You just never know.

Firstly I would just like to apologise for my recent extended absence from the blog this month. Unfortunately my mother took ill and I rushed off interstate to visit her in hospital and to take care of my dad while she couldn’t. After she returned home from hospital it took a while for her to sufficiently recover enough for me to feel comfortable about leaving for home.

Add that to the three week vacation immediately after Christmas and I have spent only about two weeks in my own home so far this year. With an eight week trip to New Zealand planned for not too far in the future I suppose I won’t be spending much of the entire first half of this year in my apartment.

Aside from the part about my mother being sick I am sure many of you are thinking… “Lucky you, being able to travel and see the world.”. And I would have to agree with you, however what is also wonderful about this is that having decluttered and downsized to a smaller home with lots of built in security it is so easy to just walk away knowing that what I do own is secure and need not worry about it while I am away.

And there is another point to this story. Middle age is the time to begin setting yourself up for your twilight years, because you just never know… . The better set up you are for all circumstances and realities the easier the transition will be. The reality is, that a lot of stuff and a lot of space is much harder to take care of as you become less nimble and energetic. Transitions are much harder to make when the task seems insurmountable, causing upset and frustration.

This doesn’t mean you need to significantly change your lifestyle, just progressively tweak it so that it never gets too much for you. You will not only be doing yourself a favour but you make it easier for everyone around you. My husband and I have already reduced our belongings, downsized our dwelling, made a list of our assets and set our wills and power of Attorney in order. I am sure our children will thank us for it. And our minds are at rest knowing that everything is in order.

So on those days when you look around you and see how much unnecessary stuff you have, don’t just ignore it and hope it goes away. Think of your twilight years and your loved ones and do something about it.

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

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Glad you are back but I can completely understand you rushing off to be with your parents. They are blessed you were able to do that.

    You are right about planning ahead and making sure things are in good shape as you get older. I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about a lot of things anymore and since we have no family in this area I’m thankful we have friends who will step in and handle things whenever we pass on. For me, it all goes to the church and they can sell it and put the money toward Compassionate Ministries of our church

  2. Hi Colleen,

    I agree that it’s best to think ahead to the twilight years… We may at any time become ill or disabled in some way and not be able to take care of things (as we might have planned!)… It is best to start it before it needs to be done, not only because we could fall ill, but taking care of clutter can take longer than we think. We also could have an unexpected upset to our finances… so it is good to look at that and maybe cut down on the shopping or other expenses… We could also have a change to our living circumstances, if we need to move in with someone or they with us, or we lose our home… If we shave expenses and declutter ahead of time, we will be better prepared for whatever life throws at us 🙂

    So glad to have you back Colleen 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Peggy and thank you for your enthusiastic welcome back.

      “We also could have an unexpected upset to our finances… so it is good to look at that and maybe cut down on the shopping or other expenses…”. This quote from you comment is so true. Cut down on the waste now and invest the money for the future when you may well need it to get by. The unexpected thing that could happen may be living a very long life and then running out of the necessary funds.

  3. Hi Colleen! Yes, I agree with you. Thinking ahead can save a lot of grief. Life, even if you are not in your twilight years can be unexpected. And if you start early and make a habit of clearing stuff as they end their usefulness, you feel good and you have less to deal with as the years passes. Excelent advice you have, as usual.

  4. Colleen, this was a wonderful post! I’m so sorry your Mom was taken ill, but you are the perfect example of why it is best to keep life simple. I can so relate because when my husband had his accident, I basically had to leave home for 3 mos in a hurry. I still had lots to declutter then, but I have always been organized. I was able to grab my already packed “ditty bag” (that has all needed toiletries), an up to date address book that had all personal and business numbers I needed to contact people, and some clothes, and I was ready to go. It was a great comfort to know my home was in order when I left. Now, with every load of small stuff that leaves the house, I am always thinking it is things no one will have to deal with when I am gone!

    • Thank you Brenda, sometmes incidents like my mum’s illness and your husbands accident or wake up calls to get things in order. Hopefully that will be the case this time for my family.

  5. Hello Colleen,

    I’m so very sorry to hear about your mother and I hope she is well on her way down the road to recovery.

    I’ve been told that I am living my life way too much for the future. We’ve been working with our financial planner with an eye toward retirement, my employer and I have already mapped out his retirement/my leaving his employ. When my boss retires, we plan to move to what will hopefully be our retirement location, but I will still work – won’t be of age or ready to be not working. My point is, I’ve still been decluttering as I have no wish to move a bunch of junk, we’ve streamlined our finances, minimizing new purchases, determining expected expiration dates for things like vehicles, etc. If my boss decides to exit early, I’d like my husband and I to be able to make our move at the drop of a hat. Living a simplified life is my goal for a happy now and a happy future.

    Take care!

  6. It is a blessing to be able to pour into our parents’ lives as they grow older. Unfortunately I lost my Dad at 58 and my Mom at 62. I am grateful for the moments we had together. Losing them at, what I consider, an early age brought home my own mortality. I have tried to use it as a lens as I look around my own home…what do I want to save my children from having to go through! Also looking forward to retiring and being much more flexible in moving between my children’s homes to visit. Thank you Colleen, and all those who comment, on being consistently encouraging and caring!

  7. I was sorry to hear about your mother Colleen; hope she is now doing well.

    Your words struck me deeply – just a couple of weeks ago one of my friends passed away and has unfortunately left behind her an enormous quantity of possessions. Her husband now has a huge job in front of him, not just dealing with all the paperwork and inevitable consequences of losing his wife, but sorting out roomfuls of stuff. Many of the things are her own personal items, clothes and shoes, which apparently number in the hundreds, and on top of that there are piles of boxes, many unopened, which probably contain gifts and household items. My friend was virtually housebound for the last few years and spent much of her time ordering things from catalogs, planning for gifts several years into the future. I just can’t imagine having to open all those boxes and trying to figure out what were her intentions and then distributing it all, or more likely disposing of much of it. As you say, you just never know what might suddenly happen, and all those possessions become a huge burden when we have to deal with serious difficulties and things that really matter.