Sorry, Marie Kondo…it’s a MEMORY!

 


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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The idea of decluttering your life is a good one in theory.  I get it.  I have saved way too much stuff over the years.

Photos in shoe boxes, albums on bookshelves, schoolwork in bins, projects made out of clay, papier-mache, plaster of Paris, mosaics, and naturally, a host of lanyards.  I am, after all, a Cancer. I can’t bear  to throw things away.

It’s a memory, as one of my daughters would say.  She too is a hoarder and carries receipts from restaurants, cleaners tickets, (not sure how she picks the stuff up!), match book covers, ticket stubs, etc.

My mother couldn’t have been more different.  Muriel was able to go through her UWS apt of 30 years and toss anything and everything in her path of destruction.  I’ve told the story to many people about my mother throwing away her wedding album.  Who does that?!!

My parents moved to Florida (South Florida.  Where else in those days?!) Muriel wanted to make a clean break and only take the clothes she would wear for the next 20 some odd years.  No personal effects, with the exception of some photos.  I couldn’t do this if I had a gun to my head.  I am a mush.  I am sentimental, nostalgic, attached.

MEMORIES.  I understand the concept of letting go of things that don’t bring you joy and Marie Kondo (so adorable!), but I’m not Asian and “austere” is not in my vocabulary.  Ask daughter #1 who has insisted I decorate with clean lines, simple, space, no tchotchkes!  (dust collectors, as my late mother in law would have called them.  She too was a person who could throw out her son’s Lionel train set and have no remorse-probably worth a fortune today!)

Luckily, when we moved from our home of 25 years in Westchester, New York, my husband had the strength and smarts to call the junk luggers when I was at work.  I never saw what they took.  And interestingly, I never missed it either.  So I guess in the end this method has its merits!  I couldn’t have done it myself.  Everything would have had tear stains and I would have a reason to hold onto the bust of Nick Carter, the first Nikes worn by daughter #2 , and a whole host of other precious possessions.

 

So, with apologies to Marie Kondo, let it be known that I may wish to be buried with those Nike shoes from daughter #2, a couple of lanyards from sleep away camp, maybe a few receipts, and of course photos galore!

All of them tear-stained!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Some call it clutter.  I call it Memories.  If a memory gives you joy, then be counter-cultural and hold on to it!

-Just draw the line when your souvenirs need a storage unit of their own. Marie does make a good point or two!

 

Bottom Line —  Enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

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Do I need 12 pairs of jeans? A Decluttered Life is a Happier Life

Well, there’s the calf length jeans, the ankle pair, the boot legs, the ones with the tears at the knees (so current).  There’s the skinny jeans and the ones you wear when you’re snuggled on the sofa watching the 2 hour Bachelor finale.  Not to mention black jeans, washed jeans, and jeans with different waists.  (Mom jeans are coming back for sure…remember, even Barack was caught wearing them!)

Seriously, though, if your closet is overflowing with work clothes you won’t ever wear again, bikinis that you have no business  wearing, and jackets that were cute in 1975 but STILL have not returned to the runway, then your closet is not adding to your happiness.  It may even be robbing you of joy.

Decluttering expert Kathi Lipp says, “Clutter is a part of life, but when clutter stops your life, that’s when you need to make some changes.”

Ms. Lipp says that clutter is a “physical manifestation of overwhelm in our lives.” And the the root of clutter, she adds, can be traced to fear, guilt, and shame.

Fear What if I need this some day?  GuiltThis was a gift from my mother; how can I discard it?  ShameI spent money on this item and I shouldn’t have and so I will keep it for the rest of my life.  

She cites a fascinating statistic.  In the U.S. there are more storage units than there are McDonalds and Starbucks.  We are drowning in STUFF.  Think of what we Baby Boomers are leaving for our adult children to sort through??  (I rather doubt that Alex will want my comfy jeans…)

 

A few caveats though…

Stuff is not inherently bad.

And a lot depends on your season of life.  With little kids afoot, your house is taken over by Little Tykes toys.  As it should be.

But we Baby Boomers are in a season of paring down.  We know all too well we won’t be taking a darn thing with us at the end of the day.  And in the words of decluttering phenom, Marie Kondo, we should retain only that which sparks JOY.

So even though I’m certain mom jeans will be coming back to fashion (as attested by Barack Obama), I can say thank you and farewell to at least 9 pairs of jeans, leaving me the 3 that spark joy.

Ms. Kondo suggests that we start decluttering with our closets, taking EVERYTHING we own and tossing it ALL on a bed, in full view, where we can begin sorting.

If we are uncertain about a particular item, Ms. Lipp suggests we ask three questions.

 

Do I love it?    Do I use it?    Would I buy it again?

We love our jackets.  But we wear only 3 out of 10.  So bye-bye to padded shoulders and fringy leather.  If we haven’t taken up motorcycling by now, it likely won’t be happening.  And as for disco, it had its 15 minutes of fame.

 

Ms. Lipp’s website has a plan for decluttering FAST.

And Ms. Kondo offers a method that WORKS.  Here is a summary from Good Housekeeping.

6 Principles —

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
  3. Finish discarding first. Before getting rid of items, sincerely thank each item for serving its purpose.
  4. Tidy by category, not location.
  5. Follow the right order.
  6. Ask yourself it it sparks joy.

And five categories to tackle in order:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Komono (a.k.a. Miscellaneous Items)
  5. Sentimental Items

 

 

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So,  don those comfy jeans, curl up on your couch, ignore the time-sucking Bachelor, and binge watch Marie Kondo’s viral Netflix show.  Joy awaits.

 

 

And speaking of Joy, my co-blogger will be continuing this topic for Wednesday.   Stay tuned!

 

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Don’t forget to thank your stuff on its way out.  Those ribbed turtlenecks served you well.

-Do a little bit each day.  Decluttering is a way of life. Savor the process.

 

Enjoy the ride!   And get rid of the storage unit!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

Oh My God, I Left My Baby on The Bus!!!!!!

Okay, seriously, I was and still am that person who forgets everything!!!

I like to think it’s because I am distracted easily and have many thoughts going through my brain at the same time. (We brilliant folks do!  It’s a cross we must bare!)  I probably have ADD, though I’ve never been tested, but ask my children or husband and they will say, without a doubt!

Last week I was carrying around my knapsack with me and didn’t realize I had left it somewhere until 2 days later. I was looking for something and remembered I had placed it in the knapsack.  Luckily, I could retrace my steps and fortunately, I didn’t have a wallet or passport inside it, but nevertheless, I had to return sheepishly to the doctor’s office my husband and I had been sitting in 2 days earlier.  The receptionist came out with the knapsack and said, “We didn’t know who it belonged to!”  It didn’t have my identification in it since there was no wallet.  Phew!

It is the worst feeling in the world to lose things.  I should know since I’ve been doing it all my life!

When my 1st child was born, my husband bought me a tee shirt that said “Oh My God, I Left My Baby on The Bus!”  This was amusing, to be sure, but could I actually do that, be so absent minded as to leave a living breathing person on public transportation and not realize it until I got off??!!  Thank God, it never happened.  Maybe, I didn’t take enough buses at the time!!  A story just appeared this morning though in Newsweek with a mom leaving her baby on the plane, so I am in good company!  Check it out!

I was the kid who came home from school without her books so that when it came time to do my homework, OOPS!  One time I left an entire duffel bag and had to explain to my teacher that I couldn’t do my homework because I didn’t have my assignment or my notebook!  Really, JOY!!!  REALLY!!   I guess once forgetful, always forgetful because I have carried this trait throughout life. My mother always said to me, “If your head wasn’t screwed onto your body, you’d forget that too!”  Thanks mom.

The good news is I never did lose the baby, not the 1st one or the 2nd one.  I remember my dog, my husband, and for the most part important things.  Keys, sunglasses, and a shopping bag are a whole different story!

Today’s Takeaway:

. Focus, concentrate, try your level best to be aware of what you are carrying.  If you are like me, (I pray you are not!) know your shortfall and be extra careful when something is in your possession.

. If that’s my worst flaw, so be it.  Learn to laugh off the small stuff.  Material possessions can always be replaced, humans a bit harder!!

 

Enjoy the Ride!

 

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

Will You Be My Friend? How to make friends when you’re out of the workforce

Hi.   My name is Joy and I am an extrovert.  (sounds like an AA chapter meeting!)

I wasn’t always.  My daughters find this hard to believe, but I used to be painfully shy.  I hid behind my mother’s apron strings (who wears an apron anymore?!!). I cringed at meeting new people;  my helpful mother went up to strange children on the beach to befriend them for me!!  Soo sad!  Hey, I had issues!

I decided that I didn’t like bashful Joy and I began to model my personality after a distant cousin I had met one Jewish holiday celebration.  What’s the worst thing that can happen? I thought to myself. Someone will not like me. Oh well…

It took a while to get comfortable in my new outgoing skin.  But it turns out, you can change who you are.  (I have told my one shy daughter this many times.  She remains skeptical.)  It’s an act at first, until you get used to this new person and then it becomes who you are.  I am proof positive that it’s achievable and doable.  You have to want it, just like anything else in life!   I like me and I wouldn’t change extroverted me to introverted me ever again.

If you’re not comfortable in this 6th decade of life, change it up.  The new people you meet don’t know the old you!  If nothing else, your epitaph will say, “She was friendly!”

 

Hi.   My name is Barclay and I am an introvert.

In elementary school I was the back-row student who tried to be invisible.

In 4th grade, my mother, like Joy’s, tried to secure a best-friend for me — which was quite humiliating.  (One wonders, did she offer money?)

As an adult student, I dreaded that inevitable first-class practice of going around the room to share your name and occupation and then on occasion, the hideous “something interesting about you.”  My heart would pound with such vigor that I was certain others could hear it.  I was concerned my own name would escape me.  Fainting was a possibility.

And public speaking?  Let’s just say I would sooner endure the stomach flu.

Making friends is not easy for an introvert.  In fact, Joy and I became friends because she approached me.  But opportunities are missed if one shies away from reaching out, at least offering a smile, an overture of friendship.

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Joy is right.  Growth is possible.  Maybe it’s high time we introverts show some vulnerability.  (Red wine is also adviseable.)

The LIFE blog by the Huffington Post offers tips to help us be intentional about making friends.

  • Realize that you want to make friends. And not just “kind of want.” “Kind of” doesn’t make things happen.
  • Think of places where you can find people with similar interests. You can find a potential friend in line at a grocery store or volunteering at the animal shelter.
  • The most important step in starting a new friendship is showing up. Start showing up to those places you came up with.
  • Make sure you factor in enough downtime before and after you get out there.
  • It’s OK if you’re anxious about going to new places and doing new things. It’s ok if you’re shy–it’s very common. But don’t let it control your life.
  • Show up with an open and nonjudgmental mind, with your only expectation being that you will meet people, not that you will make a friend.
  • Realize that for most people, friendships can take a while to form. Don’t push a possible friendship.
  • Be open to others. If someone smiles, smile back. Sometimes that’s the end of the interaction.  Sometimes the smile turns into a conversation, which eventually turns into a friendship. You’ll never know if you don’t smile back.
  • Learn to tolerate small talk. Conversations have to start somewhere, and most of the time it’s with small talk.
  • Don’t take rejection personally. Do you want to be friends with everyone? If you’re an introvert, I’m guessing the answer is a big No. The person you’re talking to may have too many friends as it is. Or, they may be totally disinterested in having any friends. You have no way of knowing, so it’s best not to take it personally.
  • Realize that hard things get easier the more you practice. Don’t give up.

 

Being an introvert is not a detriment. It just means we require downtime and preparation.

And a friend like Joy who isn’t afraid to reach out to us!

 

Today’s Takeaway –

 

  • We are who we are, but we can be who we want to be sometimes!  It just takes practice and practice and practice.
  • Accept those  who are different.  My daughters (Joy speaking) consider themselves introverts and my husband is one.  If everyone were the same, it would be a boring world!
  • So glad I went up to Barclay in that bus shelter. Who would I be writing this blog with if not her!?

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

The Last Laps: Living up to your Legacy

A well known Chicago businessman just passed away.  He was notable enough to be mentioned on the PBS show, Chicago Tonight.  Harrison Steans had been the longtime chairman of LaSalle National Bank, but his obituary and on-air news segment said that Mr. Steans had also been known for giving back.  He was on numerous boards and had the reputation of being an influential philanthropist.  He left a positive mark on his world.

I have no connection with the Steans family (other than the fact that my very first job was being the secretary to a secretary at LaSalle Bank – earning a whopping $12,000 a year.  My father told me and I quote, “If you become a secretary, you can marry the boss.”  He had high ambitions for his daughter,)  What stands out to me, however, in this death notice is the emphasis on giving-back, over and above the business acumen of Mr. Steans.  I imagine that his family may be prouder of this fact than any other.

 

What will our obituary read?

What do we want to be remembered for?

What is our legacy?

 

It sounds a tad morbid.  But thinking about such things may propel us to use our time more wisely.  Calling that friend, that daughter, that mother in law –  in lieu of catching up with Colton’s exploits on this season of the Bachelor.  Tutoring that student, visiting that nursing home, working that soup kitchen, writing that note of encouragement, smiling at that husband.

Marelisa Fabrega is a blogger who says that writing your obituary can be a wake=up call.   She tells the story of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite.  Mr. Nobel was reading the paper one morning and saw his own obituary, “The merchant of death has died.”   It went on to say that Nobel had caused more people to die faster than anyone else.

The paper’s mistake (it was actually Nobel’s brother who had passed) caused Alfred Nobel to rethink his legacy.  He became a humanitarian who went on to found the Nobel Peace Prize, for which he became famous.

 

Back to us.  We may be approaching our last laps, but hey, we’re still breathing!

So let’s write a dream-obituary and then take steps to live up to it.

May it be said of you and me,

_____________, beloved friend, beloved __________, was known for giving back.  

 

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-What can we do this very day to make someone else smile?

-What does giving-back look like for you?

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

Think About Dying While You’re Still Living!

It may sound funny or macabre or morose, but I mean it!  Being retired gives you a lot of time to think, to reflect, to ponder, wonder, question.  Do it while your mind is awake, alive, inquisitive. My cheerful topic was prompted by a text I received this weekend from a very close friend of mine regarding her dad.

Her dad at a very advanced age of 94 has decided he is ready to die.  There is no disease, per se, like cancer or Parkinson’s or the many other maladies that one might succumb to in these final years.  He is tired, frail, short of breath, not feeling the way he might have last year at 93.  We can fix so many things through treatments, organ replacements, medication, until we get to a certain point in life where the options don’t provide the same results.  It struck me, knowing this man for over 50 years, as a thoughtful, well analyzed decision.  This is not someone who feels sorry for himself or is depressed.  He has lived a long full life.  At 94, what more can you say?  If this is someone’s wish and they are of sound mind, then we as family members should honor it and respect what it took to get the person to that point.  It’s a tough one for sure and there will be many followers who will not agree with me.

He is one of the lucky ones, not suffering, not bed ridden, not in a memory care facility unable to remember his daughter’s face or name. With so many of my friend’s parents living into their 90’s, an age most never would have expected to see, it is something to give thought to.  We are all individuals and life is precious, every breath, every morning that we wake up, but why can’t we decide on our own destiny if we choose? Go out on your own terms according to your own plans.  We will all die of something someday, just a question of when.

I saw a post this morning that made me laugh:

Welcome to your 60’s!

 

If you don’t already have a mysterious ailment, one will be assigned to you shortly.

Today’s Takeaway…

Health is truly a gift.  Everyday you wake up without a body pain or ache, is wonderful! Treasure it.  Never ever think it’s trite to say- “When you have your health, you have everything”

Oh, and did you know you can buy a coffin on eBay?  I wonder if they’re new or used?!!!

Spend your children’s inheritance!  Hopefully, they’ll make their own money!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a snowflake on my nose! Finding childlike joy in ordinary moments

I’m trudging through the snow, boots crunching, head down.  Late for an appointment because of time spent scraping ice off the car.

There’s a school next door to the office building and I see a mom corralling her three kids toward the entrance. 

“Hey mom, there’s a snowflake on my nose!”   The kindergartener is delighted.  Pure joy in his exclamation.  He cares nothing about being late, about cold temperatures, about ice on a car, or a midwestern winter that seems never to end.  Even his harried mom smiles.

Clearly I need to channel this joy.

For winter will yield to spring.  The sun is making every attempt to peek out.  And the snowflakes are indeed beautiful, a metaphor for the uniqueness of each person, a work of art vanishing too soon, noticed only by a 5-year-old.

 

The Huffington Post offers 40 suggestions for finding joy in everyday life.  What follows is the article by

1. Play with kids.

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2. Play like a kid.

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3. Learn something new (play a new sport or game, learn how to cook a new dish).

4. Get out in nature.

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5. Help someone in a small way (by carrying their groceries or paying their toll on the highway).

6. Count your blessings.

7. Spend time with your pet.

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8. Travel.

 

9. Nurture romance (spend time just kissing your partner, buy a surprise gift, write a love letter).

 

10. Dress up in costume for no reason.

 

11. Lose yourself in a great book.

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12. Laugh and smile, no matter how you’re feeling.

13. Sing out loud.

14. Connect authentically with friends and family, sharing your vulnerabilities.

15. Dance. If you can’t dance, just skip.

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16. Pay a compliment to a total stranger.

17. Listen to uplifting music.

18. Serve others. Volunteer.

 

19. Exercise.

 

20. Set a goal, then reach it (run that marathon, pass that test, lose those five pounds).

21. Meditate and enjoy the silence.

 

22. Write a thank you letter or Facebook post to someone for no particular reason other than just to say “I appreciate you.”

23. Get messy (go barefoot, play in the mud).

 

24. Prepare and slowly eat a healthy meal.

 

25. Offer to teach someone a new skill.

26. Memorize a poem.

27. Turn your errands into an adventure (by making a game out of finding certain items at the store or spotting yellow cars while driving there).

 

28. Take a nap.

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29. Ask someone for help (and express appreciation for their guidance).

30. Watch a favorite old movie for the hundredth time.

 

31. Discover a new smell (in the form of a candle, flower, or massage oil).

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32. Snuggle.

33. Get rid of stuff. (Take it to a homeless shelter. Lighten your load and make someone else’s life better at the same time.)

 

34. Watch a sunrise or sunset.

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35. Make a commitment to change a bad habit, then do it.

36. Create something.

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37. Eat a cupcake.

 

38. Spend an evening by candlelight.

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39. Take a walk in the rain.

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40. Surrender (give it up to God).

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I’m not sure about dressing up or walking in the rain.  But certainly I can eat a cupcake, light a candle, offer a compliment, take a nap, ask for help, write a note, exercise, snuggle with Codie.

 

And maybe even skip a little,

while noticing with glee if a wayward snowflake lands on my nose.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Pick one of the 40 suggestions and try it today.  Each day is a gift, even when you have to scrape ice off your car.

– And try skipping.  Just don’t slip on the ice and break a hip!

 

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy