Yard Sale ~ A True Reflection Of Who I Am

It was over 100 degrees in the garage today when I was out there doing what I do best. Organizing.

Sir Husband and I began our great “Everything Must Go!” purge this past weekend, piling up years of paraphernalia, running to the town dump with 55-gallon bags of “why did I keep this,” dropping things off at the free-cycle area in our town.

yard sale signThen he announced it. “Let’s have a moving sale next weekend.”

Whoa. That’s a huge ordeal. Why can’t we just put everything we own on our beloved Facebook online yard sale like we have done the last couple of years? Because of course, it’s more fun to have a real sale, to sell all the nitty gritty.

We have a lot of pretty excellent nitty gritty. I am sure everyone thinks that about their stuff, but for us it’s true. Including some very nice furniture, we have things that people may actually want –  think Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma, LLBean. I can’t help it, although I am extremely frugal, I still like these types of home-style things.

So as I started to really think about a sale – items, prices, and how it might all go down, I’ve decided we are who we are no matter what. I would love to say that I don’t care about what I own or where it came from. And technically I don’t. But I am realizing we all have this innate self, who likes what it likes, who is drawn to a certain style, who operates with certain personal guidelines.

fb4e052f92c14afa5c8839318e4a0507Sir Husband said just throw the stuff on the lawn without even worrying about price stickers. I gasped at that thought. We will have signs and balloons to welcome the shoppers, tables displaying our things, the for-sale furniture arranged in the driveway, and a table of donuts until noon, at which point we will change to cookies.

I think they call that staging, like I did to sell my house. I can’t help it, that’s the “real me.” But in all honesty I wish I could change and not really care about any of this and live simply and free. Not just with my home items, but also in my life.

FullSizeRender-8While I was organizing the nitty gritty in the garage, our agent called to tell us we have more showings this week with our buyers. They want to come see the house again, which honestly I understand. But I thought we were done, the offers are signed. So my mind started racing about what I would have to do to change all the moving parts of my week, clean again, leave again, and work around someone else’s needs.

Everything in life is a negotiation and I struggle with saying no, or honoring what is best for me. But this is part of my innateness – I don’t exercise my boundaries well. There are a million reasons why, but it still goes back one thing – I’m just being myself.

Whether it’s shopping Pottery Barn clearance, staging a yard sale, or freaking out instead of saying no – no matter how hard I try I still like what I like and do what I do. There’s no deep philosophical meaning, it’s about accepting who we are and feeling comfortable with ourselves, regardless of who else is. At the end of the day we’re all we’ve got, and I’m ok with that.

 

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Going once…SOLD. Our Adventure In Home Selling

FullSizeRender-1For the last 192 hours, minus 45 for sleeping, I have been a Property Brother. Translation: for eight days I have signed, sealed, and almost delivered our house to its new owner, working side-by-side one of my local BFFs who is the the right hand of our real estate agent.

Those two gals, along with Sir Husband and myself took this home-selling experience to HGTV relevance. Each of us executing our own vital role, we listed, showed, and sold our house on day one. Not to mention got four offers. Yep. I thought I was out of swirl-mode, but nope.

We had heard that the market in our area is over the top excellent for sellers right now. But we had to live it to believe it. The minute our house went live on MLS, more than 20 showing requests came in that first afternoon, many lined up for the following morning back-to-backing a brokers’ open house. By the dinner hour we had over-asking price offers. It blew our minds – and even our real estate team’s – leading to no sleeping for any of us for almost three days.

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I could never be in the real estate business. Those people work their tushes off, especially in a hot market. They were fielding calls, scheduling showings, reading and interpreting offers, and providing every ounce of paperwork called for down to the last dotted i. They were showing the house, changing out signs on the road, juggling legalities for our homeowner’s association, and pushing me to go-go-go when I thought I was going to drop.

It’s not easy to show your house 20-some times in 72 hours. We had to keep all the FullSizeRender-2showings going for back-up offers, that’s how they roll in this seaside domain. It paid off, but required a marathon-pace. For three days I was home sometimes no more than 15 minutes before I had to depart for another round, hauling my valuables, my technology, and of course my kitties. God forbid someone accidentally let them out. It happens, I wasn’t going to risk it.

I say I was a Property Brother, because in that midst we also entertained finishing our partially-finished basement to negotiate some bids. We had a contractor here determining if it would make or break one of the deals. We also got to hang with an aerial photographer steering a drone over our house to photograph the lot and the woods behind us that we can’t get through. I’ve seen all this go down on TV, but never thought it would happen to me.

signFunny story – in an exhausted fog I went to the post office on hour 71 to mail a package. I was at the counter chit chatting with the postal person about moving, selling our house, how we sold it on day one and got several offers. And this is what I heard – “Um, I just bought your house.”

What?!? I knew we lived in a small town, but didn’t know how small.

The next thing you know we are hugging and deep into conversation. How often do you meet your buyer just after you’ve signed their offer? Agents like to keep you apart, but surprise, in this case, oops.

That said to me it was meant to be. We are due for some ease and relief. But in the meantime we’ll keep re-fueling, until we close on the house in just five short weeks. And this is just the beginning…

 

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Memorial Day Reminds Us of An Unconditional Gift

Today we rest, and enjoy what so many sacrificed their lives for – freedom and peace. I don’t know anyone who died in service to our country. And here’s the kicker – they don’t know me either.

It’s hard to wrap my head around men and women who would put their lives on the line for me, for my children, for my family, friends, neighbors, and basically everyone, as I move through my day-to-day life in comfort. When I stop to think about it – which most of us rarely do – I deeply appreciate their unconditional giving.

It’s only in the last several years that I have truly come to understand the meaning of “unconditional.” It’s not even a word, as much as it is a feeling – that absolute, without hesitation, without a doubt, without thought or reservation or any ounce of impurity, overwhelming sensation of bright, white, pure Divine Love that just happens when it’s condition-less.

It feels good, and there’s no room for anything other than goodness, nothing else matters except that. 

We live in a world of imposed conditions, so it’s almost hard to define the mystical experience of “unconditional.” I don’t know if we are born with the ability to offer it, or if it’s learned, or if we even recognize it when it’s happening to us, by us, or for us.

While I can’t say I know what it feels like to sign up to protect a nation, and to literally and consciously put my own life at risk for others, I do know what it means to give of my whole self – heart and soul – in my own little life. It’s the action of caring about the well-being of others in any circumstance without worrying about personal reward. Period.

It’s beautiful, it’s rare, and it’s to be honored.

I’m not a military person. I’m anti-fighting, anti-war, and truly cannot understand the internal inspiration, or the bravery and sacrifice of armed service-people. But I can be grateful, unconditionally.

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Park The Car In Harvard Yard … or, Find The First Parking Spot

What goes around comes around, and that doesn’t always mean something bad. This concludes Sir Husband’s first official week of work at Harvard U, where information abounds and enlightenment reigns. IMG_2648 copy

He was fortunate to be working the Baccalaureate ceremony that took place in his building – so to speak. He manages communications for the Harvard Memorial Church, which is in an of itself an iconic building of pomp and circumstance for many ceremonious events.

Just a few weeks ago he covered Carrie Fisher receiving a lifetime achievement award on that very pulpit, and most recently listened to the President of Harvard give a Baccalaureate speech to this year’s graduating class. That’s where the going around comes around.

For as long as Sir Husband and I have been in the car together, I have encouraged him to please park in the first or closest spot to the door of wherever we are going. He’s doesn’t care where we park, and always parked as far away from the door as possible for no reason.

But I have parking karma – one of those built-in good luck mechanisms that allows me to pull into virtually any parking lot and get the first spot. Although this is still much to Sir Husband’s amazement, he does not always comply with my good karma, complaining about my silliness of utilizing the gift. It’s an ongoing marital debate, when on occasion I have watched him drive by the first spot – usually empty – saying he didn’t see it as we approached. It’s almost like a game of chess. IMG_2649 copy

As he meandered around the Baccalaureate ceremony working and taking photos of the event, he listened to Harvard’s president tell the graduates to always go for the first parking spot, and if it’s not available, drive around the lot again until it is. Never, ever settle for anything other than the first spot she said, in a parking lot, or in life. She calls it the Parking Space Theory of Life.

Now he was listening. And all of a sudden what for years sounded like nagging to him, just became a symbolic key to happiness and success. What goes around comes around.

I imagine this is only the beginning of many new ways of thinking that both Sir Husband and I will embrace as he experiences the experiences of Harvard. Steven Spielberg gave this year’s graduation ceremony speech, another event Sir Husband worked beginning at sunrise that day. But I will save that story for another post. In the meantime, he’s found the first spot.

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The Parking Space Theory of Life

For years I have been telling students: Find what you love. Do what matters to you….But don’t settle for Plot B, the safe story, the expected story, until you have tried Plot A, even if it might require a miracle. I call this the Parking Space Theory of Life. Don’t park 10 blocks away from your destination because you are afraid you won’t find a closer space. Don’t miss your spot—Don’t throw away your shot. Go to where you think you want to be. You can always circle back to where you have to be. This can require patience and determination. Steven Spielberg was, in fact, late to class his first day as a student at California State University, because, as he put it, “I had to park so far away.”

Excerpt from Harvard University Baccalaureate address, President Drew Faust, May 24, 2016

 

 

Family Isn’t Always Defined By Blood, Kindness Works Well Too

Mr. Ex’s Mrs.’s mother just died. What are the rules around your children’s step-grandmother passing on who they have never met? Do we attend the ritual services? Or do thinking emojiwe simply send a card? Maybe this is when we write our own rules and pretend it’s protocol.

She called me within an hour of the death, I was glad she did. We knew this was imminent for a couple of weeks. But let’s back up to why we even communicate to this degree.

Mr. Ex’s Mrs. is a decent person. I don’t judge her for marrying Mr. Ex, in fact I salute her for her tolerance and unconditional love. They say there’s someone for everyone and I don’t ever question destiny. She tried fairly off the bat to connect our family trees, with good boundaries of course. Put it this way, she was a purveyor of peace, even when we didn’t see eye-to-eye. She’s also a mother of three adult children, so knows her way around life’s curves.

crazy emojiThat’s not to say I have agreed with her at every pass, and have made my feelings known. I don’t beat around the bush when it comes to holding back. But we basically see eye-to-eye and get along just fine. The irony is that Sir Husband and I don’t have much family, and when things have happened that call for support, she is the one who is there. That’s saying a lot, she acts more like family than most in our traditional immediate families.

So when she texted me asking if she could sleep on our couch on the way to pick up her daughter who is six hours from her and half-way from me, I said of course. I had offered to help if she needed anything during the passing of her parent, and she took me up on it.

Secretly I was glad that she would be here to see the furniture I’m selling before we move. We have to get rid of half of our stuff and she’s in the market herself, looking for new items. She and Mr. Ex are moving across their state line back to Boston around the same time as us. Interesting isn’t it. One big happy family-ish.

Before Mrs.’ arrival, I looked at the sympathy card sitting on my desk and wondered, do I sign it now and hand it to her? Or mail it to her home? These are the weird things when it comes to etiquette for family or not. But if we are such that my ex-husband’s wife can sleep over at my house, I suppose etiquette in this case is just a formal word.

waving emojiAfter she arrived we sat on the couch and talked about life’s happenings. She was overwhelmed and exhausted trying to deal with her loss. So I gave her a hug and a hand of support and then just let her be.

See that wasn’t so hard.

I don’t understand why people get so wound up. They let so much get in the way of a plain old human experience. When we can sit back without judgement and honor another simply for being a human doing the best they can, amazing things can happen.

 

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Sometimes It’s The Little Things That End Up Feeling Big

UPSWhen the text came in from our good friend/real estate agent that said our house had gone live – in other words she pushed the “go” button on our listing so it was official – I glanced at my phone, but didn’t click the link. The UPS guy drove down the street and stopped right at my house, which for a minute felt more important.

It’s here! It’s here! I said loudly with glee to the cat as I plopped her off of my lap and ran outside. It would have made a great UPS commercial – disheveled woman in dirty yoga clothes runs through the damp, freshly cut grass in bare feet, smiling and thanking the man in brown as he hands her a package.

little thingsIt was a new iPhone case from my son for Mother’s Day, just two weeks late. Seems silly that I was that excited for a new phone case, but I was. It’s the little things that make life easier that matter a lot to me. In fact, it’s the little things that really bring me the most happiness…

A small bouquet of wildflowers, a softly burning candle on the kitchen table, a simple silver ring, a little living space, sea glass in an antique jar, a basic apple midnight blue phone case…

blue caseMy old case was taped together, I’m a bit frugal when it comes to replacing things even when they’re broken. I put the new case on and ran to show my youngest who couldn’t be bothered turning away from his online computer game to see my glee. But I shared it anyway, then remembered the house was now on the market.

I clicked the link and saw our house for sale online – and other than the wonderful job our friend did with the listing – I felt fairly neutral about it. We have done this so many times that I must be numb to the life-changing reality that we are about to move again. That’s not a small thing.

I’m guessing we all spend a lot of time thinking about big things – our future, our hopes and dreams. We set goals, plan, visualize and work toward whatever we want or need to be happy. I’m a dreamer, and think that what I want will magically appear. That’s not to say I don’t work hard, in fact just the opposite, and the path has not been easy. But I have not really had the experience of dreams coming true beyond the birth of my boys and marrying Sir Husband.

Acquiring “big things” has mostly been a concept to me. Until this week. We are now living one of our dreams come true and it honestly feels pretty weird. He got the job he had been trying to get for a number of years, as if his whole life built up to this pivotal career moment. We will now live where we want to live, potentially happily ever after. And until a wise woman mentioned it, I didn’t even realize we were staring right at our dream as it manifested.

For the last few years Sir Husband and I have been clawing our way out of some unnecessary and massive tragedies, thankfully together. And here we are, finally dancing over the happiness threshold. It’s so new to me, that I don’t quite know what to do with it except smile and nearly hug the UPS guy.

I said nearly. The eye-rolling smirk he had on his face must be part of the job. That’s ok. He didn’t know he was watching my joy at a dream finally coming true.

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The Gap Between Reality And Relaxing Sometimes Can Feel Huge

FullSizeRenderWe take vacations to relax. But I failed at that last week when we were away, and I’m not alone. Why? Because we can’t always get away from ourselves. It took four days and a hand-in-hand barefoot stroll with my man on the surf-side dunes of the Cape to finally unwind. Relaxing wasn’t easy no matter how hard I tried.

I’ve caught myself a lot lately in the thick of a nervous-system buzz. It’s like a fast-moving electrical current that goes speeding through my body keeping me revved up even when I’m sitting down. It comes naturally, from a lifetime of trying to reach a better destination – only the destination in this case is comfort, contentment and peace.

The good news is, I’m shifting it. But until recently, for the last forever years I have been living in what we un-fondly refer to as The Gap. It’s not an easy place to live. gapIt’s that land between reality and desire. Despair and hope. Existence and belief. And it can be uncomfortable, even when we’re determined to come out of it.

The trouble is, when we live in the gap for a long time, we can get stuck there in a comfortable discomfort that keeps us treading water when we aren’t drowning or desperately swimming trying to get “there.” This almost-there land becomes our focus, all the while our nervous system maintains its buzz.

I know a few people living in the gap. It’s self-defined, but we know it when we’re in it. It can be when we’re in between jobs, or homes, or life circumstances. If only  fill in the blank …  When  fill in the blank … As soon as  fill in the blank … happens, I’ll be all set/good/happy/healthy/fine. It can be temporary, but I’ve spent most of my life trying to fill in those blanks.

Lately I’m realizing something huge that wise people already know. The destination is actually now.

jimcareyWe hear about living in the present moment, or peace and happiness come from the inside – there are a myriad of memes out there telling us how to feel good. They make sense in the moment and can feel like our Jacob’s ladder out of the gap. But it’s not until we recognize it that we can do it.

The to-do list is a perfect example. That list never ends, but I have continually believed if I get through my list all will be right with the world. Mundane tasks become massive priorities, so I stay revved-up as I’m running toward the finish line. I know I can make it…I can do it…I’m almost there…just one more thing…Keep.On.Going. It’s almost subconscious.

Workaholics live in that habitual space – in between here and there, then and tomorrow, busyness and bliss. The question is, when is it good enough? When are we satisfied? When can we relax? 

Call me crazy, but the answer is now. And we don’t even have to go on vacation.

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When It Comes To Our Stuff It’s The Treasures That Count

It was like a scene from a movie. Wife sends husband out for a basket of flowers for the front porch minutes before the team of house-selling people arrive. It was listing day. Wife gives explicit instructions for color, sun-exposure and price. But she forgets to say be sure they are alive. Husband followed the instructions so explicitly that he didn’t notice the FullSizeRenderflowers he brought home were half-dead.

I adore my husband. He is the love and light of my life. To me he’s the most amazing and sexiest man alive. And when he walked in with a basket of brownish, wilted flowers, I whimpered and welled up with tears. We were out of time.

In his defense, he stuck to the price guidelines but it turned out to be a case of you get what you pay for. “They just need some water,” he said as he peered into the pot.

I’ve been crying a lot lately. They aren’t bad tears, they are change tears, as we embark on homeanother major life transition involving moving for the seventh or eighth time in less than 10 years. A military wife I am not.

I thought I was over the crying last week when we headed to Cape Cod for a few days of rest before Sir Husband starts his new job. But no amount of Om’ing helped. We stopped in Boston and signed a lease on our new condo, and that’s when it all started. We are moving “home,” and I’m thrilled. But as we tripped down memory lane where I spent most of my adult years, buried emotions surfaced. Not memories exactly, but feelings. I had no idea they were in there.

Instead of dwelling on what was causing the flow of emotion and tears, I tried to just go with the flow…the tears, the feelings, the experience. Sir Husband’s parade was not dampened by my unplanned avalanche – he held my hand as we drove through my past and soon-again future and smiled. His joy embarking on this Divinely-guided venture was irrepressible.

Before we got to the Cape, we stopped for a night at a dear family friend’s house who I have not seen in years. As if no time had passed, we simply picked up where we left off, although I have a different husband and her daughter is all grown up. Seeing her was medicinal. Time has a funny way of reminding us of those things that truly matter – like friendship and memories and the blank canvas of our future.

After a lot of laughs and wine around her big dining room table, we got to the nitty gritty of moving boxeswhat Sir Husband and I have to do to get ourselves moved. We are downsizing yet again to a very small space near the big city – more than half our belongings must go. That’s part of the emotional shift – truly letting go of our stuff.

“Keep only the treasures, only those things that tell an important story,” my friend said. She recently did this herself. It’s harder to let go of memories and experience than it is to let go of things, she explained. It took some digesting, but I began to embrace the reality of what “stuff” really means.

It means essence ~ lifeblood ~ nucleus ~ spirit ~ essentialness ~ substance ~ and soul.

So everything’s negotiable, but the basket of flowers stays.

 

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Take Time To Slow The Spin

FullSizeRender-2Your blog has my head spinning, said my beautiful friend who is the epitome of serene. Nothing phases her, so we better take it seriously. She didn’t think we were going to move with Sir Husband’s new job. Us either, we even surprised ourselves.

We’re feeling surprised a lot lately, and as awesome as it is, we are a little slow on the uptake. Like when we woke up yesterday and were just going about our business to get ready for the day and realized it was Sir Husband’s last day of work at the paper.

OMG THIS IS YOUR LAST DAY OF WORK HERE! came shrieking out of my mouth.

He has been trying to get out of the newspaper biz for a super long time. Not sure he even IMG_1087thought it was possible. Then to land a job at Harvard? Surprise! And score.

This last job did him in. It was the culmination of industry-thinking that he just did not subscribe. Day in and day out for the last three years, the drudgery compiled. He never thought it would end. Hallelujah it finally did.

But hallelujah comes after many years of trouble and strife from others in our life. Thank goodness we can live on love alone because most days that was the key. When we’re used to nothing but hurdles, “good” surprises take a minute to absorb.

Things will hit us when they hit us, whether we’re reacting immediately or not. But I felt my friend’s message clearly, we’ve had too many fast OMGs. From an unexpected new car, new job, impending move and new life, we’re sort of spinning too.

That’s why we decided to stop the spin and take a few days off. We’re going on vacation, just the two of us, to rest our weary souls. Even when change is good, it takes a daily toll.

We don’t get away too often, especially alone, so this one feels quite sacred. We need to recalibrate as we embark on our new path, which sort of means shutting down. Not our hearts of course, but our busyness – from computers to phones to blogs.

cape cod sunriseI saw a post on Facebook from a friend who is doing the same. She said she’s taking a break to regain some time and energy. I often wonder if hitting the off button on social media is a case of snooze, you lose. But it’s that whole putting yourself first thing, in whatever form that takes.

We’ll be resting for a whole week, and life will then totally change. Sir Husband will be headed to campus while I stay home and sell the house. The school year will end, the packing will begin, and off we go again.

Life is full of surprises they say, so we’ll just let the story unfold.

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See you May 23!

When Going With The Flow At Light Speed Don’t Forget To Breathe

life struggleWow. Is looking at our life from the outside as exhausting as it is to live it? Because we are in a swirl-wind so speedy that we can barely catch our breath. Only this time it’s all good.

My life has always been a little swirly. We don’t sign up for the lives we have, or maybe we actually do. But I don’t have time to debate where our life stories originate. Right now I’m so busy rewriting ours, I’m having trouble keeping up.

I can’t say it ALL started when Sir Husband secured a new job last week, ALL is a very long time. I’m talking about the latest chapter, that is revealing each page as we go.

His new job is in Boston, so we decided to move back. That decision alone opened up Pandora’s box. Where will we live when we get there, and more importantly how will we pay? Massachusetts is way high up in its cost of living ranks.

After accepting that reality, the search for a home could begin. We aren’t going to buy off the bat, it’s happening way too fast. We have to sell the house we’re in now and he starts his new job next week. We began looking online at rentals in the towns we might want to live. Fortunately I lived there for decades, so I’m familiar with the land.

Here is where “go with the flow” has become our most valuable tool. We’ve struggled with this notion before, but sometimes it’s not a choice, which we’re learning now. Every hour stardustof every day it’s like we’re being hustled by Divine Powers That Be. Doors are opening quickly and things are falling into place. This concept of things aligning with ease is often referred to as “flow.”

Flow is when things go smoothly, when we’re swimming with the tides and the current carries us along without us efforting our cause, worrying or stressing out. And as busy and tiring as it may seem in the moment, flow is life-change for good.

We’ve had to let go and surrender ourselves to allowing it all to work out. That is a big deal, as humans we want to be in control, and we try with all our might. We hear a lot about surrendering, some call it “Let go and let God.” Whatever words make it feel right, it doesn’t change the facts. If you trust in the Divine, yourself and in life, it will likely work out really well.

This a new way to function for sure, because trusting for us takes work. But ironically because it’s all working out, we’re learning quickly to trust.

It’s hard not to smile when we’re feeling the flow, in spite of the breathless fatigue. There’s a happy invigoration that shows to the outside world. When a dear friend noticed our flow first hand she wasn’t sure what to say.

“How do I learn to be your friend when you’re happy and everything’s fine?”

That was the funniest thing I’ve heard in a while, but honestly she was right. For years our life’s swirl was negative, crazy and hard but our new status quo is flow. Sounds a lot like balance to me. Kind of like breathing in and then out. First we’re receptive, then we let go. As sure as our breath our life flows.

 

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