Earlier this month, I accompanied my parents to my very first estate sale. My parents spend their summers in Colorado and a new retirement past time is estate sale hopping. My dad is on one of those estate sale websites that alerts them of all of the local sales for the day/week/month. It includes a multitude of pictures and descriptions of what will be included at the sale, so that every customer can make an informed decision as to whether or not the sale will be worth their time.
While my parents don’t make a lot of purchases, the odds and ends that can be found at a bargain price are worth the time. They have found plenty of stuff they probably don’t need, but “couldn’t afford not to buy it” as it was a great deal (i.e.: an extension cord, gravy boat, cake platter, wooden 12 foot ladder). So, count me in…I am always up for a quirky purchase that I probably don’t need, but got a great deal.
The estate sale I chose was one in Boulder, Colorado, probably one of the more eclectic estate sales I could have chosen. It was an older home located by Boulder Reservoir that was probably built in the 1970s. As we drove up, the views of the Flatirons and the reservoir were breathtaking and probably today worth a pretty penny. The house, although surrounded by trees sort of had this Brady Bunch feel to it from the outside.
We entered the house and quickly got acclimated to the musty, old home sort of smell, and to our surroundings, study to the left, and a living room to the right with a hallway to the back of the house. We peeled off to the right and began a maze-like adventure through the oddest home I have ever been in.
At every turn was a new space that didn’t feel like it belonged. Between the basement that had four different spaces, including a “cellar storage room” and the endless additions on every corner of the property, it was the most awkwardly constructed home I have ever seen.
I am pretty sure the previous owner said on a regular basis, “I wish we had a room to store my creepy clowns and dolls,” to which the other owner responded with, “well, let’s just build it right here.”
Every room had furniture, clothes, decorations, dolls and clowns, and technology remnants from 1910 – 2015. The owners had never thrown anything away. Cigar boxes from the 1930s, a baby carriage from the 1920s, a half opened bounce sheet box ($1.50, by the way) from the 21st century, a jar of spicy pickles, and even sparkling cider from 2004…you name it, they had it.
But as odd as this entire experience was, here is what stuck with me most. In the cellar room in the basement, next to the sparkling cider and spicy pickles, pictures and old carousel slides of Christmases, birthdays, summers, and moments the deceased had shared. There must have been thousands of memories and yet, here they were up for sale. I was overcome by sadness for this husband and wife.
Why wouldn’t anyone want these mementos? Where is the rest of the family? What stories would these walls tell? What story did the artifacts, which were never parted with, tell?
As you might imagine, I started thinking about my life, my parents’ lives, and my kids’ lives. What stories would others tell about my mementos, my artifacts, and my home? What stories would my team tell about our company, our work, and our relationships? How am I writing the story I want others to tell?
This was powerful for me as a wife, mom, sister, daughter, aunt, trail runner, entrepreneur, business owner, leader, trainer, and instructional designer.
I came to the conclusion that every day I must make a difference in something or for someone. Whether that is a memory with my family, an act of kindness for a stranger, a coaching moment for a peer or team member, a new piece of eLearning for a client, or a little memory for myself, it is important to create my story every day. I realized I am telling a story, but how can I enhance that story, really make it my own? How can I create a story for my husband, kids, family, friends and even strangers to tell?
What is your story? What story are you creating? What story are you writing for your family, your community, or your business?
I challenge each of you to do something every day that enhances your story.
- Create a list of the 5W’s that make up your story.
- Who, what, when, where, why and how
- Prioritize your activities to build the story you want you to tell.
- Surround yourself with others who support and help you create a wicked good story.
- Walk the walk to accurately create the story you want others to tell. If you determine you are going to tell a story of strength, determination and commitment, what are you doing every day that displays strength, determination, and commitment?
Now, share with us…what is the story you are telling? What is challenging about this story? What invigorates you about your story? We can’t wait to hear from you.