Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ It’s Not Yours Anymore

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom

Cindy

Last week, I talked about shopping at the Goodwill, and we all felt a bit of dread: what happens to our stuff when we let it go?  I know the definitive answer to this question: It’s not yours any more.

I came to this perhaps obvious realization last week. For years, I have had a queen size air mattress with a leak that I have never found. I’ve tried to find it while using it (and slowly, slowly getting closer to the ground), and I tried to find it earlier this year when I blew it up just for the purpose of locating the leak. I was not successful. So last week I decided enough was enough, and I offered it away for free. A friendly fellow named Michael claimed it. He said he was going camping in two weekends, and he would find the leak if he could, and toss it away if he couldn’t. Toss it away!?! Yes, dear readers, I almost snatched the thing back.

Pretty idiotic, huh? I hadn’t found the leak, I hadn’t fixed it, and yet I’m holding him to a standard that I, myself, did not achieve. Perhaps I think it’s better if it just sits around my house for a few more years, not being fixed. How ridiculous, yet how true. Part of the reason I hadn’t thrown it out is that it’s a giant piece of plastic (plastic = bad!), and he seemed so relaxed about tossing it, if need be.  But, again, how ridiculous of me to judge.

That’s when it occurred to me: Once you let something go, it’s not yours any more.

I’m sure at times when Colleen is working at the thrift store, she see people whom she recognizes as regular shoppers and bargain hunters, and she may be secretly tempted to empty their carts when their backs are turned. But she, and others, have donated those goods. They don’t belong to their original owner any more. Yes, I think it’s important to try and find the best home for your cast off goods: a friend, neighbor, willing Ebay purchaser, etc., but once those things leave your possession, they’re gone. You can’t force the person who accepts your goods to use them to their highest and best use, especially since you, yourself, were not doing this.

Sometimes we even tell ourselves that we really value something that we’re getting rid of, so we want the next person to demonstrate to us that they’re going to value it just like we did. Or maybe we regret a purchase and know that we wasted our money, so we hope that the next person will use it so much or get so much pleasure out of the item that it will somehow make up for our bad purchase. Well, let’s face the facts, we gave it away or sold it because we no longer valued it or it wasn’t right for us, so don’t expect someone else to fix that mistake for you.

You bought it; you shouldn’t have. You’ve outgrown it; that happens. Your interests have changed; that’s natural. You inherited it; you don’t love it. Do your best to find an appropriate home and then let it go. Because you can’t control something that doesn’t belong to you any more.

Today’s Declutter Item

This basketball souvenir makes a nice change from baseball souvenir clutter but clutter it is none-the-less. I donated it to the thrift store and it sold before my shift was done that day.

Basketball Souvenir Clutter

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter dishes that you have too many of. 

Something I am grateful for today

Making the decision to get rid of something I have been considering for a while.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


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Comments

  1. Don’t you love it when a switch gets flipped in your head and everything from that point on is seen in a new light? And in writing about it, you’ve done that for me also. Ownership is not like having children — when we have children, they are “ours” forever, to love and care about. But when we acquire something? Once upon a time, we did not own that thing. And when we let it go, we once again do not own it. What a powerful idea for those of us who have a tendency to be protective of our stuff just because it’s our stuff. Love this, Cindy!

  2. Fantastic Jo. Your comments makes me feel great! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I had this just last week when we got rid of our old tv through freecycle having upgraded to a larger flat screen. I worried in case the young man who took it decided he didn’t like it and would then just dump it, or he upgrades with in the year, when that TV has years of life in it…
    But as you say, is it any better if it just sits in our house for 2 years unused? We don’t have any ‘spare rooms’ for it to be out of the way either.
    All the stuff I have got rid of over the last year I now no longer give a 2nd thought to – all the agonising and decision making and ‘letting go’ etc etc. What was the point, lol… non of it is missed now.

    • I had the exact same worry when we gave away our old TV. I know the couple has a new TV now, and I’ve chosen not to worry about what they did with the old one. I hope they passed it along, but I did my part to be responsible, and I can’t be responsible for both them and a TV that’s not mine.

  4. This kinda borders on the gift giver who constantly checks up on a particular gift they gave someone.
    The “Marge* do you still have the glitter-encrusted paper mache life-size replica of the monkey & the monolith from Space Odyssey I gave you 14 Christmas’s ago???? It’s still in your foyer I hope where all your guests can marvel at it’s beauty every time they come to visit??? Right?? Right??? Marge??”.
    LOL
    *names changed to protect the innocent.

    • I agree! I initially included a paragraph on gifts but decided to make it a whole different post.

    • Hahahaha

      Someone out there has one of these things. Come on fess up who has it??

    • Ha ha Jane. With fear of sounding heartless and insensitive here ~ I think people like Marge need to be awakened to the idea that this is antisocial behaviour. I think the correct response is ~ “No Marge, actually I don’t, I decided it didn’t suit my decor and I gave it away.” Kind of a mini intervention. Marge probably won’t realise she has a problem unless someone tells her. 😉

    • am I the only one who is thinking THE SIMPSONS – in big glitter-encrusted paper mache life size letters?

      I never had a person to check up on stuff. But I do notice if people got rid of my gifts actually – although I would NEVER EVER say something. its more a game I play with myself: can I guess it right. So there is a big step between saying something and making the person probably uncomfortable, and not saying something, keeping it to myself.

      • Lena, You don’t know where it might be though. Perhaps the book is off the shlef because now it’s in the cabinet by the bed, etc. It sounds to me like you might be torturing yourself. Stop that! : )

        • no no no, dont get me wrong. I dont do this because I need to know this for making me feel good that my friend kept it. I am more distanced. I know for a fact that I dont give a damn if my friend is giving it away or not. I gave it to her, so she can do whatever she wants with it. I am still curious though on what she actually does with it. For example: I gave a friend a blue shirt for her birthday. a year ago I helped her cleaning out her wardrobe and had every single item in my hands and this shirt wasnt there. I am very amused as she is keeping a lot of things for sentimental value, but the one I gave her, isnt there. makes me smile. I know our friendship is more than a kept shirt. I love her no matter what. and it has NOTHING to do with stuff.

    • This made me laugh:)
      I make things (clocks and mosaics) but am very very hesitant to give any as gifts. I don’t assume admiring my work is the same as wanting one, lol. Someone has to drop very large hints indeed to get anything I’ve made.
      I know I can genuinely admire someones skill and craftmanship without the item actually being my taste.

  5. Ditto to what Jane said. Some people get upset if they took the time and spent the money on something and feel like you should keep it to show your appreciation for it. I have also bought things for people that they didn’t keep and I felt like it was a waste of money, but it is my own fault for spending it because it is their right to choose what they do with it. If I don’t like it, then I can just stop buying things. When I give gifts now, I always tell the person that they don’t have to feel obligated to keep it if they don’t want it. It is theirs to do what they want with. It is still given with as much love as it was if they kept it. If I don’t want to spend the money on things they get rid of, I can just ask them ahead to get something they really want. I usually just do give cards or checks now to avoid that.

  6. Cindy, I couldn’t agree with you more. Once something is gone, whether you sell it or give away, it’s no longer yours. Also, like Jane said, it’s not fair to keep checking up on something that was given. Also, not fair to give something to someone with conditions attached. Then it’s not really a gift, you’re just making someone a caretaker of the item. I recently sold a large cabinet and the large collection of pottery in it. I chose to sell everything and I was very happy everything sold, yet I still felt some twinges of remorse for letting it go to someone else. Weird, I know! Oh well, at least they’re all gone and I’m sixty things lighter because of it.

    • I love that you sold the cabinet AND the pottery. How efficient of you. I’m sure the next person is treasuring it, but if they’re not, you don’t need to know about it.

  7. Oh Cindy, this post is so timely. I recall something in one of Don Aslett’s books about decluttering when he describes the guilt of letting things go as feeling as if we’ve murdered them. I’ve hung onto stuff in the past because I didn’t know that it would go to a “good home” or that it would be “appreciated”. As if I have some duty or right to determine how my ex-possessions will be used. Madness, eh? I love to give things away on Freecycle, particularly slightly-oddball stuff which the thrift store might put straight in the bin. My reasoning is that if they want it enough to come to my home to fetch it, they will probably get good use out of it, and it may well end up circulating again and helping more than one person. I swear I get as much pleasure giving stuff away as I do getting it……………or even more :p

    • Sometimes on occasion, I have given things away and said in the ad “Tell me what you intend to do with it” to try and prevent my item from just sitting around at someone else’s house too. Then I pick the answer that seems most on track to me. I think that’s OK; I am doing my very best to make sure that the item goes to an appropriate home. After that, it’s out of my control.

      • I agonised over giving away my flute of freecycle last year. I included something along the lins of ‘tell me why you want it.
        I had only unhappy memories attached to this flute that I had had since age 10 and it hadn’t been played in years and needed some refurbishing. The level of agony attached to letting it go means it must have been a significant block in my life I think.
        Anyway, it helped in the end to give it to a young man who told me he participated in a re enactment society so needed a flute that didn’t matter if it got a bit battered in ‘battle’ but would still be played around the campfire. I liked the sound of that.
        From the day it left, I haven’t felt anything other than relief it is gone if I think of it at all.
        That took 25 years to be able to let that go. There is nothing else I own that I think will be as hard as that. Mind you, there are probably items I am still glossing over as ‘unget-rid-able of’ that might challenge that one day!

        • Katharine, this is great that you were able to recognize this – that is no small task. Congratulations for letting it go, I feel really happy for you.

          Last year I did the same thing with a really beautiful handmade painted wooden flying frog that has hung on my ceiling since I was a child. It had only very negative memories attached to it but I had kept it for a long time because it was beautiful and expensive and under other circumstances I probably would have loved it. I finally gave it to a friend spur of the moment last year when he complimented it and it felt SO good, and made him really happy! And it’s so great knowing that giving it to someone gives it a new life with different memories attached to it where it can be appreciated.

          • Thank you Elsbeth.
            I wonder if hanging on to something from our past that carry’s so many negative memories, is tied up with a belief (or hope/need/desire) that it is the magic key to re-enter the past and change it. That to get rid of this item (what ever it is for any individual) will mean we never will be able to ‘make it better’ and it is this fear that stops us getting it out of our lives.

            I’m sure for myself that I kept thinking if I would only take it up again and become a briliant player, that would magically erase everything to do with a very unhappy time of which the flute was in fact merely a symbol.
            Of course we logically know that the past can never be changed, only how we deal with it. But logic doesn’t play an obvious part in emotions that run deep underground.

            In getting rid of my flute, I haven’t erased the memories but I no longer carry the burden that if I ‘just tried a bit harder’, I could make the past better. So that’s just a bit more freed up energy to invest positively into my present.

  8. LOL! I bought good clothes for my older daughter as they were to be handed down to younger daughter, and had been requested by sis-in-law. I kept some clothes for “good only” and made sure they were meticulously laundered, stains and marks removed, mended any seams, re-sewed loose buttons, etc etc.
    Then I saw a niece wearing such a precious item post-kindergarten-painting-day and felt such a rush of feelings. In the end I had to reconcile to myself, that while the item was new to us, no matter how well I looked after it, it was “hand-me-downs” to them. And it was now theirs.

    • Oh Moni, I’m sure you were disappointed. One time I gave a load of clothes free an individual and she barely expressed a word of gratitute. In fact, I think what she said was, “These are for my sister. I’ll let her pick through them.” I did want them back then, but I’m sure they went onto clothe somebody. I gave my remaining hand-me-downs to my neighbor’s children after that.

  9. Ah yes! This is why I try to not give things to people I know too much. Then I don’t know where it ends up.

    • At first I was reluctant to give my children’s clothing to my neighbors, but I LOVE seeing those girls run around in clothes that are so familiar to me.

  10. Thank you Cindy, for your thoughts on the importance of letting go, and reminding me of how liberating it can be when we really do allow ourselves to “let go” fully. It’s a concept I’m working on applying in all areas of my life.

  11. Hi Cindy

    Great post once again. I have no problem in letting things go, once given away or sold whatever, it’s no longer mine to worry about. Although anything sold bugs me a little just incase it blows up or breaks etc, but I have to appease myself with out of sight out of mind.

    I decided a long time ago to never give a ‘thing’ as a gift/or freebie unless I knew with absolute certainty that the person needed the ‘thing’. My usual gift is a ‘voucher’ to a multi-thing store or their favourite store or a petrol voucher. For Weddings, christenings and such I only give cash/voucher. I am loathe sometimes to buy a thing because I don’t want to add to someone elses clutter, I prefer to not feel the guilt by letting them get their own clutter heehee!

    Do the ‘gift’ post please. I’m interested in hearing how long it took people to come around to our way of thinking about gifts/gift giving or lack of! I’m still struggling a bit with this, thought it was sorted with last Christmas :(:(

  12. This is something I have a hard time with. If I give something away, I want the next person to appreciate it too. *sigh*

    • Hi Lynn,
      just stop and think of the pressure you are putting them under especially if they have any inkling of your attitude. The mistake the giver makes is thinking that the receiver will appreciate the same things they do or makes assumption about what the giver would find useful or beautiful.

    • I’ve got one friend who really is bringing up books she gave to me years later… so I feel an obligation to actually read them or at least keep them until I read them. Even though I’m sometimes not interested in the particular book at all.

      Regarding more “practical” items, actually I hope that people get rid of them when they don’t need them any longer. Although I’d prefer, if they took the hassle to find them a new home instead of trashing them. I don’t push that though, but I talk about myself taking things to thrift stores, selling books and giving away things quite often, so I kind of make sure that they will at least know some possible ways to pass the things on (if they do after all is up to them).
      Personally, my horror scenario is my granny. She has a very tidy home (She ca keep a 3 storey house tydier than I can keep my apartment 🙂 ) – but it’s full of clutter. Everything she gets rid of goes neatly sorted to the basement or the attic or a dresser or closet in the various not really needed (guest) rooms about the house. She gives the stuff away to her grandchildren, but she never throws something “good” away. When I was about 16, she said she was going to “get rid” of a lot of things. We packed a box with utensils for me that was stored in the attic, until I moved out. However, when I did unpack it again, I found 16-year-old me also packed some not-so-practical items and when I said to her that I didn’t need the particular item, e.g. a vase, after all, she would look at it and say “oh well, it’s ugly anyway, we once got it from auntie xxx” – and then, instead of just throwing it out, she went ahead and placed the ugly, decluttered vase neatly in one of her unneeded cupboards again. Oh my.
      When I was at her home a year ago, I took a kitchen scale with me. She had a new digital one, which she liked better and I took the old one that was sitting in the basement for two years already. However, for christmas she presented me with a brand new digital kitchen scale. Lovely. I brought the old one to the thrift store. It would still sit unused in the basement of my granny otherwise.
      I was happy to get the old scale, but I didn’t need two scales, so off it went a few months later. I know that my decluttered items that people took happily off my hands a few months ago, might soon turn into excess clutter for them as well and I do hope they won’t store them in their basement but just throw them out.

      • I have a aunt who is the exact opposite: She is half blind (one eye totally, one eye only partially), and the house is dirty. and when I say dirty I mean, its so filthy I dont want to wash my hands with that soap, or even think about the food she made in that kitchen.
        (you know this cliché, where you need a fair amount of alcohol to take the family – it also goes for houses of family members – thank god she usually serves good champagne)
        While her husband is a hoarder with newspaper and books, and the house is full of stacks, she is forgetting what she owns, because she cant see it properly. And because she cant see the dirt either, the stuff gets quickly filthy and not wearable/usable anymore. So we found so many clothes the last time that were brand new (with label still on) but so dirty you could use it anymore, because it was lying on the floor for a decade.

        I promised together with my mum (who is clean and organized, but a pack rat for useful stuff) to try and sort out areas of this house, everytime we come there. even just an hour of sorting through cupboards helps a lot. its actually much fun because this house keeps a LOT of funny things, family heirlooms, old pictures, collections of all sort of things, etc. and with the good champagne we have quite a time together.
        The latest thing I got from one of those sessions was a bike. She bought it around 15 years ago and used it twice. I am on this bike every day, and so happy to have it for free.

  13. Sanna, Regarding your friend who gives you books and then questions you on whether you’ve read them or not: maybe this will help. When I started my heavy decluttering, I called the 4 main gift givers in my life and told them I was doing major decluttering and asked them if there was anything that they had ever given me that they would be offended by if I got rid of it. All of them, without hesitation, said no, nothing, go for it. That way I could get rid of whatever I wanted without guilt and if they wanted something back, they could have it. Plus, they all know that we all have too much stuff anyway. Maybe this approach could work with your friend.

    • Good advice Jennifer L.

    • I think, she wouldn’t mind so much, if I got rid of the book. But she would mind if I didn’t give it a try to read it.
      I can understand that, it’s that she wants to share a read with me, like you watch movies together and the like. Just sometimes I’m just not in the mood to read and the book sits there on the shelf way too long.

      • I’m embarrassed to say that my thought on this was a dishonest one: read a couple reviews on Amazon so you know what’s what, then get rid of the book. If she wants to talk about it, you’ll at least be able to (sort of) hold up your end.

  14. I dont have troubles at all of giving away items, there is a reason I took the decision for me and my sake to get rid of it, so why bother what happens with it.

    What made me hesitate first, when I read the headline, was the thought of: of course its mine, its all ours, because we cant throw things away from this planet (when I think of it: even outside the atmospheres the earth is covered in space scrap). I am deeply concerned about the amount of stuff we produce (its not getting less) as humans on the big scale. you should of course give away your stuff and be happy that someone else is taking it instead of buying something new. and everytime I think of this, I want to go and count all the second hand items I got myself.

    makes me think: shouldnt we get a “buy nothing new” month started soon?

    • Buy nothing new month is October, although many people made a NY’s resolution to REDUCE.

  15. This is a particularly difficult part for the Reluctant Declutterer. My husband has things he’s had for decades, taken good care of, remembers where they came from (ugly lamps, wedding present from first marriage 30 years ago, from now-deceased friend of his parents…)Sending these things off into the Great Unknown doesn’t work for him. Neither does selling them to strangers. But…he will happily trade, sell or give them to a friend, neighbor or acquaintance. It makes it more challenging for me but when I find a potential home, he’s happy to release stuff — and he doesn’t check up on it after. And the ugly lamps (and a number of other things) go to the Wildlife Centre for the staff residence tomorrow!!!

    • Wendy, My husband was laughing about engineers and tinkerers, who often ahve a hard time letting thengs go. He says they just swap with their friends, but they still really know where it is…just in case.

  16. Dear All,

    After reading this post again and again it struck another chord with me over the amount of stuff I had/have and the times I ummed and arrd over things that were given to me etc etc. Not to mention the bashing I have given myself time and time again and thinking ‘What the hell did I buy it/keep it for’ all through my journey my Hubby has always said to me it’s yours you decide, people may get upset and think I was mean getting rid of it but all through my decluttering I kept thinking of all the people out there that were possibly picking up my stuff and making good use of it when I didn’t. Plus the fact that I just didn’t want it anymore, after deciding to get rid of something it never bothered me that much except if I sold an item, I sorta worried it might blow up in 2 days or something! I have told all my family as I have been downsizing that if there is anything they might need or want they are welcome to it and if they take it, I ask they use it or lose it. I don’t want my clutter to become more clutter for them because they feel they have to keep it. I truely believe that this mentality is what stops so many from embracing life on the level that they want too. It is my stuff, I bought it or got it, I may or may not have used it, I have seen the senselessness of having 100’s of things that essentially are meaningless on one level or another and if I can get my ‘brain changed’ then slowly, hopefully, everyone around me can too. I’m such an easy going free thinking spirit then ‘Stuff’ changed that, I now know it wasn’t me that glorified the stuff as much as it was the people around me. In hindsight it was their way of thinking that clouded my judgement and swayed me into thinking along their lines. IDIOT for a while then I got smart!!!!

    If I had 1000’s of $$$$$$ in my hand right now and I threw it in the fire people would scream and call me a twit etc etc, but thats Kind of like what I have done over the course of time with stuff! I’ve spent 1000’s of $$$$$ on things that I have eventually gotten rid of because I didn’t need or want it anymore. I have never regretted spending money on my loved ones with lunches, dinners, outings or things they needed but I regret the money wasted on meaningless stuff, it may have seemed important then but it sure as s*%t don’t matter now!!! What’s done is done and I know better now, onward and forward and at least I can move through my space without belting into things and I get so much more done in a smaller space of time and I love that! I also love that echoes can sound musical xx

    Thanks for the space to rant and I say hang the guilt and throw out/recycle/pass on/donate/sell whatever you have that just doesn’t do it for you anymore. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Dizzy, It’s interesting that you compare wasted money on stuff to eating out, etc. Sometimes if I’ve waffling over a purchase, I’ll say, “This is the same price as a coffee (or dinner out or whatever), which I would experience once then the money would be gone. So, is this purchase equal to a cup of coffee?”

  17. Years ago we sold a house we later passed by pretty often. Our children fussed about every change that was made. I kept telling them, it’s not ours anymore. It is theirs and they can do anything they want to with it, including getting rid of the hedge, etc. They were small children when we bought it, and didn’t realize we made changes, too. So this is evidently a natural way to feel.

    • Hi Nana and welcome to 365 Less Things. What a great example of how we lay claim on things whether we ought to or not. I assume the children understood once the situation was explained to them. Sometimes we need to explain things to ourselves.

      • I think my kids would be horrified if we moved out and the next owners changed things. I know the man who owned the house for 34 years before me felt that way. He thought of it as “home” and I thought of it as “a fixer upper at a great price.”

  18. Hi there! I am new to this website, and am so happy to have found it.
    I wanted to comment on this post, and I sincerely hope this doesn’t sound rude. Not my intention at all.
    But once you give something away, why would you even think about what happens to it? It’s stuff, nothing more.
    I have been a Mental Health Therapist for 14 years, primarily working with severely abused children. When you have seen what I have seen, I am sure my slant on things is very different than many people. I once held a 5 month old baby girl in my arms who had been sexually abused. This does change your outlook on life, and immediately puts one’s priorities in order.
    If you get rid of things and still worry about what happens to them, that makes me question if there is a deeper issue.
    I have been getting rid of my “stuff” lately. I took everything to Goodwill. I’ve never been very materialistic, but sometimes I end up with too many things, and I go through and only keep what I use regularly. I feel so much better when I have less. But I have never once thought about what happens to anything afterwards.
    Any thoughts or comments about this?
    Thanks.
    Beth

    • Hi Beth and may I extend to you a very warm welcome to 365 Less Things.

      Firstly I don’t for one minute think your question is rude. We welcome any questions here at 365. Your comments raises questions for me too, but to answer your question first. I did not write this post Cindy did and I will bring your comment to her attention so she can answer it from her perspective. My thinking is this ~ What I care about is doing my best to dispose of my items with as responsibly as possible. If I do my best to pass my items on as carefully as possible it gives them the best chance to be reused and not go to waste. Once I have carried out that task I divorce myself from what happens to it from then on. I have carried out my duty and that is all that I can do after that it is up to the recipient to become guardian of the item. I will do my best in the future to be more discerning about what I buy so I don’t have to carry out this task again.

      The horrors you have witnessed certainly put into perspective what is important in life. I can’t for one minute imagine why people do such awful things to children but I also know that I wouldn’t want to have the life of the perpetrator either. At what point do they go so terribly wrong in life. What awful lack of self control do they deal with that that they would stoop to doing such things. These situations are a horror from every perspective. I wouldn’t want to be the victim or the perpetrator and I don’t think I would want to be you either witnessing the aftermath. Thank God for people like you who are there to help, you are a special bread of people.

      Now my question and please don’t think I am being rude either because like you that is not my intention. I am merely a curious soul ~ If you do not understand the attachment people have to stuff and you say you are not materialistic, how is it that you ended up at my blog?

      Helping people let go of there stuff is only half of my aim here the other half is to stop people consuming unnecessary stuff in the first place. For the sake of the environment of course. That is why it is also important to me that the clutter ends up being used by someone else and not just end up in landfill. If it is being acquired secondhand by someone else it may be saving that person from buying new. I know this raises all sorts of questions for the economy of nations but there has to be a better way to keep the economy afloat than continuously polluting the planet with unnecessary products.

      • I think that the amount of “too much stuff” differs widely from person to person. I understand attachment to stuff, but I believe that once you decide what,where, and how you are going to pass it on, that’s the end of it. Hopefully the time spent thinking beforehand about that frees you from having to think about it afterwards.
        To me, anything I don’t use is extra clutter. My friends who know what I have will usually tell me that it always looks like I just decluttered yesterday!
        Most of them have at least 10x what I have, so to them I am their “after decluttering” picture. My parents were so into their possessions that growing up I saw how this affected others. They divorced when I was 10 years old (46 years ago!!!) and I went from possession filled house to possession filled house. Both of them were very loving parents. They were both antique dealers. In fact my dad was one of the registered appraisers for Sotheby’s, so anytime they wanted an appraisal in the states he was asked if he wanted to go do the appraisal. Having worked for him for several years and attending so many auctions, I never did “get it” at what people would pay for things. His main business was his jewelry store, which is where I worked as the manager until I decided to get my mental health degrees. Jewelry sales were another thing I didn’t get. Most pieces had close to a 100% markup, and unless you had a very exquisite piece it was like driving a brand new car off the lot. As soon as it was yours, the value only went down, down, down. I would feel so bad for some customers because they would talk about what they did without to buy whatever it was, what they would be doing without, and seeing them later on when the “glow” of the buy had faded, which it mostly did. I really respected my dad because he was brutally honest, which is probably why he had so many customers who were crazy about him. Plus he was waaaaay fun!
        He always told them the truth about pricing, value, resale, etc. One day a regular customer came in and bought a watch for over $200,000.00 . This was about 20 years ago, so that was astronomical then. My dad and I were talking about it after, and I was saying my usual”I just do not understand that”. And he said something I will never forget; “Everything is worth what someone will pay for it”. That is when I really understood the saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” I decided then that my goal would be to live a life of making happy memories with those I love, rather than buying them. After all is said and done, that is the best thing to leave as a legacy, in my opinion. Due to this, I suppose that is why I have been so interested in the subject of stuff. I enjoy meeting people with similar interests, so this website is really, really, interesting to me. I have a varied set of friends, and share several different interests with different ones. But I hardly ever meet declutter-ers in person!!
        This reply hopefully answered all those who replied to my post. And again, I never meant to be rude, or get anyone upset. I hope to learn a lot from you (obviously) thoughtful and caring ladies, and I hope I will be able to contribute some food for thought also!!
        I am very glad to be a member here.
        Beth

    • hello beth,
      interesting question you have there. may I ask one in return? Dont you think that whatever actions we take, there is always a deeper issue there? Especially, if we are individuals that are born and raised into a materialistic environment? I consider it a strange thing, that people are only then realizing the “important things in life” if a tragedy happens (abuse, death, accident, etc). Dont you think, that it is a normal thing for people to feel attached or even possessive of things, that cant produce a tragedy? Or just feel sentimental about things that played a (not “important”, but) daily role in their life. Dont you think, it requires deeper issues, if a person decides to get rid of things? I for sure dont worry so much about my clutter that goes out, but I have to be careful around people who dont give thoughts about plastic, trash, energy saving etc. I tend to get aggressive. I know for sure there is a very deep issue there I have. One way to handle it for me is participating in this blog. My guess is, wherever people and stuff come together, there are deeper issues involved. Thats why we are here and writing about it…

      • Hi Beth, Welcome to 365 Less Things. This is Cindy, and I did write this post. (Sounds almost like an AA opening.) I, too, was a mental health counselor for years, and my clients were all abused children, so I’m sure nothing you’ve seen or heard of would startle me in the least. That said, I don’t think there’s any exclusivity between caring for people and caring for anything else. It’s not “just stuff”: It’s pollution and shipping costs and poorly paid wages (likely) of the manufacturing process; it’s the time and money that the purchaser spent in earning the money and selecting the item; and it’s the desire to be responsible for those items to see that they continue to fulfill their purpose (whether it be functionality or beauty) for as long as possible. My point of this article is that once those things aren’t yours anymore, you have to mentally let go, but I believe you should try and find a suitable second home for them.

  19. http://www.365lessthings.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2466&action=edit
    “our inability to control things that no longer belong to us”
    This link does not work? It asks me to sign in, I tried – I sent my e-mail address to get my info, and it says I am not in there?!
    I really wanted to read that –
    Help?
    Thanks! xx

  20. Once I put my box for the Salvation Army on the porch, it is out of my hands and heart. I just hope that the items inside are given to those who need them and can make good use of them. I try to put a box out about every 6 months but hope this challenge of one item a day will get things moving a little faster. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Good attitude Maggie. Letting go as best we can is our side of the deal what happens after that is out of our control. If we minimise what is coming in and continue to let go of the things we don’t need to places like the Salvation army we have done our part in trying to be less wasteful and more generous.

  21. My mother-in-law remodeled her kitchen many years ago before we bought the house from her and had a wonderful kitchen cabinet taken out and put in the basement. It must have been 100 years old and was in the house from the time it was built. It had a flour sifter built into the cupboard and you could sift the flour right onto the porcalean (not spelled right) counter to make bread. I loved this cabinet and hoped to add it back to the kitchen when she sold us the house. But, in the meantime, a friend’s husband left her and took all their furniture, so we lent her the cabinet for storage. After about a year, we finally got together and found that she didn’t like the cabinet so put it on her back porch that was open to the weather. She intended to give it back but kept putting it off and the rain and bad weather that winter ruined the wood. It began to disintegrate and we had to throw it away. Since it was on loan to her, I really thought she should have taken better care of it. She said she wanted to but didn’t want us to think she was ungrateful . I was very upset that the cabinet was ruined but my husband said I should think of it as a gift to her and she could do with it as she wished. He had a way of putting this behind him. As you can see, I still wish we had questioned her about her plans for the cabinet or just have GIVEN it to her. Then I wouldn’t have cared so much about what she did with it. (I think).

    • I am shocked. I will never understand, how people can treat items that way, when they dont own it. I will learn from this, that if I lend out furniture (I did and it was no problem whatsoever as my friend appreciated the item as much as I do), I will make sure people will understand that this item has a lot of value for me, and that if they wont use it anymore I will take it back gladly.
      I remember that I once borrowed a book from my friend, and I had it in my bag on my way home, when my bottle with orange juice ruined the whole book. I bought a new version of it and gave him that instead of the ruined copy of course. it would have been a personal insult, if I would have given him the ruined copy…

  22. Lena, Thanks for the kind words. I really should have known better than to lend her the cabinet since she had a habit of not taking care of things or returning borrowed items. But she had two small babies and I thought we were doing her a favor. If I had known she didn’t like it right from the start, we could have brought it home the first day. Oh well, you can see that I still haven’t gotten over this. We also lent her some money for a bill which she never repaid. Our friendship was ruined over these two incidents. I think she felt guilty and never called me again. She moved back to PA shortly after the second event and I have not seen nor heard from her since. I really liked her and we had been friends before we each were married. Something changed after that and we could not recover the original friendship. I am sorry. Loans can certainly end a friendship especially when they go unpaid.

    • a good friend of mine always says “money is never a reason – and if it is, its not worth it”. I like that statement. lesson learned.

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  1. […] couple weeks ago, I wrote about our inability to control things that no longer belong to us. This same lack of control applies to gifts, or it should. Once you give […]