The Matchbook Crisis 

Many of you know I have been trying to get organized for over the last year.  It sounds pathetic that I am still struggling on getting this done.  It is amazing how life conveniently throws stumbling blocks right in your way.

Throwing stuff away has been a little harder than I imagined.  Not because I’m a collector but because I’m very sentimental.   Remember matches?  I have literally hundreds of matchbooks saved since I was much younger of significant events, travels and favorite restaurants.  Sitting and looking through those reminds me of some pretty awesome days I have shared with family and friends.  The matchbook is the trigger that helps me remember, without it I’m not sure I would remember the event.  Do I throw those away?

Cleaning out closets and drawers takes way more time than I imagined due to the decision of what to keep and what to pitch.  What questions do I ask myself?

  • Am I ever going to use this?
  • Would anyone in my family want this?
  • I love this! Can I lose enough weight to wear it again?
  • Is this a collectible?

– You get the idea!

I’ve listened to several minimalist and organization podcasts (Organize 365 and The Minimalists) and I’ve read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of less and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  All have been useful in helping my mind stay focused and to get the clean out accomplished.  I have many areas to work on yet – but progress is being made.

What I know so far is the trip down memory lane is fun and I look forward to many more great events and experiences.  However for many of our clients the downsizing or clean out seems closer to a final event than looking forward to the next step.  Even the most positive person has a difficult time getting excited about moving to assisted living.  Not only are they limited to a certain amount of items, they are also saying good-bye to a certain way of living.  Many move and love the cleanliness and lack of clutter of a new apartment and jump right in to making new friends and joining in on activities.  However, for some, it is very difficult to give up their “things.”  They are not shallow individuals, they happen to enjoy looking at their collections and taking those walks down memory lane.

Think about it, which one will you be?

Transitioning to a nursing facility is the most difficult from what I have seen.  The nursing facilities are more similar to a hospital room and unless you can pay for a private room you have a roommate.  You have a bed, a television, perhaps a piece or two of personal furniture and have space for a few belonging you hope do not get stolen.  When your body has failed you and your mind is still sharp – it is a gut wrenching process to let go of your stuff.  Your mind is hoping you get well enough to return to assisted living or home but your body is letting you down.  To give up your stuff makes you feel like you are giving up and giving in to the weakness of your body.  All tough to process even for the most positive person.

We help many loved ones through this transitioning, not just with their stuff, but with listening to them and helping them sort out what is most meaningful to them. 

Current trends make most of their furniture and household goods next to worthless. People are shopping at IKEA and other inexpensive stores and prefer new as compared to outdated used.  It is even difficult to get a charity to accept older furniture and goods and their resale shops are overloaded and the value is minimal.  And guess what, our client still remembers what it cost originally!

Empathy and understanding helps make the move to a nursing home more palatable.  Thoughtfulness of what may bring them joy and feel like they are still part of living a life is essential.  While the level of care offered at the facility is vital for the person’s health, how they feel about where they are living is just as vital.  Taking time to visit a client, friend, or family member in a facility is perhaps the best gift you can provide.  They are totally at the stage of life where “things” mean nothing and “time” means everything.

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