I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.
W. C. Fields
Wow, is this a sad story. A widow whose home was rehabbed by the television show “Extreme Makeover” just lost her house to foreclosure, has to move out, and doesn’t know where she will go.
There’s lots of blame to go around here, from the television show producers that insisted on a huge, showy makeover, to a government that charges ridiculously high property taxes, to a woman who was under stress but should never have agreed to have her house improved to such an extreme.
The fact is that a widow with three boys never needed a 3,300 square foot house with with all the latest amenities, including an indoor water wall. She just needed a safe sturdy house in which to raise her boys.
So many people have lost their homes over the past decade because they chose to live in a place that was much larger and fancier than what they really needed. When will people learn? Small and affordable = freedom and peace!
My sister is getting ready to sell her 6-bedroom mansion and downsize to a two-bedroom condo. For most people, this would mean spending weeks or even months going through everything, deciding what to donate, what to sell, what to pitch and what to allow in the new place. That’s how it was for me when I moved from our 5-bedroom house to a tiny ranch.
But that won’t happen to my sister. She has plenty of furniture in the home she’s about to sell, but she’ll sell most, if not all of it, without a backwards glance. As for the personal belongings, well, she doesn’t have that many.
You see, my sister is the opposite of a hoarder; she rarely keeps anything. This was predictable way back when we were kids sharing a bedroom. Her twin bed was always neatly made, with just one cute little doll or stuffed animal on the pillow as a decoration. Meanwhile, my bed had at least half-a-dozen dolls on it.
Her side of the dresser held a little ballerina statue and a hair brush. My side was covered with belongings and mementos of all sorts, starting at the imaginary line in the center and running out to the very edge. She often looked at my side of the dresser and said, “You’re such a slob!”
I disagreed; I just loved all my stuff, and I had lots of interests, which automatically translates into lots of stuff.
As a budding writer, I regularly used a toy typewriter I got for Christmas. It was parked on a card table in the corner of our room that I used it as a desk. Like most writers, I was also an avid reader; my Nancy Drew collection took up most of the space on our little bookshelf.
Of course, I had other toys besides the dolls on my bed. I had lots of Barbie dolls so they could talk to each other, and naturally they had lots of clothes, and they needed a furnished Barbie house, which I also had. Then there was my love of sewing, which let me to collect fabric remnants, sewing tools and a collection of patterns.
Meanwhile, my sister had very few belongings because she had very few interests. I don’t remember what she did back then besides fight with me over the sorry state of my side of the room. I do recall that she took ballet lessons, but other than that I think she mostly watched television. To her complaints about my being a slob, I usually retorted that she was boring.
She still is, to be honest. But she’s got the edge on me now, because her move from the mansion to the condo is going to be the smoothest downsizing ever, I just know it.
In the early 1980s, my husband and I bought a lovely Oriental rug that graced our dining room for many years. It was a big purchase for us, back when we had two incomes and no kids, and we really loved that rug.
Yesterday he asked me whatever happened to that rug, and I couldn’t remember. We bought it for our first house, but it didn’t really have a place in our second house, which was fully carpeted, and so we put it in the basement, and then…what? We must have gotten rid of it during our big downsizing ten years ago, but neither of us remember what we did with it.
It’s funny how you can have possessions that you love a lot, that you don’t think you’ll ever get rid of, but then you do, and over time you forget what even happened to them. This is an important point to realize and remember when you need to declutter your home, because you’re forced to, like we were, or because it just really needs to be done, and you’re having a hard time letting go of things.
The truly important things in your life are people, not things. Everything else is expendable, and someday you won’t even remember what you did with most of your stuff. I wish I’d known that when I was younger; decluttering wouldn’t have been such an enormous, time-consuming project!
Stalking: when two people go for a long romantic walk together but only one of them knows it.
Some commenters on this article about a young man who built a very nice home out of truck trailers focus too much on the fact that he had a place to park his new home, and not on the fact that he has found a great way to save a fortune on rent.
Today’s economy is forcing young people to be creative like this. How much better to build your own home on your folks’ land instead of wasting away in their basement!
Today a catalog arrived in the mail. It was filled with nostalgic items for people of a certain age…like me. When I got to the page where you can buy all sorts of candy that was available when I was a child, the color photos of the different packages of candy brought back good memories.
And that reminded me of what I did when we downsized and gave up so many of our belongings: I took photos of the items I loved but couldn’t keep. When I look at those photos, all the memories linked to those items come flooding back, and it’s lovely.
So if you dread decluttering because you have a hard time letting go of sentimental items, remember you can just whip out your phone and take a photo of each beloved item. You don’t have to hold something in your hand to bring back memories: a photo will do, and it takes up a lot less room.