It’s so funny but true. I wanted my visitors to feel comfort and joy but I never thought about it seriously for us as a family or myself. I guess I’d not really accepted being a stay at home mum, as much as I’d that I had: that was my baggage.



Folding and tidying away


By writing down my successes and challenges for 2018, I was able to SEE all that I’d done. How did could I ‘forget’ and ‘discredit our amazing spring and summer staycations?! The every ones that helped me take a peek at the girl I used to me. I’m not ready to let her go, the risk taker. I need her for 2019. I’m so tired of being scared and holding myself back.

I realised that the stuff/belongings I held onto were defining me. The question is; are those things I wasn’t to take forward into 2019. So I totally get Marie’s idea of only keeping what sparks joy. There are things that are precious and I want to keep for sentimental reasons but actually it may be better for someone else for their journey. And do I really need my old college notes?


Settling Down                                                                                  

I’m began the process of freeing myself of stuff that was weighing me down. Don’t get me wrong, it’s one done. In fact I reckon I’ll be at it for months to come but I already feel better, lighter happier AND I see now that I don’t have to do it alone.  My family will be helping me and they are happy to. It’s scary yes but there’s also excitement by the possibility of living the life I travelled across oceans for. The life and joy I deserve. I’m still an expat.  Giving up on living out of a suitcase and books from my single life isn’t about giving up me.


As time goes on, I’ll let you know I (we) get on with our tidying up jobs. I’ll also be changing how I blog. I’ve not had much time last year to check in on me. So, I’ll be decluttering my blog life as well. Pacing myself better and saying no to jobs that give small reward and spark no joy.

I close by saying: I’m grateful for and accept the gift of stability, security and love that my family have given me.


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