Tag Archives: retirement

Perspectives on Letting Go

freedom release letting go

Ahh, attachments to our stuff. It’s really all a mental game. If we were truly able to assess our belongings according to our practical needs, we would probably be living with 10% of what we own.

Why is letting go so hard? How do we manage the psychology of releasing things?

Over the years, we’ve seen people find success with one (or a combination) of these three approaches:

Focus on how you can help yourself

Honor the life you want to live. Have a vision of how you want to be in the world and edit your stuff so you can match that and live your best life now. This is about releasing the past and creating your ideal future. You’re honoring yourself by letting that be your focus.

Focus on how you can help other people

Recognize that your excess is a form of abundance. Release your objects so they can serve their purpose in other people’s lives. Release resentment or other negative emotions that the objects bring up in you and put them out into the world to do positive things for other people.

Feng Shui expert Karen Kingston tells a story of a divorced woman had a pair of large, expensive decorative urns from her divorce settlement. They were beautiful but made her think, with bitterness, of her ex-husband.  She was encouraged to sell them and get a lot of money for them instead of having them foster bitterness and resentment and a constant reminder of a painful relationship.

Focus on how you can help the environment

Bringing in less can aid the environment, but disposing of things in a thoughtful way will help offset the environmental impact of consumption. Some people hesitate to clean out a closet or garage because they don’t want it all to go to landfill. Take advantage of living in the San Francisco Bay Area which is filled with easy options for recycling/reuse and responsible disposal.

Stopwaste.org is a quick way to find what is available near you. There are many places that accept e-waste, expired medicines, CFLs, hazardous waste, styrofoam, packing peanuts and air-packs. Partially used art and office supplies can go to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse or S.C.R.A.P., building materials and hardware can go to Urban Ore or a Habitat for Humanity ReStore outlet. Plastic children’s toys, if not donate-able, can be recycled with hard plastic at most urban recycling centers. There are also resources for your unneeded medical equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, tubing, etc.)

Freecycle, Craigslist, Nextdoor, and other community neighborhood forums are great places to post usable items for free.  These places allow you to find people who want your cast-offs and will take care of the hauling!

If you don’t want to deal with the public, you can pay for a hauler to come. EcoHaul, 1-800-Got Junk, Lugg are companies that advertise responsible disposal of items the remove from your place.

There is no “right” approach. What is that key that will release you from the obligation to hold on to things you don’t need and really don’t even want? Not sure how to get rid of something? Just ask! As Professional Organizers, we’ve got ideas!

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Filed under Decluttering, organizing, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

5 Tips for Helping Your Parents Downsize

mom-daughter

Are your parents ready to move? Maybe one is thinking about moving but the other isn’t ready? Are you worried about their safety and think they should be thinking about moving but they don’t seem interested at all?

Assess the situation and be realistic. Deciding to downsize is process with many layers and chapters. Where are your parents in that process?

  1. Not ready. Can’t see themselves leaving home
  2. Considering the possibility, but not convinced
  3. Ready but don’t know where or how
  4. Ready and have a plan

Assuming your folks ARE ready to move and are just getting started, here are some tips for helping you successfully help them:

  • Your pace may not be their pace. Be respectful and mindful of where your parents are at in the process of being ready to move. You’ll only be able to go as fast as they are capable and willing to. Understanding their resistances rather than fighting them will enable you to better tailor your message to their ears.
  • Help assess their immediate needs. Are they or you considering moving because of a need around safety, health, hygiene, housekeeping, meals, or social life? Help identify solutions to challenges in these areas while they are still at home if possible.
  • Don’t let your attachments hold them bac Can’t believe they are wanting to get rid of the special quilt Aunt Mary made? Then you take it!
  • Don’t take sides. When one person in the couple wants to move but the other doesn’ Generally, unless health and safety are at risk, there are many pros and cons to moving – all subject to a particular person’s perspective. Remember that the negotiation process between couples is complicated and not so much about right and wrongs as it is about finding a set of solutions that both can live with.
  • Offer to find resources. Downsizing and moving can require a lot of research and using different vendors – offer to research and coordinate potential resources that may be needed during the process. This can allow your parent to focus on the work of sorting and decision making.
    • Estate sale folk, auction houses, online auctions: who is in the area? How do they work and what percentage do they take? What happens to the things not sold?
    • Thrift stores – which ones will come pickup from the house? Which ones require staging things outside? Who will take what?
    • Hazardous waste – how to get rid of leftover cleaners and chemicals in your area? (stopwaste.org) Are free pickups offered for seniors in your area?
    • Free city bulky waste pickups – most cities offer at least 1 per year but all have different rules about how to schedule them, what can be picked up, and how items have to be organized at the curb.
    • Movers & packers – find out rates, ranges, and availability. Check reviews and call references
    • Professional moving/organizing help – Sometimes an extra hand is needed to make the move happen. NASMM.org and NAPO.net both offer search pages to find professionally trained help in your area.

Additional resources you may find useful:

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Filed under Bay Area Services, children, Decluttering, downsizing, Empty Nest, Perspective

Organizing Your Legacy

Is there anything that you wouldn't want others to deal with after you're gone?

Is there anything that you wouldn’t want others to deal with after you’re gone?

Don’t you hate cleaning up after other people’s messes? Anyone who has a roommate may have had this experience – dishes left in the sink, wet towels on the bathroom floor, laundry half done in the laundry room. What a drag to have to take care of other’s people’s stuff that they could have dealt with themselves!

How does this relate to organizing? Many times we’ve worked with clients who have brought us in to organize their homes after having dealt with cluttered estates of their parents or other relatives. They’re very aware of not wanting to leave behind the same mess for their children or friends.

It’s easy to think that’s a “someday project” – the reality is weeding is MUCH simpler and easier when it happens regularly, not put off and saved until accumulation is overwhelming.

Here are some key areas to weed regularly and keep under control:

  • Paperwork –Wading through decades of accumulated bills, account statements, articles, contracts, etc. trying to figure out what is important is a nightmare for a survivor.
  • Personal documents – Any surprising information in those old diaries and journals that you’d be loathe to have someone read after you’re gone?
  • Collections of value. If you collect anything of value, have it appraised and take care of it while you are around so when you’re gone it’s easier to deal with as a collection.
  • Collections of sentiment or hobby – If you collect things that are valuable to you but not necessarily on the open market keep the collection organized and reasonably sized. Identify a friend or organization that may make use of it after you’re gone.
  • Garage and storage areas – These are easy to get out of hand because typically there’s lots of space and it’s easy to just let older items linger in the back corners. This includes household hardware, glue, rope, paint, tools, sport supplies, wood scraps. Make regular trips to the household hazardous waste center.
  • Toiletries and cleaning supplies – Old makeup, shampoo, travel size items, specialty cleaners…these easily accumulate clogging up valuable storage space and creating a disposal chore when you’re gone.

As you are weeding, extract and keep these items separate and easy to find:

  • Key Financial Documents – Current insurance policies, bills, and estate information need to be immediately accessible if something happens to you. Purge old copies to avoid confusion.
  • Will/Trust – You do have one, right?
  • Safe Deposit Box – Information and key

If this feels overwhelming already, get help!

Utilize family and friends, hire an organizer and consult with an estate attorney. Two great Bay Area estate attorneys we recommend are Richard Lee of Blythe, Lee & Associates, 510-272-0200 x304 and Alexandria M. Ayoub of Ferguson & Berland, 510-548-9005.

What small action could you take this week to help take care of your own business so others won’t have to when you’re gone?

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Filed under Decluttering, Empty Nest, Garage, General Organizing, Memorabilia, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Storage, Strategies