Yes, The Barn’s For Sale

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.

Frank managing the sale

Frank managing the sale

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.

Toby Neal on the trek of a lifetime

Toby Neal on the trek of a lifetime

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!

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20 Responses to Yes, The Barn’s For Sale

  1. Belinda Pollard May 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Ha ha ha. Communication is a wonderful thing. (if those men weren’t elderly, were they cute?)

    At the moment I’m in the middle of projects I feel like I’ll never finish and almost wish I’d never started, so thanks for the encouragement, Molly. 🙂

    • Molly Greene May 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

      Confused is seldom cute, unless it’s on the face of a beloved pet. Funny, however, is ALWAYS attractive. That’s all I’m sayin’.

  2. Pamela Beason May 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    I am famous for foot-in-mouth disease. It’s a matter of timing, which I clearly do not possess. One of my most embarrassing moments was in college. I was waiting for an elevator with a friend, and describing a judo match I had recently participated in. (I’m also famous for picking weird sports; no volleyball for me!)

    The elevator arrived just as I was concluding my story. My friend and I stepped into the group of occupants and I finished off my tale by saying “So then he threw me on the ground and he won.” I left it at that and tried to ignore the stares.

    Through the years, I’ve learned a bit of caution. I have learned not to ask about hand grenades while crossing the Canadian border. I mean, really, they’re not on the list of prohibited items; should they count? Don’t ask about transporting apple maggots, either, just because the sign mentions prohibiting only the fruit. Those guards just don’t understand what it’s like to be a creative writer.

    • Molly Greene May 27, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      Oh Pam, you have no idea how I wish I could spend time with you with my notecards and handy pen! I love great dialogue opportunities, LOL!

  3. elaine pinkerton coleman May 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    Dear Molly,
    Your post came at a good time, as my heart is breaking over the pending loss of a beloved feline friend. In fact, I will be devoting my next blog post to Thomas Cromwell, an affectionate, loving orange fellow – one of those cats that comes along once or twice in a lifetime. My heart is breaking, as I do my best to make the poor kitty comfortable until we go to the vet tomorrow. I won’t go into all the reasons he probably cannot continue living except to say that he was a stray for six years (three years spent after that, with me, his pet human) before I adopted him. He has feline immune deficiency, so did not have a long life expectancy to begin with. Your description- of parting with STUFF- inspired me, as I am joining up with my friend Ann on June 22 for what we hope will be a big success of an event. I’m reminded that life goes on and of the importance of appreciating RIGHT NOW. Yes, I’m bereft – even though Thomas has not yet departed. And yet… I’m realizing the lesson- Tomorrow will be another day.

    • Molly Greene May 27, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

      Elaine, my heart goes out to you. I’ve always had loving doggie companions and found that their time with me always flies by way too quickly. Losing a beloved pet is one of the hardest things ever. I always take a little solace in the fact that I give them all such a wonderful life, the best I can, before they move on. Best to you with your sale and everything that comes with and after it!

  4. JLOakley May 27, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    I come from a family of pack rats, but the stories that go with the things I’ve accumulated as a keeper of family history are precious and centuries old, so lately, I have been working on a plan to get rid of the things that I currently won’t be needing any more in teaching and saving the things that will help me write in the future. Some things I’m passing on to younger teachers, others I’m looking to give to museums. The precious things will find homes that will care for them somewhere in the family when they are ready. The rest I’ll use in gifts. I couldn’t give away buttons that were old unless they were part of gift to some friend or for a celebration.

    Thanks for the post. I totally know what a barn sale is. Funny about the confusion.

    • Molly Greene May 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

      I agree about the precious things and knowing the difference. I’m in a different place, of course; I have no children and only one nephew who couldn’t possibly store everything there is from past generations. Since my buttons have no “story” to explain what they were to my Grandma, I let them go. Other things I’ll never part with, but fewer now than before, which was my goal!

  5. Carla May 27, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    After a major change in my own life, I found my new direction in a string of “vandwelling” blogs and sites. I had always wanted to travel in an RV but was unable to afford it. But the vandwellers share how they do it frugally. Sorry to read the Neals are experiencing fatigue, as I plan to live full time in natural beauty. Sometimes, that can come from trying to fit too much into one “trip of a lifetime.” I’ll use the massive amounts of solitude to try my hand at a new fiction genre (as soon as the sequel to my first novel hits Kindle).

    • Molly Greene May 28, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      Carla, how fun! I’ve thought about hanging out in a camper van for a while, can’t wait to hear how it works out for you!

  6. Laura Zera May 27, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    Hey there, glad to see you had a successful weekend and enjoy that euphoria!

  7. Johna Freeman May 27, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    $1325? Was there a Bentley in the mix????

    • Molly Greene May 28, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      Johna!! You found me here! No Bentley but LOTS and lots of useless fru-fru.

  8. Toby Neal May 27, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    I have a wacky idea…why not move to Maui?
    Our rental is currently rented out, or I’d offer you that, we love dogs too!
    You are a dear writer friend who I want to meet in person. I hope you’ll come our way some day, at least!
    Blessings and aloha your journeying
    Toby Neal

    • Molly Greene May 28, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      I’ve already thought about coming to see you! Maybe not a move, but a visit would be wonderful. *Mwah*

  9. David May 27, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Hi Molly
    A few years ago, I took the jump to get my grad degree, thousands of miles away. It meant massive downsizing and letting go of most everything, even favorite furniture I’d refinished. Happily, my son could use some appliances and such for his new apartment and my sister wanted the heirlooms.

    It was a great move though. I had a fab time and when I got back, everything I needed fell into place without asking. And now I spend my time writing, able because I don’t need the big place to store all the stuff.

    You may enjoy George Carlin on “stuff” (on moving, downsizing, etc)

    • Molly Greene May 28, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      David, what an adventure! I think the call for change has to be strong for us to be willing to let go of things we thought were important. I’m ready! And you must have bern ready, too, when you made your move. Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Tracey Best June 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    I’ve seen you tweet about the barn being for sale a few times and finally had to find out what it was all about. Funny story about the guys walking by…..they probably chuckled about it the rest of the day. Hope all goes well with your move and that you find a place you can enjoy and find some new adventures. I think it’s my mom who said one time that you can either possess your things or your things can possess you. Sometimes it’s a great thing to free ourselves from the things that aren’t what life is all about. Thanks for the good read. Take care!


    • Molly Greene June 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

      You’re right Tracey about what “owns” us vs. what we own. The good news is that after my garage sale I own a lot less stuff :-O THANK YOU so much for stopping by and for your lovely comment!