Keeping Me Honest

Hi all. This post is more about holding myself accountable for a project I’m calling “Declutter Kym.”

Here’s a little background:

Last year, we moved my mom into a long-term care facility. (Before you ask, she’s fine. There have been no corona cases at her place, at least for now. Feel free to send prayers, good karma, whatever, that it stays that way.)

Anyway, Mom moved straight from the hospital to her new place, which left me the job of sorting, winnowing down, and cleaning out her belongings. She lived in a one-bedroom, one-floor apartment with four rooms including the bathroom.

It was not a large place.

Still, it’s amazing how much you can fit into a little place when you’re motivated, isn’t it?

Over the course of a month, I dug through Mom’s belongings, moving what she could use, and trying to make sure she had what she valued, while finding homes for the rest.

Fortunately, I had help. Darling Daughter gave up two of her weekends off to work with me, and The Engineer provided extra muscle and his van for the thrift shop donation and recycle bin trips, of which there were many. I also had two good friends help me sort out the last, for which I will be eternally grateful.

I wrote about some of this in an earlier post.

That experience caused me to look at my many, oh, so many, possessions with a new eye, and vow to pare them down to a more manageable amount.

You see, our house is too big for us and has been for years. We bought it because Mom was going to live with us (failed experiment), Darling Daughter was still in residence, and we had visitors from out of town fairly frequently.

Most of that is no longer true. It’s just The Engineer and I, and in a few years, we’ll move into a smaller place, which is another good reason to get rid of things.

Despite this, I ended up bringing “stuff” from Mom’s house to ours. I think she hoped we would sort of enfold all her extra items into our household, but even I drew the line at that.

Mostly, I took kitchen utensils and other useful items, but there were some sentimental objects too, and a huge collection of photos.

The albums took many evenings to sort through, and I’ve finally begun the process of scanning those relevant to my genealogy and loosely organizing the whole collection in archival envelopes and boxes.

Maybe someday I’ll sort through my own pictures and do the same.

First, I have other things I need to part with.

I began with the low-hanging fruit, books and clothing, keeping what I use or think I might use, and donating the rest.

In the ensuing months, however, I’ve learned this paring down process will need repeating  because my clothing and books again seem out of control.

Then there were the china cabinets.

I had a small corner cupboard, plus another small one Mom left after her brief residence with us. When we moved her, we brought home another, a larger, “primitive” one someone had made for her apartment.

I’d always liked that cupboard, homemade as it was, but face it, no one needs three china cabinets.

Our kitchen has enough cupboard space that I probably don’t need one. Yet I’d managed to fill two with garage sale treasures — Willow Ware, Lusterware, and bits of English china I’d collected through the years — and now brought a third one home.

Something had to be done before I managed to fill that one up too.  After a few weeks of trying to give it to friends, we donated Mom’s little one to a thrift store.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Darling Daughter was moving with into a house with her partner.

“Do you still have that little china cupboard that was Grandma’s?” she asked.

No.

I looked again at the little corner cupboard (isn’t corner-shaped furniture clever?) and all the stuff inside.

I’d spent years and good money collecting those things, and had been putting off cleaning it out because that would be like admitting I’d wasted that money.

On the other hand, would anyone really buy any of it? Even if someone did, was the money I might recoup worth the time and effort it took to sell it?

Text to Darling Daughter: Do you want little corner china cabinet?

Response: Sure.

Response from Mom when I told her what was happening: What happened to my little cabinet?

See what I mean about enfolding her items into our household? In her mind, everything she owned is now living at my house.

Answer: Donated to Hospice shop.

Mom: I paid $150 for that!

Then she said she knew we couldn’t keep everything and it was okay.

Sunday, I cleaned out the collectibles, filling six empty kombucha boxes to take to the hospice shop. Working at a grocery store has proven very handy during the last year, if only as a continuing source of empty boxes :-).

This motivated me so much that today I sorted through my purses. I won’t tell you how many I’m getting rid of because it’s embarassing to own that many, but I’ll tell you I’m keeping about eight or ten, which should give you an idea.

In my defense, I bought most from charity shops and have used them all, but I no longer live a life that requires endless changes of purses. In fact, I’ve been using the same two for the last six months.

I know I still have too many.

It’s a process, remember?

And now, I need to look at those books again. Darling Daughter inherited a bookshelf from Mom, which we’ve been storing. Some of my books have accidentally migrated onto it, and I need to clear them out so we can take it to her.

 

 

12 thoughts on “Keeping Me Honest

  1. I do sympathise. I had to curate down the accumulated possessions of my adult life and a number of inherited treasures to a scanty 5 cubic metres (16 cubic feet) when I emigrated. It was a remarkable experience, and I don’t regret the choices I made at the time, but I seem to have been compensating ever since!

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  2. I think a lot of us baby boomers have gone through this sorting out process with our parents’ possessions and now with our own. A lot of my mom’s things migrated to my house after she went into assisted living, most of which I’m glad I have, but…… Now I’m at the place where I’m thinking—what are my girls going to do with these things someday? So I’m trying to slowly pare down the combined “things”, but gosh, it’s difficult sometimes!

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  3. We’ve got a room in our barn dedicated to old furniture that family members have shipped off with us. It’s just sitting in their collecting mice nests, but we don’t have the heart to sell it, not that we’d get much for it anyway.

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  4. Having moved from a 2 bedroom ranch house, to a 2 bedroom apartment, then a 1 bedroom apartment, and finally a 2 bedroom townhouse in the last 10 years, I have really pared down quite a bit of stuff. I feel I still have too much stuff, but having to stay at home, I have really cut down on buying stuff I really don’t need. This pandemic has made me realize that I was just buying things just to have something to do. I will be going through my closet (again) since I see that I can get rid of more stuff. Trying to get photos into albums has been more time-consuming than I thought! Then getting all the pertinent information in a comprehensive book for my daughter is a major undertaking. At least, I have all the passwords to websites in 1 place! And with everything canceled or delayed, there’s no excuse for not doing it. I just need to be more disciplined.

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    • We did a “house book” with all our info for Darling Daughter. Don’t have a list of passwords anywhere, though The Engineer has his, which is sort of coded, so I’d be at a loss. But felt very proud of ourselves when we finally got house book done. And we’ve been keeping it up to date!
      The photos, I decided, would be better in archival boxes, and I’m working on that. Have been scanning some, which takes time.

      And I’m with you on the effects of the pandemic on my shopping habits. I’ve ordered a few things online, but fewer than usual, and I’m not interested in shopping elsewhere. I have too much already that I don’t use. The grocery store where I work is next to a TJ Maxx, and someone said they’ve had long lines. All I could think was, “What could you need that badly from TJM?”

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