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Hello to All,

I just posted an article on making good spaces in our homes and lightening up. I'm including it here and hope you enjoy it. I'd love it if you could include some tips on what you do now or have done to let go of things that have become clutter as the years have gone by and the struggles we go through to let go of items that are now not being used.
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One of the chores many of us have to face as we age is getting rid of the “stuff” that we have collected during our lifetime. When we were younger, our belongings were signs of our successes and gave us a level of comfort, familiarity and appreciation. As we age, however, some of these same items may be collecting dust, weighing us down, and making us feel guilty because we don’t need them anymore.

In many instances, our family members don’t want our collectables, and that makes it even more evident that we should let them go. Intellectually, we know that lightening-up will make us feel good, provide a sense of satisfaction, and make our homes more user-friendly. It’s the emotional piece that is so difficult. It will help if we acknowledge that tackling this process will enhance our quality of life by making our environment cleaner, safer, and more appealing.

The task of organizing and then letting go can seem overwhelming, so we should allot some time each day, perhaps one hour, to chip away at it. Have on hand: boxes, labels, wrapping paper, packing tape, large garbage bags, a camera and a scrapbook. We then will be ready to take action one room at a time, including our garages, basements, and attics. Start by throwing away anything broken or unusable to begin the process.

Working with others is not recommended, unless you need them for carrying boxes or moving furniture, as this approach involves very personal decision-making; helpers may not recognize our emotional attachments and inadvertently agitate us by pushing us instead of encouraging us.

Here’s what the pros suggest to make letting go easier:

1. Acknowledge that others would appreciate and utilize some of our items and locate a thrift store or a community-based organization, e.g., a homeless shelter, that we deem worthy and make a donation. We’ll receive a tax write-off and much satisfaction as payback.

2. If we own some objects that have real monetary value, consignment shops in the area will sell them for us. Internet sites such as Craigslist and eBay are also possibilities, but selling online takes more time and effort. We won’t get the full value, but can make some extra money for saving or spending. Garage sales are also possible but are a lot of work. I do have friends who sponsor a garage sale once a year in their neighborhood and do really well making some extra spending money.

3. If we have unused items of sentimental value, we can take pictures, write about them, scrapbook the information, and then let them go. We are not forgetting them -- just moving ahead to enhance our environment.

4. We need to be honest with ourselves. If we know it would be too painful to let go of an item, we should wrap it carefully, label and date the box, and store it somewhere safe. We will know where to find it again later.

I am planning a move in about a year and have loads of “stuff” in my basement. I have already lined up a few helpers that can move items AFTER I sort out what’s there to carry out the junk that needs to go to the dump (e.g., a large fake Christmas tree whose lights don’t work and base is missing) and other items that are going to a thrift shop. I refuse to move everything I own this time and promised myself that I would let go of the things that did not have particular sentimental value and especially items I hadn’t used or even seen in years that are packed in boxes. In looking at my luggage, I realized I had 6 smaller carry-on bags. Some were from 45 years ago and still in good shape! I think I can safely donate 4 of them or give four away and still have one too many!

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I am starting to clean up my house to get ready to sell. I have dreaded doing it and decided to start with two places that need it the most: the garage and the basement. I hired the guy who does my lawn work to help me carry everything out and take items to the dump or to the local thrift shop. Our first day of work will be in mid November.

It is important that I downsize and only keep the things that will I will use and to make my next move as easy as possible. One of my problems is that I have numerous gifts my friends have given me over the years that I hate to part with. Also at one time I had a booth in an antique store, and I have loads of items in my basement from that endeavor. Yikes. I should try selling those things on eBay but haven't done so and now I'm out of time!

I'll let you know how things progress. Just thinking about it makes me anxious!

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As a caregiver to my aging parents, it is my hope that more people (myself included) would not put the burden of putting their sentimental STUFF onto their children to deal with - it is a daily struggle for me.

I have tried to be compassionate and understanding. Compassion and understanding only lead to them not doing anything about the matter.

You offer some good advice to lovingly eliminate those items that have outlived their use.

Last edited by Alice - Weight Loss; 10/27/15 05:52 AM.

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Pat - what a wonderful article. And very timely for me on a personal level.
I was a caregiver for my mother the last seven years of her life. I now care for my husband. We are both only children with no family left. What we have left is a house that needs downsized in its contents. I have been taking a room at a time, organizing, making things easier to find. In a sense, it has been liberating, in another it has been sad.

Thank you again for your article and starting this discussion.

Chel


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It is a wonderful article and also very timely, Chel.

It's been difficult deciding what can be held on to be sold and what can be donated. If I'm selling it, then it has to be relocated elsewhere in the house, yet that causes another room to become cluttered ...

The struggle is REAL! wink


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Pat, this is a great article. My mom and aunt live together right now in my aunt's mobile home. They both have dementia, and need 24 hour care. For the last seven years I've been dealing with the hoarding issues of my aunt and grandmother (who passed in 2008). Add to that the last year of dealing with the hoarding issues my mom had. :::sigh:::

I can see where they get confused, and miss their "stuff" and wish they had more things around them.

So much of what they collected, and saw as valuable, I do see as junk.

It's so sad!

But it's making me take a second look at the things that I have. I never, ever want my children to go through what I've been having to deal with.

I love the idea of simplifying. Especially once my kids are both out of school, and have their own place.

One of my girlfriends started "lightening up" when her children were middle school aged. Their life is so simple!! And clean smile I love that idea!


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Alice and Deanna - It's odd how so many of us have found this article so timely! It's like we are all in this process together.

Alice - You hit it right on the head - the relocating of the stuff you have collected to be donated or sold is its own separate issue!!!! smile


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Deanna, Wow, the hoarding thing we can soooooo relate to. The home we are living in after NY was my husbands aunts. It's one bedroom - yet spacious. However, she was a MASSIVE spender and hoarder. My father in law has a large storage area full of her stuff still. She passed away 18 months ago. He keeps giving the stuff away to family and friends.

It's hard when you have a family member with medical issues, but also be realistic, if anything is hereditary then your son and daughter will fall into your shoes. But you are leading the way for yourself...to be taken care of like your mom and aunt. You are a great care giver and you will be blessed for being one! X

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I am so pleased that all of you can relate to the article and found it helpful. Thanks so much for the positive feedback. I wrote it as much for me as for others that I know struggle with this issue.

In fact, I have a few friends that have given up tackling their "stuff" which I think is a big mistake, because as Alice and others have noted, it just means their children will have to deal with it. What is unfortunate is that some of the things that could be given to friends and family now that would make wonderful gifts have the potential to end up with strangers -- the person sorting after we are gone probably won't know about the history of the items or who may find them useful or desirable.

I have made a list for my lawyer who is preparing my new will and I have listed artwork, jewelry and furniture items with people assigned so that I am sure the person I want to have the item receives it. Of course these are things I am sure I am keeping. I have so many things that just have to go one way or the other.

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I'm involved in this passing forward process, too ...

About half a year ago I sorted out everything I've inherited from family and divided it into 5 portions for my 5 children. Then sent it to them.

Next, DH scanned the old black and white photos and slides from the 50s and we put them online and sent copies to the kids.

Then I made a picture page for each child on the internet of them growing up and their ancestors.

The few valuable things I have left in the house have the name of the person I want them to go to underneath.

Coming back to the present day, I sorted out 15,000 pages of my writings stacked on bookcases and saved 5,000 pages in 50 folders which I will leave to one child to keep like a little library of my work.

I have put all my writings into books, too. Then in the future they or others can get copies.

OK - that brings me up to the present with much relief that my work and possessions have been dealt with to my satisfaction.

smile

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