How to Feel Fulfilled This Christmas

Things do bring instant gratification, but not long-lasting happiness. 

We keep buying more things to keep feeling good.  Sometimes we use things to ease unresolved pain and issues.  We continue to accumulate debt, but are still left unfulfilled and discontented.  In the end, these things end up in the hands of family or a professional to sell them.

Want to feel fulfilled?  Make a Difference!

  • Dress the less fortunate by sorting your clothing, shoes, etc. and donating what you don’t use.  Do the same with surplus items in your food pantry.
  • Bust the clutter in your attics and garages.  So much that you have laying around can be used by someone in need.  Find the appropriate organizations and give your clutter away.
  • Practice the art of giving from the heart.
  • Refrain from unnecessary purchases for at least six months.

Time’s running out for Christmas shopping, your debt is growing, and you still don’t know what to buy for certain people on your list.  What to do?

Why buy anything?

Why not give the best gift in the world — yourself?

  • Go visit someone you have been meaning to see for a long time. Surprise a loved one you haven’t seen for years.
  • Write that letter, bake those cookies.
  • Volunteer for those needing your help or visit shut-ins.
  • Make that phone call to make amends, because you and your mother haven’t spoken in years.
  • Bring your children to an assisted living or nursing home, and watch the residents light up. Have your children draw pictures and then visit and sing for those in shelters or facilities.
  • Say what you need to say, and do so right now.
  • Ask for forgiveness and always offer it, no matter what.
  • Offer hugs to those who really need it.
  • Make gifts for everyone on your list.
  • Listen to your elders because you will learn so much.

Not sure what to give the senior adult on your list?

  • Spend a full day with them and ask them to share stories of your family history — fun stories, challenges, family secrets, marriages, customs — and look through old photos. Record this day and create a book for them (with copies for your family members), so it may be passed down for years to come. Many children regret not having more family history, but realize this only after the loved one has died.
  • Find a special photograph and frame it. Ask an elder for a secret family recipe, so it can be carried on; then make it for them.

When we think of the upcoming holidays, we also need to be counting the multitude of blessings we do have, rather than wishing for the ones we don’t have. Make it a special holiday for others, and it will come back to you, in the form of contentment and joy — both in giving and in receiving.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

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Published in: on December 16, 2015 at 10:28 am  Comments (4)  
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Intangible Gifts Bring Joy and Fulfillment

Things do bring instant gratification, but not long-lasting happiness.  We keep buying more things to keep feeling good.  Sometimes we use things to ease unresolved pain and issues.  We continue to accumulate debt, but are still left unfulfilled and discontented.  In the end, these things end up in the hands of family or a professional to sell them.

Want to feel fulfilled?  Make a Difference!

  • Dress the less fortunate by sorting your clothing, shoes, etc. and donating what you don’t use.  Do the same with surplus items in your food pantry.
  • Bust the clutter in your attics and garages.  So much that you have laying around can be used by someone in need.  Find the appropriate organizations and give your clutter away.
  • Practice the art of giving.
  • Refrain from unnecessary purchases for at least six months.

Time’s running out for Christmas shopping, your debt is growing, and you still don’t know what to buy for certain people on your list.  What to do?

Why buy anything?

Why not give the best gift in the world — yourself?

  • Go visit someone you have been meaning to see for a long time. Surprise a loved one you haven’t seen for years.
  • Write that letter, bake those cookies.
  • Volunteer for those needing your help or visit shut-ins.
  • Make that phone call to make amends with family and friends you haven’t spoken with in years.
  • Bring your children to an assisted living or nursing home, and watch the residents light up. Have your children draw pictures and then visit and sing for those in shelters or facilities.
  • Say what you need to say, and do so right now.
  • Ask for forgiveness and always offer it … no matter what.
  • Offer hugs to those who really need it.
  • Make gifts for everyone on your list.
  • Listen to your elders because you will learn so much.

Do you have a senior on your list and you don’t know what to give them?

  • Spend a full day with them and ask them to share stories of your family history — fun stories, challenges, family secrets, marriages, customs — and look through old photos. Record this day and create a book for them (with copies for your family members), so it may be passed down for years to come. Many children regret not having more family history, but realize this only after the loved one has died.
  • Find a special photograph and frame it. Ask an elder for a secret family recipe, so it can be carried on; then make it for them.

When we think of the upcoming holidays, we also need to be counting the multitude of blessings we do have, rather than wishing for the ones we don’t have. Make it a special holiday for others, and it will come back to you, in the form of contentment and joy — both in giving and in receiving.

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on December 4, 2014 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Spontaneous Invitation Changed My Outlook on Life

It was a spontaneous invitation from my 78-year-old mother to attend their senior holiday dance and party.  I was out-of-state visiting them and I obliged her request, knowing it would make her happy.  How much fun could it really be with everyone so advanced in years?

The club house was nothing fancy — reminiscent of a church basement or school gym, devoid of color, with few decorations.  In front of the small Bingo stage sat the collapsible sound system from the hired DJ, complete with a disco ball spinning crystal dots on the walls, and a lighted 3-foot Santa next to his unit.  The floor was exceptionally shiny, as if someone had spent hours buffing it to perfection for dancing.

The 40 seniors waited in line for cafeteria style dinner of roast beef, green beans, and a roll.  Dessert would be homemade cakes from the neighborhood ladies, served on styrofoam plates.

During our meal, the DJ came alive, obviously loving his job.  I understood he was a retired NYC cop who had found his true calling and was very good at it.  The beat from Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” was evident in my tapping feet, shoulder motions and bobbing head.  Was that ME actually having fun?  Dare I say, the fun was just beginning…

Mesmerized by the fantastic selection of 40’s and 50’s music and jazz beats, the seniors suddenly came alive.  Some with canes, others with oxygen, still others (like my mother) afflicted with heart disease — it didn’t matter to them — they got up and started dancing like they were young again.  Before my eyes, the music became their magic.  Transported  back to the 1940s, the hands of time literally spun backwards to return them to their prime in life.  This was their night and they proudly took ownership.

Over the course of the evening, I found myself looking closely at the weathered faces of the old men.  They didn’t look old to me anymore.  It was like watching an episode of Star Trek when they were brought back in time wearing their US military uniforms. The ladies had vibrant, shiny, hair curls and small waists, just like in the old black and white movies.

The most moving part of the evening was how they looked at each other.  Couples married for 50-60 years still gazed upon each other with love and affection.  I even caught a glimpse of an 80-year-old man stroking his wife’s face while they danced, and I had to hold back the tears because I knew she was fighting an illness.  This, I thought, was true commitment.

They had survived the Great Depression and a devastating world war; raising us was no easy matter either.  These were people who simply did what needed to be done.  They were fiercely loyal, still loved America, and always had a strong work ethic.

For one night, for a few hours, they didn’t care about their diseases, ailments, aches, and pains.  They only wanted to let their hair down and have a memorable time.  There I sat, in love with each of them for the way they treated each other with smiles galore, twirling about as if today were their last day on earth.

The thought crossed my mind, as it probably did theirs, that their time is indeed limited, for some more than others.  How could they dance and enjoy fellowship with such carefree smiles and attitudes?  Because they love life, and offered each other the best gift anyone could possibly receive … the gift of simple joy.  They gave the gift of each other.

I found myself deeply moved by what I saw that evening.  Ours has become a world of convenience, and often inconvenience.  A place where people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?”  A place where we don’t see as much care and concern for each other as was in our parents’ generation.  I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge visiting a strange time and place, who saw the light and understood the meaning in the few hours they allowed me to share with them.  I somehow knew as I watched my parents dance that evening, that I was witnessing the last time they would do so.  Sadly, I was right, which makes this memory even more special.

Our seniors truly are our greatest asset and we have much to learn from them!  In this new year, spend time with a senior.  You won’t regret it, and your heart will grow.

©2013 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com

A Heartfelt Thank You

They say time heals all wounds.  In the last few weeks of losing dad and mourning the loss of both my parents in the last year, I have asked myself how I will get back up and move forward.  For me, it is about staying active and busy.  A frequent thought visits me; what can I do to help others, and how can I serve them best?  I just assume, since we all grieve in different ways, I will eventually be okay with the passage of time, bending God’s ear a lot, and relying on the support of family and close friends.

What caught me by surprise, however, were all the wonderful comments and emails I received from you.  I had no idea so many people who I don’t know personally genuinely cared, or that my blogs or writings had somehow touched you or your family.  I had no idea that sharing my thoughts made a positive impact.

I am deeply honored that you reached out to comfort me.  Little did I know that a good dose of healing took place over the holidays because of your kind comments and heartfelt words.

You have re-instilled my faith in humankind — people are by nature “good” even though all we ever hear about in our media is the bad.  Your comments and sincere emails were deeply touching at a time when I needed them most.  I am reminded of a line from a classic movie, “The Sound of Music.”  Fräulein Maria says, “Reverend Mother always says when the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

Maria with Mother Abbess

Thank you for opening a window for me.  Happy New Year!

© 2012 Julie Hall

Published in: on December 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm  Comments (7)  
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Sometimes Life’s an Oxymoron

A potential client sat in her parent’s affluent home asking my opinion as to how we should handle the dissolution of the property.  In this case, I recommended a combination of auction and donation because it was not suitable for a good estate sale.  Imagine my shock when she basically refused the very idea of donation.  This was foreign to me.  With so many out there in need, and her being financially blessed, I just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want the towels, linens, kitchen items, and clothing donated.  I left the home not knowing what to make of it.  This appeared to be a picture of an uncharitable heart … hold that thought.

On Christmas Eve, our family went to a candlelight service.  Feeling a little blue because mom passed away and everything feeling weird without her, my father, family and I went to the service in hopes it would lift our Christmas spirit. 

A small boy no older than 4 years old was wheeled in front of me.  There, in a wheelchair that looked like something from outer space with every gadget and gismo attached, was this very tiny child with the most angelic face I had ever seen.  He was beautiful with his blonde hair and blue eyes and looked like “Tiny Tim” from A Christmas Carol

He was completely helpless and dependent on his parents.  The child could not move any of his limbs and stared up at the ceiling.  He never made a sound.  Finally, his father unbelted him from his lifeline and picked him up.  The boy was as limp as a ragdoll and showed no sign of life other than his eyes being open. 

At first, dad held him on his lap and he repeatedly kissed the boy on the forehead.  Then mom held him and she would rub his hair playfully, talk to him and kiss his cheeks.  Their faces and eyes held the most amazing peace.  I thought to myself, Now, that’s love.  What an amazing example of love, compassion, and acceptance.

When you witness something as beautiful as that, and then meet other people who seem to have so much but are not willing to share any, it’s a little difficult to understand human nature. 

I did not hear the minister’s message on Christmas Eve, because I was so engrossed in observing this family with their boy.  When I realized I missed the bulk of the service, I just smiled to myself, knowing the message I had received was much more powerful —  and a tender reminder that we have so much to be thankful for. 

© 2012 Julie Hall

How A Senior Party Changed Me Forever

I’d like to share a special memory from two years ago as we prepare for the new year ahead.

It was a spur-of-the-moment invitation from my 78 yr. old mother.   While visiting my parents out-of-state, Mom announced she bought me a ticket to their senior holiday dinner and dance party at the local clubhouse.  Knowing it would make them happy, I obliged, but wasn’t exactly ready to kick up my heels just yet.  How much fun could it really be?

The clubhouse was nothing fancy — it was reminiscent of a church basement or school gym, devoid of color though there were a few decorations on the wall.   In front of the small bingo stage was the collapsible black sound system from the hired DJ, complete with a disco ball spinning crystal-like dots on the walls and a lighted 3 ft. Santa next to his unit.   The floor was exceptionally shiny, as if someone had spent hours buffing and polishing it to perfection, meant just for dancing.

With roughly 40 seniors present, dinner was served.  We all waited in line, cafeteria style, to be served our food – a very simple meal of roast beef, green beans and a roll with coffee or water.   Dessert would be homemade cakes from some of the neighborhood ladies.   Styrofoam plates in hand, we waited patiently as everyone got the same amount of food.

During our meal, the DJ came alive and it was obvious he loved his job.  The beat from Glen Miller’s  “In the Mood” was evident in my tapping feet, shoulder motions and bobbing head – was that me actually having fun?  Dare I say the fun was just beginning…

Mesmerized by the fantastic selection of 40’s and 50’s music and jazz beats that made you want to get up and bounce all over the dance floor, the seniors suddenly came alive, as if their simple meal had fueled their fire.  Some with canes, others with oxygen, still others like my mother afflicted with heart disease – it didn’t matter to them – they got up and started dancing like they were young again!!

Before my very eyes, the music became their magic. Transported back to the 1940’s, the hands of time literally spun backwards to return them to their prime in life.  No longer weak or frail, they would have easily danced their boomer children into a state of exhaustion.   This was their night and they proudly took ownership of it.

Over the course of the evening, I found myself looking closely at the old men’s weathered faces.  They didn’t look old to me anymore.   It was like watching an episode of Star Trek when they were brought back in time wearing their U.S. military uniforms and the ladies’ vibrant and shiny hair had curls and they had small waists, just like in the old movies.

But the most moving part of the evening was how they looked at each other.  Couples who had been married for 50-60 years still gazed upon each other with love and affection – I even caught a glimpse of an elderly man stroking his wife’s face while they danced. I had to fight the tears back because mom told me that lady was fighting an illness.  This, I thought, was true commitment.

They had survived the Great Depression and one of the world’s most devastating wars, and raising us!  These were people who simply did what needed to be done.  They are fiercely loyal, still loved America, and always had a strong work ethic.

For one night, for a few hours, they didn’t care about their diseases, ailments, aches and pains.  They only wanted to let their hair down and have a memorable time.  There I sat, a 48-year-old daughter, who found herself in love with each of them – for the way they laughed, for the way they did the “Twist,” for the way they treated each other with smiles galore and twirling about as if today were their last day on earth.

The thought crossed my mind, as it probably did theirs, that our time is indeed limited, for some more than others.  How is it they could dance and enjoy fellowship with such carefree smiles and attitude?  Because they love life and offered each other the best gift anyone could possible receive.  They gave the gift of simple joy.  The gave the gift of each other.

I found myself deeply moved by what I saw that evening.   Ours has become a world of convenience, and often inconvenience.  A place where people are always saying “What’s in it for me?” and a place where we don’t see as much care and concern for each other, as there was in our parents’ generation.

I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge visiting a strange place and time, who saw the light and got the meaning in just the few hours they allowed me to share with them. I feel so very honored to have witnessed such a gift.  Our seniors truly are our greatest asset, and we have much to learn from them.  All we need to do is open our eyes, ears and hearts.

© 2011 Julie Hall

Christmas is over … Now what?

Christmas is over, and you’ve dragged all the wrappings to the trash can.  Now what?  Maybe you got what you wanted … maybe you got too much.

Things do bring instant gratification, but not long-lasting happiness. So, we keep buying more things to keep feeling good.  If your Christmas happiness has been replaced with that let-down feeling, consider the following suggestions.

Too many of us fill our lives with things to ease unresolved pain and issues. As we continue to go out there and buy ourselves the latest electronic gadget, we are still left unfulfilled and discontented. We buy to feel good. We buy because we deserve it. We buy because we are depressed. But in the long run, each item ends up in the hands of family or a professional to sell it.

There are some who believe “He who dies with the most toys wins.” There are others who feel “He who dies with the most toys, dies anyway.” So what should we do?

** Dress the less fortunate by going through your clothing, shoes, etc. Do the same for the food in your pantry.

** Head into your attic and garage and start clutter-busting. So many things we have are not being used — and can be used by someone who needs them. Find those organizations and give them away.

** Start practicing the art of giving, and refrain from unnecessary purchases for at least six months.

** A cluttered house is often reflective of a cluttered life. Do yourself and your family a favor and clear out while you can, and help others in the process. The end result is a long-lasting and satisfied feeling.

Here’s to a healthy and happy New Year for you!

© 2010 Julie Hall

Intangible Gifts Bring Joy this Holiday Season

Time’s running out for Christmas shopping, your debt is growning, and you still don’t know what to buy for certain people on your list.  What to do?

Why buy anything? Why not give the best gift in the world — yourself?

  • Go visit someone you have been meaning to see for a long time. Surprise a loved one you haven’t seen for years.
  • Write that letter, bake those cookies.
  • Volunteer for those needing your help or visit shut-ins.
  • Make that phone call to make amends, because you and your mother haven’t spoken in years.
  • Bring your children to an assisted living or nursing home, and watch the residents light up. Have your children draw pictures and then visit and sing for those in shelters or facilities.
  • Say what you need to say, and do so right now.
  • Ask for forgiveness and always offer it, no matter what.
  • Offer hugs to those who really need it.
  • Make gifts for everyone on your list.
  • Listen to your elders because you will learn so much.

Do you have a senior on your list, and you don’t know what to give them?

  • Spend a full day with them and ask them to share stories of your family history — fun stories, challenges, family secrets, marriages, customs — and look through old photos. Record this day and create a book for them (with copies for your family members), so it may be passed down for years to come. Many children regret not having more family history, but realize this only after the loved one has died.
  • Find a special photograph and frame it. Ask an elder for a secret family recipe, so it can be carried on; then make it for them.

When we think of the upcoming holidays, we also need to be counting the multitude of blessings we do have, rather than wishing for the ones we don’t have. Make it a special holiday for others, and it will come back to you, in the form of contentment and joy — both in giving and in receiving.

© 2010 Julie Hall

Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

A Spontaneous Invitation Changed My Outlook on Life

It was a spontaneous invitation from my mother to attend their senior holiday dance and party.  I was out of state visiting them and I obliged her request.  How much fun could it really be with everyone so advanced in years?

The club house was nothing fancy — reminiscent of a church basement or school gym, devoid of color, with few decorations.  In front of the small Bingo stage sat the collapsible sound system from the hired DJ, complete with a disco ball spinning crystal dots on the walls, and a lighted 3-foot Santa next to his unit.  The floor was exceptionally shiny, as if someone had spent hours buffing it to perfection for dancing.

The 40 seniors waited in line for cafeteria style dinner of roast beef, green beans, and a roll.  Dessert would be homemade cakes from the neighborhood ladies, served on styrofoam plates.

During our meal, the DJ came alive, obviously loving his job.  The beat from Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” was evident in my tapping feet, shoulder motions and bobbing head.  Was that ME actually having fun?  The fun was just beginning.

Mesmerized by the fantastic selection of 40’s and 50’s music and jazz beats, the seniors suddenly came alive.  Some with canes, others with oxygen, still others afflicted with heart disease — it didn’t matter to them — they got up and started dancing like they were young again.  Before my eyes, the music became their magic.  Transported from 2009 back to the 1940s, the hands of time literally spun backwards to return them to their prime in life.  This was their night and they proudly took ownership.

The most moving part of the evening was how they looked at each other.  Couples married for 50-60 years still gazed upon each other with love and affection.  I even caught a glimpse of an 80 year old man stroking his wife’s face while they danced, and I had to hold back the tears because I knew she was fighting an illness.  This, I thought, was true commitment. 

They had survived the Great Depression and a devastating world war.  They were fiercely loyal, still loved America, and always had a strong work ethic.

For one night, for a few hours, they didn’t care about their diseases, ailments, aches, and pains.  They only wanted to let their hair down and have a memorable time.  There I sat, in love with each of them for the way they treated each other with smiles galore, twirling about as if today were their last day on earth.

The thought crossed my mind, as it probably did theirs, that their time is indeed limited, for some more than others.  How could they dance and enjoy fellowship with such carefree smiles and attitudes?  Because they love life, and offered each other the best gift anyone could possibly receive … the gift of simple joy. 

I found myself deeply moved by what I saw that evening.  Ours has become a world of convenience, and often inconvenience.  A place where people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?”  A place where we don’t see as much care and concern for each other as was in our parents’ generation.  I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge visiting a strange time and place, who saw the light and understood the meaning in the few hours they allowed me to share with them.

Our seniors truly are our greatest asset and we have much to learn from them!

© 2009 Julie Hall

A Nickel, An Orange, and Newly-Soled Shoes

Ever since I was a little girl, I have listened to stories my father told about the Great Depression.  Admittedly, I only half listened because I had trouble believing the stories of trudging through 5 miles of snow to school every day.  Surely, he must be exaggerating.  Like any typical teenager, I dismissed him as a reminiscent parent who was living in the past.

Now my father is an old man and I am a middle aged woman.  His memory is fading, and I deeply regret that I did not listen more attentively as he told the stories of his life.  One, in particular, stands out.

During the Depression, “there wasn’t much of anything for anyone,” Dad always said.  Dad remembers Christmas as a particularly difficult time, since there was no money for gifts.  He recalls how he and his siblings would pester Grandpa for a Christmas tree.  Grandpa would go out late on Christmas eve in the freezing cold, when all the good trees were gone and prices were slashed.  A pathetically skinny tree, missing most of its needles, would come through the door with Grandpa.  The kids didn’t mind; the tree was beautiful to them.  It was decorated with whatever was in the house.

Christmas morning brought other surprises.  Each child was given one of their own stockings that contained a new nickel, an orange (which was very hard to find) and their old shoes that Grandpa had resoled from scrap leather he found.  Ponder the scene.  Simple, meager offerings to these children, who were overjoyed by them.

Each child cherished that orange, savoring its’ juices, and took a long time to eat it.  The children didn’t demand new shoes, but were very happy to have new soles to make them last “a little longer.”  And, the new, shiny nickel was rarely spent — it was too pretty to blow it on anything.  This was a time to be utilitarian and resourceful.

Today, we look at how far we have come and how much we have changed.  While we are fortunate to have so much and to not be in a Depression, we really have no idea where our economy will take us.  Anger, frustration, and fear prevail among us, just as it was back then.

What makes our parents’ generation different from ours?  They simply found a way, out of necessity, to make it work.  They put food on the table and kept the family together.  Their thoughts would never be on flat screen TVs, new cars, and Blackberries or Wii systems, even if they had them back then.  They simply did without.  And they survived to tell us about it.

So when you are opening your gifts this holiday season, imagine an old tattered stocking, filled with a nickel, an orange, and newly-soled shoes.  Simplicity is a beautiful thing!

© 2009 Julie Hall