A constant consideration in aging in place discussions is decluttering our living space and organizing what we keep in a better, more streamlined way. We encourage our clients to do this, and we attempt to set the example by doing it ourselves. Nevertheless, this is one of the hardest, most difficult aspects of getting older. Along the way through life, we collect and retain various mementos and souvenirs to remind us of the journey as well as items we think we might use again even though that is usually is highly unlikely.
Each year, we have spring cleaning which is the official signal that the wintertime is over and that it’s time to move on with our lives in a new season. The concept is solid, and most people admit to participation in spring cleaning although the date and length of the event is fluid. In addition to the change of seasons from winter to spring where when we do our spring cleaning, we have many other opportunities throughout the year to take a look at what we have accumulated in various forms and to remove or reorganize some of it. The three other changes of seasons (spring-summer, summer-fall, or fall-winter), when the time changes and many of us change the batteries in our smoke detectors, when we get out seasonal clothing or holiday decorations (Independence Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, for instance), and on inclement days when it seems like a good use of our time.
The good news for everyone is that we don’t have to wait until spring cleaning or to set aside time when the seasons change – although this is great. When now have a day devoted to cleaning, decluttering, and organization. Each December 28th (today), we celebrate “Good Riddance Day.” It’s a time to rejoice in getting rid of things that have been holding us back physically, emotionally, or psychologically. There are many areas in our lives where can apply this concept, and coming at the end of one year and at the head of a brand new year is perfect timing.
Originally, this day was created to divorce ourselves of any thoughts or emotions that might be holding us back or that we were holding onto that we didn’t want to take into the new year. However, that concept has been expanded into stopping the transfer of unnecessary physical items into the new year. Think of it as if we were packing our bags to take a trip into 2109 and we had to be ready to go in just three days. What would we take that we feel we really need to have – photos, items the kids made in school or that they gave to us on birthdays or holidays, and keepsakes? Beyond that. what do we and our clients really need to move into the new year with us?
No one is being judgmental on the amount of stuff we have accumulated – we just need to condition ourselves to get by with less of it. We still get to hang onto the important stuff – at least for now. But how much is really is stuff we can do without? This is the real question, and today is the sign many of us have been waiting for to begin doing something about it.
We don’t expect that people can get through everything they have been saving – clothing, glassware, jewelry, collections and collectibles, yearbooks, greeting cards, photographs, sporting equipment (even the broken items or ones we no longer use), bicycles, tools, old yard tools and equipment (such as extra or broken lawnmowers), hats, tee-shirts, shoes, jackets, books, CDs (or even vinyl records or 8-track or cassette tapes), old appliances, obsolete electronics, and so much more. Let’s not forget what we have stored on the computer that is not taking up physical space so much as it is just being items we can let go of keeping to make room for new memories.
The nice thing about a day such as this – Good Riddance Day – is that we have been given explicit permission to begin cutting back and culling what we keep. All we need is just a start. There’s tomorrow, the next day, and more days after that. What we need is a start, and there’s no better time than today.
There are many systems and ideas on how to approach going through the stacks, boxes, and more of what we have kept, but that’s not the most important thing here. We just need to start someplace and ake the effort. If we want to host a yard sale or garage sale, donate items to thrift stores or charities, attempt to sell them online, or just discard them, the main thing is that we get started doing something. Let’s lighten the load of what we are taking with us into 2019.
Happy “Good Riddance Day.