Culling Deep

I mentioned, awhile back, that we're making plans to sell our Texas home, and downsize. To half the size of what we're in right now. The first time we looked at the house plans, and saw 'two bedrooms and a den', it sounded so small we hesitated. After almost a year of considering it, I feel like Goldilocks trying out beds. It feels just right. BUT..... what will be perfect on the other end, later this fall, is going to take some work to make happen.

The problem is that we are normal Americans, who bought a big house and then filled it up. This house had a dining room so we bought a dining room set. (We've used it less than a dozen times in almost three years.) It had two living rooms, so we now own three sofas, two recliners, five end tables and two coffee tables. (The media room quickly became a playroom for grandkids and doing yoga for me.) The next house has one small living room. Our next house has sufficient closets, but this house we're in now has an abundance of huge closets, full of stuff, and most of it we rarely if ever use.

So this coming weekend we're doing 'the dreaded'. We're having a garage sale.

I used to love to go to garage sales, and look for bargains, and bring stuff home and turn it from junkola to treasure. I don't do that anymore. The Barbie house I saw while walking Lily last November and nabbed for one of our granddaughter's Christmas present is the only thing I've actually bought at a garage sale in ages. And that was only because it wasn't staying at our house.

Anyone who's ever had a garage sale knows there's a world of difference between going to one and having one this Saturday. Right now, most of the rooms in our house look like someone broke in and pilfered through all our stuff - decided it was all junk and left it a mess. There's stuff everywhere, with the dining room and the upstairs bedroom taking the brunt of the damage.

As I've opened closets, and considered what to take with us and what to get rid of, several thoughts have come to me:

#1 it's amazing how much money I've wasted, on whims, plans, spontaneous purchases. Amazing and sad. I think of what we could have done / should have done with all that money and it shames me.

#2 it seems to me the more money we have the poorer we manage it. When there's plenty we spend it, and when it's tight we consider a bit longer before handing it over to anyone, for anything. Back when we used to buy hamburger that was half something else, and budget to buy a water hose, we were a lot more careful with our money. Going out to eat was a treat, buying a book was a splurge. I'm seeing a benefit to those days I didn't see then.

#3 we are a consumer driven society, buying stuff, dragging it home, stuffing it into our already over-filled homes and not even considering giving away any of what we already have. There has to be a reason there are Dollar Stores on so many corners of the by-ways of America. We go in for discount laundry detergent and come out with doodads we don't need.
#4 all this stuff sitting around our house either makes me feel wasteful, undisciplined, ungrateful, lazy, smothered, or overwhelmed.

#5 life runs in stages and I am not at the stage to need 5 black skirts, or cowboy cowgirl boots, or twenty jackets or three crockpots or every new fangled gadget advertised to take care of myself or our home. There is no regret as I decide I am not going to wear 3" heels ever again. I am not going to wear pointed shoes that are cute but hurt within five minutes. I am not going to wear a two piece swimsuit in public ever again. I am not going to mass produce bread in a bread machine, per dr.'s orders. I am not going to make cut cutouts for our yard at Christmas, or hand stamp our Christmas cards, or sew Barbie clothes or....... I can freely get rid of all the stuff needed to do the previously named activities, and let someone else enjoy using them. Someone in a different stage than I am.

#6 CS is getting rid of most of his power tools, ones he's had for 35 or more years. He's getting rid of the wheel barrow, the lawn mower, the yard edger, all the gadgets to repair a sprinkler system, or plumbing or electrical connections in our home. And he says the more he culls out the better he feels. Very freeing! Instead of doing all that stuff, perhaps he can go fishing?

I am going to keep the littlest bit of sewing stuff, and my knitting. CS is going to keep a handful of tools, so he can hang a picture for me, or putz in his garage just a little bit, but mostly we're going to go for drives, go to the movies, read books, sit on our back patio and sip a glass of wine together, get to know the neighbors, serve at our church, or travel.

So much of what we're culling and putting into a pile for a garage sale is stuff we brought home, excited to own and use, but we don't stop to think that what we own actually owns us. It has to be stored, managed, maintained. It takes our resources, our time, our energy.

This week CS and I will be working together to put this thing together, trying very hard to not kill each other in the process. There are tables to set up, a gazillion items to price, and all the other stuff that has to be done to get rid of all the stuff we brought home and now want gone from our lives. Our 35th anniversary is this coming Easter Sunday, so we think we have enough communication skills under our belts to do this together. We're literally praying, together, to not snip and snap at each other through all this mess - of a garage sale and downsizing and building a house together. It's easy to get snippy and that won't help anything or anybody.

The one rule we both absolutely agree on - the goal is to have it all gone, so price it cheap, and if it still doesn't sell it NEVER comes back in the house. From our garage straight to Goodwill, where someone else can drag it home. I don't know who said it - 'use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without'. We're starting to lean to the last, thinking we'll both feel like we have more room to breathe, literally and figuratively, by this time next week.

So, how about you? Do you tend to over collect? Have a rule or plan to keep from having too much stuff come into your home? And what's the best bargain buy you ever had, or the strangest thing you ever saw at a garage sale? I'm thinking we'll have great conversation fodder by Sunday, next week, after this is all over.


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