5 Promises to Yourself This New Year

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LET IT GO.

Let go of anything that weighs you down.  Surplus material possessions and stuff that no longer has meaning, people and relationships that are toxic, that closet that is overflowing.  Give to those who really need it.  Just let go!  Start singing the song lyrics, “Let it go, Let it go.”  The time is right.  You will immediately feel lighter, and more open space will provide an uplift in your spirit.  Who doesn’t need that?

IF SOMETHING YOU TRIED LAST YEAR DIDN’T WORK OUT, KEEP TRYING DIFFERENT WAYS UNTIL IT DOES WORK.

If it’s a good goal for you, there’s likely more than one way to accomplish it.  Try, try again in new and different ways.  Maybe the timing wasn’t right, but the plan was.  Ask close friends or colleagues what they would do.  Valued opinions and objective third parties may well be the sounding board you need and provide the brilliant idea you were seeking.

BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS.

No more excuses!  Take that class, pursue that hobby, go to that place you’ve always wanted to see.  Just do it!  Spend some time on you. I just signed up for a comprehensive first aid course because I feel that would be good knowledge to have.  But I sure could use a trip to the Bahamas … (grin).

PRACTICE APPRECIATION.

Open your eyes and look for the simple pleasures in your life.  Put forth a little effort to see the good in the world, because every day we are bombarded with the bad.  Sometimes you need to go for a walk and admire nature, the changing leaves, a lake, a puppy, your neighbor’s flower garden.  Take a walk, look at the sky, and take deep breaths.  A survey of centenarians (100 years old and over) shows they attribute their longevity to simple pleasures like walking barefoot, watering their garden, eating their favorite food, swimming, etc.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO THINK POSITIVELY.

Yes, much is wrong with our world today, but there is still much good in it.  Add to that list of positives.  Go forth, do good things, be a better person, and make a difference for others.  Volunteer to help someone do what they can’t do alone.  Give, knowing they can’t give back to you.  The rewards are far greater than you know!  It comes back ten-fold and gives you a strong sense of purpose.

 

©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.

Published in: on December 28, 2015 at 11:53 am  Comments (8)  
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“B GR8FUL”

The license plate on the car in front of me during a long stretch of monotonous highway read,  “B GR8FUL.”  I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a personal reminder to me, or if it was meant for all who read it, spreading a positive message during what seem to be nutty, uncertain times.  All one has to do is turn on the news and feel that terrible “ugh” inside.

My husband and daughter were snoozing in the car, and I was pensive as usual behind the wheel, thinking about everything from the economy, to family, to work, to you name it.  I, like many of you, am worried about the state of our world and economy and where it will leave the different generations in the years to come.  Both young and old alike have many pressures these days.

I worry about my daughter’s future, which is probably normal for parents to feel.  I worry about my clients who are facing hard times, due to health or financial problems.  I seem to worry about things that I realize none of us have control over.  For me, I have found it best to stay close to family, dear friends, and my faith.

The worries seemed endless while I was driving.  Then I saw this simple license plate:  “BGR8FUL.”  There was an instant calm when I saw it, and I know that I needed to take those worries and transfer them into appreciation for all that we do have.  Because when you step back and look at the grand scheme of things, we really do have for very much to be “gr8ful” for.

GR8FUL

Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving, from my family and me.

©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.

Published in: on November 25, 2015 at 9:03 am  Comments (3)  
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Unforgettable Note We Found in an Estate

“Please Take Care of This for Me”

Borrowed from Robert N. Test, American poet

“The day will come when my body will be determined by doctors to be without life.  When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine.  And don’t call it my deathbed.  Call it my Bed of Life, and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.

Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face, or the love in the eyes of a significant other.

Give my heart to the person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain.

Give my blood to a teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of a car, so he might live to see his grandchildren play.

Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist.

Take my bones, every nerve and muscle, to find a way to make a crippled child walk.

Explore every corner of my brain.  Take my cells if necessary, and make them grow, so one day a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her window.

Burn what is left and scatter my ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow.

If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses, and all prejudice against my fellow man.

Give my sins to the devil; give my soul to God.

If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs it.

If you do all that I have asked, I will live forever.”

©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.

Published in: on August 5, 2015 at 10:21 am  Comments (3)  
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If I Hadn’t Gone Out in the Storm

Having worked 14 hours yesterday, I was really dragging when I finally arrived home from an estate.   I had missed lunch and dinner, was dehydrated, had 11 phone calls to return, and an appraisal to complete.  It was a harrowing day: people not showing up, challenges at the estate, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing, etc.  At home, there was no peace either: the house was messy, my daughter needed help, and the cat needed to be fed and medicated.  How can anyone work this hard?  I thought to myself.

The torrential rain came with the thundering on the roof and windows.  I was finally relieved to be printing off my appraisal report.  All of a sudden, no ink remained and the printer came to a screeching halt.  Time was a factor; I had to print it out and get it in the mail.  Glancing outside, I knew I had to go out in the storm, as tired as I was.  The truth is I didn’t want to go, and I started having a little pity party all by myself, in the confines of my office.  My daughter felt badly because she had used my printer relentlessly for a school project, which left me with no ink.

I glanced at the raging storm outside.  It’s now or never.  It’s got to get done.

I grabbed my keys and was on my way to Staples, but it closed 4 minutes before I arrived.  Just my luck.  I drove further in the rain to find another store and finally got my ink, just in time before they closed.  Sopping wet and resigned to my situation, I drove home animatedly, talking out loud in the car about all my complaints.  Finally I turned the corner heading home, and instantly, the rain stopped, the sun popped out, and this is what I saw.  I pulled to the side of the road to take this photo and share it with you.

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If I hadn’t gone out in the storm, I never would have seen this beauty.  My Grinch face softened into a smile, knowing someone up above had my back.  I couldn’t help but wonder if I was just a little too busy chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, instead of realizing I already had it.

We all work hard and it can be a challenge to make ends meet and make things work for us.  Sometimes we need a sign of hope and joy to remind us it’s the simple things that make us smile the most.  My favorites? Chocolate, gardening, blissful naps, my cat’s purring, and the “buzz” of a hummingbird.

©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.

Published in: on April 23, 2015 at 8:35 am  Comments (12)  
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“Swim to the Ladder!

AN IMPORTANT LIFE LESSON

At six years old, my only experience with swimming was at the local county pool in the kiddie side, not in the deep end where all the big kids played.  I loved the water and mom always had trouble getting me out, until one day, fate had another plan for me.

We went to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins who had a second home on the water.  Uncle Joe enjoyed clamming so we ventured out to get some clams for dinner.  After we drove the boat to a favorite spot, the adults went clamming.  Some of the kids paddled around in the water, including me, bobbing up and down in the Atlantic.  I always wore my life jacket, and adults were within arms’ length.

When we were all back in the boat toweling off, Uncle Joe asked me if I knew how to swim.  “Not really,” I said, “but I can dog paddle a little.”  In front of my protective mom, he unclasped my life jacket, picked me up, and tossed me into the ocean with incredible strength.  It felt like he threw me far away from the boat; in reality, it may have been 12 feet.

Amid my own panic, I could hear my mother vocally upset with Uncle Joe, screeching, “Dear God, Joe, what have you done?  She can’t swim!”  The boat seemed so far away and I was already swallowing plenty of salt water, thrashing about and tired.  I still remember vividly this terrifying experience.  My little legs moved very fast to keep my head above water.

He stopped my mother from jumping overboard and said, “Watch what she’s going to do.  Trust her.”

 Uncle Joe: “Julie, swim to the ladder on the side of the boat.”

Julie: “I can’t. It’s too far!”

Uncle Joe: “Swim to the ladder; you’re closer than you think.”

Julie: “I can’t.  Someone help me! (cough, cough)”

Uncle Joe: “You can do it on your own. Use your arms and legs. Swim to the ladder.”

Mom was still hassling Uncle Joe and he kept telling her, “Watch what she’s going to do.  She knows what to do instinctively.

Finally, I made it to the infamous ladder.  Waterlogged, ticked off beyond comfort, and angry at Uncle Joe, I didn’t speak to him for the remainder of the trip.  I had swallowed enough of the Atlantic to last a lifetime.  Why couldn’t he have just taken me in the water, like my dad did, and slowly guide me to the boat by the hand?  WHY such a harsh manner of teaching?

Hmmm.  Let’s consider this for a moment.  Sometimes we all need to be thrown in and “awakened.”

He said, “Watch her. Trust her.”

“You’re closer than you think.”

“You know what to do; swim to the ladder!”

He trusted me, my instinct, my ability; he taught me that I can do it.  I was so scared in the water, crying and yelling at the same time, really believing I was going to drown.  But instead, I made it to the ladder because of what he was saying to me.

All of us need to remember that no matter what ladder we are swimming toward, we will make it if we keep trying and don’t give up on ourselves and the loved ones who help us along the way.

boat ladderWhether you are starting a new company, handling a challenging estate, dealing with an illness, living through difficult circumstances, etc., my wish for you is that you have someone like Uncle Joe, who is on the sideline cheering you on.

I couldn’t stay mad at Uncle Joe for very long.  He must have seen a tenacity in me, even at a young age, and believed anything is possible.  And it is!

©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.

Published in: on March 19, 2015 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lesson in Humility

He never gave me his name but he left many, many slurred voice mail messages on my personal cell phone.  He sounded weary and my initial gut reaction was that something wasn’t right.  I called back to politely tell him that I am not “Chas” and that he had the wrong number, but the calls persisted.  I called back again to remind him gently that I am not “Chas.”  All I understood was that he didn’t know how to delete my number and could I help him.  Unable to do so, I maintained a kind voice and stretched the patience for this bizarre situation.

One day, I called back again, but his son answered the phone long enough to tell me his father was crazy and to ignore his calls.  The son sounded like a jerk.  My heart sank a little more for this unfortunate father.

The calls persevered.  Normally in a situation like that, my temper would probably get the best of me eventually.  Again, my heart told me something wasn’t right; perhaps it was dementia or another neurological challenge.  He called multiple times a day and, when I answered it, I would just tell this man that I wasn’t who he was looking for.  It was beginning to feel like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray kept repeating the same day over and over again.

One day, I turned off my phone when I was out with my family.  Later that night, I checked my messages.  What I heard released a few tears and a humble heart for all that I am and all that I have.  Though the words were slurred, this is what I could understand:

Hello, Lady.  I know I call you all the time but don’t mean to.  I have a problem.  I have many, many problems and I just don’t know what to do.  I am trying to find Chas but all I get is you, and I keep bugging you because I don’t know how to delete you from this phone.  I can’t remember things.  I’ve been diagnosed with (couldn’t make out what he said) and at least my legs work … sometimes they work and I am just so grateful for that.  Yes I am.  Thank the Lord for that.  I’m a vet.  I’m a good guy.  You’re such a nice lady and I feel bad that I keep calling but you’ve been so nice to me.  A lot of people wouldn’t be so nice.  Thank you too.  I’ll try not to call anymore.  Good bye.

In a rush of thoughts, I saw a man on medications, hurt, lonely, and with a son who’s a jerk.  But the thought that overpowered the rest was as simple as a thought could be … I tried to be kind and very grateful that I didn’t sling any of my bad day onto him like most people would.  We’re all guilty of it from time to time.  I was so grateful that he thought the lady’s voice on the other end of the phone was kind.

Such a simple thing to do, and yet he was thankful for it, like I had somehow offered him a present.  You never know what’s really happening on the other side of the phone line, the other side of the door, the other side of the counter.  That must be where the Native American proverb comes from …

Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.

From that perspective, my shoes (and good, strong legs) are looking pretty good right now.

©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 18, 2014 at 9:55 am  Comments (5)  
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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Sitting here with my morning coffee, I can hardly see the computer screen through my tears.  I have gone from soft, silent crying to full force, hurting-my-gut weeping.  My beloved “Tommy” is by my side and he is dying; I know you understand when I say it is killing a part of me too.

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My head turns to the right to look outside my breakfast room windows and see the beautiful woods and birds at the feeders.  The hummingbirds are active too, defending their feeding territories, preparing for their long journey before winter arrives.  My head turns to the left and I see my beautiful cat of 12 years, my sweet buddy, who has heart failure and is declining rapidly.  It happened so fast.  Right now, he is a lump in the softest pile of blankets I could find.

I am very good at care-giving, making people and pets comfortable, but I cannot fix this.  I cannot fix his heart or bring his vitality back, neither his playfulness or fun spirit.  Right now it feels like he has a foot in both worlds and we are forced to say goodbye, either through God’s will or ours, very soon.  I’m afraid I’m not very good at saying goodbyes.  Lately, it seems I am saying goodbye far more than I’m saying hello.

One might wonder how a little cat could bring a strong woman to her knees emotionally.  At the time Tommy came into our lives, I was a single mom and working very hard.  One day I was outside gardening and I heard the tiniest cry coming from the woods.  It wasn’t a bird, so I had to go investigate.  What if some little creature was in trouble?

Finally, I saw him among the leaves and twigs; a tiny little fur ball no bigger than my palm and not old enough to be weaned.  I watched for a long time to see if mom would appear, but something must have happened to the mother or she abandoned her kittens.  Tommy had crawled through a large patch of woods where I found him, hungry and scared.  Certain death would have been his fate with birds of prey and other critters around here.  The decision had already been made.  With one swoop of my arm, I scooped him up and put him on my chest; when he started purring, he owned my heart.

From that moment to this, he has proven himself to be the coolest cat in the world.  He comes when you call him, plays with you, nuzzles you, and will do anything for a scratch under the chin.  Very loving, very sweet-natured.  Now, he is at the end of his life, and I discovered last night that his diagnosis is exactly what my mom died from.  I was helpless then and I am helpless now.  The drugs help with breathing, but there is no quality of life.  I know what must be done but it is ripping me apart.  The vet said he is not yet in any discomfort and I don’t want that to happen.

Two days ago, Tommy came into the kitchen where I was checking emails on my laptop.  In a manner very uncharacteristic of him, he stood up on his hind legs, reached his paw as high as that paw could go, and tapped me on the chest.  I looked down into those bright green eyes; it was as if he was trying to tell me something.  Something I didn’t want to hear.

Just this minute, I let out a whimper as I wrote that last line and blew my nose.  Tommy got up from his pile of blankets and is sitting right next to me.  He just reached up and tapped me again with the same paw, wanting to be picked up.  He’s trying to say he loves me; he has succeeded.  I whispered “I love you too, buddy” in his ear.  He wanted me to swoop him up in my arms once again and put him on my chest, just like I did in the woods so many years ago when he was lost.

You just never know how or when paths may cross to change your life forever.

I must end this blog now, because this purring embrace with him is too precious.

©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 September 19, 2014 at 9:30 am  Comments (8)  
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The Lump

If my mother were still living, she would be aghast that I have not personally reached out to you — my friends, colleagues, and blog followers.  You may know of me or know me personally, have read my writings or just started following me.  But I want to make the time to say “THANK YOU” for allowing me to share pieces of my life, and for your willingness to listen and reply.  It is my desire to inspire others, and in doing so, help myself to grow into the finest human I am capable of being.

Last week was a rough week.  My daughter got her first job, which is wonderful news in this economy, my husband’s company is downsizing and sending jobs overseas (he’s still ok, thankfully), and me, well, I found a lump.

To some of you, that may seem incredibly personal, but sitting here in my early 50s, I really have nothing to hide and everything to share, especially if it can help others.  The week was filled with “what ifs” and dread.  I let my imagination run wild, and I have one incredible imagination, if I do say so myself.  Then I got scared.  I mean really scared, and not much spooks The Estate Lady®.  I called the doctor immediately.  Truth of it is, I should have taken better care of myself a long time ago.

I found myself crying in the shower, and the best I can figure, it came from guilt.  Guilt because I have not taken good care of myself in years.  I have not eaten well, not exercised diligently.  I put on weight and am stressed out just like everyone else, still grieving the loss of my parents, etc.  My imagination suddenly threw me years into the future, where I so desperately want to be a part of my daughter’s life and see grandbabies grow.

Then I prayed.  I asked friends to pray for me.  It brought a calm over me when I needed it most.  There’s nothing easy about dealing with things that go wrong with our bodies, and medical stuff is scary.  I sat and waited my turn for the mammogram and other tests with other women in a small room, and I realized that not everyone in that room would get good news.  I prayed for them too.

Long story short, the news was good!  It was just a lump that will stay with me the remainder of my life … a calcified thing.  I got the wonderful news and my legs made it as far as my car in the parking lot when I broke into tears of great joy and heartfelt gratitude.  It seemed only right to give thanks for this blessing, and to pray for those who are also living in fear or receiving less than good news.

If you know someone who is in the midst of this kind of scary experience, just be there for them and offer support.  Everyone needs good friends to walk them through and keep the “what ifs” at bay.

“Taking our lumps,” unfortunately, is a part of life, but it sure is frightening on the literal side of things.  On the figurative side, we carry them from injuries, past experiences, and lessons learned; we live with them emotionally, mentally, and physically.  They are a part of how we become “us.”

I came home that day, and in a very uncharacteristic manner, took a selfie.  I have much to smile about and I am wishing you the same!

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©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 July 2, 2014 at 10:20 am  Comments (16)  
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The Mother

What a very strange place to build a nest!  The top of our old, abandoned basketball hoop post is not exactly my idea of a safe place to raise babies, especially because the nest was built inside the open top of the pole hole.  It’s safe from most predators because it is 8 feet up in the air.  The parents take turns keeping watch so they are also safe from birds of prey as well.  But a long, hollow pole for a teeny, tiny nest?

Suddenly, my delight changed to concern.  I watched, completely fascinated, from inside my car parked in the driveway, as the tiny mom and dad dove down inside the top of this metal pole to feed the chirping babies.  It must get really hot in there for those babies, I thought to myself, especially here in the warm south with a temperature of 90 degrees yesterday.  What if the nest fell all the way to the bottom, inside the pole?

The sky turned gray and I heard a rumble of thunder.  The rain started as a trickle first, then gradually came down harder until it was a good downpour.  Still in my car, windshield wipers on full speed, I watched as the two parents emerged from the top of the pole, looking as if they were ready to take off.

Dad flew to the top of the hoop and stood guard, but it was what mother did next that made me wish I had my video camera handy.

With the delicate grace nature gives her, she balanced on the top rim of the opening as if she would go back in with her babies.  But instead, she hovered, extending her wings, stretching them as far as they would go and acting as an “umbrella” for her offspring.  Was she cleaning herself, using the rain to take a shower, or was she protecting her babies from potentially drowning?  I know nothing of birds or their habits, but it certainly looked like she was protecting them, with dad watching over his mate and babies.

It dawned on me that all good mothers do this.  As mothers, we spend at least 18 years of our lives with our wings extended, as if to say, “Nothing’s going to happen to my child with me here.”  We too have a natural instinct to surround, protect, keep safe, stand guard against anything bad that comes near our children.  We nag … they chirp.  We yell … they squawk.  We hug … they extend their wings.

We shelter our “babies” from sinking into a bad place, and if they do fall, we go down there with them and pull them back up.  It’s what moms do.  When the time is right, just like mother bird, we have to push them out of the nest too, so they can learn to be self-sufficient.  How else will they learn?

My mom is gone now, but somehow she is never too far away.  At times, I swear I can hear her whisper guidance in my ear, tell me she loves me and she’s proud of me, or remind me that each new day brings new things and not to be afraid of tomorrow.

My mom was just like that momma bird.  She protected us fiercely, and when the time was right, she let us fly, because she knew she had done her job correctly and prepared us for what lay in front of us.

I miss her so much it hurts.  Remember your mom this weekend and be ever mindful of all she did, has done, and will continue to do for you in life as well as in death.  If she is still living, there is a huge blessing in that.  And if she has passed on, the blessing now sits inside of you for having known her.

God bless all mothers everywhere!

©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 May 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm  Comments (5)  
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Lessons Learned as an Expert in “Things”

Happy New Year!

As an expert in personal property, my days are filled with visiting estates, consulting with my clients, and ascertaining what has value versus what does not.  I help boomer children make sound decisions after mom and dad have passed on, and work closely with seniors, helping them make a plan for their heirlooms and understanding their worth.  My world revolves around many beautiful things and what they may be worth; then sadly, I watch people fight over those things after a loved one dies.

Having met with thousands of individuals in my career, I can safely say I have learned from each and every one of them.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

1We exit this world the way we enter it, owning nothing but a beautiful spirit that houses love and memories earned over a lifetime.  You can’t take anything with you, so why fight over things.

2Things do bring instant gratification, but not long-lasting happiness.  So we keep buying more things to keep feeling good.  Too many of us fill our lives with things to ease unresolved pain and issues.  As we continue to go out and go into debt buying ourselves the latest electronic or 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, it ends up in the hands of family or a professional, such as myself, to sell it.

3It‘s what you do with what you have that really counts, not what you possess.  In these challenging economic times, it’s important to remember there are others dealing with greater difficulties than ourselves.  Even while we tighten our purse strings, we can still give in many ways, for which others would be so grateful.

  • Give of yourself.
  • Go visit someone you’ve been meaning to see for a long time.
  • Write that letter.
  • Bake those cookies.
  • Volunteer for those needing help.
  • Visit shut-ins.
  • Surprise a loved one.
  • Make that phone call to make amends, because you and your mom haven’t spoken in years.
  • Bring your children to an assisted living or nursing home and watch the residents light up.
  • Say what you need to say, and do so right away.
  • Ask for forgiveness and offer it, no matter what.
  • Offer hugs to those who really need them.
  • Listen to your elders because you will learn so much.

4.  If you have an older adult in your life … Spend a full day with them and ask them to share stories of your family history – fun stories, challenges, family secrets, marriages – and look through old photos.  Record this day and make a book for them (and copies for each sibling) so it may be passed down for years to come.  Many children regret not having more family history, but they realize this after a loved one has left us.  Take a photograph of this special day and frame it.

5.  Get your children involved in their own legacy.  TALK, don’t text.  Include older generations in activities with the younger children, if possible.  It won’t do them any harm to listen to grandma’s stories and bake cookies, instead of them playing on their Xbox.  Precious time is slipping away for all of us.  Make the most of it by making meals and eating together, talking, sharing, and most of all, mending anything that needs mending.

©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