Selling My House-Memories, Stuff, Emotions

Selling My House-Memories, Stuff, Emotions

I’m in the process of getting my house ready to sell. So that means it’s time to go through 16 years of collected, neglected and otherwise stored ‘stuff’. It includes some of my in-laws’ possessions so there is the burden of preserving the things my children and grandchildren might want one day. I have to do the same with my ex-husband’s (now deceased) things. My feelings about those items, and my interest in what stays and what goes, are secondary to the feelings of my adult children.

I spent yesterday cleaning out the ‘utility’ closet–full of old phone cords and electronics, no longer used. Catering supplies from 20 years ago. A dozen florist shop vases, three wreath door hangers, stationary, and, on and on. It’s an emotional process–going through the collected mementos of a life. A married life that fizzled and an earlier period in time when I did different things. That life was different. It’s not a judgment or a sad assessment of the things I left behind. Just an observation.

I tried to label my feelings this morning as I was journaling. Do I feel what some people feel post-divorce or when the kids pack up and leave home? I’m not sure. There is some anticipation, a little excitement, and a smattering of fear. I literally don’t know where I’m going when the house sells. All I know is that I’m staying in this community–at least until my caregiving responsibilities are finished.

I’m trying to be ruthless in this process. Who needs 12 vases? Particularly if I move someplace without a garden? Fish-shaped plates? Out of date, no-longer-my-style purses?  And, baskets? I obviously had a thing for baskets in my more domestic days.

The last move, in 1999, didn’t involve lots of shedding. I do remember that we foolishly donated all the albums to a church yard sale. We packed up a lot of things that I can let go of now. It’s time.

This move is a conscious decision to simplify my life. To downsize from a 3.5 bathroom house to something more suited to a one-person arrangement (with room for the grandkids to come visit). I want to let go of those things that threaten to take over my life. I get to think about what I want going forward and what is no longer a reflection of how I intend to live.

I grew up in a very materialistic environment-we were defined by how we looked and what we had. Other people’s judgment reigned supreme. Any emptiness could be replaced with food, clothes, shoes…. Stuff. So, it’s liberating to look around and say, “I don’t need that.” I was inspired by an article by Amy Gigi Alexander, a travel writer, who is reducing her material possessions to what she can hold in  two suitcases. It blew my mind and forced me to think about how attached we are–I am—to items that often have little major significance. I’m a far way from decluttering that drastically, but I understand that the important things in life don’t fit in a box.

The last year has been a back and forth decision-making process. Sell or stay?  I love this house, I love my view and the daily conversation I have with the deers; the fox who trots through occasionally. The treehouse feel I get with a house that is over 50% ceiling to floor windows. My attachment has been sentimental. And, it’s been a little fear-based as well. This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my adult life. Since marrying at age 22 I’ve lived in Georgia, North Carolina, New Zealand, Virginia, New York, Alabama (13 years) then back to Virginia where I was born. This time I’m moving alone. I’m making all my decisions alone, for the most part. And I’m looking at the latter part of life, which is decidedly different from the attitude I embraced at age 31 when we bought our first house.

I spent my 60th birthday in Santa Fe, last August. It was the beginning of a journey. And, as I look through my photos there are a lot of doorways and gates. I sensed things changing for me. I took steps, as I am doing now, to prepare myself for that journey–it is involving lots of letting go. And, some days I can rejoice and some days the letting is a little sad.



Doorway, altar

I’m closing the door on this phase of life and I’m confident a new door is just waiting for me to open it and walk through. I will be taking along my memories.

  • Kathy @ SMART Living
    Posted at 14:26h, 22 February Reply

    Hi Walker! You expressed so well the journey from where we’ve been to the possibility of where we can go next and who we can be when we get there. As the saying goes, you can’t solve the problem from the same level of thinking as got you into in the first place. To experience something new and better we must be willing to let go of the old and step into the unknown. It will be so much fun watching what unfolds for you in the future. ~Kathy

    • Walker
      Posted at 16:12h, 22 February Reply

      Thanks Kathy-I think it’ll be fun watching the future too….

  • Carol Cassara (@ccassara)
    Posted at 14:43h, 22 February Reply

    That attitude will carry you a long way. I love the concept of being ruthless in assessing the utility of my stuff and will try to remember it this month as we discard and sell and donate to prepare for our coming renovation.

    • Walker
      Posted at 16:11h, 22 February Reply

      Carol-it’s pretty freeing. Funny that so far the hardest thing to let go of have been my cookbooks!

  • Beauty Along the Road
    Posted at 14:51h, 22 February Reply

    Definitely a big transition time, Walker. And you are looking at all the things that are important to you, now, contrasted with what’s no longer serving you. It’s a long process, nothing that can be done quickly. so take as much time as you need and keep writing/journaling about the process.

    • Walker
      Posted at 16:11h, 22 February Reply

      I spend every morning journaling! It’s a long process, yep. I’ve been in contemplation mode for almost a year.

  • Barbara Hammond
    Posted at 14:53h, 22 February Reply

    Having just condensed 2 homes into one, I feel your pain. We made the decision to downsize to one forever home. It was a process, and we managed it in about 15 months. We were excited for the life we envisioned for our retirement years. I have to say, going through everything deciding what to toss and what to keep was the most difficult. I wish I still had a few things I let go, but it is freeing to let go. I hope your next phase is as rewarding as ours has been these past 5 months, which by the way has been mostly bitter cold. I can’t wait for spring!

    • Walker
      Posted at 16:15h, 22 February Reply

      Thanks Barbara, I’m making a quick ‘dumping’ in order to clear out for the selling process and simultaneously doing some deeper sorting and letting go. Trying to figure out what I need going forward-which requires a little visioning as I’m not sure what comes next.

  • Sid
    Posted at 16:18h, 22 February Reply

    Reading your thoughts about moving… I wonder when I’ll feel like it’s time for me… though it’s never too early to start getting rid of things that just clutter up my life… Thanks for sharing, Walker…

    • Walker
      Posted at 16:21h, 22 February Reply

      Sid…gee, don’t wait. I’m finding it exhilarating, scary at times, a little sad and then I start thinking about a debt-free future, being unattached to so much stuff…and then I think about changing things up–my color palette for one. Fantasies? Moving to Montana soon (Frank Zappa riff, tribute to the ‘ex).. Moving to Santa Fe? Near a river, or?….. gee, it’s limitless.

  • Mindy Mitchell
    Posted at 16:43h, 22 February Reply

    So excited to see what shows up for you, Walker!

    • Walker
      Posted at 17:33h, 22 February Reply

      Thanks Mindy.

  • Lisha Fink
    Posted at 17:03h, 22 February Reply

    I can’t wait to hear whats behind that new door.

    • Walker
      Posted at 17:33h, 22 February Reply

      Lisha, thank you. I’ll be sure to share!

  • Kim Jorgensen Gane
    Posted at 18:04h, 22 February Reply

    It was so hard for my mother when she and her sisters had to sell the home she’d grown up in that my grandfather built. They moved him into an apartment near the river downtown, which he didn’t seem to mind. I understood why it was difficult, but the house had become a burden he couldn’t care for alone. And my memories from that house when my grandmother was still alive remain so clear in my mind and in my heart. There, they will live forever.

    • Walker
      Posted at 08:08h, 24 February Reply

      Thanks for sharing your story Kim.

  • gloriahassworld
    Posted at 08:51h, 28 February Reply

    Hi Walker, your journey is one single mothers face when the adult children leave home. They feel the fear, wonder what is next for them and while some are paralyzed from that fear, you are working through yours with your eyes open wondering what is next. I can hear and feel your fear. Your house is beautiful and I applaud you for making your life more simple now. I wish you all the best.

    • Walker
      Posted at 09:00h, 28 February Reply

      Gloria, thank you for reading. I’ve been through many journeys in my life, some very challenging. Facing children leaving wasn’t that challenging for me–navigating life as a woman alone is something I’ve had 10 years to work on and we never really stop working to create the life we want. This move is part of a larger process of letting go and moving to the next step- a little fearful but something I’m embracing. Just to be clear, those are pictures of doors and places from my recent trip to Santa Fe–no images of my house.

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