Many of us are apparently traveling down the same omg, how did I take this turn and land here? road. We look around at a lifetime and home filled with treasures and stuff as well as treasures and stuff from dearly departed parents, grandparents and inlaws.
As far as I can tell, my crystal ball being predictably cloudy, our kids will be overrun by all our stuff and treasures when we move on to our next adventure.
A couple years back, I was faced with a cancer scare. False alarm, but I was warned to get things in order; if the doctor’s prognosis was correct, it could have been a matter of weeks. So I cleaned out my closet which, in hindsight, may not have been the best use of my time.
When the non-crisis passed, I realized it was past time to finally sort through all the stuff and treasures. Not a Bucket List, but a Before I Kick the Bucket List. I decided this would be one New Years Resolution I’d actually keep.
This was also partially due to my also deciding to become a gypsy and try on new landscapes post retirement, thus putting me in a position of having to actually move all the stuff rather than sitting on a cloud in the hereafter, grinning and watching the kids deal with it all, although sometimes that thought was pretty tempting.
It took over a year to complete…the clearing out is not linear; after all, it is a bittersweet process. I’ve never looked back, although I have had to replace a few things here and there. And, for the first time in my life, my closets and garage are clean and organized…well, as organized as they’ll ever be in this lifetime.
The first step was to go through my mom’s stuff. She had passed five years before and had been the Keeper of the Stories and the Photos, all collected before computers. Boxes and boxes of genealogy papers and photos (as in, if one copy was good, twenty were better). Volumes went into large garbage bags to shred, including all the photos of people I couldn’t begin to identify. It was exhausting work and I was so glad to be finished.
Or, so I thought. Mom showed up about 3AM, standing at the foot of my bed with that stern And Just What Do You Think You’re Doing, Young Lady look that moms are oh-so-good at giving. With that, all the bags to be shredded were carried back inside.
I went on line, and some months later, completed Mom’s ancestry work (thank you, Ancestry.com). She was amazingly accurate and I hesitate to think of what she could have accomplished had there been computers and the internet available to her.
The next step was to transfer the stories of our family’s history and the pictures and the pictures of the treasures into a hard cover book for each kid and grandkid (thank you, Blurb.com). And then shredded all the paperwork, without Mom showing up again. Actually, I did not shred it all; that would have been too much work. (another thank you, this time to Red Dog, with the largest shredders I’ve ever seen).
The next round of unloading stuff and treasures was to take photos of the treasures and stuff I didn’t want to keep and text them to the kids with a 24 hr deadline to claim, which also worked for giving back their stuff. They didn’t want much so local charities benefited.
I was on a roll. I pulled out the thousands of the kids’ growing up photos and slides. Whoever invented slides should be hung up by their toes. I borrowed a small slide viewer from a friend, a slide-to-jpg contraption from another and went to work. It didn’t take long. I shredded about 80%, made some copies of others at Walgreen’s, all of which could all be accomplished on line (one hour turnaround to pick-up! Whoo Hoo!) and put the keepers into albums for the kids. Happy Birthday to them!!
The final step was with the remaining stuff that I didn’t use. Over the years, I’ve picked the brains of some wonderfully knowledgeable movers who have moved me more times than they can count.
There are three pre-move piles: Give away, Throw Away/Recycle, Keep. Do it quickly, and once you decide, no changing your mind. One room at a time, one closet or cabinet at a time, and, the movers are absolutely correct, it works like a charm.
I told my kids that getting rid of the stuff and unwanted treasures was my inheritance gift to them.
I’m spending the rest…