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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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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

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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?  😀

 

 

 

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Fascinating blog about Highly Sensitive People.  It’s probably not what you’d expect.

Source: WHAT HSP IS AND WHAT HSP IS NOT

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