Too much stuff. How do we accumulate so many boxes of papers, photos, clothes, books and memorabilia? Truthfully, it’s a slow, methodical process that began years ago. We attached sentimental value to items no longer needed. Rather than part with our keepsakes, we set them aside and watched the boxes multiply.
The thought of cleaning out the clutter and collectables can be overwhelming. Where do we start? How long will this take? Who can help us? What resources are available? We need a plan to make a change.
Here are a few simple guidelines to tackle the task of decluttering. First, we must detach ourselves from the treasures that touched our hearts. The only way to move forward is to let go of the past.
Make a commitment
Start with a daily or weekly time and day to go through personal belongings. Create a routine that supports your commitment. Show up on time to the front hall closet, the basement storage room, the garage or the packed attic. Make no excuses…commit to a regular time and place.
Be objective by necessity
OK, it’s hard to give up the cute Mother’s Day card your son made for you in kindergarten. Or the adorable letter your daughter wrote on a day of redemption. But your offspring will tell you to get rid of it all. They, and most of your friends and relatives, desire few, if any, items in your giant collection of sentimental gifts, used furnishings, collectables and papers. Look at it, smile and send it to the Toss stack. If you don’t need or use it, it’s time to let it go.
Make a little cash
Maybe Aunt Jean’s heirloom necklace has some value. Set it aside and have it evaluated. Antiques, coins, stamps, military items, old quilts and sports memorabilia should be looked at by the experts. Hold on to items you believe may have value and can translate to cash. Or, host a garage sale to sell a variety of goods that will find a new home. Ask friends for referrals about local dealers you can trust.
Contribute to charities
Many local charitable organizations would be happy to take your used dishes, china, tools, clothing and furniture. Make a list of possible charities and call them in advance to find out what they will accept. Be sure your donations are in good condition or the charity drivers may leave them at the door. Find out their pick-up times and dates so that you can plan ahead.
Give specific donations
It’s possible your church may need the piano that’s been sitting in your living room for years. Your dining room set may be the perfect donation for a family in need. Vintage posters, books and historic artifacts might be useful to a theme museum. If you want your items to be donated to a worthy cause or organization, you’ll have to do some research to determine the best options. You may also benefit from a tax-deductible donation.
Shop-a-holics love bargains – and often buy ahead for holidays and gift-giving. Once the household cleanse has started, it’s important NOT to fill in those open spaces. The only way to keep things tidy is to avoid the acquisition of more items.
Feel good about your progress
The great clean-up will give you a sense of peace, tranquility and accomplishment. You’ll have more room, less possessions and a clean, orderly environment. There’s so much to like about being neat and organized. Great job! Keep up the good work!
Journalist and President Emeritus of the Better Government Organization Andy Shaw Inspires Community to be Government Watchdogs
King-Bruwaert House and The Community House were pleased to host Andy Shaw, long-time head of the Better Government Organization (BGA), on Tuesday, April 17th at 11:30 am for a luncheon presentation in Hinsdale. Andy Shaw inspired the crowd to stay informed about our government because we have a right to ensure that our elected officials use our tax dollars fairly, wisely and ethically.
K-B House and TCH have teamed up over the last four years to bring entertainment and education to the active adults in their communities. “One of our goals is to bring quality programs to our residents that will keep them in touch with current event,” said Terri Bowen, CEO of King-Bruwaert house. “Andy Shaw did a great job discussing government and important issues.”
Kate Vogts, TCH Active Adult Director, welcomed the crowd and announced that donors, Anderson/Scott who have underwritten the speaker series at TCH. Assistant Administrator of K-B House, Julie Ryan, thanked co-sponsors Midwest Geriatrics LLC, Rytech, and Symbria for helping to bring this high-level speaker to our community. Bonnie Kohout, Director of Marketing at K-B House, introduced Andy Shaw to the record crowd of over 150 people.
The educated and engaged audience was eager to hear what Andy Shaw thought about the state of the government in Illinois and the upcoming election for Governor this fall. Andy Shaw reported that he has seen incremental changes in our elected officials and that in general, they make a better effort. In his nearly 10 years as President of the BGA, they have headed up 700 investigations and conducted 50 lawsuits, which has resulted in 200 changes being made to government in Illinois. The Governor race will be one of the most expensive races ever run with over $300 million spent on the primary alone. During these times of “fake news,”Andy Shaw encouraged attendees to check facts that politicians claim on bettergov.org before making any political decisions.
Andy Shaw remarked that his goal for the BGA is to have better government for their 100th anniversary, which is in 5 years. This is a worthwhile goal for him to pursue in his “retirement.”
KB’s Low Vision and Hearing Committee recently hosted a special Q&A session with Vision Specialist, Mae Michels. Ms. Michels’ years of experience working for the Lions Center for the Visually Impaired in California, the Spectrios Institute of Wheaton and the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education in Chicago have afforded her a vast array of insights and recommendations for those experiencing low vision. During her presentation, Ms. Michels shared a variety of ideas and resources with a group of K-B residents, while giving them an opportunity to ask questions, share their experiences and exchange tips of their own. It was an enjoyable and educational experience for all involved.
Ms. Michels opened the session by encouraging residents to be their own advocates. She pointed out that people don’t always look like they have a vision impairment. It is not a disability others can see just by looking at you. For this reason, it is important to ask for what you need. For example, if you are at a restaurant and order fish, ask the wait staff if you can give a different color plate or if they can place a lettuce leaf under the fish to help distinguish the food on the plate. White fish on a white plate would be a challenge for someone with a visual impairment. Being vocal about your needs is vital - and others may not know what you need unless you ask. As Ms. Michels said, “do not complain, but request!”
The group also discussed how to find ways to do the things you’ve always enjoyed with low vision. Taking advantage of services like Talking Books through the Library of Congress or listening to volunteers read your favorite newspapers and periodicals through CRIS Radio were good examples. Companies like American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. offer free catalogs that are filled with tools and gadgets to improve quality of life for those with low vision. A change in vision doesn’t mean your activities change – instead, adaptations can be made to help you achieve success in doing the things you love.
Other tips were shared including creating and maintaining an organization system that works for the individual; promoting adequate lighting in your environment; and decorating suggestions to help make your home low-vision friendly.