In her own words: Mary Ellen's Songbird Story

Songbird Transitions recently had the pleasure of helping Mary Ellen and Dan downsize from a 2,600-square foot, 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home they had lived in for 17 years and move into a 2-bedroom 1,500-square foot villa at Otterbein Granville.  

We had so much fun working alongside Mary Ellen, a retired English teacher, to determine what furniture, décor and collectibles to keep and what could be sold or donated to local charities—what we call the downsizing double-win. We then completed an “interior re-design" of the new space using all of her favorite pieces. We even helped her pick out paint colors for each room!

Mary Ellen & Dan’s new villa is cozy, comfortable and perfectly reflects both the personality of their previous home and their personal style. 

Mary Ellen volunteered to share her reflections of the downsizing process in the following first-person essay:  

Above left: Songbird Transitions team members Susan, Jackie and Tabi helped Mary Ellen & Dan unpack and set up decor in Mary Ellen & Dan's 2-bedroom villa at Otterbein Granville. 


“I’m so glad you exist.”  

Those were my first words to Samantha and Luke Stearns of Songbird Transitions.  

My husband and I had just signed on the dotted line to purchase a villa at Otterbein Senior Living, a move we had contemplated for years without worrying about the details. Selling the house to our son was a no-brainer, but the moving part? Yikes. We had moved several times in our 50-plus years of marriage, but this was a different kind of move, a transition, in fact. Our last house was going to be much smaller; and like everyone else our age, we had a lot of stuff. Objects too precious to throw in a dumpster but way too many of them to take with us.  

That’s where Sam came in. A force of nature, Sam sweeps in like a happy hurricane and convinces you immediately that there is no room she cannot design, no mess too big to clean up and no memento that cannot be donated or repurposed. She races from room to room, taking it all in, complimenting your décor at the same time convincing you to part with much of it.  

“We can come in and sort your goods, help you part with them, donate them to people who need them most and pack up the rest for you,” Sam said. “If you want, we will unpack you, take away the boxes, hang your pictures and invite you back when it’s all done.” 

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  

Having moved with professional movers across several states, I was not accustomed to anyone caring one bit about the process, much less helping me decorate the new place. (Although a nice mover once did suggest the right place for a hutch and was willing to take with him a particularly hideous chandelier.) But this time was different, way different.  

“I could never have done this without Songbird.” This sentence has been repeated in many forms since I moved to Otterbein. I thought I was being clever to hire them, but Songbird is active all over Granville, helping people, old and young to transition gracefully and without pain, emotional or physical. These young people have a team of other young people, all efficient, very pleasant and very speedy. If you want to be involved in the process, they show you the utmost respect while focusing you to stay on task.  

Like many others, I have no memory of what I discarded, only of what I kept and arranged in my new abode. “Everything looks better than it ever did,” my daughter said when she saw the photos.  

Sam even helped me ahead of time to choose colors and flooring, enabling me to be brave when I might have quavered.  

But the best part was move-in day, when the team of young ladies, girls to me, whirled about, stocking shelves, making beds and letting me analyze where everything should go. I had such a fun time I was sad to see them go. The guys, Luke and Zach, moved the heavy stuff like it was feathers, and the gals rushed about packing and then unpacking. 

Honestly, when they were done, I felt like a queen, with the most beautiful home ever. I was convinced that I was special. They couldn’t be this charming to everyone. But I have since learned that every single person I have spoken with feels the same. 

My first words to Sam were validated: “I’m so glad that you exist.”  

Songbird Transitions specializes in helping older adults downsize and move into senior living communities and smaller homes. Our goal is to make the transition into your new space as smooth and stress-free as possible. If you are in Central Ohio, contact us for a free consultation

If you live elsewhere in the country, consider Downsizing Done Right, our comprehensive toolkit that includes step-by-step downsizing videos, a resource book plus a Q&A session with Songbird.

For personalized downsizing consulting and coaching services, please book a Songbird Support session.

Read more Songbird Stories and downsizing resources from Songbird Transitions


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