Friday, June 23, 2017

Personification and Decluttering


So I set my FlyLady timer for 15 minutes for the umpteenth time in my life. Yes, I actually do use the timer. My goal was clearing the dining room table, which was piled high. While cleaning and clearing every other surrounding surface the table suffered the overflow. Whatever was on that table would be put away, given away or thrown away. (Thank you, Ellen, for reminding me of that technique.) I had agonized about taking care of those things for an entire three days: didn't want to do it, felt overwhelmed by it, pretended it wasn't there, all the tricks of denial I could muster were in play. Would you believe that the table was cleared with three minutes to spare? Why I have not learned this lesson...


~cleared table~


Okay, I am going to share the main reason why I have not learned this lesson. The number one reason is...


Personification. Yes. Believe it or not, I ascribe human qualities to inanimate objects. 
< slapping self in head 
🤦🏻‍♀️ 


Recently, my son brought a load of his stuff to store in my garage. In the process of helping me go through my things to gain room for his he asked with a grin, "Mom, are these three rocks special to you?" In response, I picked them up, clutched them to my heart, and took them into the house and looked at them for days. Yesterday, during the 15 minute time, I dropped those rocks over the deck railing where they landed amongst their brothers...see what I mean about personification? LOL! 





Here's a sticky wicket... John's belongings, specifically his clothing. His shirts and pants all hang in the closet just as he left them. 



Last summer, his daughters began suggesting that they be given his shirts. Pushing, pushing, pushing. I may have gotten snippy because I finally asked them why they thought they wanted his shirts...had they purchased any for him? (The answer is no.) They wanted them to cut up and make quilts from them. Not ready for that either. The mere thought makes me slightly nauseous. Thing is, my daughter may need to move in until her home is ready sometime in October. She will need the closet space. Why can't I do this? You got it! Those clothes have become John to me, which also explains the nausea at thinking of cutting into quilt squares. 


I may have a breakdown. 


Yes, an entire household of treasures, which have all become living, breathing representatives of the people to whom they belonged. No wonder I'm having trouble.

~the perfect box for me~

So right now those boxes have become my friends. My favorites are from Lowe's. Small packing boxes with handles for 76 or 79¢ are the perfect size for me to lift. KEEP, GIVE or TOSS... may need another labeled SHRED.


~work cut out for me~ 


It's another rainy cool day and perfect for plugging away for 15 minutes at a time. Hope that your plans are more fun. 


A happy weekend to you! 



post signature

47 comments:

  1. I am just the opposite. We have packed and moved so many times, there is nothing left to toss. I can imagine it must be very difficult to even think about letting John's things go.

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  2. I am the same. I still have tiny dresses or rompers or shoes from my girls, the oldest being 38 and the youngest 17! I also have my dad's glasses, 20 years after his death! The oldest thing I have is a brick from the house I grew up in,which I left 40 years ago! Sometimes it is just not easy to let go.

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    1. You have the cutest blog, Deb. Are you planning to return to blogging? Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Well reading your post was like visiting a counselor. You have identified my problem! I am quite serious!!!
    I totally understand about the shirts. It was the tools for my mom. My stepdad's tools were what seemed to send his kids in orbit, but the kicker was that they wanted them to sell. Most of them had been bought by my family for him as gifts for every occasion. Many he never opened because he was so thrift.
    One 15 minute timer's worth at a time.
    I am the same way about something like rocks though so I am glad to learn I am not the only one. My daughter tries to help me:)

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  4. I've seen beautiful quilts used in that way, but I wouldn't be ready to let them go, either. I would do the same.

    So glad you mentioned those boxes. My MIL just might be moving again soon. Her cat has started using the new living room carpet as a scratching post. She has her own scratching post.

    I still use the timer, but need to do the 15 minute plan more often.

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  5. You are doing a great job at clearing things out. I love how you got rid of the rocks. I realize that it is too soon to cut up his shirts but I do know several people who love their quilts. ((Hugs))

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  6. I get it with the rocks. My kids and grandkids have all brought rocks into the house from time to time (and I am finding quite a few rocks at my dad's house as well). I think I have finally come to the place where I can just toss the rocks outdoors, where they belong.

    The shirts ... I can see both sides of the question on that. I understand completely that you are not ready to move them anywhere. I remember after my mother died, a well-meaning friend suggested to my dad that he should get rid of my mother's clothes very soon. (This lady was a widow and found that had helped her after her husband passed away.) But my dad was not ready to do that. The time came when he was willing to part with some of them, but it took years. Thankfully, he had plenty of closet space!

    That said, I have some old, torn flannel shirts that belonged to my dad and father-in-law, and I have used some of them in sewing projects for the kids and grandkids because they would have special meaning. One thing I still hope to do with some of the flannel ones is to make Christmas stockings. Is it possible that John's daughters were thinking of making quilts from his shirts as a sentimental thing? I would think that if it were only about sewing quilts, they would buy new fabric from the fabric store.

    As I ponder your words about personification, I can't help but think of my mother. She could not throw away or give away my younger brother's clothing or any of my sister's things. She kept things (even from their childhoods) that were in disrepair. It really seemed as if, to her, getting rid of these items would be like denying that these children ever existed. (She also, apparently, kept every greeting card she had ever received.) I went through most of my sister's things this spring ... oh, what a job.

    And good for you with the 15-minute principle. I used to be good at doing that. Time to get back to it! Thanks for the inspiration, Vee -- and the food for thought.

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    1. Yes, I think it may be for sentimental reasons. Thing is, they so seldom saw their father so I don't quite get the "sentimental" part. I was able to gift them with a stash of older flannel shirts that they would have recognized.

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    2. Well, since you did give them that stash of older flannel shirts that they would have recognized, in my opinion you have generously and kindly done all that might reasonably be done in the way of giving these women shirts. Flannel makes cozier quilts anyway!

      In other news, my daughter tells me that there is a new loon cam up!

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  7. You are doing a great job at doing what you need to do, Vee. There can't be a timeline for letting go of your beloved's items. I too attach a person to a thing. It's taken me eight years to rid some of the items my sister gifted me that I never really liked anyway. She's no longer here on earth, but I'm sure is laughing at my tardiness of moving on.
    My gardens are full of rocks and shells that meant something to me. It makes me smile when I see them. ♥

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  8. Well done with the 15 minute principle. You will know when you are ready to move on and pass on Johns clothing. In the meantime maybe pack them up so that you have the closet space that is needed. Take care of yourself Vee only do things when you are ready.

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  9. I'm still needing to sort through my storage area of the basement and see what decor, dishes, etc, I am going to keep, which can and should be tossed and what to give away. Its time to get it done! Its a process for sure.

    I was thinking that maybe you could keep one or two of the shirts that are 'John' to you and then let the others go to his girls? That way you still have those things that are such a reminder of him to you, but they could have some and you will accomplish the closet clean out for your daughters use? You could keep the shirts you want to keep in your own closet and that way those reminders of him are even closer to you! If you aren't ready for that yet, that's okay too!

    When I go through things, there are always stuff I'm not ready to let go of, but the next time I sort through, I'm ready and they go. Its all what is right to you.

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  10. Oh oh...your talking to me yet again, smiling. I don't know what to say about John's children...maybe its a little of guilt on their part for not being in his life? I don't know.

    I agree with the post above, Mamasmercantile...keeping you in prayer, friend.

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  11. What a difficulty to deal with. It is funny how some things are easier to deal with than others isn't it. If you can perhaps pack the clothes away to make some space when it is needed and then perhaps when they have been packed for a little while when the space is no longer needed you might feel more able to let them go rather than putting them pack in the closets. I can understand how hard it is though. I do also understand the idea of making a quilt or something similar as it is a way of keeping those precious clothes - and the memories and the person which is really what they are about I imagine - in a more easily accessible way perhaps. You can then actually hug those things and feel that John is hugging you at the same time perhaps. I am in no position to say anything, just trying to make a suggestion that might be of help. I know you will do what is right when the time is right, so just stick to that. Someone wise once told me to feel the feelings and that is all you can do isn't it. Everything will be how it is supposed to be in the right time. Hugs to you and hoping for the best for you. xx

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  12. I can't even begin to imagine how hard this must be for you. You'll know when the time is right.

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  13. Rainy days are perfect for your ongoing project--hard work but I hope you love the sense of accomplishment when completed. I did some of that yesterday--for me it's a real pick me up--until I get frustrated about something I got rid of and suddenly "needed." I'm the same way--everything has a memory or meaning or a reminder of someone. Keep up the good work.

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  14. Other than some vintage family photos, I don't really have anything from my childhood - left it all behind when I emigrated to the US. When I would go home though my mother would always give me something to bring back - a piece of her or grandma's china, jewelry, small decor items such as horse brasses, and a brass toasting fork when I got a fireplace etc.

    It's hard to get rid of sentimental items which came from loved ones - but the rocks had to go Vee - unless of course you are planning to build a rockery in the garden any time soon!

    Congrats on the table clear off - mine gets piles of files sometimes - then I hide them on the chair seats under the linen tablecloth - just as long as company can't see them, haha!

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  15. You and I are so alike. I am sentimental about things too and keep way more than I should. When my step-dad died my mom couldn't get rid of his clothes. I will tell you what I told her. There's no time limit and if you want to keep them, keep them. It's OK to do that. Maybe you could pack them away in one of those Lowes boxes when you need the closet. Personally I would rather give them to someone who could use them rather than have them cut up for a quilt -- much as I love quilts.

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  16. Hi Vee, I am sentimental too. There is no time limit to grieve or to hold on to things that are precious to you. It would have rubbed me the wrong way for his children to ask for his shirts. I see in an above comment that you did give them some flannel shirts. If it pains you to give these things away, I would not do it. Put them in an underbed chest if your daughter needs the closet space. Be kind to yourself; don't do anything that causes you to be up at night (more than you already are). God bless you. xo

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  17. Personification - hmmm - didn't think of that before, but perhaps that's why I am hanging on to certain items, and my husband has a petrified candy mini LL Bean boot our daughter gave him about 20 years ago. I could take a picture and write a blog post about that little boot. Remember the maple sugar candy, yup. That's it. I do the 15 minute cleanup sometimes, when I dread doing something.

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  18. Some day you will be able to let those shirts go. It takes time and you should give yourself that time. I avoid the decluttering out of sheer laziness. The basement in particular calls my name, I usually just close the basement door and walk away....

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  19. Allotting a certain amount of time for a task is a great idea. I'm with you on the personification. I hate getting rid of some things, others, I have no problem with. I think you're having more fun than I am these days :) (sitting beside a hospital bed).

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    1. That is a very difficult time...beside the hospital bed. How well I know. Hope that you are reading, talking, praying aloud, even singing hymns...so meaningful for the one in the bed and those beside it.

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  20. Every one has their own time table and we are all different. Just listen to your heart.

    I know I'm different than most people and really don't get attached to things. Ken is more the saver than I am.

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  21. I think most of us are like you Vee. My late mother had some different coloured polished stones she kept for whatever reason and now I have them. Well most of them, I put them outside in a fairy garden a couple of years ago and some critter stole a couple - I'm thinking the crows. lol The rest are inside in a fairy garden now.
    I've been trying very hard to 'purge' stuff this year, not an easy task and more so in your case with John's things. I'm sitting on the fence about the shirt quilt but do feel a men's shelter would benefit from them and anything else.
    The strawberry pie for dessert tonight was delicious.
    xx

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  22. I remember when my mama passed away some 30 yrs ago....her clothes were the last thing I could turn lose of...packed them in boxes...carried the boxes in the trunk of my car for months. Then, one bright, sunny morning, our church was holding a rummage sale...not sure why, but I was finally ready to offer up her clothes to others that could enjoy them. It was like a 1000 lb. weight was off my shoulders. Love to you, dear Vee.

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  23. I have a saying that goes like this "when in doubt, don't throw it out". That said, I have a hard time getting rid of things that belonged to my loved ones that left way too soon. I feel like I'm losing them all over again, in a way. I'm just a sentimental old fool, I suppose. PS I wouldn't have like being asked for the shirts, either.

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  24. Oh darling Vee...I understand your feelings...how wonderful you know them well....you are doing great...just hugs today.

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  25. As I well know from my very recent experiences with preparing to move here to The Land of Flip Flops, going through our stuff is one of the hardest things required of us. I shed tears more than once as I struggled with sentimentality over practicality. The end results had fallen into both categories by the time the moving truck was rolling away from our house.

    I found that taking snapshots of some items before giving away or thrown away helped me; but of course that negates the smell and tactile senses we may not be ready to dispose of.

    May the Lord help you through these thorny things.

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  26. Your rock story had me smiling. Reminded me a bit of the bird feather collection my little grandson inquired about recently. With wide eyes he asked me why I had them in the house. No answer I provided seemed to satisfy him. The next morning the first thing he said to me was "we need to take those bird feathers outside so the birds can find them." I guess we all see something different when we view these little treasures.
    I can definitely understand the situation you are facing. Just viewing John's shirts hanging there I felt a tear in my eye. I can only imagine how it must be for you. I hope you will do things in your own time and feel at peace with following your own timetable. It is a very individual decision.

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  27. I'm typing one handed because Addy is sleeping on my left arm and across my belly which in it's current fluffy state makes for a comfortable baby bed. You have a great memory my dear Vee! It really is amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes. I'm glad you are doing things in your own time. I've come across quite a few personifications in my sorting process.

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  28. Oh, friend. I totally get the personification thing. It is not the "things" that we get attached to; it is who they represent. And when we only have the representations, it is hard to let go of them. Take your time. The day will come when you are able to make more objective decisions (not even sure if "objective" is the right word), but until then, be gentle with yourself. Don't rip an open wound.

    Love to you . . .

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  29. I think you gave all of us something to think about and chime in on. As far as cleaning up...sometimes I ask myself, "How long will it take to organize this stack of mail?" 3 minutes flat. Fold that pile of laundry that has been sitting in the basket for 4 days? 2 minutes. Sometimes chores loom larger than life before us because there are so many! Break them down in your mind.

    Purging is your own personal thing, especially when it comes to what others seem to be pushing for. I would decline any 'plans' for John's belongings. They are yours to do with what you want. Everyone has their own time and space for dealing with pain. Keep yours in mind and be firm.

    Sorry if I am crossing the line. I'm not one to give advice...more a good listener. I simply don't want anyone to change your path in moving on at your own pace.

    Jane x

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  30. I think we're an awfully lot alike. I could do the same with the rocks because they actually still be around. But I have a sweater and a plaid wool jacket that belonged to my husband's grandpa whom I adored, and just can't get rid of them. I have my dad's wool sweater. I even have Bridger's dog collar and Kong. Maybe I'll try the Fly lady. God bless you. This ain't easy.

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  31. I have these same problems with procrastination and sometimes I can do the fly lady thing and feel so relieved. (My younger daughter who has much more executive function that I do told me about this technique and it works wonderfully when I do it. And I also hang onto things because they are connected to people I loved. You should keep John's shirts. Ignore his daughters' pushiness. (When they saw you did not want to give the shirts to them, they should never have mentioned them again.)Everyone has his or her own pace for grieving. Do not let anyone else bully you into violating yours. (Not that I think you would!)

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  32. Well, bless your heart! We have a lady here that takes shirts and makes the cutest teddy bears out of them and it serves as a constant reminder of the loved one. Everyone differs in their ability or way to rid of a loved one's possessions. I don't think there is a right or wrong way but the way that works best for you. Blessings!

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    1. I know what "well bless your heart" means. 😏 I can't think of anything I need less than a teddy bear, but thank you for the suggestion.

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  33. I just finished reading not only your post, Vee, but all the comments too, so there is little "new" to add. That said, I agree with the folks who said that you will know when it's time to part with or pack away your loved ones clothing. I recall after my dad died, my mother was able to donate all of his clothing. Similarly, after my mother died 2 years ago, I did the same. That's not saying it was an easy task by any means, but her will stipulated that my brother and I sell the house as quickly as possible which meant we first had to empty it. She was a "keeper" of many things, many which we had never seen and my brother and I actually bonded closer as we sifted through everything. I found his daughters' request about the shirts a bit callous for some reason.

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  34. (((Vee))))
    I love your heart and how you share.... and so relate to SO much of what you share in my own small way.
    You hang on to all in this life that you want to hang on to.... as long as you want to .... even if that is forever and ever. Exactly how it is meant to be.

    I love you,
    Me

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  35. Yep, I'm with you on the personification thing...mine has mostly to do with stuffed animals and dolls...well, my old baby blanket (now just a small piece) and let me tell you a little secret...in the bottom drawer of the dresser in my bedroom is one of those zippered little baby quilted thingys that was Aaron's when he was tiny. It was his go-to object of comfort all the way up until he didn't "need" it anymore. It is about the size of a pillow case after you zip it up and I used that to cover my pillow on my bed for years and only God knows how many tear drops have been soaked into it. I truly felt that it had a connection to him and I used it to somehow transfer my love as I prayed (and cried) for him. Another thing...I have always been really bothered when I'd see children (or anyone) throw them around and tear them up...even one specifically made to become a doggy chew toy. I always made sure mine where arranged comfortably and freaked out when anyone would not treat them well. I had a couple of rocks given to me from Parker, my youngest grandson, and after I kept it for a while, one day I just tossed it. On his next visit, he asked me if I still had that rock and of course I couldn't "find" it. I am very sentimental though when when it comes to most things, mostly those things I consider to be family treasures and it kills me when I think about who the possible new owner will treat it...IF I choose to ever part with it. So yes, I say all this to tell you that I get it...I absolutely get it. About those shirts of Johns...that is a decision that only you can make when the time is right...whether to let them make the quilt, make throw pillows, donate....
    whatever... when YOU are ready to let them go. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, as only you can do. Hugs! (Whew... that was a long-winded comment!)

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  36. I so get it. So many of my things are gifts and they remind me of the loved ones who thought of me and were so kind to me. Hard to let go, but need room for new memories.

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  37. Vee when I packed up my house in Brooklyn I could tell a story about every object I wrapped up and packed. Where we got it, what year, why and if someone gave it to me or where I bought it. It was as if I was reading the story of my life. So I understand your dilemma with personification. But I was able to part with many things, as I began to realize that they are just "things." They are not what life is all about...they are just transitory objects.
    But I understand John's clothes---when my Dad was killed at work we were all so traumatized and my mother went into depression. My Dad's belongings stayed for a very long time where they always were, In fact his hats were still in the hall closet when my mother died, 44 years later. There is no harm of hurry to that--keep Johns clothes as long as you need them, Vee. Your daughter can buy a clothing rack if she needs to have space while she stay with you. It is your decision as to what to do with them and no one should hurry you. (((hugs)))

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  38. I meant to mention that my daughters have suggested I can photograph things to remember and donate some of the real things. (I'm not great at this yet, but I think it's a good idea.)

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  39. I can identify with your rocks! I have a small plaque - maybe 3x4 inches - which is just pink construction paper glued on cardboard. Glued to this are several small rocks glued on to resemble a dog. Summer made this when she was in first grade. I shall keep it until I die. One thing I will say - Summer made that over 45 years ago and that glue still holds! They don't make things like they used to - even Elmers School Glue!
    I do the exact same thing you do but I had never actually put it in words.

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  40. Bless your heart... grieving really is a process and you can't rush healing. God will bring mending to your woundedness in His time. My husband has always done the personification thing. Now, I do it too because I have learned it. Most of the time we laugh about it, but I can imagine how you might feel ... no, I don't understand, but I CAN imagine. Go at YOUR pace and not someone else's idea of what your pace should be. May God extend grace to you and to those around you. Praying for you...

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  41. Yay for you on the flylady's 15-minute timer! It is a great feeling to accomplish such a task in 15 minutes! Decisions about "things" are really the hardest part of our lives, I think. When we downsized it was absolutely agonizing... memory heavy stuff was the worst, not our belongings, but things that are really of no use, but yet are "memory heavy". I understand about the personalification thing too... so very hard to let go of things that remind you so poignantly of your John. You have received so much wonderful advice on the subject, I won't add anything, but I will say this... perhaps just writing about this gave you the understanding to know what to do? Hugs to you today dear friend :)

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  42. My husband has been gone for 39 months now and his clothes are still in the closet too, I am going to make quilts out of them, but haven't been able to do it yet. So I understand perfectly how you feel. take care dear and do as you feel you can. Happy 4th of July!

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