Another Lesson in Revaluating What Matters

Deciding what furniture to bring to Florida was a real challenge and I realized that many of the things that fit into my Connecticut home weren’t going to fit into my Florida home.  I halfheartedly placed items for sale, but really had no bites.  I wasn’t too concerned about things not selling because, truth be told, I was so darn conflicted about parting with them anyway.  “What the heck?…..I’ll just take the stuff with me!” became my mantra.

But the day before my moving company was scheduled to arrive, anxiety had taken over and I was pacing around wondering about the space I would have for furniture in my new home.  Suddenly, a memory flash came to me….I had the dimensions of my new home!  Now where the heck did I put that paperwork??  After ripping through files long ignored, I found the schematic for my Florida house.  With that and my measuring tape in hand, I began evaluating every piece of furniture I had – and that is when I found myself tearfully blubbering “it won’t fit…it won’t fit…..it won’t fit…..”.  As all of you who are Baby Boomers know, we hold onto things that meant something to our parents.  China dishes.  Oriental rugs.  Dining room sets.  And yes, in my case, Mom’s dining room hutch, her side tables and her curio cabinets along with a couple of other things I was holding onto.

My Mom was an incredible woman.  She came to this country as a war bride after WWII and things were tough financially for my parents for a long time.  But she persisted and endured without complaining.  One of the things I did hear her mention often though was how she would love to have a dining room and a formal dining set.  Finally, in 1985, my parents bought their own house and in it, my Mom placed her brand-new French Provincial dining set.  She was so thrilled and I loved seeing how happy it made her.  Since her passing, I have had that dining set and I treasure it – more than anything because of the joy it had brought Mom, not because I am the Martha Stewart of the neighborhood.  But now here it was, 2016, and I found myself sadly looking at her beautiful hutch because I knew that it …..just …..wouldn’t .…fit.  “I’ll repurpose it!” I thought to myself.  “I’ll cut the top off and put it into my new kitchen as a cabinet!” (obviously, I have OD’d on HGTV’s Flea Market Flip).  The “how” of that idea didn’t really come into the picture – it just sounded like a great solution (or more appropriately – a great pacifier for my emotions).  But then I did more measuring and realized that it still wouldn’t fit.  “Well, I will figure out something and just keep it in the garage until I do”.  The fact that I couldn’t even budge it, never mind move it once it was placed in the Florida garage was only a minor detail.  And then reality hit.  It just wasn’t going to fit and it was silly to pay movers to bring it all the way down to Florida to become an immovable garage fixture with “stuff” in it.  Plus, if truth be told, I loved it more than anything simply because Mom loved it and every time I looked at it, I saw Mom’s smiling face.

As the Baby Boomers downsize, we are finding that the Millennials aren’t moved by the history of our items.  They don’t even like some of our things. Your grandmother’s exquisite living room set is now being replaced by an assemble-at-home something or the other from IKEA.   The younger generation places more value on experiences and quality of life rather than quality of furniture.  I suppose they just might have a point.  But this has created a glut of once-beloved, beautiful furniture on the market and we Boomers are struggling with the reality that our treasures just aren’t worth that much.  It isn’t that I wanted so much money for my Mom’s hutch – I just felt so…..well……disloyal to consider low prices.  My parents had worked hard and struggled for years and they finally had a few special things.  But I found myself with no one to sell the hutch to for a decent price.  It just hurt.  I sat staring at it for a long time and finally came to a few conclusions.  First, Mom doesn’t care about that hutch anymore.  She is in a place now where peace, happiness and contentment surround her without things.  And second, more than anything, Mom’s wish for me was to be happy.  She isn’t looking down at me from Heaven with a scowl on her face because I’m leaving her hutch behind.  She is looking forward to me finding new joys in Florida.  I know that is what is most important to my Mom and to my Dad too.

I hardly watched the guy who took away Mom’s hutch.  Basically, I pointed him to it and turned my back.  He had paid me a pittance that I won’t even mention here.  But I console myself with the thought of some new person spotting it in the guy’s store.  Slowly a widening smile grows across his or her face with the realization that they can afford that lovely piece of furniture.  Someone who is just as thrilled as my Mom was to have it in 1985.  Someone I could not find on Craig’s List or Facebook yard sales, but someone who was out there nonetheless.  Best wishes to you new owner!  Use it in good health!  My Mom and I are thrilled that it makes you happy!

For Sale!

In my last post, I left you staring out of my back window with me wondering what I should do.  Well, time passed and the leaves got bigger and greener, the flowers were popping and the chorus of bird songs filled the air.  I spent more and more time staring out the kitchen window while doing my dishes, savoring every bit of nature’s summer loveliness.  But breaking through the peace of that exquisite scenery and the delightful bird songs was………that annoying, pain-in-the-ass (PIA!) voice in my head telling me “Sooooooo….you DO want to end up regretful don’t you?”  UGH!!  SHUT UP VOICE!  By mid-June, Scarlett’s “I’ll think about it tomorrow” became Nadine’s “Alright!  Alright, voice!!  I’ll find a real estate agent!!”.  After four interviews, I picked the one.  Her name is Marilyn and she had no idea what kind of nut she was signing on with, but she seemed like she could handle it.  I can’t possibly have been her first wavering client.

In July, I shakily signed the paperwork that would bind Marilyn and I as partners for the next six months.  And so began the “Ball Is In Your Park” decision; the BIIYP.  Hey I did something, right?  I made a decision to sell my beloved house!  A decision to move on to Florida!  A decision to change!  That was it.  The decision making was now up to the buying public.  It was out of my hands.  Having to make any decision and actually change anything was no longer in MY ballpark.  Whew!  Glad to get THAT off my chest!

A couple of days later, I was in the kitchen staring at my beautiful yard again, when I heard a loud, thump, thump, thump sound.  I went to the front of the house, looked out the window and swallowed my heart.  There they were.  Pounding a “For Sale” sign into my front lawn.  I resisted the urge to run out in my pj’s and bedhead, screaming “Get that off my lawn!!!!  I didn’t mean it!  I changed my mind!!!”.  Instead, I just quickly moved away from the window so no one would see the blood draining from my face.

And so it begins…….

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And the motivation is….

Connecticut is a lovely state and I am fortunate to live on beautiful Long Island Sound.  Living close to the beach is not only a wonder in itself, it is also a weather moderator for us.  In the summer, the cool breezes from the water make hot days bearable.  While people ten miles away are getting snow in the winter, it is often raining at my house.  Big plus here – You don’t have to shovel rain.  On the flip side, while we get less snow, winter doesn’t move on as quickly as I would like.  It is often still chilly into May.  Way too far into May…..  I distinctly recall wearing a wool suit to work in late May one year.  And in May of 2005, I had friends from Florida come to visit on May 15.  They were horrified to see not one leaf on the trees and swore they’d never come back! No, its not normal, but it happens.

Presently, I live approximately 2 miles away from the town in which I was born, grew up, got married, got divorced, bought a home and had spent my 35-year career.  I have had the same doctors, dentists, attorney, and veterinarian forever. (That veterinarian, Jo,  is also one of my best friends).  I have worked for two of the area’s largest 3 or 4 employers.  Many of my high school buddies still live in this area and I see them more than one might think.  It is rare that I can go somewhere and not run into someone I know.  I am, therefore, a typical New Englander, at least as far as the change issue is concerned.  I read somewhere once that New Englanders are the least likely people in the country to relocate.  We generally don’t venture out too far from home base for long.  We measure driving distances in time, not miles.  Visiting a friend who lives 45 minutes away is akin to taking an overnight trip somewhere – it takes a lot of planning.  I thought perhaps it was just us older folks who are like this, but yesterday, my 20 something dental hygienist told me that she could not talk her friends into visiting her college friends in Maine.  Don’t get me wrong – we do travel.  It’s just that people in other parts of the country seem to be more …well….spontaneous about their excursions.  I’m not sure what it is about us.

I have never liked being cold, but in 2010, I broke my neck and now live with a permanent spinal cord injury.  While I am able to walk and breathe on my own (which I came very close to NOT being able to do!), my fingers, hands and arms are hypersensitive to cold.  Emotional stress and inactivity also leads to burning pain.

So it has occurred to me that CT winters aren’t going to get any warmer.  And I’m not getting any younger.  At the moment, I own a house with a large yard.  In that large yard, I went a little crazy with flower gardening.  Oh my…what an understatement.  More than one visitor has described it as looking like a park.  Such a lovely compliment, but taking care of this “park” used to be a lot easier.  You know…back when I was you…..youn…..Um…a few years back.  Also, I am retired now and so I’m a bit lonelier since I no longer have forced interactions (called a job) any longer.  Yes, I thought about volunteering and I know I would be a tremendous help to some organization, but when it is cold, I just have such a hard time going outside.  I am afraid that it would just be too easy for me to convince myself that I really don’t NEED to leave and go out into the cold.  And that just wouldn’t be fair either to the organization or to myself.  There’s also the matter of being with people of your age, background and interests.  During the week, most of my neighbors are out working.  Yes, I do have other retired friends, but I really want to DO something more.  To be a part of something.  To work toward something that matters and helps others ALL the time and not just when it is warm outside.  BUT if I move to a warm place, well, that problem of me burrowing deeper under the covers in January and February (and March…and April….and….well, you get the idea) just melts away.  Stay tuned!

Welcome! Come dip your toe into that scary water with me!

There are so many blogs out there these days about making our lives better. About taking brave steps.  About Change.  CHANGE.  That dirty little 6-letter word that strikes paralyzing fear in the hearts and souls of so many of us otherwise rational people.  You might be wondering then, why I am even considering writing a blog about change.  Hasn’t that been “done”?  Here is my story and why I want to reach out to all of you.

I have decided to sell my home and move to Florida.  Yes, I know millions of people have done that.  But here is the twist.  I am a New Englander.  I am single.  I am a woman.  And I am a baby-boomer.  What a time of life to FINALLY get adventurous, eh?  I do doubt that I am the first single woman to do this at my age, but I don’t know any others and maybe you don’t either.  My hope in writing this blog is two-fold – first that I will gain support from my readers as I venture across this emotion-packed experience and, second, that perhaps I can help someone else considering embarking on the same adventure….or cliff dive into the unknown, depending upon your perspective or level of fear at any given time.  AIEEEEE!  I can’t be the only person just a bit intimidated by this.  Actually, I went to one of those local AARP “Life Reimagined” meetings about a year ago and there she was – a single lady who wanted to move to Florida, but was scared.  Sweetie, I know just how you feel and I hope you are out there reading this.  So…. let’s do this together!