http://www.amazon.com Search for Raging Against Aging.
I blogged about “to declutter or not to declutter, that is the question.” I came to the conclusion that I must declutter. I threw out NINE bags of books that were OLD, worn, torn and just out-of-date. I could not tell. It did not make a difference. I still do not have any extra shelf space.
I had the gardener trim and deadhead the perennials in the front yard. The garden does not look any less full. I am on a diet. I still cannot shed a pound. I donated all the clothes in my closet that I have not worn in the last two years. I still do not have any extra hangers, nor do I have any extra hanging space. So, what have I accomplished? In addition, I have gone back to old hobbies – writing and drawing. Now I have piles of projects—some I am finishing off, like my book, others that are I am in the middle of, like two children’s book I am working on, some I am collecting as ideas. In addition, I became interested in ancestry.com. I met a second cousin I never knew existed and now I have two folders — one for my paternal ancestors and one for my maternal ones. My husband, who is a history guy, saw my collection of photos and articles and he became interested. Now we are making a folder for his ancestors. My grandson is in kindergarten and he has already created lots of drawings and a few samples of writing that my daughter simply must keep but has no space, and so we are now collecting his work. My granddaughter, who is two, has the “What am I chopped liver?” attitude, so we are now collecting her work.
My plan was to retire and SIMPLIFY.
Is life complicated or is it just me?
We are getting presents from our loyal friends and relatives who understand how serious this play is. It is a work in progress but Phil keeps chipping away at it. He keeps revising and listening and revising. Our fabulous actors believe in it. As do the people who saw it at the Port Washington library. Well, people who are supportive are going out of their way to shower us with Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. It is truly lovely for us. And there goes our vows not to accumulate. But really, who cannot accumulate? Life is full of stuff and these gifts are clever and thoughtful and very appreciated! And we are still very much ALIVE!!!
We used to love “Antique Roadshow.” And we dreamt of selling our leftover “shit” in retirement. BUT NO ONE WANTS OUR SHIT!!! And I mean NO one.
(I am using “OUR” shit loosely and including all of your shit as well. NEWSFLASH: No one wants YOUR shit either!)
About ten, fifteen years ago, my husband and I were selling our stuff that we did not want anymore. We had odds and ends collectibles – vintage paper collectibles. The money we made at tag sales and on eBay paid for our vacations. We went to Europe and emailed our daughter to tell her which items to post. We laughed, enjoying our time on the Mediterranean coast.
And in retirement, we thought we would continue to sell off whatever was left, including my beach paintings, and continue to have fun. I even blogged about decluttering and was invited to talk on a local tv show about what to do with all our stuff.
We have gone on eBay in the hopes of selling our “shit.” I used to knit. I bought expensive knitting needles. I have a ton of them. I put them on eBay. Not a bid.
Vintage postcards that should decorate vintage themed homes. Not a bid.
Old stamp collections. I looked on eBay. No bids. Old baseball cards. No bids. Silver dollars. No bids.
Unique and pretty costume jewelry. No bids.
I am scratching my head in disbelief wondering WHY no one wants our shit.
And instead of asking To Declutter or Not To Declutter?, I am asking To Throw Away or Not to Throw Away?
For years now I had a big sign “ACHIEVE” in capital letters carved out of wood sitting atop my book shelves in our office/den/second bedroom. It seemed appropriate at the time. We were not yet semi retired. We were still trying hard “to achieve,” although now ten years later, I cannot for the life of me remember what it was we were trying to achieve.
Once you are retired, you realize there is no more achieving. Your goal is to just get through the day, the week, the month, the year – stay healthy, pay the bills, and enjoy.
When I was on the local tv show to talk about my “decluttering dilemma” blogs along with the professional declutterer, a young woman on the tv crew asked me if she could have my “ACHIEVE” sign as I had brought that item in as an example of something I had but did not need.
I gave her the sign.
Now when I look up, there is an empty space on the top shelf. I remember that Barbara, the professional declutterer, said that the rule of thumb is – if you bring something new in, you should let something old go. Well, I let the something old go, and now I think I need a new sign that says: “NO NEED TO ACHIEVE.” Do you think I can find that at Homegoods? No but you can find this one on Etsy!!!!
I am blogging because I think I am thinking the thoughts that many of you must be thinking. We are a sophisticated bunch – us baby boomers. We are very much alive even though we are aging. Our bodies remind us that we are no longer twenty but we sure feel like we are twenty. Only we have life experience and with that, comes wisdom. I am blogging hoping that I am helping you reflect on where you are on the cycle of life. I am writing to declutter the clutter in my mind – the past, the present, and the future all jump around inside my brain.
What I never expected was that I would end up on a local tv station talking about my blogs about the clutter. Until now I did not even realize that the literal clutter that I was blogging about may actually be more about the clutter in my mind. And maybe the literal clutter is so confusing because it represents a past that may not coincide with the present and probably not with the future.
What I decided is: I will try to declutter first by selling my excess stuff but I will hold onto the stuff that may help me remember my life should my memory not serve me well. Whatever money I make from the sales, I will put into a slush fund and we will hopefully take an extra vacation here and there on it.
Whatever I don’t sell, I may put in a pile and invite my friends to bring some of their stuff and then we can order in and have a “stuff” swap. I will keep you posted. If it is a success, I will host an annual swap. If you are not my friend but like that idea, friend me on Facebook and ask me to invite you!
The rest of the stuff? I will donate if and when I move into NYC or get too old to stay put!
The thing that got me started thinking about my “stuff” was a conversation I had with a complete stranger while we were standing on line at the Marriott in Birmingham, AL. I was there visiting my step children. Out of the blue, the woman in front of me on the line for breakfast omelets started telling me that she was in Birmingham to clean out her mother’s estate. She could not believe how much stuff she had to go through. She said she wished that her mother had given her a manual full of stories because she could not fathom the reason behind the items. What did they mean to her mother? To her they were just junk. She could not make heads or tails out of the clutter and she did not have the time to go through all of it. She had to get back to Texas to work.
When we got home, I looked around my tiny beach cottage home. I saw all the paintings that no one will be able to store even if they wanted to. I saw my furniture through the eyes of my daughter and step children. I have Ethan Allen traditional pieces alongside garage sale chic. Every item has a story. But who had time to tell the story and who had time to listen?
And besides, the adult kids all want West Elm. They aren’t interest in our stuff.
Now, I will not lie. I am vain. But surely, you have figured that out, because it takes a certain amount of vanity to blog.
I used to imagine that what we had tried but had not accomplished in our life, would get accomplished in our death. I imagined our children – my one and my husband’s three – would come back to our house after “the funerals” and would stay and go through our stuff and talk and connect and find out who we really were by going through our stuff. I imagined “the girls” fingering my jewelry and dividing it up. I imagined them choosing which paintings and photographs they would take back with them and keep. I imagined “the boys” going through my husband’s sports collectibles and equipment and dividing them up. I imagined them sharing the photographs and swapping stories.
We are Jewish and we sit shiva for seven days. Surely that would allow enough time for all this bonding that never took place during our living years, to take place.
Then I remembered that my step children are not Jewish. They live far away. They have their own children and their own lives and they work.
So the question is: Do we do the children a favor and start getting rid of the excesses and NOT replace the stuff that we sell or give away or throw away? Or do we burden them by making them go through decades of our lives?
My mother gave her “good” jewelry away after she got her cancer in her mid sixties. She went onto live another thirty years and went to many more bar-mitzvahs, weddings, and baby showers. And she replaced her “good” jewelry with marcasite pins, necklaces, earrings, bracelets because, yes, she still needed to accessorize!
I would love to give some of my “good jewelry” away but my daughter does not have a home. She is in an apartment and will move any day now. I would love to give some of my paintings away. But my daughter is cramped for space. My stepchildren cannot take any of my paintings because their mother has created a rivalry and they cannot display my art. I might start selling them on www.etsy.com or www.ebay.com. So, please start bidding!!!!
Oh. I forgot. You are also in your sixties and the last thing you want, is MORE STUFF!!!!!