When I turned 65 I started working half time at my job. I had planned to work half time for the next three years. After that time there would be an enormous exam that I would have to write. There was no way I wanted to study and write that exam again, so I would fully retire at 68.
That was the plan. So much for my plans. They say if you want to make God laugh start making plans!
Well, I was nervous thinking about leaving a career I loved. This career was who I was, wasn’t it? Several months after going part-time I knew it was time to leave. I had to stay for 6 months more to be able to train my replacement. This further reinforced in my mind that it was time for me to go.
What would I do with all this time? At first, I delighted in doing not much of anything. Then reality set in and doing nothing wasn’t for me.
The first thing was to write my murder mystery book. The fact that I had never taken writing classes and hadn’t gone further in English than first year university wouldn’t stop me. Little did I know how many classes and knowledge would be needed.
Taking the classes and the practice of writing showed me how much I didn’t know. But writing can only take up so much of your time.
When we moved to our downsized home I thought I had gotten rid of most of my stuff. Hah! Once we settled in I realized that putting boxes of my things in the garage didn’t count as decluttering.
I started the job of decluttering and began minimalizing. You can’t do one without the other. Not if you want to stop with the big declutter every few months.
I watched a documentary about minimalizing with Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn.
It really got me thinking about what I am surrounding myself with. To grab a quote from Marie Kondo “Does it Spark Joy?”
This was going to be a big, big job. As a typical Boomer, we collected lots. I mean lots.
I decided to leave the garage as it was. The car could get in the garage so we were ok.
I started with three cupboards in the kitchen. I decided to empty, clean, and then take out what I didn’t need or use from those cupboards. Each day I took another three sets of drawers and repeated the process. When I finished the kitchen I took a day off and then started on my ensuite bathroom. It took quite some time. I have found that the first time I go through a room I can only remove the basics. The next time through a few more, and then the last time I can remove what needs to be gone.
I have a bag for garbage, a bag for donating to friends, and a bag for the hospice thrift shop so someone else can use things. I was ready to finally declutter the garage. As I went through each box I realized how many things I had doubles, even triples of.
Decluttering with Sons
I am also slowly removing things that belong to my sons. They frequently said “Why were you keeping that mum?” and promptly throw the article out!
I also told one son that I was keeping three boxes of his stuff from elementary and high school. He needed to get it down to only one box and I would keep that box for him until he had a place of his own. He said, “Mum, you know and I know that the only one that wants that stuff is you.” With great difficulty, I did get it down to one box. Damn, I hate it when my kids are right.
I feel that you need to really think about what is important to you. I have some beautiful china that someone could say is kind of dated and looks worn but I love them. I also have crystal that puts a smile on my face every time I see it.
Each Friday night my husband and I have a date night. He makes a nice meal with a decent wine and I set the table with our good china, silverware, and crystal. We have been doing this for the last 43 years. My china has some of the silver rubbed off the edge. The silver plate is also coming off the utensils and a few of the crystal wine glasses have broken.
But I Don’t Care. Sensing a theme for seniors here?
These are things that I love and I use them frequently. They give me such a good feeling and ‘yes Marie Kondo they spark Joy!’
It is time to go through things and decide what you want around you. No one else can do that for you. If you were keeping things due to memories then take a picture and find a good home for them.
Are you ready to have a clean and happy home? Well best to get started. As a senior, you have the time and hopefully the energy to carry out this job. If it seems like too much, then grab a friend and a glass of wine and get on with it.