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Likely the most useful thing I understood after reading many of clutter guru Peter Walsh’s books (Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less, It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff, Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight: The Six-Week Total-Life Slim Down, Enough Already!: Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You, and so on)  was that truly “It’s not about the stuff”.

Now that I’m moving my mum out of her home and into full-time nursing care, I am faced with the Herculean task of clearing out her space and ridding us of her collected treasures.  Someone else will be moving in soon–too soon.  I don’t have enough time to do this.

As I stood in the living room and looked around one day soon after she’d gone, I realized with deep, soul wrenching sadness that this is her life.  These things are her possessions, her treasures, things that she’d collected on road trips with my dad, trips with me; presents I’d given her, things I’d made for her as a kid, things we’d bought together in happier times when we were able to shop together.  Gifts given to her by long-ago students and friends.  Beautiful paintings by both of us, the artists in the family.

Friends in helpful manner keep telling me, “You’ll have to get rid of everything.”  “You can’t keep it.”  “You’ll have to be brutal.”  “You don’t need any of this.”  What do they think, that I’m a moron?  Of course I know thisI know that I can’t keep everything, that I don’t need two–or three–of anything.  I must get rid of as many items as possible.  Much of what Mum has means nothing to me anyway.  These are the easiest things to divest myself of:   old books by authors I don’t even care much for, her clothes and shoes.  These are packed up by friends and sent off to the thrift store with a sign of freedom.  Excess kitchen ware, pots and pans, dishes go to a friend of a friend who is re-starting another, new life on her own.  She’s promised to invite me to dinner.  A fair trade.

The two hundred or so VCR’s give me momentary pangs.  These are mostly recordings she did herself, the one thing my technologically challenged mum learned to do, and she did it well.  They’re all neatly labelled:  “Manhattan, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2”.  “Queen Elizabeth, Coronation”.  “Marco Polo”.  “Murder She Wrote.”  Movies.  TV shows.  Comedies for my dad.  Mysteries for her.  And ice skating.  They both loved the skating.  The labels are blurry and faded; some of the tape is dried and peeling, so the tapes will be unidentifiable by the time they get to the thrift store.  Likely the thrift store will trash them all; after all, most folks don’t watch anything but Netflix these days.  But these tapes represent so many happy hours of shared TV-watching, dinner or snacks in front of a good story, family times of togetherness.  Her patience, her thorough work.  But go they must.  A kind friend boxes them up and hauls them down to her car.  I don’t look.

Unneeded furniture is easy enough:  Facebook Marketplace becomes my new job for a few days, although it takes me away from sorting and packing up.  Short ads, a few photos, low prices, and 32 responses in two hours.  But it’s work that needs dedication and complete commitment, I find.  One woman was most interested in the sofa and chair, so I e’d her back to find out when she’d like to come between certain hours that evening.  Then I went out briefly to do some errands.  Upon my return, I checked to see if she was still interested in coming.  She replied that since she hadn’t heard from me, she’d found another bargain.   I’d been gone barely two hours!  Guess that’s not fast enough in this hurry-up, techno world.  Didn’t matter, though–the sofa and chair eventually went to a rec room do-over by a lovely lady and her daughter with a dear little dog who would revel in its comfy-ness, just like our cats and dogs had.

The piano was the killer, though.  It was my dad’s wedding present to my mum fifty odd years ago, and it was old then.  Its lovely carved rosewood case always shone with polish, and I recall my mother playing Chopin and Ketelby and Beethoven while my dad and I squirmed in boredom.  (What I wouldn’t give to hear her play again.)  Finally, a friend of a friend took it to someone who refurbishes pianos.  He’ll check it out, put it on Craigslist, and get a few hundred bucks for it if we’re lucky.  But it cost me a pretty penny to have it moved.  Sigh.  But it’s out of the way.

Even so, there’s not enough time to do everything else before the movers arrive with the new tenant’s stuff.  I can’t keep up.  I’m overtired, overwhelmed, and overburdened.  I’m trying to keep up with work.  I’m eating on the run from fast-food places while visiting Mum in hospital.  Not sleeping properly.  There’s too much stuff, too much to do here.  And now it’s down to the nitty gritty:  things that I can’t part with so easily because they are paraphernalia I always used when I was cooking dinner for Mum and me in recent months; the pots and pans that she used to prepare the many delicious meals I enjoyed growing up; books of poetry she read to me when I was a child; small ornaments that have always stood on her shelves, plus other keepsakes, that speak of the familiarity of home.  Even asking Marie Kondo’s clutter-busting question, “Does it spark joy?”  can’t properly be answered now, because too many of the items do.  My heart hurts.  I’m giving away my mother’s home.  I can’t make any more decisions.  My earlier, fairly productive regime of using boxes for keep, donate, share with friends, garbage doesn’t work for me now.   Most things have become “I’ll decide later” as I stuff them into boxes and bring them to my place.  The boxes pile up.  My home looks like a hoarder’s hell.  Narrow pathways lead to the bedroom and the patio door.  Boxes line the hallway, are stacked up on the other side of the bed—I can barely reach the window to draw the blinds—and I can’t open cupboards in the kitchen without first moving something.  The bathroom’s always clean but the bed doesn’t get made for days.  Aarrgh!  I can’t stand it.  I can’t live like this, yet I have to, or bear the anguish of chucking everything out willy nilly and later realizing I’ve made some dreadful mistakes that can’t be undone.

I know this will surely happen, because three years ago, when I was renovicted, time was my enemy then.  In my hurry to pack up and move by the deadline, I ended up trashing things I didn’t mean to and keeping (and moving) things I later realized I didn’t need and didn’t want.  I can’t face this again, so now I’m keeping it all and am forced to live in a constricted space jammed with stuff.  My friend’s place looks great ‘cos all the focus has been on getting Mum’s belongings out of her way.

I AM SO TIRED.  I’d like to go to bed for a week or two, doing nothing:  no phone calls, no emails, no appointments, no errands.  NOTHING.  Then maybe when I get up, the boxes will have magically sorted themselves and everything will be put away, the empty boxes spirited away to the recycling bin.

I wish.

I dream in despair about the days when my life will be back to normal and my home will be my home, when I’ll have time to do what matters to me:  meditation, reading, writing, painting, preparing healthy veggie meals from my plant based food plan.  A bit of patio gardening.  A walk by the river in the sunshine every so often.  Daily, happy visits to Mum, making our last memories of time together.  Time is indeed running out.  For both of us.

In the meantime, the stuff is in the way.  It’s crippled me and is weighing me down.  My only hope is that once I can regain some energy, I’ll have to tackle it again, box by box, room by room.

Then perhaps I can re-create my life the way I meant it to be before this huge life change.  As it’s often been said, “Life is what happens when you make other plans.”  As Peter Walsh also says, “It’s not about the stuff – it’s about the life you wish to live.”  And I look forward to the day when I find a whole lot more of Marie Kondo’s joy and less becomes more.  That’s what I’m wishing for.

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Decluttering Excuses

Just received this terrific e-newsletter from Courtney at Be More With Less.
Decluttering excuses help us hold on to crap we don’t need. If you struggle to let go (and most of us do), you might find yourself using one or more of the following decluttering excuses. I’ve used them all and in talking with people over the years, I hear them come up a lot.
1. I might need that someday.
This is a lie I told myself over and over again. I still catch myself doing it. What I’ve realized though is that most of the time, just in case means never. While there will always be unique situations, this excuse (for the most part) is how we procrastinate letting go.
If this is your favorite excuse, I recommend creating a just in case box. As you are decluttering and come across things you want to save just in case, put it in the box. When the box is full, seal it and hide it. Get it out of sight. Set a reminder to donate the box in 90 days. Chances are you won’t remember what’s inside, and you won’t think about it at all until you are reminded.
2. I want my stuff to go to a good home.
During most of my decluttering efforts, I didn’t struggle with this one. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about where my stuff went, I just knew that I could do more good in the world once all of the excess was gone. I didn’t want to get hung up on where each thing went because I knew that would only delay the process. Find a place to sell or donate your things that is “good enough” and stop filling all the spaces after you let go.
It’s the repetitive cycle of buy-declutter-buy-declutter that is depleting our resources and filling us with guilt for needlessly spending and searching for fulfillment in the wrong places.
The Buy Nothing Project may help you find a good home nearby. The rules are simple: “Post anything you’d like to give away, lend, or share amongst neighbors. Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering, we’re strictly a gift economy.” You can find a Facebook Group in your local area and offer what you don’t need anymore.
3. It’s not hurting anyone.
This was one of my favorite excuses to hold on. I wrote the following about letting go of some of my sentimental items in Soulful Simplicity, “In an effort to hold on tight, I thought, “It’s not hurting anything or anyone to keep this stuff.” Then I remembered that I want my quality of life to be more in line with “How is this helping?” instead of “How is this not hurting?” I wanted to create an environment that allowed me to be fully present.
Once I identified why I wanted to let it all go, the paper and plastic stuff that made up my memories didn’t have a hold on me or my heart anymore. Now, instead of capturing moments and boxing them up, I embrace and absorb them. The next time you think, “It’s not hurting.” ask “How is it helping?”
Decluttering and letting go for good is a challenging process. Pay attention to your decluttering excuses, the lessons, and the lightness you feel on the other side. You’ll learn so much about yourself and how you want to move through the world.
Thanks for reading today.
xo,
Courtney

As I recover from surgery and have loads of down time on my hands, I’m finding myself wandering the Internet and indulging myself in reading whatever I like.  I’m rediscovering topics that have fallen off my priority list, even though they are quite important and beneficial.  Take clutter, for instance.  De-cluttering, to be more precise.

I’ve just had a lovely re-read of how Marie Kondo’s concept of tidying makes living better.  Of course it does!

Here’s a particularly good summary of Kondo’s books:

https://www.onekingslane.com/live-love-home/marie-kondo-book-declutter/

I’ve already promised myself that once I’m totally recovered, and can bend and lift again with impunity, I’m starting in my bedroom by zooming through my closets and dressers.  I know it will work, ‘cos I’ve done it before, and can hardly wait to weed out the STUFF that’s collected since then.

And here’s a tutorial on her magic method of folding.  It truly  is amazing.  You’ll find that once you can see what you’ve got, you probably have a lot of stuff you don’t need.

http://tidyingup.com/

I intend that 2018 be a year of off with the old!  Then I make room for more creativity and spirituality.  How good will this be?  😀

 

 

 

2018 – Embodying Shambhala

As the sun shines upon me today through the rather dirty windowpane, I feel a new freshness and promise.  There’s lots to be done (not the least of which is window washing), lots to be finished, and lots of opportunities out there.  A new page in my life journal waits to be written upon.  More paintings to paint, more poetry to write:  more, more, more!

I note that 2018 is an 11 numerologically, the number for illumination, inspiration, and enlightenment.  (I read heaps of pages, and have put excerpts in italics, with links at the bottom of this page.)  For me specifically, it’s a year to explore and emphasize my creativity and spiritual gifts.

“It is the Master Teacher, featuring illumination, enlightenment, inspirational, idealism, intuitive, psychic abilities, channelling, poetry, art/artistic, symbols, expression, dreamer, revolution, drugs, alternate consciousness, mysticism, catalyst, prisoner, prophet, celebrity, highly energized, radical, sensitive, visionary, enthusiastic, creative/creativity.”

SHAMBHALA

“The word ‘Shambhala’ resonates to the Master Number 11 in numerology… and is the perfect word to help us embrace the greater potential of our Universal 11 Year.

Shambhala is a Sanskrit word that roughly translates to a place of peace, tranquility & happiness. Each of us has the FREEDOM in our hearts/minds to choose to experience Heaven here on Earth, a place of Shambhala. We have the choice to live our lives being kind to one another, to live in harmony with the Earth and in service to something greater than us.

Our Universal 11 Year is our wakeup call to remember Shambhala, to remember how beautiful the world feels when we experience our lives through our hearts and how when we choose to create Shambhala in everything we do we awaken the best in ourselves and inspire others to do the same.”

SUMMARY OF 2018 ACCORDING TO IN5D

“2018 will be a great year of illumination of self and others. This year is full of optimism and hope. It is a place for new ways to begin, new shifts to occur on a level like never before. The 11 year is a powerful year for relationships, standing together in business, love or collaboration with others. This year many like minded people will work together for the greater cause of humanity and unity.

It is truly an extraordinary time to be on the planet. We are witnesses to change that has never been seen here before.

Stand tall in 2018. Know you are a beautiful light. Know you have the wisdom within to make change. Know you are supported by great love. Know that we are all moving to a space and time of peace, compassion and kindness. Know that you know.”

And for me, born in 1954, I have a life path number of 3.  In 2018, this brings a strong vibration for my creativity and intuition and helping.  Hm.  Lots of work to be done.

ABOUT MY PERSONAL NUMBER:  3

“This is a year to really get your ideas, thoughts, and feelings out there. If you’ve been thinking of writing a book or starting a blog or even taking up regular journalling, this is going to be the perfect year to start. You are really going to be encouraged this year to share your truth and to connect to that intuitive voice within. It is also a good year to do anything creative, or anything that allows you to express your true self. Finding your truth and speaking your truth are all going to be strong themes for you this year. You may also have to open your eyes to the truth if you have been avoiding things and really learn how to trust your intuition. This is a very powerful year for you and will really help you to strengthen your intuition.”

MORE ON THE MASTER NUMBER 11

The Ruler:
Neptune

Colours:
Silver, glossy white, black, violet

Gemstones/Metals:
Platinum, silver, mother of pearl

Guardian/Archangel Angel:
Archangel Uriel  
Uplifting and inspirational, Uriel guides you to the truth and nurtures balance.

Astrological Equivalent:
Sagittarius/Aquarius

Tarot Card:
Justice  

SOME LINKS I USED TO FIND OUT ABOUT 2018–THANKS, EVERYONE!

http://www.universallifetools.com/2017/12/2018-universal-11-year-numerology/

http://numerology-thenumbersandtheirmeanings.blogspot.ca/2011/05/number-11.html

http://in5d.com/2018-year-illumination/

https://thriveonnews.com/2018-numerology/

https://feliciabender.com/2018-a-master-11-2-universal-year-the-overall-theme-is-love/

https://www.speakingtree.in/allslides/2018-numerology-predictions

Alzheimer’s Communication

Doing it NOW

This thought-provoking reflection was posted today by Ruth Hill, a local writer I know slightly.  Very apropros for all of us.

“Hmmm … I am thinking of having to clean out my mother in law’s house when she died. I am thinking about all the people I know who have lamented about cleaning out their parents’ houses, when the parents became incapacitated or passed away prematurely. I am thinking of the elderly who accumulate a lot of stored family junk, and then get too old or sick to take care of anything.

So wouldn’t it be a nice cultural habit if everyone who reached retirement age cleaned out their own house? Encourage offspring to take what is theirs out of the parents’ homes. Encourage parents to sort things:  KEEP, DONATE, RECYCLE, or TRASH. For you younger folk, HELP your parents do this, before it is too late to make their own decisions or do the work.

And those legal problems: have an end of life pre-intention agreement drawn up for hospital care decisions and funeral decisions, so your children don’t have to bear this burden. Have your organ donor decisions ready. There is no sense in avoiding these issues as unsavory. We know for sure: we are born mortal, and no one knows when.There is no way around that, so let’s make it as easy as possible on everyone we leave behind. Have mercy on our poor spouses, who have to deal with heartbreak, along with all these other burdens.

Prepare ahead of time. Later is too late.”

And in addition, here’s a relevant link provided by another writer I know, Franci Louann.   AWOC: Ageing Without Children, is a British organization (meeting in Brighton, dontcha know, near where my aunt lives).

AGEING WITHOUT CHILDREN – WHY DOES IT MATTER?

 

Nurture Yourself First

This is something we all need to do–every day–especially when we are caregiving!
Today you may feel greater compassion for others and want to express yourself in a nurturing manner. It might seem easy for you to take on the challenges of the people around you in order to make their lives more comfortable. While it is important to want to save the world and help others, today you may also need to remember to nurture yourself first. Before giving to others, you can take a few minutes to do a loving-kindness meditation. Focus your attention on yourself, wishing that you will soon find love, peace, and happiness. Then widen this circle of love to include your family and friends, and finally all beings in the world. By doing this meditation you may notice that it becomes easier to truly help others.

Learning to extend compassion to ourselves first and then to others allows us to cultivate true care. When we feel the need to help other people we can easily wear ourselves out unless we make the effort to care for ourselves. We sometimes have the tendency to help other people and hope that we get something back in return, which means that our compassion is tainted by our desire to be needed. By giving ourselves the love we need, however, we provide ourselves with the strength and unconditional love required to selflessly support others. Grounding ourselves in an unlimited source of love and peace lets us give so much more as a result. By practicing loving-kindness meditation today, you will give with a pure heart and increase the effects of your compassionate acts.

Aries Horoscope
August 19, 2017

Daily Om