A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to a ladies group about de-cluttering. I sat in the parking lot a few minutes beforehand and took notice of the profile of those that I thought would be my audience. It was shortly after lunch in a very nice adult/senior facility, so immediately I knew 60+ and socially conscious. They were well dressed, many adorned in red accessories as it was Valentine's Day, and driving newer stereotypical Buicks, Smaller SUV's and the occasional Prius for the younger minded, politically correct hippie throw back Goldie's, Heather's and Moonbeam's. Just a reminder that our younger alpha selves most often define the persona that we carry throughout our lives.
These are ladies of a certain age that have lived. Many husbands have preceded to the next step or the golf course, and matriarchal philanthropy propels much of their days and thoughts. These women have raised families, headed organizations, mentored staff and given to their communities with the heart and dedication of the greatest generation and grateful descendants.
I was approached by a wonderfully caring developer/builder I believe as an effort to create a segue to their next step, which is to downsize into a more manageable lifestyle that truly as some point we all need to consider. I was very much aware of what they thought that they would see and hear, but I was more concerned with how I could make them think and feel. We can Google how to do anything, but the true problem lies in the reasons. The-WHY?
It's truly gratifying when you stand in front of a group that is so respectful and truly on the edge of their seats teetering on your every word. It never goes to my head, but quite conversely makes me super aware of my thoughts, words, and inflection so as to make an impact. on their brain, but lovingly touch the heart. We are all a combination of our mind and soul and this moment can only be achieved with that approach.
After a warm hello, quick light hearted joke or two, thanking them in advance for their time and attention, I noticed a number of familiar faces. Years of working in public environments, owning businesses and too being a member of local Chamber's, a few more years, couple extra well placed "laugh lines' and yet another full circle moment in our lives. We're here to once again evaluate where we have been and how that has created a map to where our future leads. Our lives are not just linear, but branch in numerous directions to accomplish many things. The person that we choose to be and project in one decade may be very different than the next. But, we take the history, accomplishments, education and baggage into each new incarnation. Eventually we culminate into our higher selves and begin to realize what is truly important.
Our hearts and homes are full of memories, which for many people equate to a plethora of things that hold an energy that reminds of that time, those moments and the people that we were and those that surrounded us. It's not disrespectful to let the "things" go. The memory and love is not in the object, but in the love of the instant, and this love can only be perpetuated if those objects are gifted along with the history that makes it special. It's only a legacy if it has meaning and is given freely to the next "keeper" to gain one more level of use, patina, meaning, and yes..........respect. To hoard it is greedy. To stack it is needy. To give it freely is the highest form of love.
I reached inside my soul and channeled my Mom, Grandmothers, their sisters (both blood and chosen) and began to speak to their hearts.
How many single tea cups do you have with a broken handle because it was Mom's? How many tatted ,crocheted and needle pointed doilies and pillowcases lie in a trunk to never be used and just get yellow? How many photos are in boxes with no names on the back and no story to make them important after YOU "the Keeper" are gone? How many gravy boats do you actually need? How many boxes of new shoes are in the closet because they are pretty and you used to wear heels for that one occasion?
De-cluttering is more than just reorganizing your stuff. It's letting go of what no longer serves you and gifting what is now to be cared for by another set of hands. It's not disrespectful to let the things go. Quite the contrary. You have done your part and kept them lovingly to pass them to the next level.
It's time to pass Mother's dishes to the niece that now hosts Thanksgiving dinner. Not only give them to her, but expect them to be used. Objects only have love if they are used and loved. If one gets broken, so be it. In our new world of six degrees of separation and google, we can find one more of almost anything.
The bracelet that has sat for years in your jewelry box for just the right moment? Well, the time is now. The 12 year old that you're not sure is quite ready will be propelled into a new level of maturity simply because you gave her the opportunity to grow and the respect to earn respect. The jewelry will hold a special meaning because of the story you tell and the moment of gifting that comes with it. She will be the keeper until it becomes her turn to pass the legacy forward. Otherwise it has no meaning.
It's time to take all of the 70's photos off the wall and replace them with something different, older and newer, with hip new frames to create interest and dialogue so that they too have new life and meaning to a whole budding generation. They want the story. They want your time. Give the kids a side by side of Dad and son in a dual frame so they can see where they came from, how they are connected, and where they are going. Write in the matting a little something that makes you infinite, always watching ................as you will be.
If your son has always been drawn to Dad's gun collection............give him one. If the cookbooks are memorized, fill them full of extra momentos. wrap them in some of that vintage paper and give them to your daughter. Don't forget to give her permission to pass them on as well. If you have duplicate lawn tools, gather them up with a $20 gift card to Lowes and give them to the young couple in their first house down the street. If Great aunt Mollie's table has been sitting in the shed for decades and a little girl would love a new hot pink paint job on an old stand by........do it. Mollie would love it! If the Lionel train set means nothing to a nephew going to college, sell it and help with a new computer.
The point is, we all have stuff. Too much stuff. I give you permission to let it go. The gift is in the memory . The moment. Lighten your load both physically and emotionally. You've been saving it for someday, well we have reached that day. We all know pragmatically how to de-clutter and down-size, but we often save for the sake of MORE. More for that elusive day when we take inventory of our lives and look at all we have. More important than the things are the relationships, family and time. With fewer things on our plate, we have a cleaner slate for the banquet of life. Time for new adventures Time for friends and family both old and yet to come and meet. Time to be our better selves.
Even after this common sense approach, a few of the ladies still wanted a step by step approach. The best I can say is "FOLLOW THROUGH". We live our lives in a someday, or tomorrow process. When you bag up clothes for donation, take them. Don't just put them with the other piles in the spare bedroom or garage and ultimately have that mess to deal with. Don't become overwhelmed. One step at a time,,,,,,,,,,but "FOLLOW THROUGH".
Set aside a small amount of time everyday to accomplish something. Start with 15 minutes, but commit. If you can work for 15 minutes 5 days in a row, I guarantee results that you will be surprised with.
And, once you have edited something from you life, I promise you will rarely if ever think of it again. One must create space for new things. Old things only perpetuate old thoughts and habits. Make room for new ideas, New concepts and hobbies. Lighten your life and take that reclaimed zest and pass it to your friends, family and efforts. This is truly the worth of your legacy.