My mother, Leona, is the oldest of three girls. She was 84 her last birthday. Growing up, I thought nothing of all the stuff we had because it was put away neatly, displayed neatly and everyone seemed to have all that kind of stuff. My parents were neat freaks so it wasn’t surprising I grew up to be one too. It wasn’t until I moved out on my own that I learned that we didn’t need to have all of that stuff. As I grew older I became even more aware of what we didn’t NEED. I had the 12 place setting of china, numerous pots & pans, and plenty more kitchen gadgets as well as nic nacs for the walls and shelves throughout the house. It was in my late 30’s that I realized that I had all of this stuff that I never used. I think my china had been used 2-3 times, my expensive knife set had a couple of the knives used a couple of times, I had serving pieces and decorations that I never used. Ack! What was I doing with all of this? In the meantime, Mom was accumulating more and more. She now had 2-12 place settings of china plus her everyday dishes. She had a serving platter or bowl or dish for everything you could imagine, a 30 cup coffee maker, a 12 cup coffee maker, and a 4 cup coffee maker. You name it and she seemed to have it.
In 1993 my father died and suddenly she not only didn’t have the income to continue to live in their 3600 square feet of house but she didn’t want to stay in that town. She wanted to move around with me. That was fine but what to do with all of that stuff. We sure couldn’t afford a place big enough for all of it and didn’t need it if we could. So before she followed me to Colorado Springs we had a huge sale. We sold over $3000 worth of furniture, tools (my father had every tool there was and sometimes 2-3 of them), china, and gadgets galore. I also made trip after trip to the dump with things my father had help onto. Things like 2-3 maps of every state in the US because he was always doing trip routing for friends going on vacation. Every brochure for every vehicle made by Ford, Mercury or Lincoln since 1950. The paperwork for every tax return since 1950. And on and on. I shredded what needed it and then took it all to the dump. We sold 3 cars and bought one new one. I thought we had done pretty good until the movers came to move us. Ugh. Box after box after box. The pile was over my head and took up over half of the 26 foot long living room.
Since Dad’s death we have moved to Colorado Springs, Nampa Idaho, Indianapolis Indiana and finally here to the Phoenix area. In every move we sold or gave away more things. My mother was a crafter and had a room full of craft supplies. We keep getting rid of furniture and craft supplies and kitchen items and anything else I could talk her into getting rid of. But we still have plenty we could dispense with. Over most of this time anything that was decluttered went after much discussion and lots of heel dragging at first. Mom has this belief that if you spend money for it you should keep it until it wears out. If you do get rid of it then you should sell it for close to what you bought it for. It’s not realistic but that’s the way she is. I don’t think it helped that my father was just as bad.
When I started following Colleen’s blog I began a campaign to declutter even more. I didn’t know how I was going to get Mom to go along with me but I knew we needed to do something. I decided to be more talkative about why I was getting rid of things that were mine. Now mind you, my mother has a hard time with me getting rid of things even if I paid for them or someone gave them to me. I’ve known her to dig things out of the trash because she might be able to use them. But I decided that maybe if I talked about why I was getting rid of something and why I was or was not selling it she would begin to start thinking the same way. Well, it worked. She has gone from “I’m not getting rid of anything more” to “Deb, what do you think about getting rid of this?” She still has a ways to go but it’s been amazing to see the difference. One other thing that I think has helped is that she has really learned how much energy it takes to have all this stuff. Even if it is shut away in a box somewhere, it is there and you know it. The other day she made the comment, “You know, I’m glad that when I die you won’t have so much to get rid of as before. Can you imagine having to make all those decisions when you are already dealing with my death?” Yippee!! She’s finally getting it. What really blew me away was the other day when she was talking to my aunt. This aunt has barrels of stuff in her garage attic that she has not opened since they moved to their present house 35 years ago. She’s sentimental and hangs onto EVERYTHING. They have 2 of their 3 sons still living. They are in their 50’s. Do you think their sons want to go through all that stuff when their parents die? Well, Mom was talking to my aunt and all their stuff came up in the conversation. Mom says to her, “Well, if you could afford to fly us there, Deb & I would be glad to help you get rid of all of that now before you have to do it in a hurry.” I was so proud of her. More and more she is beginning to get tired of things or finds them to feel like clutter. She’s slowly working on areas like her closet, her bathroom, and her dresser. When the weather gets cooler she says she wants to, “Get in that shed and get rid of most of that junk.” So now you know that people really can change. No person is a hopeless cause. You may have that decluttered house yet.
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter something intended for pampering.
Today’s Declutter Item
These don’t fit with the mini mission for the day but they sure are things that have a use that has never been utilised. Hopefully someone will buy them at the thrift shop.
Eco Tip of the Day
Save a tree ~Stop junk mail. It mostly contains advertisements for stuff you don’t need anyway. In Australia this is as easy as putting a No Junk Mail sticker on your mailbox.
“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