My Past. It Lives in a Tuff Shed.

10 08 2013

Monsters under the bed.

Skeletons in the closet.

My Past lives in a Tuff Shed.

I’ve come to believe that at a certain point, life creates a dichotomy.

A dilemma.

Do I maintain my safe, comfortable, familiar life — remain with status quo?


Experience the life I dream of?

Things I’ve enjoyed throughout my life: Linens. Shiny baubles. Rusty gadgets. Christmas ornaments. Funky hats. Books. The unique, the no-longer-produced, the weird and the wonderful. Hand-crocheted nut cups from the 1940s. Rosebud Haviland china. Depression glass. Silver-plated pewter. Rosepoint crystal. Ginny dolls (predecessor to Barbie). Headboard beneath which my great-grandmother was born. The round 54” claw-foot table that expands to seat 21 at which my grandmother fed a multitude of harvest hands at Threshing Time — at which I fed a multitude of Fab Fam and friends for numerous Thanksgivings. A lovely home nestled in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies.

I also enjoy travel and new experiences. Meeting people. Mountain vistas. Deserted beaches. Sunrises over marshes.  Sunsets on the desert. Undulating fields of wheat. Neighborhood bars in foreign countries. Adventure.  My family and life in Colorado. Friends and lifestyle in Puerto Morelos.  An easy to lock-and-leave, uncluttered, condo near the beach of Mexico’s Riviera Maya.

Precipitated by many of the changes that take place when one proceeds to fifty and beyond, I thoroughly examined and re-invented myself. Actually, with the help of a kick-ass Life Coach, I created the Me I was destined to be.  (Wow. That sounds weighty. )

Growth? Definitely.

Scary? Certainly.

Exciting? Unquestionably.

Worth it? Absolutely.

I sold my business. Bought a condo in Mexico. My husband became ill, then Transitioned. Our family home in Colorado found new owners.

My mother also Transitioned, and my brother (who hadn’t spoken to her in over 40 years) protested her “Irrevocable Trust,” and attacked my integrity as the executor and as her daughter.

All this is now resolved. I am stronger for having had these challenging experiences. I have learned to put things into perspective — to lighten the load — to let go of hurt and anger – to forgive.

During these – and other — upheavals of life, I consciously set a direction:  Simplify my life – release what no longer serves me.

Sounds easy enough. The actual logistics, however, were practically overwhelming.

Take a deep breath. Believe in the Outcome. One step at a time.

Making the decision to release my house – my home for over 20 years – and all the wonderful Stuff in it — was major.

The basement den was delegated for Stuff To Release.

Staring at shelves holding more than 60 years of book acquisitions, here’s a sample conversation with Self:

“I can’t get rid of this book. I love this book.

Mary. Seriously. Will you ever read this book again?

Well. Probably not. Actually. No.

Ever heard of a library?”

Many similar conversations followed by enough trips to Tradesmart, which pays 25-cents to a dollar per book, netted nearly $1000 and a barely a tad of freed-up space.  A beginning.

My daughter Leslie provided the best mantra, “Does this item bring me joy?”

Things that truly bring me joy – into boxes to stash and store.

Gifts to family and friends. Load after load to Salvation Army and women’s shelters. An auction house took two giant truck-loads. Several months later I received an itemized sales list with a not-fat-enough check. Cashed the check, never looked at the list.

And then I inherit my mother’s three-bedroom home with a packed-full-of-stuff two-car garage.

“Children. The time is Now. Take what you want.”

“Mom. We don’t want it.”

I come from a long line of Savers. I have been the repository for All Family Stuff. Thus, in the past year, I have reduced my lifetime of Stuff (No. More accurately: five generations of lifetimes) from two large homes to two 10’x20’storage units. Throughout this time, more sales and give-aways.

Down to only one of these units.

And I still have Stuff.

But as of last month, I’d down-sized to (#1) Stuff That Gives Me Joy and (#2) Stuff I Must Keep, such as tax records, photos, 35-mm slides of family (having discarded thousands of scenic slides early-on).  For me, family photos and slides are “Must Keeps.”

Again and again, I asked myself: Does this item give me joy? Yes.

However. Do I have a place to display, use, or enjoy it? No.

Am I ready to release it? No.


So. Fed up with paying storage rental fees, I invested in a Tuff Shed. Surely my Stuff will fit into 8’x14’.  It does. Barely.

Simplify and Release.

My Stuff has become a metaphor for my life.

I consciously choose:

What to keep.

What to discard.


Ways of Thinking.

Ways of Being.

The Past, of course, is part of Me.

I can bring it out at will.

Rely on it when necessary.

Love it.

Cherish it.

And lovingly tuck it away.

I am neither controlled nor defined by it.

My Past lives in a Tuff Shed.

photo 4




14 responses

10 08 2013
Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua

Mary, this is MY life, too. This is such a powerful message and eloquently written. I need to remember Leslie’s mantra, ” Does this item bring me joy?” Thank you for reminding us of the really important things in life. Can I reblog this? It needs to be shared!!


10 08 2013
Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua

Reblogged this on Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua and commented:
My friend, Mary, wrote a powerful piece on letting go. This is especially true for expats and those who downsize after retirement. Thank you Mary for reminding us to ask, “Does this item bring me joy?”


10 08 2013

I got to the end of this post and with tears in my eyes I said, “OH WOW!” . This is a powerful post, thank you for sharing it.


10 08 2013

Mmmmmmm. Hand on heart. Very touching and so beautifully written. You’ve done a lot of work, sweet pea. I so admire your courage. xoxoxoxo


10 08 2013
Linda Lehman-Murphy


Sent from my iPhone Linda Lehman-Murphy 720-323-8596


10 08 2013

Loved this. Thanks for sharing.


10 08 2013
Mary Cebuhar

Loved your writing,Mary. My daughter, Kris, and Chuck just emptied (almost) a shed at the lake. I didn’t even look, and amazingly enough, I miss nothing of “the stuff.”
Someone needs to invent condoms for stuff, as it continues to multiply! Ha!
Hope to see you in Oct. when Lois and I come to PM for snorkeling.
Mary C.


11 08 2013
Carmen Macchione

I “let go stuff” yesterday and it was almost painless. Needless to say I still have alot of stuff and will cherish this blog till I am ready to let go again…beautiful words and I also do admire you too Mary…thanks for sharing
Carmen M.


11 08 2013
Sonvya Duncan

Mary, this brought back memories from when we made the move to PM, our life was reduced to a boxes on a trailer we pulled down on our final trip to live there. Then in September 07 after my husband was diagnosed with cancer, we returned to Texas for his treatment, during that time our 27 year old son, the father of 2 boys did not survive an auto accident…so we decided to sell the shop in PM and stay in Texas for the grandsons. We were there in May and I will be back in November for a few weeks. But it did teach me a lesson, don’t keep so much stuff!!!



11 08 2013
Mary Jordan

Wow – thanks for the kind words – I appreciate all of you taking time to comment….


11 08 2013
Kathy Langdon Schneider

Very powerful and empowering. Maybe I can do something with my 5 storage units now. Great writing that really resonates with me!


11 08 2013
sylvia ianiri

Love it, love it and love it…Great writing. It may be one of your future callings for later on in life …But for now, keep on following your heart and nose wherever it goes
, my dear friend. I love and miss you
xx Syl


11 08 2013
Carles Ernst

Your previous life is with you in your memories, even when you want to dispose of them. The “important” stuff that you accumulated as you went thru it is less important as time goes on and the memories fade…You still have incredible years in front of you, look back when you pause, but the mornings are for charging ahead! There are adventures to be had, life is best when met with a full steam charge!


13 08 2013
George Weaver

Ah, Many years ago, I looked at my house. I had too much stuff. I rid myself of it the moment I decided that I would keep around me only the things that pleased my eye. Pots and pans even. If a pot was unattractive to me, it went. I gave away more than I kept of the things that I had collected for a lifetime. I continue to do the same thing now that I am old. Thanks for sharing this experience. 🙂


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