I never know what people truly want or think when we meet, but this person was clear about what she wanted me to tell her.
She'd attended two of my community classes and took me up on my offer of a free home visit.
I do them locally because I'm curious and always learn something. They're fun for me.
She wanted my professional opinion of how she was doing in her quest to reduce what is in her home.
I'm mindful of what a privilege it is to visit people's homes. Their personality, history, and preferences are on display to a relative stranger who may be critical of them.
A few months passed until our schedules matched for a frigid day visit to her sunny and warmly cozy house.
We chatted for a bit in the living room before touring the house. Her home was clean, well-lit, colorful, and inviting. Despite the amount of furniture and displays, and it had adequate walkways from room to room.
There were neat collections of books, pottery, figurines, art, family memorabilia, and other things typical to most of us.
There were aesthetically pleasing arrangements of her interests.
Set apart, the space between them highlighted each one in turn.
Green pottery filled the mantlepiece.
In another area, dolls were arranged to seem as though they were having a discussion. In another, family art in was neatly preserved in binders.
Handmade quilts and craft supplies were in protective containers, beautiful teapots were invitingly arranged on a wood table, and books were neatly shelved according to genre or author.
Glass paperweights sparkled in sunlit windows.
She related she'd been gradually donating and consigning things that her family wasn't interested in.
She doesn't want to leave much work for them to do when she passes on.
I was pleased to hear that because in many families it makes people too uncomfortable to talk about possessions, money, and death.
Sometimes, the family doesn't want to appear greedy or impolite; in some, they feel it's inviting sickness or death.
Superstitious thinking leads people to avoid creating wills and other essential legal documents, creating headaches for survivors.
But in her case, her family felt free to thank her for giving them things they liked and to turn down her offer of things they didn't want. They have conversations, not avoidance.
We discussed possible ways to sell books, which can be challenging to make an adequate return on the time and energy involved. I suggested going to abebooks.com to see how similar books are priced.
But selling online is work.
It means one must be willing to do the work to post photographs, track interest, sales, payments, and pack and ship items.
Donating for the tax deduction or giving things to those who can use what you no longer want to house can be more financially valuable.
In fact, I'd stopped by a Goodwill store on the way to her home and spent practically nothing on toddler clothing that was in excellent condition. When my grandkids outgrow them, we'll donate them to the next little people who will continue the cycle.
Some opt for local auctions, but they don't generally accept run-of-the-mill mass produced items or other items of low value.
When it was time to leave. I told her the only thing I could add to what she was already doing was thanks for the invitation to spend a pleasant hour with her.
She was already doing everything I would suggest:
Decided she was ready to reduce.
She felt there were too many possessions for her spaces. She didn't want to chance leaving a lot of deadlined work for her family if she needed to move, became ill, or passed away.
Assessed what she owned.
She decided what she was ready to part with, and what she wanted to save for a little longer, but not forever.
Realizes this is a process.
She accepted she would work through things on her timeline. She didn't feel pressured to ORGANIZE & REDUCE RIGHT NOW! (No, you don't need to!)
Does the work.
Rather than procrastinate, she's actively setting and reaching her goals to work through her collections and spaces. She talked about 'this pass' and would do 'the next pass' later.
Accepts there may not be a perfect solution.
It's gratifying when there are profits or your stuff helps just the right person at precisely the right time. But focusing on her simple goal of not burdening others in the future is best. Procrastination and regret thrive on complicated criteria. (Read that sentence twice.)
Asked for a second opinion.
It's a brave person that asks for opinions on how to do things differently, but there is a lot to learn by inviting opinions. You're not obligated to take suggestions, but if your ego can step aside, someone else may have a better idea.
I'm smiling now as I think about our time together and that she felt assured she was doing all the 'right' things.
Sometimes the best days at work are no work at all.
PS A few days after we met she called to tell me she'd felt inspired to take advantage of the contractor's dumpster in her driveway (with permission).
"It's a lot easier once you decide to let it go."