The Swing at the End of the World - Casa del Arbor - On Doing the Things that Make Your Legs Shake

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Up in the mountains outside of Baños, Ecuador is a treehouse that holds a swing. This swing was built in such a way that when you lift your legs and swing into the air, you do so over no ground. Yes, that’s right. The swing at the end of the world is just that – a swing that propels you out over the open expanse of air above a steep sloping mountain. For fun.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to get on it. Adventure isn’t something that comes easily to me… not when it involves heights, dangling legs, and an Ecuadorian man wanting to push you on a swing so it will go even higher. Those things just aren’t natural at the core of who I am. My father literally bribed me with a walkman when I was a kid to get on a fairly-tame amusement park ride… and I said no. It takes a lot for me to throw caution to the wind and try something like the swing at the end of the world.

It takes a lot for me to take a chance on doing something outside of my comfort zone.

But when it’s there, staring you in the face…
When you know you may never be standing in that same spot again…
When you feel a stirring in your spirit to just take that step and try…

Then, in that moment – with the beauty of mountains and a great blue sky before you; with the wonder of being in a new place and seeing how far you’ve grown from that you of the past; with your heart pounding a little faster and your head quieting until all you hear are your own breaths being pulled in and out – in that moment, you decide.

And in that moment, I did.

I claimed the seat. I secured the rope. I walked my feet back, one step at a time, and then I slowly, carefully lifted them up.

And my feet dangled over a drop that felt enormous. And my heart pounded. And my mind was a blank.

I soared.

Adventures in Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the most beautifully adventurous places I’ve ever been able to experience. From traveling by boat over rivers housing anacondas to seeing monkeys stealing from unsuspecting visitors on the streets, there was certainly no shortage of little moments of adventure and excitement on my missions trip.

When I was little, I wanted to be the next Jane Goodall and live with chimpanzees in the wild. I thought all primates were both awesome and utterly adorable. I collected stuffed chimpanzees, monkeys, apes, gorillas, and orangutans for years. I did a report on monkeys in the third grade. I still enjoy seeing any and all primates at the zoo. They’ve been a favorite animal of mine for as long as I can remember.

So when I learned that there were monkeys in Ecuador that roam freely, I got excited.

Really. Really. Excited.

From that point on, one of my big goals for the trip – outside of the serving aspects – was simple: take a picture with a monkey.

Then I heard that we would, in fact, be going to Misahuallí, where monkeys scamper the area. 

And so… this photo was born.

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In that moment, ten year old Kristin had a chill and she didn’t know why. ;)

I’d also like to let you know, that the posing monkey up there rushed off not long after the photo was taken. But first it ran up to me and smacked my foot, like it was angry with me for photo-bombing. Ha!

That same day, we went to a village that shows tourists different things about their culture. They showed us some dances and had us take part. They made and shared with us some Chicha, their traditional drink made from the yuca root, as well as some guaba they grow in the village. We also had the opportunity to hold a boa constrictor around our necks and take a photo.

At first, I said a flat out ‘no’ to the snake holding thing. But as I saw each of my teammates taking on the beast without anything crazy happening, I decided to unleash my inner Britney and rock the snake necklace. My mom still can’t believe I did this. She says so just about every time she sees these photos.  ;)

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Riding in the canoes on the river was equal parts fun and slightly terrifying for me. I’d walk on to the craft and slowly make my way to my seat as the canoe would rock back and forth. With unfriendly snakes and who knows what else living in the waters beneath, I somehow managed to enjoy most of the rides – wind whipping through my hair, gorgeous scenery around me. There were a few times, though, I was a little nervous. Let me put it this way: some of the boats were sturdier feeling than others… and some had more people sitting on the edges of the canoe and not in seats than others. I never want to tip a canoe, but I especially don’t want to do so in the Amazon. ;) Thankfully nothing remotely scary happened on our travels to and from the jungle villages we went to and I got to check that off my ‘adventurer’ list without issue.

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On Thursday, toward the end of our trip, we made a trip to Baños, Ecuador. We stopped at Rio Verdes to see the waterfall on the way there. It was beautiful and cool enough to be an enjoyable little hike! Mountains, waterfalls, and awesome bridges awaited us.

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Alicia was making me look really cool during this entire trip with some stunner black and white shots like the above!

When I got to this area – which was by some of the most interesting and beautiful outdoor bathrooms I’ve ever seen – I asked Nicole to take a photo of me. It looked so pristine and so “Ecuador” to me that I knew I wanted to have an image of myself there in addition to taking a scenic shot of my own.

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Baños itself was a really interesting place! There was great architecture everywhere and you could see the mountains from this great little park. I would have loved to have spent a little more time there. :) Of course, the food wasn’t half bad either. And by not half bad, I mean it was ridiculously good. Chicken, rice and beans… yum!

More soon on my visit to the swing at the end of the world, the actual mission part of this missions trip, and how I ended my trip with a bang on a mountainside in Baños. xoxo

Simply Love 2014 - Intro to My Missions Trip to Ecuador

Well, I’m back from my missions trip to Ecuador with the Simply Love crew. And now I’m at a place where I can share some of my little adventures (and mayyybe the, um, bigger ones). So here I am, back at the blog and ready to show you just a glimpse of the beauty and adventure that Ecuador holds. :)

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Our hotel outside of Quito was so beautiful! Madi took these photos of me – and so kindly took one with me, too. I love Madi’s sense of style, her enthusiasm, and her kindness. She was one of my roomies in Tena and was always offering to let me eat her gluten-free snacks. And I’m all about that. Ha! Thanks, Madi! :)

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And of course I had to take a little selfie, too. We were only here for the one night, then the next morning it was off to Tena!

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This little van was our transportation for the week. I’m kind of obsessed with the way it looks. It had a tendency to need a little help moving our group of fifteen or so, though. So on our way to Tena from outside of Quito, most of us had to abandon the van and hop in the back of a banana truck so it could make its way up the mountain. (But that’s okay. I still love that van.)

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When you’re on a missions trip with no less than five other photographers and your van’s broken down on the side of a mountain road in Ecuador, what do you do? You all get out of the van, cross the street and climb into the field to take some photos of each other. That’s what. ;) These were taken by Heidi, and don’t you just love my travel outfit? Haha :)

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See? Banana truck. I will say, though, that truck was surprisingly comfortable (I was sitting on our luggage) and the views we had from there? Stunning. 

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This one was later, but… this group of people were pretty fabtabulous. For not knowing anyone but Alicia when I left, we all bonded really quickly. Great people to serve Bless an Orphan with… and to squeeze into a van with, slightly over-capacity. :)

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Anyhoo… more on the trip – on the orphanage I worked with, the sight-seeing, and the interesting tale of how I broke my ankle and had surgery in a third world country – soon. For now, I leave you with a photo from Tena. xoxo

Being Schmoses - On Wearing Boldness Like Red Lipstick

The panic set in just after I hit the “send” button. What. Did. I. Just. Do?

I only had a little bit of time to feel the first tickles of anxiety before Karen responded to my text, telling me “yes,” I could gather with and speak to the single women at the Pursuit 31 conference and lead a time of prayer together. And it was settled. I was going to share what the Lord was laying on my heart about relationship with Him and being single. And I was going to do it in one week’s time.

I’ve never been one to enjoy public speaking. I was so shy as a child – afraid of my own shadow and generally just not the most adventurous of kids. I preferred video games and writing stories to being front and center in activities or visiting amusement parks. In high school I remember so vividly a time before an assignment involving a speech where I felt sick to my stomach. Nerves were always present before speaking for me, no matter how short the speech would be. I avoided it whenever I could. Even in social situations and small groups, I would sometimes have something I felt compelled to share, but physically felt unable to speak. Painfully shy.

So to ask to speak in front of any interested single women?

At a conference?

That was not something I anticipated myself doing.

In fact, had you told me it would be a part of my story a few years ago, I would’ve gone bug-eyed and laughed at you.

Me? Yeah. Sure.

But God had other plans.

Greater plans.

So, fired up by recent events and feeling bold, I sent that text to Karen. And she gave her blessing. I started praying and began to jot down what the Lord was placing on my heart – things He’s revealed to me, truth He’s gently whispered to my heart over the past few years. I dug in to the Word and wrote more notes, still unsure of what all I would say, but knowing He would give me words.

At a small group leader’s meeting one morning, I shared that I felt like Moses. Speaking wasn’t something I considered a gift of mine. I admitted to those feelings of inadequacy – the nervousness and the doubts I had to keep praying away. And I’ll never forget my sweet friend, Tiffany Farley, coming up to me after the meeting. She walked up to me, with her calming presence and soft smile, and she called me “Schmoses.” As in, “Moses, Schmoses.” As in, ‘You’re so not a Moses. You do have a gift in this area – trust Jesus and get it together.‘ (That last bit is my inference, not Tiffany’s actual words.)

I adopted the nickname, wearing it as a badge of courage to remind myself of who I am in Christ. Her words encouraged me and spurred me on to be more confident in the Lord and remember that it’s not about me.

Come Wednesday, I found myself in a cozy little room with some beautiful women, all with different stories and varying ages. And for about 20 minutes, I shared what the Spirit had me speak. I spoke about how it’s the Lord alonewho satisfies; how He doesn’t change despite our feelings, circumstances or seasons of life; how He is so much morethan any earthly relationship could ever be; and how God has a purpose for each person’s life right now in whatever season they find themselves in and they shouldn’t wait to live that out. I shared about how God is enough. It wasn’t perfect. But it was the Spirit at work, building boldness in me and using my lips to speak the truth. After, we spent a solid 20 minutes or more in prayer, holding hands as we gathered in a circle and experienced the presence of God thick over us. It’s something I’ll never forget.

After the conference, I logged on to Facebook and saw I had been tagged in a post. One of the sweet ladies who had been sitting in that room, posted a sweet testimony in the conference group.

Cue tears threatening to descend into my tea cup.

The Lord uses us to make much of Himself. His power is made perfect in weakness. In spite of our short comings – whether real or imagined – or the circumstances we’re in; in spite of our feelings or fears – He will use us to make Himself known and glorified. He gives us gifts and talents and opportunities to grow in them. Sometimes it feels like putting on clothes that are too big or a lipstick that’s too bold. But as we step out in faith – as we walk  in obedience, knowing He goes before and is the One at work – He grows us into them. Soon the clothes seem to fit perfectly and the lipstick is the perfect shade. And it’s a beautiful thing.

So here’s to living, full of faith that He who has called us is going to finish what He starts; to walking confidently into our callings, knowing that the Spirit of the Living God resides within us and is our strength; to putting on boldness like red lipstick and moving forward in faith; and to witnessing Him do amazing things through it all.

Because it’s not about us.

And it never was.

Ecuador - Simply Love 2014

It made absolutely no sense to me at first. I had just returned from a conference, and not long before that, I had been in Romania on a missions trip. Neither were cheap experiences. I had little of my personal money left for the year, and yet, I felt it. That small stirring of the Spirit… the kind that whispers softly spoken words of love and compassion. The still, small voice that gently encourages you to go, to be, to love.

Still, I wrestled with it.

Despite the fact that I had watched God bring $4,000 in for my Romania trip in less than half a year.
Despite the fact that I had seen Him do absolutely incredible things while I was there.
Despite the fact that I was different – heart changed and faith bolstered – from my time in that place.
Despite all that faith I felt I had inside… I was showing classic signs of “me of little faith.”

So, I wrestled with it.

I flat out told God that it didn’t make sense.
That there was no way this could be what He wanted for me.
I didn’t have the money.
I had been traveling so much lately already.
This wouldn’t be easy.

And then, sitting at work, staring at photos of children at Bless an Orphan’s home… my eyes welled up with tears. Amidst all of my protests, all of my concerns of too soon and not enoughthis song played on my Pandora station. And these words from Snow Patrol echoed in that room, prodding me to let go of all the human sense-making and just say yes.

Just say yes,
Just say there’s nothing holding you back.
It’s not a chance, or a trick of the light-
Only love.

It still took me a week or two to actually fill out my application for the trip, but during those days the Lord used so many people to affirm to me that this was meant to happen. And soon, I was approved as a member of the team. Since then, I’ve been keeping up with what’s going on in Tena through Bless an Orphan’s Facebook page and have been so moved and encouraged by their hearts for the children of Ecuador. I’m so excited to be able to go down there in just a few months’ time and serve alongside them.

WHEN. I’m heading up to New York on either February 13th or 14th, depending on when I can get a good flight. Then I’ll be meeting my team at the airport super early on February 15th. We’ll spend the day traveling to Quito, Ecuador and then make our way to Tena after that. I’m scheduled to return home late on February 22nd.

WHERE. I’m going to be serving in Tena, Ecuador at Bless an Orphan’s care home. You can read up on Bless an Orphan here and here.

WHO. I’m on a fabulous team, mostly with friends I’ve yet to meet. :) My team leader, Alicia, is a friend from Pursuit 31 leadership and I’m super excited to be able to go on this trip with her and the rest of the team!

HOW. Well, that’s where I need some help. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t have the money to go when I signed up. And truth be told, I still don’t have the money I need to make this trip happen. I’m praying that the Lord will bring people to lend support to this journey. I don’t just want your money, though I’m not too proud to ask for financial donations. (Consider this a personal invitation to give any amount you can to make this trip happen. Will you, my friend, help me by donating whatever you are able to give?) If you have any amount to give, please do. More than that, I’m asking for your support. I’m asking for you to come alongside me and go with me in spirit to serve and love in Ecuador. 

If that sounds like you, leave me a little comment and say hello so we can cyber-hug, high five, and be friends. :) If you want to give up a latte or twenty and give financially, I would be so grateful. It’s an amazing thing to see people come together to make good things happen in the world. If that’s something you’re wanting to do, you can donate online at this safe, easy to use website or if you’d prefer to give via check, contact me here for info on how to do that.

When It Really Is Fine - A Lesson On Seeing Past Yourself

I went to the doctor Monday, after not feeling very well off and on the past few weeks. If you don’t like shots, I don’t recommend waiting until week 3 to go in… because your doctor may suggest a steroid shot. I was given one, and some medicine to combat sinusitis. So, after my appointment, I headed to my drugstore of choice to pick up my prescription.

I went to the pharmacy, told them my name, and was informed that they had to call my doctor to confirm the prescription. I took a phone call, roamed around the small store, and went back almost half an hour later to check in. They still hadn’t reached my doctor’s office. So I perused the aisles some more… looked at nail polish colors, noted the prices of lip stick, checked out the ingredients of most of their snack collection looking for gluten (I’m now gluten free for the next month, and probably forever). Went back to the pharmacy, and was told they still weren’t able to give me my prescription. I asked the girl behind the counter how long it would take once they heard from my doctor’s office. 10 – 20 minutes, they said.

At this point, I wasn’t feeling very well anymore. I just wanted to go home. So I called my mom and told the tale of my lament as I walked the aisles once again. After the almost 20 minute phone call, my medicine still wasn’t done.  I debated leaving and coming back later – or sending someone to get it for me – and finally, tired and grumpy, settled down in a chair to wait it out.

About five minutes later, they rang me up.

A minute or two after that, they gave me my medicine.

“I’m sorry about your wait,” the girl said.

“It’s fine,” I replied semi-automatically.

I didn’t feel like it was fine. In fact, it felt like the opposite of fine to me… so much so, that my response initially felt like a lie.

And then I thought about it.

Was it really so terrible that I was there for an hour? Was I really going to be upset about waiting, especially when I had nowhere else to be? Was I going to be frustrated and bitter when I was able to get the prescription antibiotics that I needed – and for under $10 – something so many people don’t have access to? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was being ridiculous and my “it’s fine” statement was actually true. I just hadn’t fully believed it at the moment.

So next time you’re fighting to be patient (and maybe failing like I was), stop and ask yourself if you’re being reasonable. Is your situation one of dire need or are you too focused on yourself, your schedule, your plans to see anything else? Is waiting going to truly hinder you in the long run, or are you just upset that your timetable isn’t being met? Question your self and try giving grace and practicing patience… even if you really don’t want to. Trade in self-focus for Spirit-leading, griping for gratefulness. It makes a huge difference.

“True patience grows with the growth of love. We put up with our neighbours to the extent that we love them. If you love, you are patient. If you cease loving, you will cease being patient. The less we love, the less patience we show.”  – Gregory the Great

How Can I...?

“Please, Lord, how can I…?”

Gideon’s response to God’s call on his life read familiar. Much like I myself have been before, Gideon was unsure of this calling on his life, this huge task the Lord was telling him he would do. After all, he was the youngest of his family, and his clan was the weakest of the bunch. His question, by human standards, is valid. Who was he to be the one to save Israel? How could he be the one to save Israel?

The answer Gideon was given is one that my soul is clinging to.

BUT I WILL BE WITH YOU.

It didn’t matter that Gideon was young and his clan weak. It didn’t matter that there may have been men mightier and more naturally equipped to handle the task. It didn’t matter that the odds were against him. No matter what excuse for being unqualified he could have uttered, the answer wouldn’t have altered. Because the answer the Lord gave him is the only answer he – or I, or you, my friend – need.

BUT I WILL BE WITH YOU.

No matter the excuses in your head for why you can’t fulfill what God is asking you to do, that answer remains true.

You say, “I’m not enough.”
He says, “BUT I WILL BE WITH YOU.”

You say, “I’m afraid.”
He says, “BUT I WILL BE WITH YOU.”

You say, “There are others better able to handle this task.”
He says, “BUT I WILL BE WITH YOU.”

You say, “This is outside my comfort zone.”
He says, “BUT I WILL BE WITH YOU.”

I’m weak. I’m not good at public speaking. I’m too young. I’m too old. I’m afraid to fly. I can’t share that; it’s too personal. This will be dangerous. I’d have to leave my family. People might be upset with me. People will judge me. No one will listen. It’s too familiar to change. It’s too unknown to pursue. 

BUT I WILL BE WITH YOU.

Just like He was with Gideon, who was clothed in the Spirit of God and moved forward to victory- He will be with you.

When the Holy Spirit speaks to you and stirs your heart to act, the Lord will faithfully complete that work. You may feel weak and unqualified – you may be weak and unqualified; there very well could be things you are called to that are outside your comfort zone, seem impossible, or are beyond your reach for one reason or another. But His grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in weakness. Trust that He is who He claims to be. Trust that He goes before you and will be with you.

And whatever way you’re meant to go, move forward. 

 

“He gives power to the faint and to him who has no might He increases strength.” -Isaiah 40:29 ESV

Oh, I Want To Dance With Somebody

I’m a single lady living in a primarily-coupled world. Most of my days, I am intent on and quite happy to live my life; to move forward in this world with purpose and prayer. And I tend to enjoy doing it in the season I currently find myself in: as one whole person… a singular soul.

There are times, though, that I find myself missing someone I have yet to truly know.  As a girl who does believe that by the grace of God she’ll find herself rocking a ring someday, there are times that I miss the person who will join my singular soul and make us a plural “one,” as twos often become.

Like when I’m standing at a good friend’s wedding, watching all my friends dancing to a slow song in pairs and I have nothing to do but watch.

oh, I want to dance with somebody…

This was the case this summer at a best friend’s beautiful wedding. I was a bridesmaid, and there on my own. No family, no date, just me and a few friends in the bridal party. I had a blast in my long, flowy dress with my hair curled and pinned and my makeup done. But that time came, late in the evening, when the dance floor changed from lassos and the cupid shuffle to soft sways and love-filled eyes… and I found myself on the sidelines, watching my fellow bridesmaids, each dancing with a spouse or groomsman.

The moment was a little awkward. (It was my middle school wallflower-at-the-dance awkward moment that I never actually had in middle school.) I mean, I’m used to not dancing to slow songs. I’m used to being the individual, not a pair. But sometimes, I just want to dance with somebody.

And as though my desire was known, up the stairs came M, the groomsman I was paired with for the wedding. He offered me his hand and asked me to dance, and for about half a song, we did. It wasn’t magical or romantic… but it was a nice break from sipping water and circling the room. It was also my first real dance with a boy, and I realized that while it’s good to get outside my comfort zone sometimes, I truly would rather wait for most of the slow dances. Because the chorus of the song has an ending that makes a world of difference.

oh, I want to dance with somebody… with somebody who loves me.

I realized that I don’t want to sway on the dance floor to sweet songs with just anyone. I want to slide and glide and twirl with someone whose heart is in it; someone who loves me. I want to dance with the man who waits all night for the slow song so he can have that dance that gives him an excuse to hold me close. I want to be choose-y. Not closed off, or pining away, or hidden in the shadows, but aware that there’s a line I’ve drawn, behind which lies dances that I mean to save for someone special. Aware that I’ll probably be watching my friends sway their way through three slow songs in a row while I watch.

And that’s okay.

Because I know what I want. I believe that someday- maybe not as soon as I’d like; maybe much sooner than I’d expect – I’ll have a dance with my very own somebody. And another. And another. And eventually, I’ll have a full-time dance partner who sways with me, eyes full of love, to songs full of sentiment.

Until then, I’ll enjoy lassoing in my best friends and doing my signature dance move. I’ll make faces across the way to a friend before we start dancing toward each other. I’ll keep learning slightly ridiculous dances like the Wobble and laugh myself silly doing it. Right now, I’m going to live my life. I’m going to dance and sing and laugh and love, right where I am. I’m going to do it as a singular soul, but not as a lonely one. I have love and peace and joy. And when God tells me to move from this season to another, I’ll do so, having experienced the fullness of this singular life.

Right now, I’ll take the quiet solitude of the slow dances I miss and listen to the whispers of God’s love I hear in them.

Right now, I’ll be thankful for this time, this life, His love.

Right now, I am single and experiencing life alongside my First Love. We are dancing; He spins me ’round as I laugh in surprise. We smile at each other before He holds me close. I move, He ever close beside me, as feet glide across the floor. I have His love- real, beautiful, near.

And that is enough.

Hello There - Something To Say

Today the weather was amazingly nice… like red skinny jeans and my lace poncho – no jacket – with glitter flats and I’m perfectly comfortable nice. I met with a friend for tea and treats at Panera and we talked for awhile, outside on the patio, just to catch up. Then we walked around the town-center, window shopping and popping in a store or two as we felt like it. Then we sat in the shade outside of Starbucks and chatted a bit more.

And like the weather, it felt really nice.

Those coffee date, every-day conversations fill me up.

They’re laughter and smiles, and serious moments and empathy, and celebrations of the big and the little all rolled into an hour or three. They’re admissions of uncertainty and high-fives for landing a new job. They’re laughter at the newest ridiculous scenario of life and solidarity in the less-than-awesome moments shared. They’re people you love endearing themselves to you even more.

Those times together make me feel even more like ‘me.’

And despite the crazy that has been my life the past month or so, I find myself content and thinking that life is nice- dare I say, good. Even if it isn’t always so. (And don’t we all know that it can be all sorts of messy – bad – ugly – hard.) But I’m a “glass half full, and let’s go ahead and fill it back up, shall we?” type of girl. So on days like today, I revel in the nice and in the good… I soak in the sunshine and the smiles. They’re great to remember on those messy – cold – hard days.

So I came here, in my I-feel-good-and-the-sun-is-shining mood. I haven’t written in awhile… I’ve thought about it, many times. But I decided that I don’t want to post on here just for the sake of filling the ‘pages’ of this blog. It’s not my style. I don’t talk just to talk… I’m a conversationalist with my friends and family, sure. I like to talk and be goofy and it’s great. Most of the time, though, I’m the girl listening and pondering and then when I have something to say, I might say it.

Why should my blog be any different?

So I’ve decided – generally given advice for blogging on a set schedule set aside – I’m going to update on here when it’s real. I’m going to post when it’s me with something to say.

Yes, I’m adopting that age-old philosophy…

It’s my blog and I’ll post when I want to. ;)

That said, I’ll talk to you soon… as soon as I have something I want to say. :)

xoxo,
KK

Tips from a Yard Sale Newbie

Last Saturday morning I found myself up and moving at 7:30 in the morning- making tea, grabbing some change, and moseying on over to a nearby community yard sale. I’ve been wanting to hit up some yard sales for a few weeks now as part of my summer ‘staycation.’ I had a few things I was hoping to find, but mostly just wanted to see what treasures unsuspecting townsfolk were seeking to lose to people like me. Little did I know, I was heading for the jackpot of yard sales… a subdivision-wide yard sale.

Holy. Moley.

It was huge. I mean, HUGE.

With street after street lined with home-owners selling their goods, it was hard to know where to start! This was really my first time exploring the world of a yard-sale hunter, so I thought I’d share some things that I learned.

1. If you’re going to be looking for something in particular, make a list before you start your search.

I had decided Friday that I’d be going yard-sale shopping the next day, so I made a short list of items to be on the lookout for while I was out. It was really nice to be able to look at my little post-it note between houses to make sure I was on the right track! There are a lot of items sitting out at these things – especially the multi-family sales – and you might lose focus. Lists are good.

2. Decide how much money you’re going to spend beforehand and only bring that much cash with you… and have it in small bills.

I had about $11 total when I left my house. That wasn’t by any design, I just only had that much cash remaining from my last paycheck. For what I was looking for, it was a good amount. I came home with 77 cents, and that’s after buying a lemonade from a girl in her driveway in addition to all my goodies! The good thing about yard sales is they’re cash-only… when you run out, you’re done. So think about what you’re looking for, bring enough money to cover those type of items, and refer to number one. Your money will stretch as you make offers on pieces, and you won’t have spent a fortune.

3. Think about the possibilities for the pieces you’re looking at, not what they’re like as-is.

In a world of Pinterest and DIY-fever, yard sales are a dream. Go into the sale with the mindset that paint works wonders. I bought a tea pot that I intend to paint a pretty color and use as a storage container and decorative piece on my desk. Right now it has fruit painted on it, and I don’t particularly like it. But I saw it, loved the size and shape, and bought it because I could see the potential for cuteness. Visualize, my friends. Dream a little. Make pieces work for your style and space.

1. Make them an offer they can’t probably won’t refuse.

I am not a haggler. I went to NYC my senior year of high school during spring break and remember being in Chinatown watching  in amazement as a girl in my group talked down the price of a handbag. She thought it was fun. I could only think about how I couldn’t do that. So walking into a community yard sale, knowing that people do tend to ask for prices to be lowered made me nervous. Most of the time I’d rather just look at the little colored circle, note the price and be on my way so as not to offend or stir up any drama with a yard-saling-mama.

My first purchase, I did just that. I found two spinning globe bookends. They were marked $2, so I grabbed them and told the kind lady I would take them. And I paid her $2. But then I found my next items… a dorm-room sized trash can with a little foot pedal that opens the lid and a little golden display stand. They wanted $2 for the trash can and $1 for the stand. I wanted them both, but I didn’t want to pay $1 for the stand, so I asked if I could have both items for $2. The nice lady said, “absolutely,” and I was on my way. My last item, a silver tea set, had an asking price of $5… I had $3.77 left and offered that to the man. He counter-offered for lower, and took $3 even. You see, they want that stuff gone. So don’t be afraid to ask them to let you have it for what you’re comfortable with spending. The worst they can do is say no… and even if they do, they will probably be nice about it.

By the end of my hunt, I had two items left that I wanted to buy- the tea set and the art piece/future tray. I had ~$5 left and the two sellers were asking $8 in total for the two items. I had to get my haggle on if I wanted to walk away with both. I confess, when I asked for the art piece and the woman agreed, I gave an enthusiastic “YES!!!” and explained that she was helping me get that one last item I really wanted. She was amused, and I was happy. Win-win. Then like I said, the tea set guy took less than I offered. “You’re the BEST,” I told him. And it felt really, really good to have my offers accepted. I was kind of on a haggle-high. So even if you’re like ‘I just want to pay for the item and leave,” try making an offer anyway. You may warm up to it. ;)

5. Be friendly. 

I exchanged pleasant good mornings to several people… some sellers, some fellow treasure-hunters. It made the day better. If someone has a cute dog in one hand and is perusing the items on a table with the other, tell them their dog’s adorable.  (Yes, I did that. *grin*) Pet owners love to hear that; you’ll probably make their day. The lady who has been sitting in her driveway since 7am unpacking and setting up her family’s stuff and then sitting, waiting for people to buy it? Smile and say hello. Ask her how she’s doing. Wave farewell on your way to the next house. Make sure you’re not just looking at the stuff around you… take a look at the people, too. Have a little conversation. Kindness goes a long way. :)

So that’s my advice for you fellow newbie weekend warriors. Get out there and hunt that treasure. And when you find it? Treat yo’ self. ;)