No sooner had I put the finishing touches on last week's piece: "Size DOES Matter," than we found ourselves in the same predicament as many of you . . . Cliff's mother, Zee, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 96 (so not entirely unexpected), and suddenly, we had a mountain of her carefully curated items to disperse and dispose of (while also dealing with feelings of loss and grief). Turns out that most of the things we've spent a lifetime collecting, no one really wants or needs.
Because Zee had worked in the antique trade, there were a fair number of collectibles to consider, even though she had previously edited her possessions when she downsized into our garden apartment several years ago. Once the family laid claim to her artwork, antiques, photo albums, jewelry, and other items of value (sentimental or real), we still had boxes and bags of items headed to The Salvation Army.
Additionally, I've ordered a bulky-waste pickup to deal with the rejections: old pots & pans, worn sheets & towels, half-used bath products, out-of-date food, worn-out rugs . . . and the basic flotsam and jetsam of life. As an aside, Homeowners are entitled to one free bulky-waste pickup per year. (Take advantage of it!)
Suddenly, minimalism is looking very attractive to me.
The fact of the matter is that whatever your baggage or beliefs about the Great Beyond, unless you are Tutankhamun, none of us are taking anything more than our physical forms to the grave. Put more bluntly, "You can't take it with you." Truthfully, we could all do with less which is why AFTER working on clearing out Zee's place, I got down to business on my own. (Control is my default setting.)
Maybe, just maybe, I don't need a dozen ceramic cake plates (although they are pretty) or five identical frying pans, or four sets of wine glasses when I no longer drink wine! Maybe there are others that could, or would, enjoy these household items more. But as I am prone to "collecting," (I still LOVE a good flea market), I certainly could do a better job of organizing what I plan on keeping for the time being.
If you haven't yet caught Clea and Joanna, the miracle workers of "Get Organized with THE HOME EDIT" on Netflix, (I binged the first season) they're all about editing, containing, and labeling so that every area in your home has dedicated "zones." They don't just organize; they put a system in place that allows their clients to manage not only what's already there but what comes in going forward.
Even the refrigerator is broken into zones by way of "dairy," "vegetables," "quick snacks," "healthy snacks," "spreads," etc. No job is too big or too small. (They clearly haven't walked into some of our listings). In this hit series, they organize kids' rooms, walk-in closets, she-sheds, home offices, school rooms, garages, pantries, and everything else that needs attention. It's a visual treat for those of us who love the concept of "everything in its place" (This is true love.)
The Home Edit team proselytizes form as well as function, AND given that the vast majority of houses Sarah, Jill, and I visit meet neither of these criteria, it might be time to put some of their ideas into action. This dynamic duo suggests tackling one room, one closet, or one drawer in quick succession, but encourages the unorganized (that's most of us) to stick with one particular task until it's done, and then move on to the next. In other words, you don't have to tackle the whole mountain in one fell swoop, you can organize one small hill at a time, or with respect to moving, one box at a time. The point is to get started and take back your sanity!
Given that current world events are chaotic at best, AND downright unsettling to say the least, wouldn't you agree that our homes should be peaceful sanctuaries against all that is uncertain and unknown? (I thought so.) Otherwise, what's the point?
How can we help you?
BTW, you don't need to fly the Home Edit team from Nashville; there are several excellent organizers on our list right here in Oakland. If "overwhelmed" is your first thought when you walk into the front door, it's time to do something about it: juliegardner.com/our-team.
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.