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Great Grandma’s China
One of the most angst producing items to get rid of in a home is the family’s set of china. The most expensive bone china was almost a given on all bridal registries and part of the wedding experience was planning a day to meet at the bridal registry at a favorite department store. Now, it stays stacked in piles in a breakfront or on shelves in the basement or packed away in a storage unit.
The sad thing is, right now not many people are interested in grandma’s china therefore it’s very hard to sell china. Unfortunately, those expensive, beautiful pieces of artwork that someone used to crave to be added to their wedding gift registry are out of style. Think of all the familiar manufacturers of china: Noritake, Lenox, Royal Dalton and Mikasa to name a few. There are also grades of china: fine bone china, porcelain, ceramic and earthenware/stoneware.
I suggest getting rid of the heavy dinnerware and use the bone china! Bone china is very durable and tends not to chip like other forms of dinnerware. China is lightweight and easier to handle as we get older. It’s thin and a lot of plates can be stacked in one cabinet.
Speaking of a lot of plates, think about how many you actually need. If you no longer host all the family dinner parties why not keep only the amount that you need for 6 days of meals? Keeping only 6 sets of dinnerware also allows for visiting company.
Try to find an organization who could use the extra dinnerware, think outside the box, ask around to different organizations, you will be surprised which organizations will take them.
Use the fine china, you deserve it!

I want you to understand the gravity of how quickly your situation can change. This is such an important concept that I am writing about it again, 2 years after my first post on the subject of personal control over your items and the importance of DeCluttering while you are still in charge of your faculties and your life.

Mary and Bill were living in their colonial home in a remote section of their town. Living with them were their Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and their wheelchair accessible van that they needed to get around town.  Their daughter lived 2 hours away and was bedridden, pregnant with her first child.

Colonials traditionally have a small half bath on the first floor and a steep staircase to get to the bedrooms and larger, full-size bathrooms. Mary was in a wheelchair because of some difficulty walking and it had been determined that she should go to a rehabilitation facility to gain back some physical strength.  At the same time, her husband Bill was moved to a different facility in a different town in order for him to regain strength lost after an illness.  They were both headed towards release from their perspective rehabilitation facilities and they decided it was time to move to a permanent home in an assisted living center which would entail moving to a third location.  Mary called me to see if we could facilitate that move to that third facility and coordinate with their CNA’s.

We set up a meeting so I could I meet with the 2 CNA’s to understand what Mary and Bill would need.  Mary had told me over the phone items she would need in their now very small one-bedroom apartment at their new home, but all other decisions were up to the CNA’s and they went back and forth as to which items should be taken to the new place.  They tried their best and I waited patiently for them to decide.

An issue came up while we were trying to get their possessions moved: I couldn’t get in contact with their head CNA, phone calls were made by me but never returned to me until a family member let me know that the CNA had been admitted to the hospital themselves!!  When we went to move the items that had been chosen we were told some of them were staying at the house and some new items were being taken to the new place.  We got the new items loaded up, unloaded at the new home and I set up their apartment in anticipation of Mary and Bill’s arrival the next day which was Thursday.  Friday, I got a call that Bill had died.

Months later I was giving a DeCluttering presentation at Mary’s new home and Mary attended. She wanted others to know what she had been through on her journey to her new one-bedroom home and recounted her story to all in attendance.  She wanted everyone to know she had zero say in what was taken to her new home, her nurse companion made those decisions for her and Bill and neither of them ever returned to their former home.  Mary said to listen to Deirdre, get rid of items while you are in charge.

I hope you will heed what Mary said and contact me if you need help onsite or from a distance.  www.DeClutterByDeirdre.com

Why haven’t you DeCluttered (even though you want to)?

You want to DeClutter but it seems like an overwhelming prospect to you. Websites are filled with images of rows and rows of matchy-matchy clear plastic containers with the perfect script or block lettering labels on them or, there are rows of color-coordinated cloth bins to separate like items. You think I want that! I want my closets and pantries to look like that. Excitedly you start dreaming of how your closet and/or pantry will look once it’s completely organized.

First, there are some decisions to make. Matching clear plastic bins and clear labels with black lettering or white labels with your favorite color lettering. Maybe you want the cloth, colorful bins. Do the containers you choose have lids, do you need lids or do containers without lids work better for your life? First, you must buy the matching clear plastic containers, where do you go for the “best” ones? Oh boy, now you must purchase a label maker. Hhhhmmm, do you choose the clear labels or the white labels?

This type of organizing, unless you’re a professional, is exhausting even before you begin! Decide for yourself which type of organizing will work best with your life. If decision making around bins and label makers and labels stop you in your DeCluttering tracks maybe you don’t need that level of organization right now. Maybe that’s something to be done in the future after you’ve DeCluttered.

Right now, reduce your stress. Look at what you want to accomplish utilizing baby steps. Don’t go buy hundreds of dollars of supplies, that adds pressure as well. Do what you can with what you have and in the future put together a fabulous labeled space.  If you need help, contact me. We can DeClutter your space utilizing Distance DeClutter By Deirdre where I will walk you through the process. I know how to support you and take away the overwhelm, contact me. DeClutterByDeirdre@gmail.com.

ReConnect Live with Family and Long Time Friends.

Here is one of the very best things you can do for yourself, right now, to enrich your life and bring you joy!!  Think about longtime friends who bring joy into your life, think about the ones who make you smile and laugh so much your sides hurt!!!  Have you spoken to them recently?  If not, ReConnect Live with them, today!!  Whether they are family, friends or friends who act like family: reach out and reach out to them LIVE, in real time, no texting.

I don’t want you to text or write an email, ReConnect via live or in-person: make a phone call, Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, etc.   If you had to leave a message and they don’t call you back right away, don’t take it personally, enjoy the conversations you have with the people who do call you back or that do get in touch with you and expound upon those.

What if you called 5 people in a week, for a 10-minute call?  Put your timer on and say to them “I’m just calling for 10 minutes, tell me what’s going on with you and then I’ll take 2 minutes telling you what’s going on with me.”  The following day move on to the next person on your ReConnect Live list. Imagine how enriched your life will be and how many different, life-enhancing subjects and happenings that you will learn about. Perhaps you’ll acquire a different point of view, perhaps you’ll learn some great insights that changes your perspective on your life, perhaps you learn to take care of something. What will happen is you will rekindle your joyful spirit.

If you’re afraid that you won’t be able to think of something to chat about with someone on the fly, take a couple notes on subjects that you want to discuss with them and have a light discussion, nothing heavy.  It can be something like:  did you read about the latest law going into effect? have you seen the color that was chosen as the color of the year? have you decided on what you’re going to do this summer for vacation? did you see what the Housewives did on their latest episode? Respect their opinions without judgment.  Feelings of judgment are the quickest way to shut down or heat up a conversation.

Keep it light or keep it deep?  That depends on your relationship with the person you are speaking with and where you want to take it (or leave it).  Do you want to deepen your relationship or do you want it to be light and fluffy? By keeping in touch with a variety of different people we can be exposed to different points of view.   You wouldn’t speak to everyone about politics, for example.  You shouldn’t speak to everyone about the new color of the year and perhaps you shouldn’t speak to everyone about where you’re going on vacation this year.

I do suggest that you give a chance to people who might want to know what the new color is even though in the past, you generally spoke with them about their child.  Think outside the box, this will help you expand and deepen in that friendship.  Perhaps get together live/in-person to enjoy a cup of coffee, lunch or perhaps a weekend away.  Discuss things that are on top of your brain or the things that are really weighing heavily on your brain, whatever you do reach out!  Talk to people and if they don’t call you back don’t take it personally just move on but keep them in your heart.

Bring joy to yourself and others, make the call!

A few years back Hurricane Charley hit our then home and we had to get rid of most the contents, somehow our photographs, my parent’s former dining room set, and our important papers were spared because of where they were located in our home.  They were in the dining room of the home behind a little wall that had, thanks to the storm, one of my neighbor’s roof tiles embedded into it at head height.

Luckily, because this was a new-to-us home and we were planning on a remodel we had taken lots of photos of the current contents and we had photos of the contents already in boxes that were to be used once the home was remodeled.   However, this is not the way I would have chosen to DeClutter.

Recently, we had a trailer stolen out of a storage facility.  The thief cut the lock on the gate to the facility then cut the lock on our new trailer.  We had sold a home and placed everything we still wanted in the trailer awaiting the purchase of a new home.  Included in that trailer were family heirlooms that I was holding until family members could all gather together, and we could distribute the heirlooms to their new owners.  It also included items I had been given through inheritance that would be perfect for our new home, tools, painted family portraits, an entire kitchen set up, all my winter clothing and all sorts of treasures I hoped would grace our new home.   Again, not a good way to DeClutter!

Both times I felt an incredible sense of loss for different reasons.  The first time I was overwhelmed by the devastation and amount of work involved in repairing and replacing all that was lost and damaged. The good news is I had lots of photos of the contents of the home for insurance reimbursement.

The second time was more emotional because of the loss of family heirlooms and I hadn’t recorded everything in the trailer because some of it had just come into my possession.  And, I thought they would very soon be dispersed.  Every couple of days I recall another item I had in the stolen trailer.

My suggestion is to take lots of photos of items and if you can, keep receipts with the photos.  The insurance company wants to know you paid for an item to record it as a loss, of course.

My message is twofold: 1. Don’t wait to take care of something you need to do in the future, I thought I was being considerate and hoping to have a celebration to distribute the inherited items. I should have immediately taken photos and distributed them to all parties involved. 2. Keep good records including pictures of items separate from the items themselves, even if you expect something to be a quick turnaround. I suggest keeping photos in 2 separate locations.

It’s not the way I would have liked to DeClutter those items but it’s what happened.  On the bright side, it will be fun finding updated replacements for items that were lost and I’ll always have my memories.

A photo is worth a thousand words….

I was thinking the other day how lucky I am to have reconnected with former teachers who had a huge impact on my life.  I thought about the difference teachers can make on a person’s trajectory during their early years and how that impact is felt forever.

One of my favorites, Ms. Hagerty, introduced our class to her love of reading through acting out the voices for us as she read The Hobbit every day after lunch.  This practice decluttered our minds and got us ready to absorb the afternoon’s lessons.  It showed us the importance of reading every day, even for only a half hour and how that can transport you to another world. Many classmates have passed the love of reading on to their children through that book.

Ms. Hagerty also took us on field trips where experiential learning took place and made learning fun.  Everyone wanted to sit next to her, just to be in her presence and absorb whatever concept she was relating to us at the time. And, we tried out a new concept, an “Open Classroom” where we had classes on the school’s lawn, under a tree.  Exposure to new ways of teaching allowed us to understand how we best learn as individuals.

One of my classmates, Dina, remembers the Prisoner of War bracelets Ms. Hegarty introduced us to.  Prisoner of War bracelets http://thewall-usa.com/bracelet.asp  were created during the Viet Nam war as a reminder that soldiers were not forgotten.  On each POW/MIA bracelet was the name, rank and loss date of an American soldier. We purchased and wore them keeping an eye out for each soldier’s return to the United States so we could return the bracelet to the POW/MIA soldier so they understood they were never forgotten.  “POW bracelets taught us to be socially conscious, she didn’t treat us like 5th graders, she treated us like people who could make a difference in the world.”

Understanding that we all learn differently, she spoke about her vulnerability when she learns new things and passed on her tips and tricks to help us as unique individuals best learn in our own way.  She was so organized and had such well-planned lessons and outings we never felt confused by what we were going to be doing that day or what we were learning, she showed us how to organize and declutter our minds.

It was a very safe learning environment. What a gift our grammar school gave us by hiring her!  Imagine, a teacher being able to reach 40 unique students in a variety of ways, ways that worked while creating socially conscious people.   I cannot thank her enough!  Why not reach out to your positive former teachers?

 

Wasting Away

Growing up most of us are taught not to waste anything because there are people starving, that people would love to have what we have so be sure you don’t waste it.  I remember the nuns saying don’t waste your food there are people starving and some classmate would say under his/her breath “then why don’t we send it to them”, GREAT idea and this concept of sending things we don’t use to someone who could use it is most easily translated to our “stuff”.

I work with people who possess an overabundance of “stuff” and when I ask them why they keep so many pieces of a certain item, many times, I’m met with a shrug and “I don’t know”.  I encounter tens and tens of collared knit shirts, tens of multiples of tens of T-shirts (I might go so far as to say hundreds of T-shirts) and lots and lots of black pants.  People don’t know what to do with these item s and they don’t want to be wasteful, so they don’t deal with the overabundance of items they possess.

What if we looked at being wasteful in a different context?  What would you say if I said to you these items are being wasted because they are shoved into the back of your drawer or closet and NO ONE is using them, and they are wasting away when they could be put to good use by someone else.

I know that if I find T-shirts stuffed into the bottom of your hall closet you are wasting them.  I know that if I find collared knit shirts hanging in your laundry room covered in dust you are wasting them.  I know that if I find boxes of socks in the basement covered in mouse poop you are wasting them.  I know that if I find a total of 270 shirts in your home in various rooms that 240 of them are being wasted.  I know that if I find cans of tomato paste, vegetables, tuna fish, or any food item, past their expiration date they are being wasted.

Your money is being wasted.  If you stopped buying excess what could you do with that wasted money?  Would your bank account have a positive number?  Would you be able to go out for a beautiful meal once a month? Would you feel better because you contributed to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter?  Would you be able to volunteer somewhere with the hours not wasted buying items you don’t need?

Be conscious of your spending, donate what you can, enjoy experiences.

Stop Waste NOW.  You can do it!

Look at the photo, what do you see?  The front door is on the other side of the cabinet.   The FRONT door, where Emergency Medical Service personnel will come in to help.  There are items spread all out, no huge piles, it doesn’t seem too bad…but it is!!

When I enter a home to do my initial assessment I am mainly looking at the safety of the environment: the physical safety of the people living in the home, the safety of people entering the home and working in the home, the brain health of the occupants meaning is there an outside influence? I will make suggestions right off the bat.  Safety first, always.

First thing to take a look at is creating a clear path to an exit.  It may seem obvious or you think: I can get around that pile, well don’t count on it.  In the heat of an emergency you can forget your own name let alone how to get out of a dangerous situation.  Ensure that all exits have a clear, unencumbered path leading out.  Do not leave items in an exit path thinking you can step on them if you had to.  In the case of an emergency, they can become the biggest obstacle between you living and dying.  You can slip on an area rug, clothing, drapes, any kind of plastic, containers that can hold things like buckets or food containers, newspapers, magazines, cans, bottles and fall making all the difference in getting out the door or being trapped.

People have good intentions and create piles of things that must be dealt with so they place them in the hallway.  Ask yourself, could an EMS stretcher get down that hallway?  If someone came to assist you could they get the two of you out and past furniture and accumulation of items with plenty of elbow room and nothing to slip on?

Plan with “what if” scenarios in mind.  You will feel so relieved you did and that you were prepared if the time ever comes.

Re-Connect Movement
My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and asked our family not to tell anyone. That was a really challenging request because when I speak to family and friends they always ask how I am and I couldn’t tell them the truth that my heart was breaking, I didn’t know what to do and I needed their comforting words. I got the blues, I turned inward and became isolated because it was too hard to tell people I’m fine, my family is fine, everything is fine.

In my work as a Move Manager, DeClutterer, Organizer I see people who also are disconnected from family/friends/life, have the blues, who cling to items out of a sense of loss, people who assign the soul of those who have died or left to things and I get it. I see them unable to make a decision for themselves because they have decided to protect themselves and this is the only way they know how.


Our clients have a lot of fear of the unknown, they have experienced loss: divorce, death, illness, loss of a career, loss of home, loss of friends, trauma, full-time care of a child or family member, loss of money all of which can translate into fear and many times there is no one with them taking the journey. I always ask my clients “Who is your support”? Many times, it’s me and the lovely, trustworthy, caring people who work with me. 


My thought was, I see the disconnect in my life and those I work with, how can I change that? How can I help myself and others to be more connected? I came up with the Re-Connect Movement.


I thought about how speaking live, either on the phone or in person, to someone could change my hour, my day, my week and my life. I thought about how just the act of reaching out could show me courage and open paths to uplifting emotions and clearer emotions then I thought about how this could impact my clients and others to help them declutter those areas in their lives they were hanging on to.
Please, join me.