Streamline Your Lifestyle - July 3, 2014
Make room for what you enjoy most
By Sandra Beck
I’m on a mission.
My goal? To spend less time accumulating and caring for “stuff” and spend more time having fun with friends.
I’m tired of dusting knick-knacks accumulated over the years, navigating around boxes of my children’s college books in the basement every time the cable guy needs access to the equipment, and bumping into too much furniture as I walk through the house.
More importantly, though, I don’t want my children to have to deal with decades of material accumulation when I’m no longer able to.
Get a new lease on life
My new attitude—call it a “new lease on life”—resonated with Cathy Bates, owner of Practical Solutions in Redlands, Calif., when I asked her for advice on where to start the daunting downsizing process.
“Think of it as a diet plan,” Bates says, for your house and for your possessions. “How can you help your house lose weight? You can do that by getting rid of a lot of little things now, while the decision-making is easier. That part gets harder as you age.
”Much of Bates’ work involves helping seniors eliminate furniture or clutter that presents a safety risk or creates stress. It’s a necessary process whether you’re staying in your home, downsizing or moving to the convenience of an independent living community.
“When you dread going through that closet that’s loaded with games and toys, it weighs you down,” Bates says. “You end up saying, ‘I’m not going to that luncheon because I need to clean out that closet,’ but then you don’t get to it. And that creates stress.
”Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) in Hinsdale, Ill., echoes the importance of streamlining possessions as we get older.
“So many people have accumulated things for 20 or 30 years without ever getting rid of much,” Buysse says. “Some of that accumulation can be re-purposed or donated.
”Bates and Buysse offer the following tips for starting to eliminate some of the “stuff” that keeps us from spending time with friends or doing other things we enjoy.
• Get help.
Do you really want to use a ladder to get those boxes off that high shelf in the garage?” Bates asks.
First, she says, it’s not safe. Second, sometimes sorting through those boxes of memories is emotional, so it helps to do it with someone. Frequently, an outside professional such as a trained senior move manager can be more helpful than an equally emotional—or worse, dispassionate—family member, Bates says.
Plan to spend $40 to $80 per hour for a pro; use the search function at nasmm.org to find experienced help in your area.
• Let it go.
This is more than an Oscar-winning song. It’s the mindset that will help you donate or sell your late husband’s recliner that now makes it hard for you to navigate in your walker.
“I recently worked with an older woman who was realistic about how few things she really needed around her once the family was gone. She could let many of her things go because she knew that somebody else would enjoy and use them to make their own memories,” says Bates.
This is the perfect attitude to embrace when you’re moving from a large house or apartment to a retirement community, where you will have fewer rooms for furniture, less storage space and no need for china and kitchenware.
• Accept that your things are no longer worth what you paid for them
The estate sale organizer’s mantra is: When selling, you will rarely get what you paid for something, even with antiques. In fact, Bates says the tax deduction from donating can be worth more than what you might be paid in a sale.
“Write it off for $300 as a donation rather than selling it at a yard sale for $25,” Bates advises.
Conversely, keep in mind that what you do gain as a tax credit or earn by selling merchandise can often more than pay for the services of professional assistance.
• Get creative.
Buysse tells the story of a colleague working with a woman who had accumulated 85 miniature teapots from her global travels as an executive wife. She hated to let them go, but her children didn’t want them and with a move to a smaller home in her future, she wouldn’t have room to display them.
The consultant helped her select and save her three favorites, and then took photos of the other 82. She arranged those images in a collage, had that printed as a poster, and framed the poster. The teapots were sold on eBay; the poster is displayed on a wall where the collector enjoys it every day.
Whether it’s teapots, multiple sets of China from years of entertaining large groups, or a treasured collection of antique dolls, look first to relatives who might continue to care for them as well as you did. If that’s not possible, consider getting help selling them on eBay or another site, or donate them to an organization like the Salvation Army that might find a new loving home for them.
While Buysse says that many people start by eliminating furniture because it helps them see results quickly, I’m going to start with the three CD racks that create visual—and mental—clutter in my family room. It’s a small start, which is what I need right now.
Where will you start?
'Practical Solutions' for pack rats
By JOY JUEDES, Staff Writer
POSTED: 08/01/2010 IN THE REDLANDS DAILY FACTS
REDLANDS - Ellen Monroe had a lot of material in her Riverside house from her days as a teacher.
"My heart and soul was in my classroom," she said. "I wound up taking it all home and wound up over my ears, over my head in clutter."
She thought she would have time to sort everything out.
"I finally got to the point where I thought, `I'll die and leave this all to someone else to clean up,' " she said.
She has been working with organizer Patti Eickhoff since the end of last year. Eickhoff works with Cathy Bates, who owns Redlands-based Practical Solutions, an organizing business.
"They don't work like the TV show ("Hoarders") does - they work in a way that's psychologically good for you, for those of us who need the help," Monroe said.
Eickhoff "finds all kinds of wonderful places (that are) comfortable for me, and I can let go," she said.
Bates said organizing possessions is very personal, and she and organizers who work with her first "walk around and listen."
"That's the key to organizing is listening," she said.
They do home and business organizing, and, more recently, "downsizing" and moving services for senior citizens.
Bates said she works with many local "hoarders," who often think they are alone. She provides a listening ear and has a counselor she can refer them to.
"We figure out what the root of the problem accept them for who they are and what happened," she said.
Eickhoff, an occupational therapist for 20 years, said it takes "a lot of guts for them to come to us."
"We're more solution oriented," she said.
At offices, she helps people organize their desk so they can function more efficiently.
"If organization isn't natural to them, they're a piler instead of a filer," she said.
She works with local retirement communities, including Plymouth Village and gives community workshops and seminars.
For seniors who are moving, Practical Solutions helps them decide which large items to take, and refers them to consignment businesses and other resources.
"We just love that part, that we're able to take the stress away," she said.
She started Practical Solutions in 2003 to provide extra income for her family, and she wanted to do something she loved.
"I was always an organized person and I liked to do it," she said. "My husband was a pastor and we went into a lot of homes, and I could see the struggle."
Having a family helps her relate to busy clients like single mothers, she said. And she is in the organizing business to help people, she said.
" `I got my life back' is always the net result," she said. "It's a really neat job."
"Cathy Bates packed up our whole apartment and got us ready for our move. She did it in a few hours," Stacy Fox, who recently moved from Upland to Laguna Hills, wrote in an e-mail. "When we've moved before, it would take a couple of weeks. This time, it was a matter of one day of prep by Cathy and the one day of movers. Practical Solutions made it simple."
Highland resident Patsy Studdard entered Bates' "Messiest Desk" contest last year on a whim.
"Just prior to that, I had just lost my husband, Gary, and was trying (not too well, I might add) to combine our two home offices into one, plus conquer the paperwork monster that comes when you lose a loved one," Studdard wrote in an e-mail.
Though she did not win the contest, she gained something else, she wrote.
Bates "sat on the floor of both offices with me and patiently spoke to me, getting the right information about what needed to be kept, what needed to be donated for the use of others, and what needed to be tossed. After Cathy's training, I was able to complete this task and I have been able to help others in similar situations," she wrote. "Once when I was sick, she showed up at my door with hot soup, bread,and a beverage."
Monroe said her attitude toward life has changed since she started working with Practical Solutions.
"It makes such a difference to be in a well-organized space," she said.
PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS: 909-810-3719; www.psorganizing.com
Practical Solution is a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, the National Association of Professional Organizers and Faithful Organizers. Owner Cathy Bates serves on the board of the Inland Empire Care Planning Council.
E-mail Staff Writer Joy Juedes at email@example.com
Thank you for visiting our articles about Home Organizing in Redlands. We hope it was helpful information as well about Senior Downsizing in the Inland Empire area of Southern California. We have been helping those struggling with Hoarding in Redlands and the Inland Empire for several years.