Our Journey to Independent Living
#1 Don’t be a Sissy!
My friend’s mother, Sissy, passed away several years ago. She was much beloved, and many family memories were preserved in her home. It was full of love. It was also filled with a lifetime accumulation of furniture, artwork, collections, Christmas, with a full attic and garage… (you get the picture…and likely it sounds familiar)
Sarah and her husband boarded up the house and let it sit there for 5 years. They were unable to deal with the grief, as well as the effort and expense of going through the contents and deciding what to do with everything.
Sarah had inherited the house, but it had become more of a burden than a gift. She had a full-time job, one child still in school and two small grandchildren. Her hands were as busy as they could be.
When the second grandchild came along, his parents needed more space. Sarah and her husband decided to work out an arrangement with their son to become the new owner. Sarah and her husband would move into Sissy’s house.
With all that is going on in Sarah’s life, football games, babysitting the grands, full time job and enjoying friends and family, she is beyond stressed living among the furniture and contents accumulated by her mother over a lifetime.
Having to go through it all is difficult enough, the memories must range from heartwarming to painful, but it is a job that must be done at some point, by someone. And what to do with the knick knacks, collectibles, the multiple sets of dishes and china, all the furnishings that are not, in the least, appreciated by a younger generation?
I read an article from February 2022 in the New Yorker:
A Guide to Getting Rid of Almost Everything
Once you’ve thanked and said goodbye to the items that do not spark joy, what can you do with them?
The article was filled with wonderful advice, but this paragraph really hit me:
As you surely have heard, the younger generations have no interest in inheriting the loot amassed by their materialistic baby-boomer parents. Silver, crystal, fondue sets, Ethan Allen hutches—they want none of it. Why are they looking gift horses in the mouth? A young friend tried to explain. “Our generation wants to feel like we’re in a space that we put together and designed ourselves, not a microcosm of our parents’ house,” he said. “Since so many of us were largely financially dependent on our parents into our early twenties, we want to feel like we built some aspect of our lives without help.”
Once we realized that our children “have no interest in inheriting the loot amassed by their materialistic baby-boomer parents”, we decided we needed to look at our “amassed loot” from a fresh perspective.
Step #1 on our Independent Living Journey: Don’t be a Sissy.
Start today on a plan to de-stuff, declutter, say goodbye to what brings no joy. It is a BIG, BIG, MONUMENTAL decision and an even larger task! But it is doable. And it is freeing. Do it while you are still able to! Don’t leave it to family to handle later. That is an unfair and selfish decision. Do it for yourself. Do it so that the remainder of your time in this great big world can be full of only the things that you need and enjoy and the people that you love.
I can tell you from experience, the box of Wizard of Oz collectibles in the attic brings no joy when it is boxed up and never seen. The thrill of the hunt was great fun, but the storage of that thrill is not enjoyable. It is also likely worth nothing as an investment and won’t sell at a flea market! I have given away much of it to children of family and friends. In this way, I have been able to share my love of all things OZ with so many others who will pay it forward one day. There are a few items that truly do fill me with joy when I see it. Those I will keep. I will find room for them when we move from a 3000sf home to a 1400sf apartment in our new Independent Living community.
Getting here has not been easy, but it is liberating! The New Yorker article has some great tips. There are so many organizations who will take and use your “stuff” to benefit someone else. Maybe you can sell or consign some things, but don’t be wed to that idea. Find a home, a good home for it all. Spread the joy and then free yourself for a new definition of joy.
Don’t be a Sissy. Your family won’t want to do, later, what you are struggling to do today. Just take a step forward and start on that journey. Do it for yourself, and for your family. If they want any of it, they will let you know. Don’t assume they have the room for it, or that they care about any of it, or find any spark of joy, simply because you did. Free them as well as yourselves from all your “stuff”.
A word to the family… If there IS anything that brings you joy, that you would LOVE to have… PLEASE tell your parents TODAY. Do not let pride or whatever prevent you from doing that! They will be thrilled to know that you have an interest…so PLEASE let them know! If they are not ready to dispose of it today, they can put your name on it and relieve any anxiety for later. 🥰
So…. #1 Don’t be a Sissy!
Make a plan today to declutter, gift, detach, let go. Determine what is important to you and let go of everything else.
I had a conversation just last night with a couple thinking about this journey and their main concern was where am I going to put all my stuff… my response… “don’t be a Sissy”… start there!
Sell, give away, gift, donate, trash…do it now… celebrate what brings joy and simplify your life.
You will thank me later! Don’t be a Sissy!
Mimi Beckes, The Davis Community