Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Count Down to the Yard Sale

Just a couple of more days until our yard sale and I am sick of looking at junk. It has been overwhelming and the sale hasn't even happened yet. All I want to do is hop on a plane and go back to my simple life in Ajijic. Owning stuff means having to take care of it, move it from place to place, clean it, fix it, etc.  I go from one thought about stuff to the other extreme.

On one side is my hoarding tendency. Since I grew up poor and always felt "less than" others because I was never prepared, I have this desire to make up for it. I don't want just ONE pair of shoes. I want forty pairs. The right pair for every occasion that might come up. I don't want ONE bottle of lotion. I want twenty bottles, enough bottles to last a lifetime so I will never feel this inner sense of lack again. It is stupid. Who wants to carry around all the lotion they will ever need the rest of their lives or all the shoes they will ever wear? It just ties a person down so the things become more important than the experiences. It is impossible to be free to run around having new experiences when you are carrying a bunch of things.

The other extreme is this desire to just chuck it all, to have nothing, to be free. I keep thinking of packing my small carry on bag and taking off for Guatemala from here instead of shopping for clothes and packing my two huge suitcases with all the clothing I think I might want or need for this next year. As I have said many times, it is too hard to try to buy clothing in Mexico. The stores are very expensive and the second hand clothing is just old Goodwill stuff from here at high prices.

One time in Mexico I met a woman who had been traveling around the world for fifteen years with nothing but a backpack. She was wonderful. She was loving and open. When we walked down the street together, many people talked with her. She had lots of friends. Maybe because she had her priorities straight. She never shopped because she couldn't carry anything else around with her. She had few worries because she had nothing to worry about. So she was totally available to everyone she met. I will never forget that woman. Of course I have forgotten her name but not her style. (I was only with her for a couple of hours.) I wish I could be that free. As long as this fearful side of me has something to say about what happens, I won't ever be like that. I will continue to believe that if I have the right STUFF then my life will be in control. I guess it is a lot about control.

Thinking about it in those terms, I realize that we have so little control over our lives. It is a myth that physical objects can bring us anything of value in this world. Objects come into our lives and they go. As I am getting ready for this yard sale I am going through all my ex-mother-in-law's things. I knew her almost all of my adult life until she passed away a few months ago. And during that time I thought her life was happier and better than mine, mostly because she had money and things around her. She was always showing me her beautiful things and I always reacted with envy. I could have any of those things now. They are in the garage, ready to be sold for pennies on the dollar. I don't want them. They mean nothing without her. Now I see that it wasn't the things I envied.  It was her spirit that infused those things with meaning. It was her spirit that kept her family around her. Loving her. Maybe through those forty three years of divorce from her son, my ex, I really wanted him to cherish me as much as he cherished his mother.  Maybe, in the end, being cherished is all that matters. And of course, cherishing others. We all know this but I will say it again. We come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. So what choices do we make in between?

  I don't have any answers here. I just have questions. What is the meaning of my life? Where do I go from here? And how much freedom am I willing to sacrifice in order to take the THINGS along with me? What THINGS are worth that sacrifice? When will this yard sale business ever end?


  1. Pat -- a beautifully written piece. I also have the same conflicts with wanting stuff and wanting to be rid of encumbrances. We are getting rid of stuff now to sell our house -- moving to Fayetteville (AR) but will likely spend the summers at Lake Chapala.

    We met a French woman, Annie, in Puerto Angel (in Oaxaca) who travels with nothing but a small backpack. She travels alone everywhere (her spouse doesn't like to travel). I was amazed that she could travel so light & look so good! She met everyone along the way as well -- of course she spoke perfect Spanish -- that helped.
    I haven't been very successful emulating her, but will continue to try.

    Good luck on the garage sale -- I know they are a lot of work, for (I think) little reward.

  2. Hi Jen, WOW I just posted that. I didn't even think there was enough time for anyone to read it when you wrote. I appreciate your feed back. I think my conflict is a universal one. Otherwise I would not have been so open about my feelings. I hope to meet you sometime in Ajijic. Thank you for writing. Patricia

  3. Hi Patricia,

    As Jen said, you expressed your (and most of our) feelings eloquently. I have bags of stuff ready for Goodwill right now. Maybe you will see some of it in Mexico eventually! :-) I have also been getting together things to give a friend who is having a charity yard sale. I have never been brave enough to have my own yardsale, but happily contribute to those who are! Best of luck to you and your family!

    Karen in VA

  4. Hi Karen, Thank you for writing. As I thought, others are going through the same things I am experiencing now. It is nice to know that we aren't so different from each other after all......Patricia

  5. Hi Pat, Your post brought back memories of our yard sale, it was lot's of work getting ready for it, but it was fun having it. We met some nice people and everyone was interested in where we were going. What didn't sell I gave to goodwill, and some things I brought to a consigment shop. Felt great getting rid of all that stuff!!! Good luck with your sale.

  6. Thank you! I will need it. Patricia

  7. Patricia,

    I love your blog. I'm not old enough to retire -- yet! -- but Ajijac is definitely on my list of cities to explore. In fact, I may visit next summer -- with 13-year-old daughter in tow.

    I loved your words about your ex-mother-in-law, about how it wasn't her things you envied so much as how much people loved her. And your comment: "It was her spirit that infused those things with meaning." Isn't that SO true -- sometimes we hang on to too many things because of our attachment to the people who gave them to us, or of how happy we were with our lives when we got them, etc. Isn't it fascinating how much we fill "things" with so much intrinsic "meaning."!

    I, for one, would love to downsize our current home (2100 square feet) to a lovely townhome in our city (1300 square feet). Our home is just too large for just three people! And on a free-lance income, too expensive.

    Well, good luck to me in convincing my husband on moving to a smaller place -- he equates it to moving "down" in status.

    I'll work on him....;-)

    I read your blog everyday. Your words and pictures inspire me. If we do come to Ajijac next summer, I'll let you know!

    My best,


  8. Hi Jean, Thank you so much for the compliment and for writing to me. I appreciate that. It keeps me writing. Yes, please contact me if you come to Ajijic. I will show you around. Patricia

  9. Wow, Patricia...........deep thoughts! This particular piece of writing is bordering on "book" material! Your words chosen strike so many of us right in the gut, especially myself as I sit here (for weeks now) contemplating just how much "stuff" that I have to get rid of before I can head back to Mexico for good! A lifetime of accumulating does not equal a lifetime of happiness is the way I interpret your writing today. What great thoughts for us all to ponder. Less really does equal more,.....whoa!
    Knowing how much you like to go to garage sales, I can't help but wonder how much of the content of those bags you are taking back to Ajijic came from Portland garage sales! I know, I know, better stuff at better prices than Mexico. If only I was 250 miles closer I would be at your garage sale, not for any "stuff" but just to see my friend again.

  10. Hi John, Thank you for writing. Funny, I was just thinking about you! I just got off the phone with Loretta. She said she had heard from you and that you are having more physical problems. I am so sorry to hear this. It may be awhile before I see either of you back in Ajijic. Take car of yourself. Your friend, Patricia

  11. OMG - girl, that garage is NOTHING compared to what I've already cleaned out of this 2000sf home! Still, it IS a lot of 'stuff'. I was going to pop in today & move things from one table to another & digress about "remember when they used to make these things in BLUE?" (just to irritate y'all, LOL), but goodness! It's almost 95 degrees now ... so I'm headed to my friend's condo pool to read a novel. There are 200 realtors invited to tour my place tomorrow, another 90+ degree day; hope they don't expect AC in my home!

    Break a leg, kiddo. Make enough so you can buy me a cocktail next week! Gayle

  12. Hi Gayle, Thanks for writing. I know, you had a lot more stuff than what is here. Also, this sale was a bust. Hardly anyone showed up. Too hot. Come by if you get a chance tomorrow. Patricia

  13. gawd I'm just dead from LOOKING at all your stuff in these photos! Hell, the back of my car is loaded with things I still need to drop off somewhere!

    In the a.m., I need to spruce up the place (read: spit polish the kitchen granite, etc.) ... I don't think 200 realtors are going to show up tomorrow, but I hope I'm wrong.

    Doubtful I'll be there - but we'll hook up next week for sure. Kisses...

  14. Hi Gayle, Good luck with the open house. What a lot of work! Maybe one day when we are both on a beach somewhere in Mexico we can look back on this time and laugh. See you when we get all our work done. Patricia

  15. Thank you for writing.
    I am in a process of moving to Ajijic. I find myself in a state of a stupor...I have to decide what to take what not to take.
    With all the insights about the fact that things do not define me, still I find it very difficult... I look at things, i.e. clothing, artifacts (price is not the factor here), furniture..and other STUFF... and I look at my life - it's ups and downs, young, skinny times and not so....,one relationship or another, one country or another, my work..., accomplishments ( are there any?), child...who is certainly not longer a child...memories, expectations, hopes...memories...I think of reevaluation of my life, saying good byes... so many is very emotional...
    So, things are not just things...they are symbols..they represent chapters of our lives, our loves, loses, our insecurities and strengths....
    I think that the important thing is to realized that all these are inside of us, it is a part of us. It made us who we are already. it is our job to heal, to celebrate and to move on....
    The things we chose to keep must be our treasures and not our desperate hope to compensate ... make us more secure...and we need to remember that STUFF does not make us safer it makes life heavier.....So, let's get lighter and move on. And that is what I am going to do today...

  16. Hi Marina, Well written and all so true. It is a trial by fire that we all have to go through when we make the decision to move here. I gave away everything I owned, including my car and haven't missed any of it. But I know how difficult it is to let go of things that symbolize so much to us. Sounds like you are right on schedule. Not easy but necessary. Thank you for writing about it. Patricia