So much stuff and how to let go

looking to my backyard

The view from where I work. The home we’ve lived in for 28 years.

We have lived in our house for close to three decades. During that time, we’ve acquired a lot of stuff. We had our babies here, raised them and sent them off to school and adulthood. They left most of their stuff behind in their bedrooms. It’s time to declutter!

We are in the process of clearing out junk, getting the yard cleaned up, and fixing the house up. We’re talking about moving. Whether or not that happens will be seen, but we’re cleaning out our clutter, painting and fixing things up as though we’re going to do it.

It’s a difficult process and I have so much trouble letting go of things. When we moved in we brought all our junk with us from our prior house. Then we got keepsakes from our parents, not to mention years of swim meet medals, school awards and assorted keepsakes from our children — and our own honors, awards and baubles. Then there’s the photos albums, camping gear, beach stuff, artwork, manuscripts, etc.

Today I called my son and told him I made a trip to our local thrift shop Angel View, that supports crippled children’s homes. I had trouble parting with two caps he used to wear. I finally tossed them in the “to go” pile

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My son’s caps filled me with nostalgia.

and both kids told me, “Oh no!” One was from Guide Dogs of the Desert from when my son raised money for the charity rather than accept birthday presents in the second grade.(I wrote a story for the LA Times about that and wrote about it here.) The other was from Olympic Trials in Long Beach where he got Olympic swimmers to sign his cap as well as his teammates. I am fighting the urge to go back to Angel View and buy the two caps!

Here’s excerpt from an article from NPR with tips by Emma Bowen called ‘But Do I Love You?’: Tips For Homebound Declutterers

Where to start

The sheer volume of possessions accumulated through generations, compounded by any associated sentimental value, can create what might seem like an insurmountable task when it comes to the weeding-out process.

Overcoming those challenges, Hall said, starts with having the right mindset.

“You have to be really brutally honest with yourself. What do you want? If you want to thin out, if you want to downsize your home and get rid of some of this clutter, you have to want it,” she said.

From there, she recommends recruiting friends or family members to help discard or donate items. Cabinets and closets are always a good place to begin chipping away at the mess, she said.

Hall’s approach to tackling these heaps echoes the philosophy of tidying expert Marie Kondo, who asks her declutterers to dispose of items that don’t “spark joy” for its owner.

“For me, the key has always been to make peace with the items I’m letting go of,” Hall said. “I hold it, and I look at it and I say, ‘Do I like you? Yes, I do, but do I love you? No, I don’t.’ And if I don’t absolutely love it and cherish it, I take a picture of it and I let it go.”

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Sunset view at home.

Have you decluttered during the pandemic or made a move? How do you handle the stress of deciding to let go of your worldly possessions?

Day 50: Shelter in Place

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Someone is sporting some fancy toenails! 

It’s a milestone day. I seriously thought this was only going to last for 40 days and 40 nights. That seemed reasonable and I thought if Noah could last that long confined to an ark with a bunch of smelly animals, then we could do the same in our home, with one cat and a pug.

But here we are on day 50 and there’s really no end in sight. Except they may open the tennis and pickle ball courts. But I don’t play those sports. No word about the city pool or when my team will be back in the water. I hear that retail is opening up for curbside pick up. But when you’re not going anywhere — what does anyone really need?

On the bright side, we’re saving a ton of money on gasoline, dry cleaning and nail and hair appointments.

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Views of Mt. San Jacinto from my neighborhood walk.

I’m walking 10,000 steps a day.  Other highlights are riding bikes, kicking in our backyard pool and playing the occasional game of smashball in the water. I’m also reading, writing and watching music documentaries. That’s my week in a nutshell. It’s not a bad life. It’s just weird to walk with a face mask and feel like I’m taking my life in danger every time I go to the grocery store or post office.

Some days I’m motivated and have lots of ideas and make lists of what I want to accomplish. Other days, not so much.

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I found a pirate hiding in the bushes!

Any idea of how many days this shelter in place will last? Are things opening up in your area? What are you busy doing during these strange days?

9 Thoughts About Shelter In Place: DAY 21

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One of my favorite streets on my morning walk.

21 Days. Isn’t that something? My daughter came home a few days before we got the order. I’m so glad she made it here. She’s been a joy to have around along with her fur baby Waffles. We have plenty of room to have my husband, me and my daughter all working from home — together — yet apart.

Here’s a few thoughts I have about these strange days:

ONE
I go from super calm and productive to anxiety ridden from day to day.

TWO
I’m losing track of the days and the time. Twice I have woken up thinking it’s 6 a.m. and started the coffee only to look at the clock in the kitchen that reads 11:40 p.m.

THREE
My routine of daily three pages of writing, my three mile walk and Bible readings to start my day are more important than ever. All three help me stay grounded.

FOUR
I’m reading lots of good books. Sitting in my back yard in the sun reading is one of my favorite things to do.

FIVE
10,000 people have died in our country. My heart goes out to all the people suffering and losing loved ones.

SIX
We are now told to wear masks when we leave the house. I’m using a make-shift one from my quilting supplies. It’s hard to breathe during my morning walks, though, and my glasses fog up.

SEVEN
My writing jobs are completed and turned in and now I’m in uncharted territory without every minute of my day focused on meeting deadlines.

EIGHT
My daughter and I cleaned and organized the food cupboards and the laundry room. It feels good to have clean spaces.

NINE
I’m reaching out to family via phone and email. It’s important to stay in touch with your loved ones.

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My new morning walk look.

What are your thoughts about sheltering in place during the pandemic?

Day 14: Shelter in Place

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Waffles heard he had to shelter in place for another month.

I’m a little disappointed. I was doing fine with shelter in place and we made it for two weeks without much of a hitch. Then today, when I thought we’d have a couple more weeks to go, we hear on the news that it will be another month. At least.

Truly, I’m thankful for so many things. My daughter is home with Waffles. We have our health, so far. I did have a fever and sore throat for a couple days which led to some scary thoughts. My imagination and worry had me taking my temperature every hour and waking up in the night to take its some more. I’m never one to slow down when I’m sick. But I went to bed and stayed there for the better part of two days. So, maybe bed rest is a good thing when you’re not feeling well? Who knew?

I also read two books during my hours or rest that I can highly recommend: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand. 

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I’m going to be here for how long?

The weather is gorgeous. We’re all thankfully working and able to do so from home. Things are not that bad. The news is scary and the unknown is worse. How long will this last? How many people will get sick or die? Is it going to hit us personally with our friends and loved ones?

In the meantime, I will share a few pet peeves about Sheltering in Place. One, we lost the garage clicker and one fob for a car complete with necessary keys. We have no idea where they are. They disappeared around Day Two of Shelter in Place.

Next, I have a relatives and friends who are thankfully keeping me up-to-date on how everyone in Washington state is doing with Coronavirus. But every message includes a political swipe. I also see this on Facebook from friends and on Twitter from complete strangers. I don’t like the constant complaining and griping during such scary times of a global pandemic. I think we need to take this time to be grateful for each other, realize what we do have — and try to come together. Maybe it’s because people are angry and fearful in these uncertain times and they need to vent their frustrations. Just my penny’s worth.

One other thing, I’m jealous of my friends who are sheltering in place but not working. They are clearing out their homes like there’s no tomorrow. Literally. I’m working everyday and only get to clean out the occasional cupboard or two. If I can get my writing assignments done soon, I’ll be clearing out junk and organizing with the best of them.

How are you getting through the Coronavirus? Have you been sheltering in place and for how long?

 

The End of the Intruder Story — I Hope

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Sunset from the back yard.

Last week I wrote about how I was minding my own business at home waiting for eye surgery and discovered on our Google Nest security feed that we had an intruder trespassing on our property nightly. We started locking the big wooden gates that open onto the street. We also have a garage door and an archway gate that are locked. On the camera feed, I saw the stranger rattling our gates, peering in through our bedroom windows, climbing over the wall into the backyard — and taking an object to smash the lock on our archway gate. I was terrified. Then I went for my morning walk on Thursday like any normal day:

I went for my morning walk today as usual. I almost skipped it because I didn’t want to leave our house with the big wooden gates open (they lock from the inside.) During my walk, I constantly checked the Nest app on my iPhone for activity. When I was a block from home, I looked at the app and the guy was there! He had returned!

I couldn’t stop shaking and when I got home, the gate was closed! I yelled and said I was calling the cops so get out! I checked my app again. The intruder had left three minutes before I arrived home. I called the cops and waited, not stepping foot on our property, but feeling safer in the middle of the street. The policeman came right away and said he’d look for the guy, he was probably close-by. He also suggested we get a lock for the outside of our big wooden gates or hire a security firm. I’m thinking Rottie. We had one before and this never happened.

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A present to myself from our beach vacation. The wind chimes are soothing and help me relax

Friday morning the nightmare continued. I woke up at 5 a.m. to my husband yelling from outside the house to call the cops! I grabbed my glasses, my phone and my hands shook as I tried to dial 911. My husband kept the guy at bay on our steps while we waited for the police to arrive. The 911 operator kept me on the phone and asked me to narrate what was going on.

A few minutes later which felt like an eternity, a half dozen police arrived. They said, “Marco! What are you doing here?” to our intruder.

Marco answered, “I live here. I bought this house.”

“No you don’t. You said that about the house down the street,” a policeman answered.

They handcuffed the intruder and drove him away. Both my husband and I were shaking with fear, anger and tried to lower our adrenaline levels to have a normal day. It didn’t happen. We both struggled.

I find myself waking up in the night, looking at my Nest app, listening for any little noise. I’m hoping each day it gets a little better. This person turns out to be well-known, a Palm Springs native and harmless. Of course, we had no idea of that with his erratic behavior and his trespassing from Saturday night through Friday morning. It brings our homeless problem right in my yard, not some abstract issue I read about in the newspaper.

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Olive is more relaxed now that the intruder has been arrested.

Have you had an intruder at your home? What happened and did you get over your fear?

 

Is it time to say good-bye to our beloved home?

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Our kids in the back yard.

It’s been an exhausting few weeks. I’ve been going through 27 years of stuff we’ve collected, had three rooms painted and interviewed several realtors. We aren’t planning on moving right away, but we realize it is time to get started on fixing up the house in case we sell. If we decide to stay, we’ll enjoy our house with a fresh coat of paint and years worth of stuff sorted through and hauled off.

Despite the physical work involved, I think what’s most tiring is inviting realtors into my home. Hearing from them that our home isn’t quite worth what Zillow says — followed by the emotions of being told our house will probably be a total gut and remodel by a prospective buyer.

 

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My bathroom sink.

We were looking for suggestions on what to improve and upgrade to get optimum money for our house. We interviewed more than one realtor this weekend and the consensus was “Unless you’re willing to spend more than two hundred thousand dollars in improvements, let this be someone else’s project.”

A few hundred thousand dollars? What about a coat of paint? And a few repairs? Huh?

We heard we have a “beautiful view” and our house has “good bones.” The new people will see our house as a “blank canvas and want to create their own painting.”

IMG_9404Being told your home of 27 years is filled with charm and character, but someone is going to rip everything apart to make it livable, is like someone telling you your child is horrendously ugly. We moved in when I was pregnant with our first child and the home is filled with memories of birthday parties, Christmas, swim friends, nights of homework and family dinners. All of our years together as family were in this home. We love our house and letting go is going to be hard. I think the emotional break up with my home makes me more tired than the physical labor involved in the process — or a hike up the tram road.

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In my master bedroom with my daughter.

 

 

How have you felt after moving from the house you were emotionally attached to? Any suggestions on how to handle the transition?

 

 

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My son peeking out his bedroom door.

 

Now that the summer is over….

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My daughter and Waffles at home this weekend.

My world is a little less crazy in September than it was in August. Of course, it’s only September 2nd. But, I haven’t left our desert in more than a week. The last two weeks of August, I trekked from Palm Springs to Santa Barbara to Phoenix—and my daughter and husband threw in a trip to Salt Lake City in between.

I was supposed to help my daughter set up her new home in Arizona this Labor Day weekend, but after my husband’s shoulder surgery Tuesday, I postponed my trip. A friend lectured me about leaving my husband alone after surgery. She said that my daughter should drive home to help us out—not me drive to see her. “After all, the new house isn’t going anywhere, she can get by with slowly unpacking, and you can help her at a later date,” she said. My husband did need attention, just a little, and my daughter happily agreed to come home for the weekend.

It’s only a short drive from the Phoenix area to Palm Springs. Four hours to be exact on one freeway—“the 10.” In So Cal, we say “the” in front of every highway. They don’t do that in NorCal or Washington, where I grew up.

My son lived four hours away in Santa Barbara, which is in the opposite direction of Arizona. In the words of a native Southern Californian to drive from Palm Springs to UCSB, “you take the 10 to the 210 to the 118 to the 23 to the 101.” I feel so much more comfortable with the drive to Arizona on “the 10.” Period. Except for the big trucks, which I don’t like, it’s a one-shot deal. I hope to get there soon to help her set up her new home.

I’m also anxious to get a fresh start to the fall. I’m relieved we made it through so many hurdles. Vacation, the move, the surgery, etc. are all behind us in the rearview mirror. It’s time to look ahead.

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Olive the cat seems to have survived another few days with Waffles.

What do you think about the end of summer and the start of fall?