• Laurie Bell

Lightening Up!


As our late summer weather actually begins to feel like fall I thought that I would take a cue from the falling leaves outside and address the topic of lightening up. You can look at that a couple of ways.  As many of you know we provide a full range of tailored downsizing, organizing and senior move management services for older adults and their families in the GTA.

While our services offer one way to lighten up I would also like to stress the importance of lightening up on ourselves as well.  We sometimes feel like we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders and while we know that we need to get started, it is not always easy.  For some there are emotional obstacles and for others there may be physical challenges that slow you down.  Even if you feel up to tackling these sorts of projects, it can be tough to navigate the ever changing world of donations, sales and reputable service providers.  

Some people have an idea of what to do with unwanted clothes and shoes but what about Grandma’s dishes that are packed away in boxes in the basement? How about that costume jewellery in those dresser drawers? Many of us with space find ourselves reluctant curators of things passed on to us that are now collecting dust.  These may include things that were given as gifts but that are nowhere to be seen as they are simply not our taste.  

Guilt can weigh on us though and it doesn’t always seem right to get rid of the stuff. What if we find that we need these things?  What if they are worth money? What if the person who gave these things to us happens to come over and their gift is not there?  

Sometimes these items have huge sentimental value. They represent people and times that are precious to us.  How do we part with any of those?  How do we make the tough choices?

Sometimes we avoid these kinds of projects for as long as possible but you know, not everything is so hard to get rid of.  You can start with the easier “lightening up” projects and I’ll give you an example.  Some of my older clients have a wrapping room, or in some cases a wrapping closet.  Full disclosure – I used to have my own wrapping closet.  It was chock full of those gift bags that many of us accumulate over the years.  Bags for birthdays, bags for children’s birthdays, all occasion bags, , lots of bags for her, fewer bags for him, bags for Christmas and then there are the rolls of wrapping paper for those items that just won’t fit nicely in one of the bags. Of course we have the tissue and ribbons and bows to coordinate with the bags… .  I am not picking on anyone here – I am telling my own story.  Given what I do for clients every day, I try and stay on top of my own collections at home but we all have our weaknesses.  I, like many of my clients, also devoted some real estate for those “last minute gifts”. You know the ones – those presents that you keep on hand in case you need something to put in one of those gift bags… .

How did this happen?  Well not to make excuses but as a society we used to live in a time of what seemed like endless gift giving.  If we were going for dinner, and let’s face it, most people entertained more at home than they do now, we took a hostess gift along with the wine.  If we went to someone’s cottage for a weekend we took a more substantial gift.  We gave gifts for birthdays.  We gave gifts for Christmas, we gave gifts for Mother’s Day, we gave gifts for Father’s Day, we gave shower gifts, and we gave wedding gifts although I have to say that personally I was a big fan of those weddings where we gave money in an envelope.  This seemed infinitely more practical and no doubt more welcomed by the recipients!  

Many of us are no longer in the acquiring stage and lately I have noticed that there is a bigger focus on spending quality time with family and friends and less on consumerism.  

I had my own aha moment when I realized that I am no longer going into my last minute gift stash with any regularity and really who do I know who wants or needs a sort of pretty but non-descript Mikasa vase?  Not so many presents coming or going these days and not so many gift bags needed. So I reclaimed a closet and took quite a few items out for donation so that others could use them. I had a few laughs as well and it felt good to do at my house what I help others do in my business.  Life changes, we change and, as we lighten up a little, it feels good!

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