Lessons Learned Led to Downsizing

For years I have been de-cluttering: donating, selling and throwing away. It has been a never-ending story. Still, things seem to reproduce in my home. I have to say, it’s discouraging, so I have finally decided to end this once and for all. I am downsizing!!!

Of course, this would seem similar. Isn’t it the same thing? I ask myself….well, not really. I have neglected to make some big decisions and it is time to correct that. So I have made a list of things that need doing.

First: asking my children to take their things and dispose of them. Take boxes out of my storage space and send them somewhere else, somewhere where they cannot come back. Could it be that simple?

Do not know for certain, but I have started. My son moved to Houston a couple of months back. With everything he was taking there, I managed to send some boxes that have been in my possession for more than 10 years. There could have been more, but I discovered that later. Still, it felt wonderful!!!

This week I plan to spend some time looking through boxes again, making sure I find those which escaped me last time. I am sure a couple of more will be on their way to Houston soon. 

While down there, I will make sure that boxes belonging to my daughter will be found. She needs to go through them and decide what she wants to keep and what she wants to get rid of. Going back into my storage is not a choice. These are their things and they should do with them as they see fit.

Second: being ruthless, concentrating on what I want to achieve instead of getting lost in the memories and the sentimental value of my stuff. This has been the hardest lesson to learn. To work through it, I do not dwell on it. I make decisions on the spot and carry them out right away.

Boxes are open and I follow simple rules. If I haven’t seen in years, I already learned to live without it. There are plenty of charities that would take them. If not,  throw them away. If there are papers older than 5 years, shred them. Clothes, shoes and accessories, handbags and hats. Do I really need that much? Donating is the best way to get rid of most of them. More space in my closet and drawers is a great reward.

Third: organizing what to sell is important. Why not make some cash out of this exercise? This has been tricky. We live in an apartment building……garage sales are not allow. Fortunately, there is always a friend with a home who does not shy away from helping you with that. Hopefully I think I have found mine.

Separating these items, then be ready to price them without getting involved with the way you feel about them. Be realistic when it comes to what you think they are worth and what they are really worth!!! This is another lesson that has taken some time to learn. Being objective is not always easy, it helps to put myself in someone else’s shoes. How much would I pay for this, if I was buying at a yard sale? Still working on it.

Fourth: books, CDs, DVDs, even vinyl records and VHS tapes is more exasperating than others things you want to get rid of. Books are slowly going out of style, no matter how I feel about that. There are too many books, apparently, and no more are needed. Finding places that would take your books and give you credits to get different ones has been relatively easy……but that is not my goal. I wanted to just get rid of them. Making sure I separate the ones I would keep because I love them and would read them gain. Donating to public libraries, school libraries, nursing homes, hospitals…..they are still accepting books!!! Will try to sell the others.

In these days when we can stream anything on you computer or television…..who would want these relics of the past? Well, I found out that there are places that buy CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and even vinyl records, but not everything. They require you to go to them, they inspect what you bring and then pick and choose what they want. Do not expect to get too much. What is left, I am keeping  for your garage or yard sale…and hope for the best.

Fifth: big pieces such as furniture and appliances are difficult to get rid of. Especially if you do not have a vehicle to transport them. Getting any charity to pick up these items is easier said than done. We waited for weeks to get the Salvation Army to pick up some pieces of furniture from our son’s apartment. When they finally came, everything was inspected and a few things were rejected. Thankfully we had a Plan B……because you cannot just put them out on the sidewalk. City Ordinances say you must pay a fine and still end up disposing of the items yourself.

Once I have completed all these steps, I will have just what I want, need and find beautiful. I will have space in my home to make it feel bigger and more spacious than it is. Hopefully, I will also be reluctant to buy anything to replace what  I sold or gave away. This looks more promising that just de-cluttering.

 

Living in the Moment

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This year has been hard so far. I have lost my mother, dear friends and have seen others suffer with terminal illness. It is true that I am in no way unique. Everyone, everywhere confronts the same challenges everyday. Not one of us reacts or deals with these events in the same way, so I can only speak for myself.

I have done the crying, the denial, the anger, the acceptance. Grief has to be worked through for us to move on. In my case, there has been more than that. I am making a conscientious effort to live in the moment!!! Not very original and not the first time anyone has tried this route. The difference for me is that this time I am older, I know myself better and I want to spend as much time as possible enjoying life, living the moments that make it worthwhile.

Blogging has been a way of keeping my sanity, but also a way to complain or keep up with the past or think too much about what I am doing or want to do. I am sure that is the reason I cannot write more than a couple of posts a month. Why I don’t seem to find new and interesting subjects to write about, or why I seem to get lost in reading instead of writing.

I feels as if a door has opened and I have walked through to find an exciting place. A place that was always there, but which I rarely visited. Some small things have shown up, though, like trying to post only positive messages on Facebook, changing the kind of books I read. Even started again de-cluttering my home, my closet, my life. Slowly, but surely I have come to this point. It is wonderful and I am most grateful.

There is no more time to waste in planning, it is time to grab what is offered and run with it. Take that trip, buy that handbag, go out with your friends, dress as you please, change your hair color, keep in touch with your loved ones. It is time to actually let go and live in the moment!!!

 

Lessons Learned and Simplicity

IMG_3723This might be the year I finish my never-ending de-cluttering project. I have been at it since we moved to Miami 13 years ago. Yes, that is a long time, but I did have too much to get rid of. All in the pursue of Simplicity, a simpler life. It’s a long story, so bear with me.IMG_3725

In 2003, after more than 20 years in Curaçao, my husband and I made Miami our home. He came to work here and I followed. At the time, it was the thing to do, but that did not make it any easier. I did a lot of throwing away, donating, selling and packing. In the end, I had still too much because I was holding on to memories in the guise of possessions. It was difficult to just let go of them, so I brought them with us.

I have learned a lot since then. Every move we have made here has resulted in more donating and throwing away….no more selling for some reason. Since we have moved three times, you can imagine how much I have de-cluttered. Still, it has not been enough. So regularly, I go through our closets, our kitchen, our books, CDs and DVDs. I have participated in two de-clutter projects as well. I have one day every two weeks when I shred papers that are of no use anymore. I must have done some damage to my storage space, you would think. Not so fast…

IMG_1697It is true that we started with two storage cages in our first apartment building. They were full to the top, mostly with boxes that came from Curaçao, boxes our children brought to us when they moved from place to place. We now have only one storage cage, but it is full to the top!!

Having decided that we need to move on, look for a more relaxed place to live than Miami, I have started again in earnest to diminish the clutter we brought and the one we have accumulated. I kid you not, sometimes I feel our things just multiply!!

IMG_4985Now, I have learned one important lesson: this is not de-cluttering anymore…this is downsizing!!! All I have done is a preparation for this most important ritual in our lives: moving on and live in the day. Memories will be there, but our  are being weeded out. I have taken many photos  to have a record of what I am getting rid of. A less complicated home is coming soon.

IMG_4989The other lesson I have taken away from this long process is that I will downsize my way. Simplicity is not the same for everyone, each of us have our own definition. Mine is, well, simple!!! I will keep my photographs, my videos, my books, my photo albums (remember them?). They tell my story, they are my memories and in the great scheme of life, they take less space than furniture, china, glassware, silverware and other assorted items I have dragged with me for years.

It is liberating and I am enjoying it so far……of course there have been some emotional moments along the way. That is part of the process, part of what life is all about. I will keep you posted on this leg of my Simplicity journey.

Toss and Don’t Replace……

IMG_1678I know this seems contradictory, but is not. Let’s talk about material things, the ones we accumulate constantly and then have no idea what we are going to do with them. We all do it and we should stop. George Carlin, the famous comedian and linguistics genius, once said that we work to make money to buy stuff, we even keep buying bigger houses to put our stuff……..Sadly, he was so right!!! The world has become one big pile of stuff. We all contribute and we all are guilty of not doing enough to stop. Never mind the thousands and thousands of landfills we fill every year with our trash, rubbish, garbage or whatever we want to call it.

This week, I went to help Frankie’s aunts pack. They are elderly and are moving again this Summer. Haven’t found the place yet, but they need to get rid of tons of stuff. When they retired, they moved in together and each brought her stuff. Very little was tossed at the time, I am sure!!! Now, with advancing age, so-so health and only two months to do it…..this has become a monumental chore.

Driving back home, I started thinking about all the stuff I am still  accumulating, be it stuff I buy or stuff I get as presents. What have I been doing? Do I want my children one day  to do what I did for my mother? or what I am doing for the aunts? Suddenly everything became very clear, there is no need for me to worry, I had the solution!!! I will not buy anything new and I will accept NO MORE gifts of things I need to pack and unpack. I have enough tea-sets, mugs, cups and saucers, dishes….etc… to give away or make two families happy. I can have coffee mornings for 12 or more, serve dinner for 12, entertain my whole family without having to resort to paper plates (God forbid!!) and have people over for drinks and serve my munchies in the nicest dishes. Enough!

I know this is not really de-cluttering, but I will assume it is. If you get no more stuff, you don’t need a bigger place, you don’t fret about things getting lost or broken during your next move…….De-cluttering used to be an excuse to get more stuff. Until my last move, I was in the don’t buy unless you are replacing mode. Not anymore, now I just want to toss, not replace. It’s a decision that came very naturally.

De-cluttering will mean, from now on, not getting anything I have to keep. I will buy only what can be used and dispose of after a period of time. I will get only what I can discard or give away, things like clothes, sheets and towels, books. Or things that get used up like make-up, perfume, toiletries. This is a real breakthrough!!!

There are things I will still be carrying with me, I know. My photo albums, my picture frames, my paintings, my journals, things my children made for me through the years…..I am a mother, after all, and these are part of my life forever. Now, everything they left with me, to store or take care of, that needs to go. They are adults and have lives of their own. They should start getting their clutter in their homes! It’s the way life works. This feel great!!!!

So on that happy mood, I arrived at my house. Immediately made plans for removing all the stuff I have been getting ready to give away. We have a guest bathroom and it hasn’t been used in months…….it is full of all the stuff I have taken out of closets, kitchen cabinets and drawers. Never fear, I already started making the rounds. Sale Rack, where I sold my gently worn clothes etc., was my first stop. The This “n” That charity shop was visited today. The Salvation Army will get the rest. I am already breathing a sigh of relief!!!

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