I readily admit that I’m absolutely ecstatic, having just come off the high of successfully setting up and conducting a weekend yard sale. The minute I opened my eyes this morning I realized it was done, over, finished, and not only was I now $1325 richer (yay!), a slew of my own sad, unfinished projects had morphed into other peoples’ good intentions. Off, my children! Time to live in someone else’s garage.
By all rights I should be exhausted (as I was yesterday morning when I woke up) but it’s odd how coming out the other end of a challenging project imparts a sense of, well, euphoria.
Understanding that fact will now become my mantra for beginning difficult things. Once I reach the end I’m a rock star – in my own mind, anyway, and that’s all that really counts. Writing a novel, moving to a new town, remodeling a house, raising a new puppy: all tricky, demanding endeavors fraught with the potential for tears and mayhem, and each with the potential for huge joy when the task is done.
Who would we be if we never took on an adventure?
My friend Toby Neal and her husband Mike are on a month-long trek through several U.S. National Parks, and reading her blog posts about that journey have at times inspired envy while others have moved me to tears. Her descriptions have covered beauty and spirit and light and fear and exhaustion, and I have related to every single word and wished I could be there first-hand to witness this brave thing they have undertaken.
Toby is far into her adventure and she’s beyond tired and (understandably) wishing it was through. That’s how it almost always works for me, as well, that three-quarter point where so much work has been done, so much has been learned, so much completed, and yet a significant portion remains to be experienced. I feel your pain, my friend, but I know you’ll rally.
Because I know it takes courage to be open to change or to commit to any kind of travel, whether it be a voyage of the physical or simply a crossing that takes place in our minds. Talk is easy. The tricky part is in the doing. The trickiest of all comes with recording our appreciation of the passage, good and bad.
My takeaway lesson from the Neals is to dare to believe that our dreams are doable, and that gambling on ourselves to pull off the best of daring ideas is always a risk worth taking. Oh, and to try to always have a camera with you to take snapshots as evidence.
So back to the yard sale and I’m betting you’re wondering how my de-cluttering has anything to do with change or journeys – or did I simply go so far afield you’d forgotten how I started? Disengaging from stuff is Step #2 in my plan to step away from this place where I’ve lived since 2005, Step #1 having been clean the chimneys and trim the trees away from the roof, Step #3 to be paint the house and clean the inside until it sparkles, probably the hardest part of all. Then, finally, to list the house for sale, with a couple other tasks thrown in there somewhere.
I’m moving. No, I don’t know where. The Universe will send me a message when the time is right. Either that, or my dog and I will end up in a cramped apartment somewhere wondering if I missed a memo. Like the Neals, I’m going to plot a general course and believe that the way will open and the trip will be a great one.
Why move, you ask? I want to fill my life with experiences and friendship and awe, not with things. There was a time when the thought of letting go of that old tin filled with mother-of pearl buttons my Irish grandmother saved – or her Eastlake side table, or those antique frames I’d always intended to repair – would have been impossible to even consider. But last weekend I let them go with no remorse. I’m free, and I’d like to test the waters and see just how completely free I can get. And I know Grandma doesn’t think less of me.
I’ll sign off with an anecdote about the sale, and a story that all writers will (I hope) get a chuckle from and with a nod to Anne Lamott, who taught me in her brilliant, must-read book Bird By Bird to pay attention, and to carry pen and note cards always. Because real-life dialogue and events are almost always better than anything you could ever make up.
I was in the house grabbing a bite when the dog woofed to tell me someone was walking by, and I assumed they were looking for the yard sale. So I went out and called to a couple of gray-haired men in the street – not elderly by any means – “Are you looking for the barn sale?”
“What?” They looked perplexed.
“I thought you might be looking for the barn sale and I wanted to tell you I’d be right out,” I replied.
Still confused. Clearly I’d misjudged and they were just out for a walk. But one of the men, not wanting to be rude, walked closer to me and said, “Excuse me?”
“I’m having a barn sale this weekend,” I replied, pointing to the huge two-car garage that I call my barn. “I thought maybe you were trying to find it.”
He was quiet for a moment, almost scratched his head. Then he looked at me and said, “If someone buys it, will they have to dismantle the building to move it away?”
Even in the middle of the tough parts there can be fun if you look for it. So welcome adventures and pay attention while you manage the ride, and take copious notes while you’re hanging on for dear life. Life is good. Humor is better, laughing off the bruises is even best.
Readers, do you have any funny true-life dialogue to share? Have you had any chuckles while in the middle of a challenging chapter in your life? Please share!
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! It’s easy: Just enter your email address in the upper right corner of this page. Oh, and I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information. That’s a promise!