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Monday, April 8, 2013

Yard Sale

Last fall, our neighbors moved from their house after living there for about 40 years.  They had finally realized the house had become too much to care for and they moved to an assisted living facility so they could take care of themselves, and each other, without all of the daily stress that comes with taking care of the house.  It was a tough decision and a tough move, but probably the right one.

Their daughter came and stayed with them for 3 months to help them sort through 40 years of "stuff" that had found a permanent spot in their house.  Books, dishes, clothes, letters, photos, lightbulbs, furniture, trinkets and keepsakes, name it, I think they had one of them tucked away in a drawer or in the attic.  It's the stuff that surrounds most of us....pieces of our past that provides us comfort, things we think we need, or papers we feel we have to keep.  Put it in a file, stuff a box in the attic, throw it in the garage.  And let it sit for someday.

As happened with our neighbors, the time comes, whether it be necessary or just by choice, that we have to make a move and it forces us to start to digging through what has accumulated and figure out what really matters...what we really need.  It's an emotional journey, deciding what you can't live without and what you've been hanging onto because you feel you should or because maybe you think it is important to someone else that you have it.  And the stuff that needs to get laid out in the driveway for a yard sale, put in a big black bag for the dump, or even placed by the side of the road with a "free" sign available to the first willing passerby. 

When we moved 7 or 8 years ago, in order to get the house ready to show, we boxed up a lot of stuff to put in storage until the move was to take place.  The house "showed better" with clear counters and empty closets...bigger, brighter, better.  We also made some easy fixes to things in the house that made a huge difference....fixes that we had just let slide because after a while, you settle in and stop seeing the little imperfections like the door that needed a coat of paint, the hole that could use some spackle, or the jiggly doorknob that needed a quick tightening.  Until you take the time to look around you with a fresh set of eyes, you just live with the undone, unfinished little things.   When you see things every day, you get used to them, but when you are preparing for a move, we are forced to take a step back and pay closer attention to things that need a little work. And the fixes are made, but we do it for the potential buyers and not for ourselves.  How often do you hear people lament that they waited so long to make improvements and that they wished they had done those things for themselves when they were living there?

Why do we wait for a move or a big life changing event to make these changes?  Why not take a step back today...see what needs to be cleared out or repaired and make those changes for ourselves and not for the next owners or tenants.  Keep the things we need and bag the things we don't.  We so often let our lives get cluttered with junk instead of just figuring out what is important.  On a regular basis, we need to take the time to reassess and set priorities...remember what is valuable.

Mind you, I write this surrounded by a few piles of paper, 123 pencils that we might need someday, 8 books I might read again sometime, a few zillion magazines with pictures I may someday need to refer to, plus a few mixed tapes from college that I have kept despite not having a cassette player in the house.  It's a hard to take an honest look at the luggage we carry from place to place,  and to weed out the extraneous stuff.  But by taking the time to step back and be reminded of our priorities and what makes us happier, it can certainly make things brighter and bigger and more comfortable...and we all "show better" as a result!

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