JWU professors, like students, are experiencing the “new normal” during the global pandemic, COVID-19. In this series, we’ll explore how they are navigating their day-to-day, both inside and outside the online classroom, and their observations of the world.
Recently, my father-in-law took a nasty spill in his independent-living apartment and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital — twice in two days. In the span of these 48 hours, a healthy 94-year-old (yes, 94), with no life-threatening conditions, now had a pacemaker and needed new housing arrangements designed to provide more assistance. Thus began the seemingly endless task of sorting, itemizing, selling, donating, packing, and, in general, emptying his one-bedroom apartment.
Although certainly not a hoarder by any stretch of the imagination, many of his items were deemed “family heirlooms” — regardless of monetary value — and were duly given to an appropriate and deserving family member. Neighbors desired other pieces of furniture, some everyday supplies that could be readily used, while additional collectibles were just, well … hate to admit it … unwanted and reserved for the Goodwill store, or, an even worse fate, picked up and hauled away by 1-800-JUNK. (All you have to do is point!)
After four days of this process — accompanied by a bit of melancholy, numerous broken fingernails, multiple bruises, and a sore back — I came home and simply shook my head in disbelief. If it took an entire team to complete this relatively small project, conceivably how long will it take my husband and me (since we have no children and his siblings are older) to empty a three-bedroom Colonial? Even contemplating this eventuality makes me quiver, especially now that we have added new “necessities” from his dad’s home to our current collection. Seriously, who could resist the beautiful grandfather clock, a curio cabinet (full, of course, with knick-knacks we can’t possibly live without), and a cute spare bedroom chair and matching hassock which will no doubt be perfect for reading a book or staring out the window to watch the world go by.
Now, we not only have curios and photos that we have collected from traveling, but also traditional standard furniture in each room, items from my mom and dad’s home and enough holiday decorations to rival Macy’s. It never ceases to amaze me how much “stuff” we all accumulate through the years.
So, where to begin our own “decluttering” campaign?
Being proactive, I decided the very least I could do would be to “rediscover” my clothing closets using the remaining “spare” time I have been afforded thanks to COVID-19. As I did so, firmly entrenched in my brain, I could hear the three questions my dad would always ask me before purchasing any item of clothing: “Do you like it? Does it fit? Will you wear it?” Since these outings were rare — back to school, my birthday, and maybe a major holiday occasion — it was critically important to answer truthfully “yes” to all of the above or the clothing item in question would be unceremoniously returned to the shelf or rack from whence it originated. This basic system seemed a fitting way to begin the project I decided to entitle: “Clean your closet for a cause.” My only rule (to self): Touch it once and decide — either keep it and wear it, donate it to someone else who actually might fit into it, put it in a pile to sell and accumulate a little bit of extra spending money, or simply dispose of it in the weekly trash removal.
After only a day and a half, I am proud to report that I have two bins to donate to charity and have miraculously relinquished a full three inches of extra space for my husband to use in our master closet. He is really not very impressed with this achievement nor, based on his now expanded available space, does he believe we truly “share” this closet anyway. I keep reminding him of the fact that if he cleaned his side also, disposing of items he never wears, that he would most certainly have sufficient space for all of his clothing too! In addition, this way, we could both feel better that we have begun the inevitable task of downsizing to prepare for the day when we ultimately have to eliminate much more than clothing. Who knows, maybe this activity will even help us embrace a new minimalistic lifestyle … hmmm … nah!
Karen Silva, Ed.D., teaches in JWU’s online graduate degree programs. If you’re interested in pursuing your master’s degree, consider exploring your options from JWU Online. Learn from experts with real-world experience. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].