December 9, 2009

“They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” Andy Warhol.

Not too long ago my Dad admired my new flatware. He said “This may sound crazy, but it feels nicer to eat with new flatware.”  It is now his.  

We recently “de-doilied” his table tops. He was afraid to change them since my Mom died 4 years ago. His bedroom still had her “lady colours”. He didn’t want to change anything as it was all “still good and who sees it anyway?”  He’d just make do. When he comes home from Vancouver shortly, I am hoping he will be pleasantly pleased with his birthday present of a redecorated masculine bedroom.

A recent garbage day in my neighbourhood lead to a blue toilet being left at a neighbour’s curb side.  I thought, “About time! That toilet had to be in use for over 30-40 years.” Then I thought “Where’s the sink?” Besides the colour and hidden germs, water wastage had to be an issue.

Further along was a 70’s style sofa bed – to make it into a fold out bed you had to bend the backrest to the front of the sofa, and then push the back rest all the way flat. The saving grace that this “sofa bed” had was it did not weigh a ton. They were not known for their comfort and I would not relish being the guest. And dust mites? That is possibly another story.

Yet on another curb side was a beautiful gold coloured fridge and stove. It is amazing how long these items have lasted. The fridge could not have been very efficient. The stove is not really an issue as the technology has not changed that much for basic models. But the colour!

Were these 3 households stuck in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s?  Do you realize that is 40 – 50 years ago?  How did time stand still?

All these cast offs are exciting to me.  No more “making do”.  Move away from the old and make some changes.

Even if you aren’t thinking of moving just yet, renew yourself and let the freshness of new colours, styles, and ideas take effect.  Get excited about what is new around you!  You still have a lot of living to do!


November 4, 2009

50 years is a long time no matter how you look at it.

50 years in one house makes me wonder if it is just too long. Don’t get me wrong. I am impressed with folks who manage to have the determination to stay in one place.

I believe moving has its merits. Moving makes you take stock of your “stuff”.  It gives you the strength to get rid of things so you don’t have to move them.

Recently, I put my house on the market. As I have written, I have been decluttering for almost a year now.  I didn’t think I had much to get rid of until I started to hear some of our client’s voices echoing in my head.

  • I forgot I had that all that china? Wow, look at this. I now have a collection of cream and sugars.
  • That electric blanket doesn’t work but it is still a good blanket.
  • Move that pile off the chair and have yourself a seat.
  • There is no room in that closet, but just shove it in there and close the door fast!
  • I am going to fix that sometime soon.
  • No, I am keeping those shoes. I rarely wear them because they hurt my bunion, but they are brand new and so pretty.
  • Those pants cost me a fortune at Eaton’s. I just have to lose a little bit of weight to fit in them.
  • Yes, I need those shovel handles. You never know when one of the others will break.
  • What do you mean, “What am I going to do with that one sheet of shingle?” The roof might leak! 
  • When you take the nails out of those old boards, just put them in this jar where I keep all the bent and rusted ones.
  • Ally was six when she lost that tooth. It is so cute. Look how small it is! Did you know she is a teacher now?
  • It was a gift. I can’t get rid of it. Why she ever thought I would use such a thing is beyond me.

Some of these are in jest. But are you nodding your head?  We all do it!

Be brave.  

Sell it. Donate it. Recycle it. Throw it out.


October 28, 2009

“If you read a lot of books you are considered well read. But if you watch a lot of TV, you’re not considered well viewed.” Lily Tomlin

I tried to find a witty quote that said something about having too many books. I couldn’t find one. It MUST be a “no no” to disparage the collecting of books.

I spent most of my working “formative” years in the technology business which initially said that with the advent of computers we will no longer need printed pages. Although in some cases that may be true, I’m not sure I will ever get there. I personally love reading the printed page and always have 2 – 3 books on the go. Fiction books I donate once read. I keep re-reading my self help books so they rarely get donated unless they have to do with dieting.

In a recent project a group of us were getting ready to stage a home and the client had many, many books.  As we had all worked on many similar projects around Ontario we came up with a list of conclusions about whether books are to be kept or not.

  1. Smelly books do not sell.
  2. Just because a book is old, does not mean it is valuable.
  3. Current popular authors’ books do not a “good used market” make. Too many copies in print. That is why they are popular.
  4. Even though you paid 3 – 4 times as much for the hardcopy version than the pocket book, it is not more valuable. A second hand book store owner advises that he has regular $1. sales to get rid of hardcover books.
  5. Second hand book stores are VERY selective about what they buy (see point 3).  Most may provide 10 % of the list price in cash or 25% as a credit for other purchases.
  6. National Geographic magazines widely cherished, though not a book, are not the treasure people expect them to be. Charities shudder when these arrive.

Do yourself a favour and donate your books to charity, a seniors home or unless someone in the know  tells you they are worth something, sell them for a quarter at the next street sale. You don’t want to move them.


October 20, 2009

When your possessions start possessing you.

I was doing a presentation last week when one of the “mature” ladies uttered the phrase in the title.  It got me thinking.

When we start out in life many of us measure our success by the accumulation of possessions…the more luxurious the better; my car, my house, my beautiful china, my designer clothes and so on.  We seem to need these things to show the world that we are “good” at whatever we do, and we are being appropriately rewarded for it. 

Then we enter a phase where our activities become important; luxury trips, attendance at sporting events and concerts, dining out.  And the possessions just get better.  We are really successful.

Sometimes it is only when we are older that we come to feel that it is people and relationships that are the true measure of our success.  But we still have all those possessions …they really add up over the years.  And they become heavier…a weight on our shoulders.  Many are buried in closets and cupboards where we can’t see them, but we know they are there. Or do we?

Somehow it is difficult to let them go.  Why?  Sometimes it is because we really love them.  But sometimes it’s just inertia.  We can’t give them away because it seems to diminish our own worth.  We can’t sell them because the laws of supply and demand mean that we aren’t going to get what we think they are “worth”.  And that really weighs us down.

Is it time for an “attitude adjustment”?  Shouldn’t we know by now that our value is based on who we are and what we contributed to the world during our life? And couldn’t the measure of that be the family and friends who surround us now?

Perhaps it is time to shed some of those possessions. “Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.”


August 5, 2009

If you can’t take it with you….

I recently read an article that stated the importance of every adult having a will, power of attorney for personal care and power of attorney for property.  In a previous blog we discussed the importance of these, and the importance of revisiting them when things change.

Revisiting my will, and keeping “Do your givin’ while  you’re livin’ “ in mind, I realized I had bequeathed my mahogany dining room suite to my daughter. She has her own furnished home now, and the way furniture styles have changed over the years, I questioned if she really would want it.

Her answer was yes and no.  Yes, she would love to have it since it has wonderful memories and is mine.  However, she confessed (she didn’t want to hurt my feelings) she really doesn’t have the space for it in her tiny condo, nor is it her style. My brothers or nephews aren’t interested in it either.

As I am going through a period of transition myself, I suspect that my next move, (probably a condo) won’t accommodate this beautiful suite. In reality, I use it maybe once or twice a year though it gets lovingly polished every two weeks.

I will have to make a decision to sell it or not. I have shopped around to see what old dining room suites are worth and I am unpleasantly surprised.  Although it was bought for a song at an auction before I wed, it does not have the value I had hoped it would. I realize the value a dealer would give me for the piece is approximately half of what he would try and sell it for. That’s disheartening.

So what is my conclusion?  I will keep it as long as it “fits” into my life.  Then I will find someone who will really love it. And although I won’t get the value I think it deserves, my satisfaction will come from knowing someone cherishes it as much as I did!


subscribe to our RSS feed