To enjoy life, let go of the stuff

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1,100 sq feet to 2,400 sq feet to 1,300 sq feet. Those are the sizes of the last 3 houses we’ve lived in. We raised two kids in 1,100 sq feet with one bathroom for 12 years. Then we moved into 2,400 sq feet for 5 years, decided it was too big after the kids were gone, and moved back into 1,300 sq feet for the past 8 years.

And guess what?  We still have too much stuff!

Living for 12 years in 1,100 sq feet with 4 people and a one car garage, we collected a lot of things. When we moved, we got a small dumpster and filled it 3 times. Moving to 2,400 sq feet meant 2 levels, more rooms and more bathrooms to fill. We didn’t completely fill every room, but still had to get rid of a lot of stuff when we downsized.

After 8 years in our current house, it seems like we still have too much.  We don’t have a basement, but we do have a crawl space and even though it’s not convenient to haul things up and down a short ladder, there’s a lot of bins and boxes down there.

I’m conscious of all of this stuff and it bothers me.  When we needed to move my mom off the farm, we cleaned out a 2 story farmhouse that had been in the family for 100 years.  While the antiques were neat to keep, there were a lot of things that just needed to be donated or trashed.

My motivation was that I promised myself that I would not make my kids clean out my stuff. So I keep telling my husband that we have to clean out this house!  What I discovered is that it’s easy to see his stuff (and tell him what to do with it),

but when I finally set aside time to look at my own stuff, I found out that

clutter is overwhelming.

Where to start? There’s the basket on the file cabinet with birthday cards, anniversary cards, random electronic cords, and so many odds and ends that the basket is completely full.  Puzzle boxes sit beside the basket plus binders with random papers.

I have a closet full of bins and boxes and shelves with blankets, suitcases and games. I found myself looking at all of it, but doing nothing. Once I realized I was procrastinating, I made myself pick one area and deal with it.

Looking at it all, that’s when I realized that I needed to release the stuff.

Here’s how I did it.

Consciously make the decision that you really don’t need all of this

That’s true no matter what your age, but it’s even more important at 50+ to let it go. Start with the unemotional stuff; office supplies, wrapping paper, clothes that are out of style. As you begin to see extra room in closets and drawers, it will be easier to sort through another pile.

Reflect on why you have all this stuff

Do you have a ‘pile’ personality?  Or maybe it’s ‘pile then file’? Once the stuff is out of the house, you have to be aware of why you buy it or keep it in the first place. Understanding your motivation will help you make decisions while you’re cleaning.

Do you keep buying things because you used to buy for your kids and now they’re gone and you still like to shop?

Do you find it hard to realize or accept that you don’t need as much now that’s it’s just the two of you or that you are living alone?

It’s time to learn to be ok with change.

Deciding what to do with things that are more sentimental may require some deep breathing.

Retain | Reduce | Recycle

Here’s an exercise that will help you make decisions.

Chart to help decide what to keep and what to give away.

To print or download, enlarge Image

Retain

There is no reason to get rid of something if you’re just going to realize you needed it and have to buy another one. Some things are necessities or it makes common sense to have it. That’s ok.

Reduce

  • If you are a collector of stuff, how many duplicate items do you actually need?
  • Is there something you bought that you are never going to use?
  • If no one close to you wants this, do you need to keep it?

Recycle

Be a champion of recycling. Thrift stores, garage sales and consignment shops are great places to share your ‘collectibles’ and let someone else enjoy them too.

This will not be a short term process.  If you’re like me, unless you take a full weekend to work on it (and who wants to miss out on summer fun), you will need to keep chipping away at this. Set a deadline.  Mine is December 31.  I have 6 months to see progress.

I can do it because I really want to enjoy my age without getting bogged down with too much stuff. Comment below and let me know your plans to let go of your stuff.

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Kristy Klenk has reached the 55 (and counting) birthday and finds this stage of life and aging an interesting adventure. Over the past 20 years she has been on a journey of living a holistic lifestyle and continues to research its positive effects on aging.

Disclaimer: Information found on this website or links to other websites are for informational purposes only and not intended for medical advice.  You know your body and your physical, emotional and mental situation. Consult your physician before making any changes.

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