Those things that make us tick - our passions and interests - sometimes stick with us for a lifetime and others are more passing fancies. Whether it be a sport, hobby, craft, career - the possibilities are endless. Regardless of what that is, when we are "in to" something we tend to collect items that have to do with it. I used to be a big sewer/quilter. Couldn't pass a quilt shop without stopping. Heck, I planned trips around quilt shop locations! Did I collect fabric? Yes! Patterns? Yes! Sewing machines? Well, yes!
Eventually my life moved in different directions and as much enjoyment as I got out of the sewing, the time I had to do it in decreased and I spent less time in and around quilt shops and fabric, not to mention in front of the sewing machine. My passion for organizing, and running We Love Messes, gradually took over and commandeered my sewing time.
What happens when we are over it? Our passion has decreased either by necessity or declining interest and we've moved on to something else, yet the things we collected over time that to support our hobby remain - unused, gathering dust, and taking up valuable space in our worlds.
Take a look around - do you see items that you used to use a lot but haven't touched in months, maybe even years? Might be clutter! Ask yourself the following questions to see if they are truly worth the space they take.
How about you? Have you given away something from a hobby or special interest and not given it a second thought? Or given away something and regretted it later? Inquiring minds want to know!
Guest Post by Chris Oldenburg
Right-Sizing and Our Grandparents
At first I honestly thought it was morbid and creepy - doling out personal belongings as if a loved one has passed while he or she is still alive. But now I’ve realized the benefits are about more than an organized home before dying – they’re about living a calmer, more fulfilled life. I guess Tammy would call this “right-sizing”!
Grandpa had been gone already 20 years, and Grandma at 92 made the necessary decision to move to assisted living. And Grandma – as intelligent and practical as ever – utilized a plan to share those things she no longer needed – and those memories.
She selected what she would need at assisted living, but what to do with a house filled with life, memories, and the things of time? All of the things Grandma didn’t need and that held some kind of family connection filled a large room, each item labeled with a note denoting things such as where it originated. Over the span of about a week grandchildren were able to come in to the room and for lack of a better word “sign-up” for which items we might like to have in descending order of importance. The aunts and uncles then got together and equitably divided the items. In the case of a tie – numbers were drawn.
Random items such as extra Tupperware or household supplies were sent to the garage, available to any of us who wanted to take the time to sort through before those items headed to the thrift store.
Grandma’s wooden sewing box now sits in my living room, both as a sentimental decoration and as a practical place for my sewing notions. Grandpa’s childhood Bible rests on the bookshelf – timeless in the words. I received the most precious gift of talking with Grandma and telling her what items would be now cherished in my own home. Some of my memories surprised her – and I think all of them pleased her.
I did salvage one item from the garage – a faded yellow dish drying rack I now use every day in my kitchen. The color is worn, but the memories are alive. Grandma always singing in the kitchen, joyfully cooking, washing, or “putzing” as she liked to call it. (She also had a fabulous rule at family gatherings that if the women cooked, the men got to do the dishes!)
We weren’t burdened by grief as we sorted through Grandma’s and Grandpa’s things, for Grandma was still with us and we were able to hear her cherished memories of these items and share with her our own. This kind of “right-sizing” was just right for our family.
About Chris: I'm a freelance writer & editor, wife to a motorcycle-riding-computer-programmer (quite the image, right?), mom of four kids who inspire me, and sentimental sap. I'm also thankful that for almost half my life I've known Tammy - and been able to call her my friend.
Last week I talked about Right-Sizing, or making decisions about our things based on the life we are living today - and preparing for changes we might encounter in the future.
A great example is the baby boom generation - they've raised their kids, had careers, and are now retiring and moving on to the next "life chapter". This phase can mean a smaller house with less maintenance, more free time to spend with the grandkids and for traveling, or even launching a new, entirely different, career.
A Closer Look at Right-Sizing
Right Sizing our homes doesn't have to involve grand, dramatic changes. In fact, right-sizing can often be a series of related steps that work together to make sense for your personal situation.
For a baby boomer, right-sizing might look like moving from a four bedroom where we raised our kids, to a one or two bedroom just for us. We let the space itself define what we keep - 2 beds instead of 4 mean we "need" fewer sheets, blankets and pillow cases. These simpler, smaller decisions that can be made right now pave the way for the harder, more emotionally laden ones we might face later.
The less we have to maintain the more free time we have to spend with loved ones, or pursuing new interests. Those big lawns, gardens, and driveways and the machines that helped us maintain them can be right-sized as well.
Remember: Just because we've always done it one way doesn't mean we can't ask ourselves what it would look and feel like if we changed our strategy - perhaps doing less of something - letting go of a time and energy-taker. The answer can, and often does, surprise us!
What have you right-sized in your life that has freed you up to spend time and energy elsewhere? Do you wish you would have done so sooner or was the timing just right?
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Tammy Schotzko is a Certified Professional Organizer who