Every time I move I find more things I should have decluttered before I made the move. The whole process of moving is so eye-opening. I always see a certain part of my life flashing before me as I handle every single item in my home. I usually find myself repeating the same mantra to myself:
“How on earth did I accumulate so much stuff?”
With each move, I end up getting rid of quite a bit of stuff we no longer need. But even after I think I did a pretty good job of decluttering, I discover I could have done much better! The Lord only knows how much stuff I would have accumulated if I had never moved.
We have moved a total of 23 times in our 48 years of marriage – our anniversary is next month! I guess that makes me a decluttering expert! We made this last move a couple of months ago.
The actress in me likes to refer to my life as a play.
And that play can be divided into three acts:
Act 1 – the first 30 years,
Act 2 – the second 30 years
Act 3 – the last 30 years. And if you live beyond 90 – that is just frosting on the cake!
Right now Dan and I are in Act 3, Scene 2.
ACT 1 (ages 0-30)
Dan and I got married in Act 1 when I was 21 and he was 23. We were both college students at the University of Missouri. Our income was $300 a month from Dan’s graduate assistantship. We did not have many possessions. We each had a suitcase full of clothes and a few household items we inherited from our parents.
We had no car and we really did not have use for one. We were newlyweds full of dreams and paying for books and tuition had to be our first priority. We lived in a small forty-dollar-a-month attic apartment. We had two bean-bag chairs, a small metal dinette set with two chairs, and a twin mattress on the floor. I would give anything now to have a photo of that tiny apartment.
His parents came from Kansas City for a weekend and painted the walls and floors,helping us make the tiny apartment more liveable. So many special memories were made in that apartment.
We only lived there one year. We had love and dreams and it was enough. My Dad paid for my wedding which added up to about $200. We borrowed Dan’s parents’ car and drove to Springfield which is an hour’s drive because the hotel had a king-sized bed and we had never slept on one and it had a place to buy an Orange Julius and I loved an Orange Julius! It was a one-day honeymoon but it was grand!
We moved a total of five times before entering into Act 2. This is not counting my childhood moves. Dan stayed in one place until going off to college. My story was one of several moves since my Dad was a military man.
ACT 2 (ages 30-60)
Act 2 involved several more moves and acquiring of things including adding to the world two beautiful sons!
This was an act that involved lots of changes, the biggest was having children and wow, does that require acquiring things and then getting rid of them as they grow!
We moved a total of 15 times. I won’t go into detail on the why’s of all those moves right now. Maybe later on. Just know it involved a lot of drama, flexibility and strong faith.
ACT 3 (ages 60-90)
We find ourselves retired, empty-nesters and wondering where the time went. I will turn 70 very soon and Dan is 71. So I guess you could say we are now in scene 2 of the third act. We do quite a bit of reflecting back on the previous two acts and how much we have learned through our experience. We have only moved three times in this act so far. I don’t think we have anything from our first act and very little from Act 2. So that proves that we have done some major decluttering along the way! If we had not, I can’t imagine how much stuff we would own right now. The very thought frightens me!
I just took a look around our new apartment and I even asked Dan if we have anything from our past two acts. Neither of us could think of an item that we own from Act 1 or Act 2. We had some before this move, but not now! Then I remembered – just the photographs – that is it. And the photos are soon to be gone. I will write about that project later!
It is in Act 1 and Act 2 that we acquire the most stuff. I firmly believe that Act 3 needs to be different, very different. It is this last act where we need to be getting ready for our final bow.
I also believe it is our job to become really minimal with our stuff and our space. It is our job as Act 3 people to deal with our stuff before we die. I don’t think other people need to deal with our stuff when we are gone – that is our job before we die!
It is in our third act that decluttering and downsizing need to become one of our first priorities. We need to move it way up on our list. It may require dropping a few fun things for a while, but it will be worth it. Leaving it to our relatives to clean up the stage after our life is over is nothing more than a cop-out. You may not agree with me. That is fine, but I sure would not like to be around when your relatives take precious time from their busy lives to do what you should have done!
I strongly encourage you to look around and ask yourself if you really need all that stuff you’ve been accumulating all your life. Are you currently using it, do you love it, would you buy it again? Do you spend a lot of time on things you no longer enjoy doing? Our homes need to be living spaces, not storage spaces. And newsflash, you can’t take it with you, so you might as well give most of it up now while you still can. If not now, when? Time is ticking!
Final question: Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer?