Last week kind of got away from me. It was eventful. Our cats chased a mouse from the screened in porch (we have a crack under the door) and into the house during the final Vanderpump Rules Reunion episode.
This has happened once or twice before, and usually, my live-in mouse remover/exterminator XFE takes charge and captures the intruder, while I hold the cats back and squeal and offer (unwanted) suggestions.
This time, the mouse ended up hiding in the water filter closet and, for a variety of reasons, including a few glasses of celebratory Vanderpump rose, I could not catch it until the next morning. Which meant blocking off the closet with a variety of rugs, blankets and any movable furniture for the night. BUT, I did manage to catch it the next morning all on my own and relocate it to the woods.
High on my success, I hopped into my fairly new and hardly driven car (we bought it in 2021 and it has 7,000 miles on it) to go to the grocery store (again, my personal chef, XFE usually does the grocery shopping). But poor Jolene the Jeep started making the loudest, screechiest racket that was echoing off all the hills and nearby valleys nearby.
I recorded a video of it and showed it to the dealership repair people the next day, who agreed that I should not drive it and sent a tow truck to the cabin to take it in for repair (it’s most likely a large rock or some gravel caught in the rotor cover or brake dust shield).
Car repairs are generally something that my darling XFE takes the lead on (Not that there have been many occasions on my part. This is the first car I’ve had since moving to DC in 2002. But his car, is what I’m speaking of).
Anyway, while I’m here brushing up on my adult survival skills, XFE is toiling away in the Las Vegas heat, taking care of his dad. XFE is not only helping him with some immediate medical things, he’s also trying to help him deal with a lot of possessions, simplify his finances, and get him on a path to an easier, less cluttered life.
It’s no secret that Americans, on general, have too much stuff. According to one statistic that’s all over the internet, the average American home has over 300,000 objects in it. And while our homes have grown – today, the median single-family home is 2,355 square feet while in 1970, it was 1,500 square feet – we’re actually paying to store stuff. There are over 51,000 self-storage units in the United States and the entire self-storage industry rakes in $29 billion a year.
We are, figuratively speaking, drowning in stuff.
Meanwhile, over in Sweden, they practice something called, “döstädning” which literally means “death cleaning” in English. While death cleaning is supposed to take place before you die, it’s really about living and maximizing your living space and really taking stock of what’s important and deserves space in your life.
But it’s also about getting rid of all your unnecessary stuff so your children don’t have to do it when you die. And seriously, we need more old people to do that.
There’s a reality show about it on Peacock. It’s called “The Gentle Art of Death Cleaning,” and it is charming, amazing, uplifting and funny. I loved it and binged all eight episodes in a weekend. If you aren’t sure you want to watch the whole thing or don’t know where to start, just watch episode 3. It’s relatable and it’s a great overview of the whole show and philosophy.
Here are seven tips I got from the show:
Do not pay for storage. — Especially for items you are holding onto for other family members. Do not hang onto stuff for other family members, past or future. You don’t need to keep things to keep the memories. You and the life you have built are the family legacy. You don’t need to store and pass down old stuff. And for all that is holy, do not keep things that bring back bad or sad memories. Seriously, who needs that?
Only you know what is a family treasure. – Do not send a whole box of stuff to your family members to sort through or invite them to the storage unit to go through a mountain of stuff. If you think there’s something collectible in there, take the time to go through and research each item and send the valuable item to the beloved family member. They do not have time to go through your stuff to try to decipher what’s valuable.
Actually, give up on the idea of collectibles all together. — Most shit that was supposed to be collectible when first purchased, really isn’t. I’m looking at you, Beanie Babies. If you like to collect something, fine. Enjoy it and then let it go to someone else who actually shares that passion. You really see this at work (hilariously so) in episodes one and seven. Do not leave it to family members or friends who do not share your passion.
If you have multiples of treasured items, just keep one or two of the very best and let the rest go. In one episode, a woman had a bunch of crocheted or knitted blankets that her mother had made, but most of them were in horrible shape. She kept one or two of the best ones and prominently displayed them in her house.
Treat the “treasured” items like treasures. When you do pass them along to a family member, treat the item like a true gift, with a box and a story. This is something you’ll see pretty prominently in episodes three and six, and it is very touching. Your family members don’t know why something is important unless you tell them the story behind it.
If you really just cannot let something go, make a plan for it. Either display and enjoy it or put it in a purgatory box to revisit at a later time. But have a concrete plan to deal with it at some point.
Clean up your finances and technology. – This one isn’t so much from the show, just from life itself. Consolidate bank and investment accounts, credit cards, have bills sent and paid electronically, get rid of catalog clutter, factory reset and recycle old electronics like phones, tablets and computers at the appropriate facility.
By the way, I’m actually a pretty unsentimental minimalist who is not emotionally attached to my stuff. We don’t have a garage and have never paid for self-storage, which definitely helps keep the stuff in the house to a minimum. That, and no kids, which I hear helps.
Even still, I am always working on having fewer things and only keeping things that I really love and use. I’ve gotten much better — and much less materialistic overall — as I’ve gotten older, so I guess that’s one perk to getting older.