Can’t Take It With You… by JoAnn

A man driving a truck with an older woman sitting in the back.

It appears that I am still in the downsizing phase of my life. Just as I think I’m nearing the end, it becomes clear that I still have plenty to go. I have written about this before, and with each missive, I have thought it would be my last. But here I sit, mulling over how to lessen my load yet again.

Since this task seems to be never-ending, I decided to get some help. I reached out to a Facebook group whose members are going through the same thing I am. Many of them have it a lot worse than me. They are in the phase I was in many years ago. This group helped me to know that I am not a bad person for having too much stuff! Just about everyone on this earth has too much stuff. The members encourage others to vent about their stress, ask for and give tips on how to handle the problems in downsizing, etc. It is sad to hear of someone struggling to rid their home of items they have had for many years. Even more tragic is the mental hold these objects have over them.

Old folks used to call it “breaking up housekeeping .”Since I’m an old folk myself, I finally realized what they were talking about. It’s getting rid of all the things you used when raising a family and now no longer need. You no longer need the boxes upon boxes of items that you mentally labeled “just in case .”No one but you is in your home to use them. So the chance that they are still needed is zero. And as far as someone else in your family wanting the items, that is at zero too.

It was a hard pill to swallow that one of my three daughters or two granddaughters would probably not want any of my collectibles after I’m gone. But I had to face the truth. When my own mother passed, she had hundreds of collectibles accumulated over the last 20 years of her life. I now own 1 of her items. The memories are what I hold dear. I never knew I would feel that way until after she was gone. The things just don’t matter. Oh, I am sure there are others who collect antiques and rare items that are handed down from generation to generation. But usually, that’s not the case.

So I finally realized that when I leave this earth, I cannot take my earthly possessions with me, and no one I leave behind will want them! So I am holding on to items that make me happy NOW. All others are either thrown away or given to Goodwill. My youngest daughter has graciously been helping me sort through and clean as I go. My home will never be the large house where I raised my children. I will likely remain in a small apartment like I am now, and I do not want clutter. Let’s face it, too much stuff is too much.

Through this long process, I learned something vital: to not just “organize” your clutter but get rid of it! That was the most freeing lesson I have learned thus far. I used to think I needed to buy as many plastic totes and bins as I could get my hands on. All I was doing was organizing stuff I would never use again—what a waste of precious time. Getting rid of it is so wonderful. It really takes a load off.

I am happier now than I have been in a very long time because I have finally gained control over this part of my life. It truly does become a burden. If you know someone who is struggling with this problem, do them a favor, and offer your help. Never judge; just lend a helping hand wherever they need it. The more my daughter helped me, the stronger I became, and now I don’t need her help to decide whether I need something or not. I can easily let go and feel happy about it.