I’m Not The Only One! Death Cleaning


My father-in-law sent me a Washington Post article on “Death Cleaning.” I was so excited to hear that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s important to clear out unwanted things and get your s@#%* in order before you “bite the big one.”

According to Margareta Magnusson I’m about 10 years too early. She suggests starting at 65 years old.

But really, the Swedes embrace the concept of “dostadning” which comes from the Swedish words for death and cleaning. It’s basically what I’ve been talking about: gettting rid of unwanted things so your family doesn’t have to deal with it and getting your affairs in order.

The article quotes Karin Olosfdotter, Swedish Ambassador, who says that her parents are “death cleaning” as well as their friends and she thinks it almost a “biological” thing to do.

It’s funny because I have run across my people in my own age range and most of them are doing it and if not, they want to or are thinking about it. So, I think it could be a biological thing. A lot of people don’t do it because it’s so hard, though.

We should come up with a word for death cleaning here in the US. I think I have. It’s called “getting your s@#* together.”

I’ll have to get Magnusson’s book when it becomes available in the US in January.

I’m glad I’m not alone and this whole throwing out experience wasn’t actually a mental breakdown.

This day after Halloween might be a good time to start “death cleaning.” What do you think?






My last post was about my addiction to the feeling new things bring. Thanks for the comments and responses. It’s nice to know it’s not just me, I’m not the only one.

I was scrolling through my twitter feed today and someone tweeted something to the effect of, “Stop discarding and start living.”

That’s the challenge isn’t it?

Discarding, downsizing and organizing can become addictive as much as buying new things.  It’s easy to get caught up in the eddy of the process and never really start living.

The challenge is to find the same enjoyment in living that we’ve found in getting new things or throwing old things out.


As I mentioned before, I see a lot of people come to minimalism after a crisis, as a way to sort through their lives and find peace and meaning. Minimalism isn’t the peace and meaning but a process to filter out the things that are blocking, interrupting, taking up too much of our time and space so that we can enjoy our lives.

The challenge is to move from the process to the living.

It’s not as easy as you would think, especially if you’ve lived life with pain and hurt. Maybe you didn’t turn to drugs or alcohol or sex or other popular addictions to numb the pain, maybe you collected, purged, hoarded, lived austerely. Anything that kept your attention away from hurt.

However, if you’ve come this far and rid yourself of the distraction and you’re left with yourself, the temptation is to go back, stay in the eddy of process where you were safe and it felt good.

The unfiltered, undistracted life is a little raw and real.

All the stuff and activity kept us cushioned and padded from the hurt.

To live without the padding takes time. Like when air hits a scrape, it stings, we recoil but the more you expose it to the air the less it hurts in time.

It takes time to learn to enjoy life’s flavor without all the condiments. The footage without all the CG. The photos without the filters.

Life with #nofilterneeded is a wonderful goal, can we get there? Is it possible?

I’m going to try.

How about you?




Minimalism vs The Addiction


Here’s how it is for me – I like to get new things but I don’t particularly like to shop.

I don’t enjoy the thrill of the hunt, the satisfaction of the bargain. That’s not my thing.

I just like the feeling of getting something new. It’s the feeling I’m attracted to, not necessarily the item.

So, you know, dear reader, that I spent months discarding, decluttering and reorganizing my life. I’ve got my clothes closet dealt with. I’ve got my house decorating settled. Towels, linens, kitchen tools, memorabilia, storage, well, just everything is fine. It was hard work. It was emotional work.

And now there’s really nothing I need to buy.

Oh, there is still a desire to shop because I like that feeling of having something new.

To be honest, that feeling is an addiction.

Occasionally I’ll get an urge to buy something new. It grows until I’m jonesing for that feeling. My mind starts running through my whole house trying to find something that I can justify replacing. I’ll resort to really stupid reasons to buy something new. “The coffee maker is dirty, I need a new one.”

Or I’ll get that itch that I’m bored with my clothes and I need something new. “Yes, I have a pair of black shoes, but I need a pair with a millimeter more heel. Don’t you understand?”

Then I get real practical. I’ll say, “I need a new organizing bin or rack or something that will “help” me. I really need another organizing tool, don’t I?” Nope.

“How about office supplies, I need new post-it notes and paper clips, right?” Nope. “But my paper clips are just silver, I think I need blue ones and post-it notes to match. Matching office supplies will help me be more organized, right?” Nope. Just stop!

“Isn’t there anything I can buy? I need a fix!”

But minimalism has messed me up. I can’t get a fix!

Because now when I think of buying something new I get a flashback of all those bags of items that I discarded. Bag after bag, box after box of junk that I didn’t need. I remember having all my clothes spread out all over my room and carefully deciding which ones bring me joy and which ones don’t. I love all my clothes and the beautiful relief of having  a spacious closet. I can actually go in it now without feeling anxious. I don’t want to ruin that so I find that when I thinking of buying something I remember that relief and joy and I think, “Whatever I buy will probably throw off my balance” so I don’t buy anything.

It doesn’t affect just my clothes, but my whole house. I think about the overwhelming burden of clutter and the weight that is now gone of not having to find a place to put it all and clean it all. Oh, I don’t want that again.

So, I find myself not buying anything.

But the craving for that feeling of getting something new is still there.

It’s frustrating. I have an itch I can’t scratch.


If someone else asked me what to do, I’d say, “Go do something you enjoy like hiking or your hobby or spending time with loved ones.”

But you know, honestly, those things don’t take that feeling away. It just gives me a reason to shop: I need new hiking boots, a new tool for my hobby, a new dish to put the potato salad in that I’m taking to the pot luck dinner.

It’s a modern day addiction fed by advertising that is everywhere and the stores that are so convenient that it’s crazy. These stores give you an experience, make you feel good just by walking in them and walking out with that delicious feeling of having something new. “Where shopping is a pleasure.” “It’s my pleasure to serve you.” The stores exist just to make me happy! Right?

I’m sorry but walking in the park is not quite the same. It’s good, but not the same.

So, I hate to leave you hanging, dear reader. I have no solution.

Maybe it really is like what I’ve heard drug addicts say, “You never really lose the taste and desire for heroin, you just learn to fight it.”

Got any advice?






This Was The Goal!



Of course there are many factors, many purposes and many reasons because life is not that simple. But one of the goals of freeing up, lightening up and streamlining my life was to do just what I’m doing right now…being able to spend A LOT of time with my kids and grandkids who live half way across the country.

I packed up pretty much all of my clothes in a plastic bin- because I’ve cut down the size of my wardrobe, remember – and threw them in the car and drove 15 hours to my kids to stay for a month.

It’s okay. The husband is okay with me leaving. Not jumping up and down but okay especially when I reminded him he’ll have control of the remote and he can cook all the crazy, spicy, weird foods that stink up the house he wants to.

But let me tell you, it was a breeze leaving the house. Back in the day it would have taken me a week or so to get ready to leave. I would have had to wash a ton of clothes and dig out a suitcase. I would have probably gone shopping because I never really had stuff to wear because I hated most of my clothes in my closet. So, thank you KonMari!

I would have cleaned the house (because I hate coming home to a dirty house) which would have led to the sorting and cramming and the frustration of realizing I need to throw stuff out but I’m too stressed because I have to go on this trip to stop and do that right now which leads to the guilt of having just crammed all my crap into weird places just to make the house look neat and clean and putting discarding and organizing on my to-do list for when I get home. Whew!

Then I would have to pay the bills which would lead to the same ordeal only in the office and file cabinet followed by the guilt of feeling unorganized and worring if we have enough insurance in case there’s a flood or the apocalypse and knowing none of my important files are in a fire/water safe safe and then feeling guilty for not really knowing where those files are, in fact not knowing which files are important. Whew!

But since I’ve done all the decluttering and organizing, leaving for the trip was easy. I paid the bills, filed the necessary papers which took me 20 minutes max. I had one small, and I mean small load of laundry to do. I didn’t have to pick and choose what clothes to take because I only have like 4 pair of pants, 2 shorts, and several shirts. I threw in my sneakers for walking and sandals. I wear my hoop earrings almost every day and my fitbit so I didn’t have to figure out what jewelry to wear with which outfit. I slimmed down my every day grooming routine, so I just threw everything I use everyday in my toiletry bag. I didn’t really have to clean the house because the house stays pretty clean everyday now that I don’t have a lot of clutter.

So, I put all my clothes in a plastic see-through bin so I wouldn’t have to dig through a suitcase for a month. I packed a tote bag to take into the hotel with me for my one night stay halfway there. One basket of snacks and water and I was on my way!

I didn’t leave with that uneasy, guilty feeling of having left things undone or unfinished or out of order. I left free.

Now, I’m here and we’re already having loads of fun. I think all those FaceTime sessions has helped make me a familiar face with the grandboys. They are sweet and social anyway, but they’re not looking at me like I’m something from another planet.

So, now to settle into a routine and try not to be an annoyance. You know, “the mother-in-law.”

Let me say sorry/not sorry if I write and post pics about my grandboys for the next little while.




Packing Up The DVDs For Veterans


Happy Memorial Day!

I’ve been meaning to post about packing up my DVDs for months and I suppose this is as good a day as any.

When I was decluttering, my extensive DVD collection was one of the most emotionally charged items for me to go through. I had spent years collecting my favorite movies. Movies are one of my most favorite things!

However, inspired by minimalism and affected by Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube and On Demand services, I found that I didn’t watch my movies all that often. Why pull out a DVD when I can watch the same movie with the click of a button?

So, I decided to go through my movies and discard.

It was hard but what made it easier was finding a worthy cause to donate to.

I discovered DVDs for VETs and they accept donations of used DVDs to be used in Veteran’s Hospitals and Nursing Homes and Veteran’s Centers.

It was easy to donate some of my favorite movies when I asked myself, “If a disabled veteran asked me if they could have some of my DVDs, would I give them to him/her?”

Of course!

So, I packed up my DVDs and shipped them off to DVDs 4 VETs.  I also put a link my sidebar.

Here’s a link to an AARP article with a list of good causes to donate to. I found it was easier to discard when I had a worthy cause to donate to.

Happy Memorial Day! and Happy Decluttering!



The Challenge of Staying True To The Vision

spinning plates

I always loved watching the plate spinners on Ed Sullivan or some other variety show. I love variety shows, why don’t we have those anymore?

Anyway, remember the plate spinning music? If you were here I’d hum it for you and you’d know what I was talking about.

My blog has been neglected as of late because I’ve been on the other end spinning some other plates.

That’s life, isn’t it, spinning plates? Having to give more attention to one plate, then move to another before it stops spinning and so on.

When I retired/quit my job of 17 years I quickly went into a frantic decluttering and minimizing phase. Now I’m into a “getting my s@#! in order phase which is soon to come to a close. Recently, I’ve been trying to take my time and think carefully about my choices and how they will affect my goal – to free up my life so that I can enjoy this next chapter.

So, in the past 7 months I’ve been resting, getting my health back on track, researching myself, exploring new interests and potential 2nd careers and generally figuring out what I want to do now that I’m in this chapter of my life.

There are a couple of “demons” that I am fighting right now. I have to keep them at bay lest they thwart my plan. Maybe you have the same ones: Money and Productivity.

I’ll be honest, money is tight since I quit work. I mean, we’re paying the bills but don’t really have much left to have fun or buy the grandkids stuff. So, it’s very tempting to take job offers that I’ve been given lately but I have to keep my goal in mind and be ruthless in making sure my choices support my vision of this chapter of my life. Otherwise, I will just be right back in the same boat – stressed out, fighting my blood pressure and not having enough time to spend with my grandkids.

This is my mantra, “It’s more important that I give my grandkids myself rather than stuff.”  That’s true, isn’t it? Tell me it is! They wont’ always remember the things I bought them but they will always remember the times we spent together and how I made them feel, right?

The other “demon” is productivity. I like to be busy, I like to feel productive. So, I’m tempted with filling my days with “doing stuff” to get that fix. I’m not comfortable (yet) with taking it slow, being patient, etc, etc. However, I know – from experience – that if I don’t chill out, take my time and be selective that my life will just be one big snowball of busy-ness that will crash and explode in a pile of illness and stress.

I also feel that mortality clock ticking and I want to spend my energy and effort doing things that produce goodness and help and bring joy to people. I don’t want to spend my precious time running in a hamster wheel going nowhere.

However, I have to gear down my passion to “help the world” and remember that cooking a good meal, making an encouraging comment on social media, loving my family, and all those other seemingly small gestures and actions are actually big things in disguise and are so important!

Taking It Slow

I’ve gotten involved in a couple of volunteer opportunities lately. I feel good with volunteering right now. I’m the kind of person that if I get paid for something I’m going to kill myself to make sure I give the person their money’s worth, and more. So, if I’m not getting paid, I feel freer to relax and enjoy the experience instead of obsessing about the work/pay exchange. But even in that, too, I have to put on the brakes. When I find something that is creative, challenging and that I’m passionate about I tend to get carried away. I have to pace myself. (Excuse me while I preach to myself!) And in my volunteering I have to keep my vision in mind and stay true to it.

So, this post, dear reader, is my attempt to slow my roll and re-center. Revisit my vision and make sure that I’m staying the course. And in sharing it with you, I give you permission to do the same.

What is your vision, dear reader? Maybe today is a good day to ponder your vision and goals and think of ways to adjust your trajectory to achieve them.

Hope you have a great day!



Meeting With The Grim Reaper’s Secretary


It’s Not Just Me

The more I talk to people my age I realize we’re going through the very same thing. We’re dealing with sick and aging parents. We’re becoming grandparents. We’re going through menopause. And we’re getting our $%&* in order. I was laughing with a friend about someone “trying out their grave plot” by laying on it to see if it fits!

If you’ve read About Me and why I started this minimalism stuff and this blog, you’ll know that one of my goals was to “get my affairs in order.” That’s a fancy, old movie way of saying I needed to meet with the Grim Reaper’s secretary.

I’ve had 6 people in my life die in the span of a year. These were pretty close people, too. So close that I was involved in knowing whether their “affairs” were in order or not.

And I can tell you this: If you love the people who will be walking with you through an illness and perhaps your death, do them a favor and make as many decisions as you can beforehand and pay for it beforehand otherwise it’s ALL going to fall on them. It’s hard on them. They are grieving and it’s difficult to guess what you want during that time. So help them out by getting your affairs in order beforehand. 

It is not selfish to plan your funeral, in fact, it a gift you’re giving to the ones left behind! I know because I have been the one left behind and it’s miserable to try to guess at what you want. We’re worried about upsetting people and it’s so great to say to those who want to argue, “sorry, this is what they wanted.”

I put off this part of my minimalist journey for as long as I could. I decluttered, discarded, organized and blogged about everything I could before getting to this. But after I got back from my father’s funeral a few months ago, I decided to get on with it.

I’m going to tell you about what I did and if it will depress you, just move on to something else. I understand, there are days I just don’t want to talk about his stuff.

Have Conversations

The first thing I did was to try to have conversations with my husband about what he thought we should do. We had many conversations because it’s a pretty depressing topic and it would just get too heavy and so we’d go do something fun to get our minds off of it. I had this notion that we had to do the same thing. And we were not in agreement at first. He wanted to be cremated and that was not a common practice in my family. So, there was a lot of back and forth, give and take.

Since my kids are more than likely going to be the ones who handle all the arrangements, I tried to have conversations with them about how they felt about different funerals and ways families dealt with the passing of a loved one. These conversations were even more brief. They did not want to talk about my husband or me dying at all. But I kept pressing them, in small doses, until I felt like I had a pretty good idea of how they felt.

Once my husband and I came to an agreement and I had my kid’s input, which was very important to me, I moved on to research.


The Grim Reaper’s Secretary Is a Pretty Funny Guy

After all the hard conversations my husband and I came to a compromise: we are going to be cremated, our ashes scattered in the ocean but we will have a memorial marker, here where we’ve lived most of our lives, to mark a spot on the earth where we were. I also wanted it for those who might want to do family research in the future.

So, I went to the cemetery where I already have some family members and friends, a place we live near and met with the guys in the office. Once I told them what I was doing, they were relieved. They usually have to deal with people who have to have their services immediately, who are grieving and it’s just a tough job. However, since I was in good health, no big hurry and they saw I was willing to laugh about joke about such a grim subject, they seemed to enjoy themselves. We shared about our lives and told stories. I actually enjoyed hanging with those guys.

I realized that to do their job, they have to really love people and want to sincerely help them at one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. I have come to really admire people in the death business.

The guys walked me through the process. They gave me a workbook where I answered questions to help me make decisions. It’s also a book that I can keep so my kids can have the details of what we want all spelled out. It also has a step-by-step guide for them to know what to do. It also includes contact information they will need. I’m really glad to be able to leave so much help for them.

The cemetery guys helped me arrange all the details from death to burial. From how my body will be shipped to the place it will be cremated to getting the ashes to my kids to throw in the ocean.

Beach Trip! 

My husband and I were in complete agreement that we wanted to give our kids a trip to the beach when we died. As a family, we find comfort and peace at the ocean. So, we built in a trip to the beach to scatter our ashes. I researched and found out legally how it has to be done. I wrote it all out for the kids and I’m actually in the process of making sure they have access to the money to do it.

Since I’m still “young” and I don’t know where I will be or who will be involved in my life when I die, I decided I would leave planning a memorial service up to them. Since I’ve been to a lot of memorial services lately, I felt like I could offer them suggestions so I wrote down a few ideas.

*Money, money money! I thought I’d throw in this fact that the life insurance money that we’re all depending on to pay for our funerals doesn’t kick in for like 3 weeks or more after they get the death certificates. Most of the funeral arrangements have to be paid for on the spot. Who’s going to cover for it all until the insurance money comes in? Who’s credit card will it go on? Just asking. 

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

Now that I’ve decided what to do with my mortal remains, it’s time to think about my stuff.

I haven’t actually written a will yet. I’m still researching and thinking about it. All I know is that one needs to be in place.

I have heard many people say, “I don’t have much of anything to leave behind, so I don’t need a will. My kids and grandkids can have whatever they want. It will be fine.” Can I just say that is foolishness and you are setting your family up for conflict.

You can not know how you’re going to feel about a loved one’s possessions until after they’ve died. Stuff you thought you didn’t care about take on enormous importance after death. 

Even the smallest thing can come to mean a great deal. So, if you own anything, a house, a car, have a bank account and furniture, you need to detail what you want done with the stuff!

Let me give you a couple of examples of how conflicts can arise over stuff:

Let’s say that I die and I own a car. It might not be worth more than a couple thousand dollars. What happens to the car? You might say, “your kids get it.” Ok, which kid? I have two. You might say, “the one who needs it.” What if both need it? What if one needs it, then the other one gets nothing from the car? How will the kid who gets nothing feel? Ok, you say, “then sell it and have them split the money.” Who will take on the chore of selling it?

Do you see what I’m saying? Think about your jewelry, family photographs or a tool collection. How are the kids going to sort that out? You can help them by spelling out who gets what. You’ll save them the conflict and stress of having to sort it all out. Or better yet, go ahead and declutter and give them the stuff now!

Here’s another one. True story. I saw this happen in a family.

So the mother dies. The father moves into a different house. He decides to get rid of the family furniture because it can’t fit in his new place but doesn’t offer it to the children because it’s his furniture now and he just doesn’t think about the sentimental value. A daughter-in-law ends up with a table from the family furniture. She saves it from being sent to a thrift shop and since she thinks it’s just thrift store junk so she has no respect for it and allows her children to draw on it and tear it up. One of the deceased mother’s children come for a visit to the daughter-in-law’s house. She sees the table and breaks down in tears. She knew how much the mother loved the table. She has memories of sitting at the table as a child and enjoying times with her mother around that table. She doesn’t feel like she can say anything and she doesn’t want to start an argument, but she is so crushed with the father for not allowing her to have the table and hurt with the daughter-in-law for having no respect for the family heirlooms she never goes back to the daughter-in-law’s house again. There was a big breach in the family over a little table.

So, you just never know how you will feel when a loved one dies and you’ll never know how people will feel about your stuff when you die. My plan is to go ahead and decide.

Let me encourage you to go ahead and meet with the Grim Reaper’s secretary. Make the plans for your mortal remains. Then get on with deciding what will happen with your stuff. I’m telling you, after going through this many, many times you will be giving the best gift you can imagine to your family and friends!

Ok, I’m off to working on my will. I’ll let you know how that goes.