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How I Straightened Out My Mess!

Straighten out your mess when you move. Marilyn Labendz can help organize your mess

As I was preparing for our most recent move I walked into our large walk in closet and nearly fainted.

Clearly there was much to do to condense the years of accumulation into what would be several small closets interspersed throughout the new apartment we were moving to...

First, let me say that we have moved several times in 44 years. When we first moved from our one bedroom apartment to a 2500 square foot home, we didn’t have much to organize. Instead we were busy buying new things and trying to fill our space.

Two kids later we moved into a 3500 square foot home, which meant we would be fine without throwing anything out; we could keep all the nick nacks, memorabilia, and children’s art that we’d been saving, with plenty of room to accumulate more. And accumulate we did!.

Seventeen years later, with three teenage children, we decided to move again, to a yet bigger home in a different community. That would be our warm and happy home for another seventeen years, when a new normal hit us like a tornado. My husband was diagnosed with a serious cancer, drastically changing both our financial situation and our daily life going forward. It was finally time to downsize.

By this time our kids had been out on their own for years, but I held on to endless memorabilia that I was sure they would want for themselves one day. There were storage boxes filled with every book report, report card, art project, and essay for each child from each grade, and more boxes from summer camp and vacation memorabilia.

Every greeting card, every photo, and even the photo negatives (categorized, of course). Photo albums galore, albeit organized and sequenced in the sticky peel-back books, my old teacher reviews... baby clothes, blankets, legos... I could go on and on.

It took 18 months to prepare and arrange and adjust, but we finally moved into a 2 bedroom apartment. We had some hard decisions to make: what to sell, what to give away, what to discard, and what to hang on to and cherish even in our new small home.

First I asked myself some serious questions: When was the last time I used this? Do I really need this? What will my life be like without this item? How can I keep this without taking it with me? Mom always said, “You need a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back and shoes on your feet. Now go from there.” Austere, maybe, but an important dose of reality. I came to some realizations: we hadn’t entertained with silver serving pieces in years; Aunt Sybil wouldn’t exactly turn in her grave if I gave that ugly forest green tiered dessert plate to the thrift shop.

We donated; we tossed; we reduced and reduced and reduced. All the memorabilia we parted with was either photographed or scanned, and is now kept in its own space, mostly online in virtual space. In our cozy two-bedroom apartment, we have the essentials, and I know where everything is. And I love it. I confess that I do have some serving pieces that I haven’t used in nine months. We are all a work in progress.

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