estate sales + simplification = long post

edited on 9/10/15 to add stunning photos A few weeks ago, while my husband and I were visiting his family, my mother-in-law, little sister (in-law), and I went to an estate sale.  It was quite a good sale, and if I could have/needed to, I would have bought all the crystal and china, along with some of the furniture.  But alas, I have no need for extra crystal, china, or furniture.  I don't even use the crystal and china I have as often as I would like to use it.

While we were rummaging around in the basement, I found these gorgeous vintage Christmas ornaments.  Mom-in-law was startled when I started at the sight of them.  After realizing I had scared her (sorry!) I told her that I simply cannot resist vintage ornaments.  But, I didn't buy them.  There is a fabulous stash of ornaments in our storage that I've been collecting over the years, Hubs hasn't seen them yet, but he'll like them.   

 come Christmastime, I'll explain my Christmas stashing methods...#geniusme

 Anyways, after deciding to pass up on the sparkling, wintry goods, I found these AWESOME children's Bible study flashcards.  Like super old.  Like, 1925-1935 old.  Aka, my grandpa old, so the good old.  And organized.  (jk i organized them later)  Look!  On the front, each has a beautiful printed scene, with a memory verse, and lesson material, meaning the book, chapter, and verse it comes from.  The back contains the date, and a lesson.  My first thought: FIRST HOMESCHOOL RELIGION LESSONS FOR THE LITTLE LEMKES!  So yes, about 100 plus of these cards for $1.50.  Only thing that came home with me.

 such a beautiful poem!!!

Okay, so the furniture, basically, my favorite.  A solid, authentic mid-century dresser and night stand set.  The largest dresser was only $50.  I died on the inside.  Mom-in-law knew the brand, which was based in Kenosha, WI; she said it was a phenomenal furniture company that produced great furniture.  After some research, I have come to the conclusion that it is now no longer in business.  Anyways, she and I both wished that I needed the set, because if I did, they would have been bought on the spot, no questions asked.  It was gorgeous and the drawers still worked wonderfully.  It was very sturdy as well.  But as Alex says, there will be another sale, another time, at a time when you need it most.  So yes, the set was passed up, much to our dismay.  I certainly hope that the customer who ended up with it is enjoying it.  please enjoy it.

so um yes. hi, show me exactly what is in right now. only mine would have been authentic baybay! oh well.

[sorry if I seem distracted, I am listening to these girls at Starbucks complaining about how they had to wait until they were sophomores to get a smartphone, which their parents then made them pay for, and how they had to share a flip phone with their brothers, and so on.  just be grateful, PUHlease.]

There were boxes of black and white photos of the couple's life (which I think the children should have taken instead of having them be sold).  They were a Dutch family, and very handsome.  They saved everything, literally, EVERYTHING.  I do know that people saved (especially during that time period) so they could reduce, reuse, and recycle to save money and be frugal.  Old notebooks filled with notes and stories in perfect cursive, and wedding and baby cards signed by people with the names of Bertha, Lou, and the like all saved carefully in old shoe boxes.  Paint stir sticks by the tens, plastic check book holders, and so on and so forth all organized as if it were an art.

Once we got in the car to go home, we had a great conversation.  Mom-in-law said that whenever she goes to estate sales, it is a good reminder to simplify, and that when you die, nothing goes with you.  She also prays for the people who have passed, as well as for their children.  That has had me thinking a lot.  It had been a thought in the back of my mind before that conversation, but it is obviously now at the forefront of my thinking.  What do I want to leave behind for my children and grandchildren to sift through?  What do I want to move around with?  Do I want to leave behind a hard drive?  Junk?  Random notes without any substance?  Dried flowers from random people and events?

I am a very sentimental person.  I remember everything about each piece of clothing I own.  Who I got it from, where I bought it from, if it was on sale at the Gap, or thrifted, who I was with when I bought it.  It is the same for everything I own.  Books, movies, pieces of furniture, dishes and linens.  Letters, notes, price tags, magazine and catalog clippings, even napkins and tickets.  I have had to learn to detach.  It was very, very hard.  A struggle even.  I just saved unnecessarily.  My good mother was ever so patient with me.  So was my sister with whom I shared a room.

How did it happen?  I don't quite know.  Maybe it was through realizing that my 150GB laptop was completely full, mostly with useless crap I just clicked "save" without thinking about it.  Would my kids and grandkids want to go through my laptop and social media to learn about my life?  Maybe it was realizing that Alex does not save, and to bring all of my junk and say, "Hey!  You married me AND all of this stuff you couldn't and won't care about one twit!  Thank you!" is just not fair.  It would be our house, not my house.  Maybe it was through prayer and practice.  I didn't need Anthropologie's Dec 2012 catalog.  Nothing in there was in style, nor did I ever look at it again.  Yes, the photography is awesome, but, sorry, into the garbage can you go.  I didn't need old grocery receipts, and gas receipts.  That food's been eaten, and the gas has been long out of my tank.

I am not perfect, and I am learning.  So far, I can purge best if I do it in small bits.  It is easier to let go.  I have made a bit of mental check list which is used with everything.

-do I love it and use it?

-am I trying to make this work?

-when was the last time I looked at this?

-will anyone care about this after I die?

-do I need a special cami with this shirt?

-why did I save this?

-do I need it?

-can I make money off of this?

If something is particularly hard to part with, I will take a picture of it, or set it aside for a five day period to see if I will use it or not.  Then it's either thrown out, sold, or donated.

I have moved four times in the past seven years, and moving that stuff is a pain.  Having to explain WHY I am creating extra work for our helpers and movers is also embarrassing.  "Um...that heavy box of magazines and catalogs is for creativity."  HA.  yeah right, alexandra, who are we kidding.  It was, at one point.  I do believe in finding ways to stimulate creativity, and when you've gotten to where you want to be, you have to let that go and find another, more challenging way to be creative.  That's just how one grows.

We will be in Tulsa for the next few years, but will hopefully be moving closer to the city, so I do not want to find space for that stuff again, nor do I want to put it in storage.  Less is more.  Pray for me as I keep finding ways to learn how to simplify!  I feel so relieved that I can finally begin to get the weight of "stuff" off of my shoulders.  I do not have to clean or organize as much, nor do I have to worry about going into storage, or opening boxes and doors.  It is a blessing, and I hope I can teach my kids the same.

Alexandra LemkeComment