Over the years, I developed a love of minimalism.
For most, it's common to save things. Everything seems to have an emotional attachment. Even as little kids, we frequently saw others save with the thought of, "but I might need it." It's easy to see how parents won't fight this battle. There are so many things kids have, and still have, that aren't needed. That being said, a defining moment we can all learn from is from a little movie called Fight Club. There's a particular quote from Tyler Durden, "The things you own, they end up owning you."
Maybe it was my impressionable teenage self soaking up as much as possible. Perhaps it was the wisdom of the great Chuck Palahniuk. Or maybe it just triggered that hoarding gene to turn off, but that quote made me stop saving (so much) stuff. Around the same time of Fight Club and my teenage years, my grandparents died, naturally and at an old age. But these experiences form who you are and who you become.
The Start of Minimalism
After seeing the massive clean up effort that went into vacating the empty homes of my grandparents, I knew it when it came time for me, I would not make the best choices. For example, when Grandpa Lou passed, Grandma Dorothy kept everything, clothes, shoes, shaving cream - everything. She couldn't get rid of it. That's quite understandable in such an emotional situation. When she passed in 2004, she still had not gotten rid of anything. She hoarded, which comes with its own set of issues, but seeing my mom have to go through and clean out her assisted living apartment and the home in which she was raised, it's easy to see how you make rash emotional decisions. In the emotional state of having lost her parents, my mom made some weird choices about what was important to keep.
My grandmother collected Hallmark ornaments and figurines, Hummels, and countless other knick-knacks and "collectibles." In the moment, my mom saved the figurines because they were important to her mother. Looking back, my mom wishes she found the blanket she knit for her mother, found more photos from my childhood that were buried somewhere, and found some of her prized childhood items. Instead, we kept the Hummels.
The Right Decision
Watching my parents lose their parents wasn't easy. However, that experience allowed me to have several honest conversations with my folks and reflect on my own habits. I had the "Things you own" conversation with my folks. Something happens as you grow up, your parents get older too. It's hard to admit, but I've seen it begin to happen. They're still running around like crazy, lifting weights, doing yoga, walking 10 -12 miles a day. They're doing great. One day, I asked my mom if we could start getting rid of their accumulated junk. Luckily, Mom agreed and my hubby and I started getting rid of the majority of things they've accumulated.
The reality is my parents will die and I will have to clean out their house on my own. As an only child, the burden falls entirely on me. I fear, selfishly, I will have to make the hard decisions of tossing some items or donating clothes that my folks loved to wear. Unnecessary saving (or even Hoarding) is often caused by a traumatic incident and I don't want to save my dad's sweaty weightlifting shoes because I didn't have the mental clarity to donate them at the appropriate time. I don't want to save the Hummels (again) because my mom never found the time to donate them.
My challenge to you, lovely friends, is to de-clutter now, rather than later. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of different methods and processes to help you and each one is valid for someone, so find whichever way helps you the most. Don't let the things you own end up owning you.