These days I am long past any interest in being “youthful”. I am what I am and what you see is what you get. Instead, my concerns are about managing my energy and my short-term memory. I am also concerned about my ability to continue to live in my own house as I age and what to do when that is no longer possible. When my friends and I get together I find we have the same concerns. So, I offer myself as an aging coach and a coach who is aging.
When it comes to downsizing to move or downsizing to live comfortably in your present home, it can be tough to make decisions about what to keep and what to let go. Some people become accidental hoarders just from bringing things home from Senior Expos, all those goodie bags full of samples and helpful information. When it is time to make decisions about getting rid of stuff the brain fog creeps in.
Here are three mental toughness tools to use to strengthen your resolve.
- Your commitment scale
- Your mantra “no shame – no blame”
- Your new ability to think like a ghost
Here’s how it works…you come across an item you know you should get rid of, let’s say an aged unfinished craft project. The commitment scale is adopted from the pain scale you see in doctors’ offices. On a scale of 1 to 10 how committed are you to finishing this project? Let’s say its been in a closet for several years. If you think it is a “10” then you are very committed to finishing it and will start immediately. If it is a “1” then you’ll have no problem sending it on its way. It’s that gray area between 1 and 10 where the decision making is difficult.
Perhaps the knowledge of how much you paid for it creates guilt for you at the thought of letting it go. This is where repeating “no shame- no blame” can lessen the trauma. Even if it was very expensive, that money has already been spent. It doesn’t put the money back into your pocket to hang on to it. You are a different person now than you were then and your interests have changed.
If this isn’t enough, then imagine yourself to be a ghostly observer as your belongings are sorted and removed by family members or hired clean-out specialists. How will they view this item? What will they do with it? At this time the decision is yours. Deal with it.
I have a lot of books to take to GoodWill. This is a big break-through for me. Books have a greater hold on me than any other physical stuff.
I am able to release all these books to future owners through GoodWill because I have seen the way they market them on Amazon.com. I have occasionally bought a used book from them that I had given up years ago but recently desired to own a copy. I think of my relationship with possessions as that of a conduit. Things can come into my life, stay awhile, and then leave.
That reminds me that, when I was very young, I thought people were saying “live-bury” and that could almost be the case in some homes where the books have taken over all the available space.
Here in Maine the snow has mostly melted and people can reach parts of their house where the wreaths and other holiday decorations were marooned. Many people put wreaths over each of their windows, both upstairs and down. These require a ladder for putting them up and taking them down. The ground may have been bare when they were put up after Thanksgiving, but then the snows came. We often joke about the wreath’s becoming “St. Patrick’s Day wreaths” or even “Easter wreaths”. When winter releases its hold, however temporarily, home owners start raking gravel from their lawns where the plow drivers pushed the snow when clearing the driveway, and removing the vestiges of holiday decorating. Spring moves slowly here in Maine.
“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
“You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”
(Two Tramps in Mud Time by Robert Frost)
Meantime, inside the house, the effect of approaching spring is felt, as well. Rooms that were closed off in order to save heating them are once again left open. Windows get opened for short periods of time when the sun is out. We cautiously dig out a few pieces of warm weather clothing, but when we wear them we dress in layers such as an over-shirt to peel off and put back on as the day progresses. We look for garden tools we set aside without much thought back in the fall. We try to look optimistically at the dismal flower beds and vegetable garden which don’t yet show any promise. But then, on our village street, neighbors re-appear, kids are bicycling and the song birds are returning and gathering nest materials. Spring may be slow getting here but we get to appreciate in increments as it progresses.