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From Sale to Sail

What do most people think when they hear “Estate Sale?” I know what I thought. Old folks selling their wears. The reality is most folks don’t attend their own estate sales as they are either in a nursing home, hospital or six feet under when the event takes place.

Your home, your clothes, your precious possessions picked through by stranger making comments (of all sorts) as they walk through your house and assess your “stuff.”

No wonder our Estate Sales rep. warned us about staying in the house as we went through this process.

Hind sight, the ideas come quickly and the initial actions are not as daunting as the reality of being in the middle of the chaos. This was the case for Jeff and I as we decided in late July that we should put the house up for sale, sell our vehicles and most of our possessions and keep a small storage unit while we embark on our sailing adventure.

We agreed this would be best for us and our circumstances and would afford us the opportunity to drop anchor with a lot less baggage at some point in the future....whenever that time came. Within 3 days I had realtor interviews and estate sales company’s lined up. By the following weekend the house was listed for sale, professional photos taken and a date for the estate sale. Quick right? (It takes most people 3 years to do what we’ve done in 3 months.)

Well....yes that part was quick but what no one talks about was the slow peeling of the band-aide, the hard decisions of what to keep and let go and the emotion of going through the process. Yes, lots of sweat and yes...there were tears. Not because I/we were so attached to our stuff but I think shear exhaustion and the insensitivity of people who view you as their next meal ticket. There is a reason why this happens without you around!

The first things to go were our motorcycles - slight pain but the thought of being unencumbered during our time on the Liberator III was more than enough for us to get over that quickly. Then came the vehicles, which sold within days of each other and caused us to have to rent a car sooner than anticipated but still-all good. We started in our storage sheds- yep ready to get rid of years of Christmas decor, hunting gear and 15 years of work docs. Purging that was easy. Every time we went to the dump-I could feel the load getting lighter. Then came the garage, still good. How did two people who had nothing 17 years ago end up with all this “stuff?”

In preparation for the house purge I started to watch The Minimalist and Hoarders. Did it help? reminded me that if I had not used something recently, it was time to sing like Elsa and “Let it go!”

Jeff kept the gut checks in order. Often I could see the look of concern in his eyes as if to say “are you really okay with getting rid of all your favorite stuff.” I reassured him time and time again, I’m good. I’m ready to move on to the next phase of our lives and most of all I realized I wanted to do this on my terms. Not leaving this to my brother or worse my step-kids to have to do. This way, our stuff is in a small storage unit (or two) and it will be easy to go through, keep what they want and donate the rest should the need arise.

This brings me to the “tears” part of the story. Yes, I cried. A few times....mostly from being tired, frustrated and feeling like I was run over by a bus! The Estate folks show up with stickers and pens and go through every item in your house and put a price on it. Imagine that everything you own has a sticker or a tag on it....(which most thing you own did at one point right?) but at a fraction of what it cost you and displayed like a store in your home.....while you’re still trying to live there. Then they tell you to just move on your boat now so they can work better (scram kid you bother me) but your boat is not ready. They show up to your home, walk to your fridge, put their lunch in it and continue their conversation on their cell phone in your kitchen while you’re on a work conference call. Yep, you guessed it, I turned into a broom rider right then and there!

Then there's all the questions: "where did you buy this, what did you pay for it, how much is it worth now, what is this for?"

Lastly the sale. Strangers walking through your house questioning if there was an exorcism in this house because I happen to have a cross collection or “they must be Texans, republican, catholic zealots. Did you see the Cowboy boots, Reagan book and all those the crosses?”

When did these people die? How old was the marine that lived here and how did they die? Nope, we are not dead yet and we are choosing to do this so we can go sail, I said with a smirk.

Jeff and I kept repeating with a smile: “the sooner we sell, the sooner we sail!”

Most folks don’t get it and I understand. You spend a lifetime in acquisition mode and in a few weeks it’s all scattered to other peoples homes, donation stations or the dump. All for the opportunity to be light and free. I’m sorry but even as I write this, I don’t see why more people don’t do this.

I had the pleasure of meeting a woman recently who owns a successful consignment store and she came to see some of the items in our home prior to accepting them for her store. She too was married to a veteran and when she asked me why I was going to part with my stuff and I told her and she smiled. She said her and her husband had the same dream but "Life" got in the way and time got away from them and now they were too old to do this. A few weeks ago I reached back out to her as we had some items that did not sell during the estate sale and her reply broke my heart. Seems her husband passed away quite unexpectedly and she was taking time off to grieve and be with family. My heart sank and aches for her. Again, confirmation that we are doing the right thing by us. What is the worst that can happen? We hate it and we come back and have to set up house again with the stuff we have in storage? Big deal. We refuse to live our lives as spectators but rather be participants in a life of our making and choosing. So in the end - yes, its not as easy as you think. There are details that don’t make it onto the spreadsheet. Line items don’t include feelings but in the’s all worked out.

Here’s some tips if you decide to do this:

  1. Interview all folks and set guidelines and expectations for them and yourself

  2. Make sure the timeline is something you can live with and don’t rush the cadence

  3. Decide if you will be present during the sale and if you are - be mentally prepared for the comments and questions

  4. Remove ALL your personal items and things you want to keep prior to the estate sale prep

  5. Pre plan for your Storage unit and agree in advance on what the goals are. (i.e.: Do we want to come back and buy everything new or keep enough for a one bedroom apt, etc)

  6. Budget for rental cars if your vehicles sell faster than you expect

  7. Research donation locations and remember some offer pick up for larger furniture items

  8. Breath Deep, Often. Remember, the quicker you sell, the quicker you sail!!

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