August 26, 2021
Lighten Your Load
There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who can get rid of things and those who can’t. I’m one of those people who can’t.
Not trying to be over dramatic, but I believe I would rather spend the day having dental work than to sort through “my stuff”. I have an entire room in my house designated for holding items that currently serve no purpose. The rows of clear plastic boxes all labeled “Misc.” is a sight to behold. It’s a “life collection” of sorts, and letting go of it feels like saying goodbye to old friends.
Something tells me I am not alone in this plight to “save my stuff”.
A few years ago I made a trip to help my mother-in-law make a transition from her home of fifty years to a much smaller senior apartment. I saw first hand where the mind set of “I may need that someday” eventually gets you. After years of intending to go through and sort out “her stuff”, the day finally arrived when all those good intentions met reality.
Unfortunately at 89 years of age she no longer had the physical or emotional strength for the task. So, in came the family members to help Mom sort through a lifetime of memories.
The seemingly endless phrase “what about this and what about that” proved too emotionally exhausting for her to deal with. So, now it was up to family members to decide what would go with her and then what to do with everything that got left behind. Without a lot of Mom’s input, we made the best decisions we could. But sadly, the commercial-size dumpster that sat stoically in her driveway became the dwelling place for a good portion of her “stuff”.
This difficult experience opened my eyes to the importance of letting go of material possessions that are no longer needed.
Returning home, I had new motivation to downsize my own belongings before my own children had to go through this same experience with me.
When beginning the downsizing process, it’s helpful to make a list of the things you treasure the most (things you are not willing to part with) and keep the list handy while sorting through your items to determine what to keep and what to get rid of. Early on in the process, ask your adult children to come and collect their childhood belongings and offer them anything that you would like to see kept in the family. You may have friends interested in some of your things as well.
After family and friends have the items they want, consider having a garage sale or maybe even a home auction if your possessions are of substantial value. Another option is to donate your items to a charitable organization that helps those in need. Many charities will come and pick up your donations and give you a receipt for a tax deduction.
Since downsizing is a process, give it plenty of time. If it seems overwhelming, ask a family member, your caregiver or a professional service to help you. The right help can be very valuable in making decisions that are difficult for a person to make alone.
Imagine for a moment what it would feel like to have a simpler, less encumbered life. No doubt the reward will be much greater than the effort put into achieving it.
Personally, when I finish a task I have been putting off, it brings a greater sense of order and contentment to my life.
I recently read in the Bible that “Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out”.
Wow, imagine carrying nothing out! Now that’s what I call the ultimate “light load”.