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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Breathing Calm into Anxiety.


 I stopped dead center on the bridge crossing the New River yesterday morning, rolled my window down and took this photo - there was no one behind me.

It's hard to see from the photo - and as they say "Pictures don't do it justice!" But the clouds and mist and fog hanging on to the tops of the trees was just ethereal.

And the colors - OH, the colors!

Glorious greens and yellows -

And that empty stretch of highway with coordinating double yellow line! LOL!


I chose a good day to drive the 100 miles to Wallburg.  Operation "Master Bedroom Cleanout" was in full swing by 1pm.

Since yesterday was the day I grew up knowing as Columbus Day, which has now been renamed to Indigenous Peoples Day (Old habits and holidays are hard to rename, but I'm doing my best here.) and the USPS was closed, I could put the mail order that came in over the weekend on the back burner for the day - 


Someone please tell me why all of the beautiful bright red bushes and trees were on the very winding parts of the mountain pass down, with no safe way to capture them?  I saw them with my own eyes.  Sometimes life out from behind the camera is best, anyway.  

Some things are not meant to be captured and recorded forever. They are meant to be lived as they are.


And this is where the anxiety begins.

I really stopped "living" at the Wallburg house and calling it home in July of 2019 upon moving my longarm and the resettling the Quiltville Store into the QPO.

We were working hard on getting Quiltville Inn ready for our first "beta test" retreat that was happening over Black Friday weekend.

Little did we know in the summer of 2019 what things would be like within the next year!

Once Covid hit - lockdown started, and there was no reason to go back - but it was always in my mind that it was time to begin the downsizing of that house, and bring what I need up here.

However - it didn't feel URGENT.  I started with the important stuff - moving of some machines, and the fabric stash.  I'm so glad I started there. That is still probably the most overwhelming bit.

Fast forward to this past weekend.

A friend of ours is in a situation where he needs to rent a furnished place - and he has agreed to rent the Wallburg house for the foreseeable future.

The only thing is that this came up rather quickly, and all of "our stuff" was still in the house.

My job yesterday?  To empty out the master closet, the linen closet, bedside table drawers, dresser drawers, bathroom drawers and cabinets and the medicine cabinet as well as personal hygiene stuff from the shower.

We want him to feel that this is "HIS HOME" for the time being, so getting "our stuff" out is imperative.

And anxiety inducing!

I spent yesterday going through stuff - some to keep, some to toss, some to donate.  And as the hours passed by, I started just putting stuff in bins to bring home to deal with it here because it was just too much to try to do in one day.

And that's what you see in the tubs above - bathroom stuff, toiletries, clothing, MORE.

And then there are the stacks of bins with Dave's clothing and shoes - and oh my - I culled out more than HALF of my shoes to donate.


Bedside table junk? 

And how many purses does one woman need?

By the time I left, my anxiety was through the roof.

The plan is to tackle one bin a day.  Keep, toss, donate.

I've been asking myself WHY it is so hard to let stuff just go?  Because our memories are attached to them.  And maybe it's irrational, but this stuff has a place on the timeline of our lives and our lives are going by quickly enough as it is.  Sometimes getting rid of something feels like we are getting rid of a piece of ourselves.

I can't do this the way Marie Kondo does.  I can't put it all in a pile on the floor, and deal.  It is too overwhelming.  So one bin at a time it is.  Keep, toss, donate.


Please tell me why there are 3 of these??

When there are only 2 of us that travel?  One of them is going to have to go.

The other problem I have is the monetary thing. "Well, this cost me $$$, how can I just give it away or throw it away?  It is still good."  The struggle is real.


Upstairs linen closet at the cabin.

One thing we are doing is closet makeovers.  There is SO MUCH WASTED SPACE in this closet, and I need it to have more shelves, and deeper shelves to make use of the whole space.

The hubster had an appointment in Jefferson this morning and left extra early to stop by Lowes when they open for more shelving material.

But more shelving and more organizer containers are not always the best answer.  I need to focus on the "toss or donate" end of things to survive this!

If you've been through this - you know what I am talking about.  And yes, I sometimes feel like it is hard to breathe when I am faced with all of the STUFF.


Grassy Creek Road on my way home.

The clouds are clinging to the trees up the mountain, just waiting for me to pull into my drive.

No sewing happened last night.

I was just too spent.

I'm kind of still feeling it this morning - but will be kicking Tuesday into gear as 
Indigenous People's day is over - the USPS is back in operation and so am I.


Rosemary's Appalachian Autumn is ready for quilting!  She writes:

"I loved the Appalachian Autumn quilt and made it from my existing stash.  I found the Indian corn material but only had a scrap that wasn’t even on any side, but I thought I had enough for the border, until I started cutting.  But I made it work!"


I love the colorful corn as inner border!


PDF patterns for the Punkin' Patch table runner and the Appalachian Autumn quilt are found in the Digital Patterns section of the Quiltville Store.


Quiltville Quote of the Day -

I am feeling the words of the Magnificent Maya today and repeating them to myself.

Let this set you free from getting down on yourself! Maya Angelou speaks it like no other, always a favorite!

Virginia Bound quilt from my book Scraps & Shirttails also available in the Quiltville Store.

Have a wonderful Tuesday, everyone!


 

87 comments:

  1. Bonnie, I feel your pain. When we moved to Texas, I had everything from our home in Florida, my husband's apartment in Connecticut where he had worked for the past 3 years, and the 40 foot boat we had sold. So many duplicates of bedding, kitchen ware, and just stuff. It has taken me 3 YEARS to finally finish going through it all. And during those 3 years, more life happened, quilts were sewn, babies were born. Cut yourself some slack, enjoy the process and don't let it overwhelm you. Thanks for all you share of your life and quilting passion.

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  2. As I cull things that I know are still really good and that I paid a lot of money for I remind myself that there is somebody out there that will treasure these things. Lots of folks aren’t as lucky as we are to have so much “stuff”, especially of the quality that some of our give aways are!

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    1. Exactly! So many people need things that we no longer use. We try to give forward.

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    2. Agreed! I've found it easier to just give it away to the thrift store that helps people as to just keep moving it. Usually it's never missed.

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    3. Mary Jo, I totally agree! I've been going through the same this Bonnie - from a large house to a small 2 bedroom apartment! Giving things to the local thrift store is the only thing that has saved my sanity in getting rid of things. My daughter uses the saying that if you can buy it for under $20, you don't need to save it. I'm trying to go with that, but it's still VERY hard.

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  3. The struggle is real. I helped my Mom leave her large house that she had lived in for 70 years to move to a one bedroom retirement community. I came home with some of her things that were too difficult to let go. I had good intentions of downsizing, but it is too overwhelming for me to deal with except a little at a time. I have lived in my house for 45 years, and I like stuff. The struggle is too much to handle sometimes.

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  4. It can be tough to clear out things because one thinks of the cost involved in the initial purchase. But maybe if we change our thinking to how much $$$ we can save from giving it away, it will be easier to let go. Some folks might have a yard/garage sale and that could bring in some dollars. Or, if you donate the items to a charitable cause, that can potentially be used as a tax deduction, saving on taxes. Just a thought!!

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  5. Been there. Done that. Still doing it. Keep taking it one container at a time and remember, Marie Kondo isn’t a quilter!🤣

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    1. "Marie Kondo isn't a quilter!": that made me laugh! And while her approach may spark joy in some, we all know that one size does NOT fit all! There's also the 'touch it only once' approach (pick it up, deal with it immediately) that would absolutely stymie any decluttering/organizing instinct in me. So glean the best from all the advice, and take good care of yourself while doing so!

      The $$$ baggage on every item continues to be the hardest for me, but if I know I'm not going to try to recoup that money, I ask myself how keeping the item will bring the money back. It's gone--it was gone the moment the thing was purchased--and has no place in the equation any longer.

      I wish for you the best of mental and physical health as you tackle this new project, Bonnie!

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  6. I'm clearing the bed of our guest room today. Thank goodness for totes to put it in, and closet doors to close. Pretty colors here in Nebraska. I pulled over yesterday to snap a picture too. Fall leaves are getting crunchy. Have a peaceful day, calming words from Mya helps.

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  7. Wow. I get my 15 minutes of fame in the shape of having my pumpkin table runner pictured on Bonnie Hunter's blog. Feeling awesome and honored.

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  8. I had some of that beautiful Indian corn fabric, and used the very last bit in my Appalachian Autumn top. Loved this pattern, and every single bit of it came out of the Scrap Users System drawers and bins. Thank you, it went together quickly and right into the Enjoy it Now spot.

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  9. Your cabin linen closet looks like the one in my log home! Eventually we will expand the shelves for better storage. I still have a couple plastic bins filled with bathroom drawer debris. My current dilemma is how many Vitamin E bottles do we really need? Plastic bins are better than boxes when you are handling the move yourself. They don't require tape and are more durable.

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  10. When we downsized my folks from a house to independent living it was quite the adventure. I can empathize with your anxiety! We might say "toss it" but memories get in the way. It's so hard, don't be hard on yourself. One tub at a time!

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  11. I know exactly what you're going through! In one year, we culled roughly 65% of our belongings out as we were doing an move from Oregon to California which resulted in moving everything we had left TWICE (lived with son & had a 10'x 20' storage spot for most of it) till we found a house to buy. It's incredibly hard on the emotions but I got through it knowing that everything I did would mean our kids won't deal with all of it later. The final cull of 'stuff' happened when we purchased our multi generational home & our portion (downstairs, separate entrance) is about 900 sq ft. It was hardest to part with all the antiques that we loved, but all necessary. Must admit, I love living with minimal things now. Don't look in my quilt room, though - THAT hasn't been cleaned out to that degree. Can't throw away fabric when buying new costs $10 to $12 per yard! Deb E

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  12. I tell myself that donating good, usable stuff that I don’t need is an extremely charitable thing. Especially now when millions of people are unemployed. Think of how many people will have shoes and purses from you that are just what they need and at the right price. Donating our excess stuff helps so many people.

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  13. We are in a similar situation...retiring and relocating to NC at the end of this week and have been purging, passing it forward and choosing what memories to keep. At times it's been difficult but its good to know that many of our belongings will find new homes with others who need and appreciate them. And for the cost factor...well just try to believe that you got your monies worth and it's time to pay it forward! Take that leap of faith and know that you are doing what's right!

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  14. I totally feel your pain. We are doing much the same and I have to say the hardest things to deal with are those "inherited treasures". They meant so much to Mom or Grandma, and they are beautiful, but not necessary or even practical for today's living. The kids don't want them. Oh the struggle.

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    1. That is my struggle right now. Since my mom passed away in January, and I'm an only child, I have all of my parents stuff. I've already donated a lot of household stuff. But it's the "family treasures" that they kept, that are so hard to give away. I feel like I am dishonoring them.

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    2. I have 2 items which I purchased at sales where the seller was there and old. I now feel connected to the past owners as they shared with me a treasured item they too loved. I still think of them today and smile.

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  15. Facebook has a marketplace where you can sell some of your "stuff". My friend & my daughter use it all the time. Lets you make some cash & helps you to downsize at the same time. I sympathize with you. I just look at all the "stuff" & say later.

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  16. My youngest son told me I was beginning to be a hoarder when he looked into sewing/ bedroom, if he only knew. I just cleaned out 30 pairs of shoes and still have more that I probably should have put in donation bag. I have my mom’s home and most of her stuff and it is hard letting go because of memory of her and knowing that a lot of this left are antiques she and my step father had collected. It’s easier to get rid of my stuff than hers. My goal has to use my stash instead of buying more fabric except for backing.

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  17. Oh yes... I know it well! The anxiety and decision fatigue is real!!

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  18. I can feel your pain, we are in the process of emptying my moms house. 60 years of her being there. The house is under contract and most of the goodies need to be gone. Tough to sort it and make sure that something isn't trashed that isn't supposed to be. Good thing there are 5 of us, we each chose a couple antiques. Mom is in an assisted living- how to deal with her stuff, makes me wonder if my kids are going to need to deal with mine?

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  19. Re:
    Leaf Colors. Where, when and why....

    https://smokymountains.com/wp-content/themes/smcom-2017/ff-map/images/img04.png


    https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/

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  20. I envision a new quilt: “Highway to Wallburg”.

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  21. one morning, not too long ago, working on a quilt, shoulders hunched, thinking ahead for the NEXT and in a hurry to getter done! overwhelmed, pushed, cranky-- my creative angel brought me up short with a simple reminder, that works in all of life: "Enjoy the process" -- I was so focused on the next and the next, i had lost all sight of the now and the pretty I was working on NOW. Might help the anxiety level to do that. Enjoy the NOW, the doing... the progress, the day and what the time allows you to accomplish... You are such a remarkable, giving, sharing person, thank you for what you give to us... Cats in Carlsbad CA

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  22. We have made 2 big moves in the last 10 years that have resulted in some manor sorting into the 3 famous piles. We did so much for the first move, it was truly disappointing when we got to the new house and saw how much we still had and did more ‘sorting’. Then we did it again just 6 months ago. More sorting, again. It is exhausting both physically and spiritually.
    Be kind to yourself.

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  23. Bonnie, I know exactly what you mean about our memories being attached to our stuff being so hard to let go of. It's painful.
    JM

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  24. I'd love to see that quilt under the head rest pillow. Looks amazing

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  25. Take your time. It is emotionally exhausting! I have done this more times than I care to remember, but it is worth it in the end. I still keep a box of “to go” things and add to it regularly. Love your blog! Hugs to you!!

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  26. The struggle is real. After cleaning out homes after our parents passed, I took a good hard look at all my "good stuff". My daughter came to visit last week and asked if I had any cross stitch supplies. Before she arrived, I went through my cross stitch bins and came to the conclusion I have a certain amount of cross stitching left in me. I gave her my DMC floss library (I had all the colors available when I stopped buying...not sure if the have added new colors). She was so excited to have such a wide palette to create with and I realized it felt good to share now, rather than wait til I'm gone. As we loaded her car to head home to Portland, I said "Wow, you have alot of room in your car!" I was thinking of what else I could send home with her! 😁

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  27. I had to deal with the culling after my mom died. Although she wasn't a big saver of much stuff there was still things to move from her state of Colorado to my home in Idaho. I couldn't deal at the time so I paid a moving company to bring it here where it sat in our shop for a couple of years. I found out I had paid to move a big box of rocks and fossils! How crazy is that? Somewhere along the line I read that when you get rid of something from someone you loved, you won't forget that person. What a revelation, and true. I have culled most of her stuff now, but I still have that box of rocks.

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  28. I totally relate to all of the emotions that you are experiencing. A few months ago, we sold our home of 36+ years to move to our beach house which was already furnished. Everything was sentimental to me. (Irrantional but true) When we were clearing out, we couldn't donate because every place was closed because of Covid. Our sons didn't want anything. We put a lot out in the yard with a sign that said "free", and we were happy that folks wanted some items. My husband even helped one man cart some furniture to his house. I was frustrated that I hadn't cleared areas out over the years. I also decided that it was important that my sons weren't being left the task. A friend had just been through the same thing, and she gave me some wise advice: "Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and in a while, it will be in your rearview mirror."

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  29. Oh Bonnie, you really need a dash-cam to capture the views as you drive!

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  30. I need to be walking your same path. I have so much "stuff"... time to purge and let go. I do this a little bit with each change of season, but man I seem to replace every item let go with two new ones.

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  31. I enjoy all your photos, vicarious travel for me & this year all the quilts you post make up the cancelled shows. But I understand what you mean. Sometimes you need to live the moment, not take a picture of it.

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  32. I have been through what you are doing now. At age 73, I packed up my home of close to 40 years (and stuff from the summer house that I had sold after 20 years) by sorting, keeping, giving and donating so much stuff so I could move from Southeast PA to my new home in Fairbanks, AK to be close to my oldest son and his wife. There were days when tears flowed, days when I got side-tracked going through old memories, days when I was surprised at what I found because I was sure it had been lost or given away. Were it not for friends and my two sons coming to help, it might never have happened. Just make it an elephant thing! The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

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  33. Down-sizing, throwing out, giving away...oh, the trauma. Thank you for putting it into words.

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  34. I have done this once after living in a house for 25 years and now I'm working on accumulating another 25 years in this house! I have learned for myself: I will always throw away something that later I want or could use. It's inevitable and therefore I try to accept it. Besides if I still had it, I might not remember I had it or I wouldn't be able to find it! The other thing I've come to lately, but haven't practiced very well, is that the memory or feeling associated with an item, I can experience again when I hold it, but I don't have to experience it another time; I can let go. I like remembering that Grandma gave me this, but she gave me other things, too. I don't have to keep them all. I don't have to keep all the memories. Thank you for sharing with us. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

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  35. Purging is always a tough task, esp. when you have to do it under an unplanned deadline, but having a trusted renter keeping an eye on the empty Wallburg house sounds like a great idea. I hope that turns out to be a very good fit, both for your family and for your friend.

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  36. The small neck pillow looks like a childs size, gift it to the little boy of your son's girlfriend. Yes we paid money for all our stuff but unless you want to have a garage sale, just donate the good things to Salvation Army or some resale shop that the proceeds go to a charity. It's not worth keeping things just to keep them. Once you start letting go of 'things' it is easier when you see the clutter disappear.

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  37. As with many other comments, I moved last fall. After 12 years in the old house, moving to a much smaller house, things HAD to go. Three bedroom home with full basement & 3 car garage full of stuff. Dealing with my late husband's things was the hardest. I still have a few boxes of his that I simply could not go through. I will get to them. I did a yard sale, put stuff out by the road, gave to friends, whatever. My son took some stuff but there was so much! Rented a dumpster 3 times to get rid of junk. Took a carload of TVs to an electronic recycling event. My late DH kept everything! You'll get through it, little by little. Those things you spent money one...how long did you have them? Did you use them? Get your money's worth out it? Time for someone else to get value from it. Hugs, Bonnie!

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  38. Those neck pillows are great. I use them on my lap for hand stitching of various kinds not just quilting as it brings my work up a little closer to me and I don't bend my neck as far down and it makes hand sewing so much easier.

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  39. It's so easy to let stuff just sit and deal with it later. it just piles up. The stuff in the basement which we've been carting around for 35 years, the stuff in the garage which had been in a paid storage facility, the boxes I packed up in Feb/March to paint and put new flooring down prior to the shutdown. I just can't get motivated to unpack them and make those decisions. My husbands shoes and toiletries are still in our room/bath and it's been 22 months since his death. I suspect part of my lack of motivation is there's no one to keep me company/motivated and I'd much rather quilt.

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  40. I have been downsizing for about ten years now. My motto is "every little bit helps." One tote at a time!

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  41. Thanks for taking pictures of the area. I really enjoy the beautiful colors of nature especially in the fall. Nowadays that has become my virtual vacation! On another note, decluttering is hard to do, but enjoy the space when it's done. I really think it's a good idea to do a bin at a time. It's not so scary. Also, if you are tired of that, you can sew in between! June

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  42. Neck pillows: one for you, one for Zoey, and one for Ivy. As for the rest, I feel your pain. Been dealing with that struggle for 20 yrs.

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  43. My dad passed in March and I'm still working on cleaning out his home of 46 years. If you think your memories make it difficult to let things go, letting go of the stuff of memories made with your parents (now that they are both gone) is really difficult to let go of. I was lucky that one of my kids wanted most of the furniture in the house, but there is still so much stuff! We will get through this...even when it is overwhelming!

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  44. I am going thru the same thing, oldest daughter is the memory taker and the youngest daughter is not sentimental with things...I'm moving from a 11 room home of 58 years to tw0 rooms at my youngest daughter's new home that they are building. So I am having a hard time letting go of my stuff...and I love my stuff...so it's really been hard...I lost their dad Nov.1st will be 2 years ago.. two years alone is long enough, I will have a beautiful bedroom, and the other room will be my sewing room..so I'm excited about that too...the two girls are doing most of the packing, and listing big things on Marketplace..so I hope to get some $$$ for some things..I have an extensive collection of Coke things..I don't want to give that away..4 sets of dishes...but I am muddleling thru..crying sometimes, and laughing sometimes...trying to get some peace of mind thru it all..Love your Blog Bonnie, the first thing I read every morning...I WILL be keeping all my quilts and the ones my MOM made...and making more in the new place...
    '

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  45. This is a long story, so i hope you stick with it. Divorcing after 30 years, ending a 16 year position as an elected official, and knowing my 2 pups would be crossing over, I was at a major crossroad in my life. I had my stuff, some of "our" stuff, still stuff from my parents, &aunt, so I had to face a major downsize during a very emotional time. I was leaving with destination completely unknown (no employment prospects), but I had some time to get this done. I began by sorting with 4 boxes - Keep, Donate, Trash, and I don't Know Yet. The I don't know yet boxes were closed and dated. After 3 months the "IDKY" boxes were revisited , and culled down. I also held yard sales every three months - anything put out to sale that didn't sale was donated. My final purge came when I met a wonderful man, and we were going to destination unknown together. Then I got serious - 30 boxes of excellent books donated to the local library, MAJOR yard sale that lasted 3 weeks, and again what didn't sale was donated. Every non-profit in my rural area received lots of good stuff, friends & family received lots of good stuff. While it was stressful, I don't regret any of the "stuff" I don't have anymore. All went to wonderful new homes. The hardest was purging my fabrics & crafts. I allowed myself a carry on suitcase only. That lasted for a few years. Alas, I love to make scrap quilts, and you can't do that without scraps. lol I now have a nice stash to work from, however I allow myself just so much room before I buy more fabric. The purge while stressful was also so refreshing, lightened my body & my spirit, and opened space for me to "be". I still have my memories, and I kept the treasures that i couldn't bear to part with (my grandmother & aunt's quilts, family photos, and other special keepsakes). treat yourself kindly, yet firmly during the process. Let the "I Don't Know Yet" boxes serve a resting place for you. I hope when you are finished you will feel a relief. Take good Care

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  46. I can recommend Dana K. White's "Decluttering at the Speed of Life" for anyone needing some good advice about decluttering. She also has a blog, "A Slob Comes Clean" (Reality-Based Cleaning and Organizing) and podcasts linked there.

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  47. “ Some things are not meant to be captured and recorded forever. They are meant to be lived as they are.” I love this. I think it could be a good quote of the day!

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  48. We are of the same mindset... Well, this cost me $$$, how can I just give it away or throw it away? It is still good." I've realized that sometimes I need to let go of that thought. Slowly, I will release my grip, :)

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  49. Your plan of a bin at a time sounds do-able. I tend to go with a time frame, like 15 minutes, because I can survive anything for a little while. What a blessing you are being to your friend who needs a place to rent.

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  50. A container a day is not too hard to do and you will be done sooner than you think. I love your pictures of quilts and nature and your blog. Keep up the good work.

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  51. I am in the same boat with "stuff" as many others. One bin at a time is good! A few years ago you were doing 15 minutes of clearing/cleaning at a time. It really helped me to follow suit. I can do 15 or 30 minutes of "clear the clutter" a couple of times a day and it will all add up to less! I'm thinking of that Big Fish you found at an antique mall and one of the Quiltvillians got it for her hubby!

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  52. If you feel guilty about tossing something because you paid $$$ for it than put it on FB marketplace or some site similar. If it is still good gift it for the holiday/birthday. However if that is too much than donate it to the mission, womens or mens shelter. Much better use for it than at value village. Moving anywhere can be hard no matter the reason. *virtual hugs*

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  53. I can remember just over 7 years ago having to pack up my 3600 sq house by myself when downsizing after the death of my DH. THAT was tough so I know of what you speak. The past few nights have been spent going through scads and scads of old quilt magazines and culling the majority of them.

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  54. I helped clean out my aunt's house....a house she lived in for over 60 years. It was a beautiful, old home on the Hudson River in upstate NY. It broke my heart to see that house go. The family memories are wonderful and now new people are making their own. She saved EVERYTHING! I found letters I wrote to her as a child and Christmas cards my mom sent to her when I was only 6 months old. It was truly a treasure hunt.

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  55. It is So beautiful in the fall! I love all your photos!! We are having a gorgeous fall here in southern Indiana also!
    I feel the anxiety with you & all who commented. I’m still dealing with it... I went thru every single item in my mom’s 2 bedroom apt. And after 3 years since my mom passed away, I’m finally doing better with letting go of SOME things. I’m so sentimental. And then there’s my own sewing craft room... trying to make room In the closet for the quilting items sitting out.... it’s crazy. That closet is full of expensive scrapbook supplies I will probably not ever use, yet I’m not ready to give them up & decide I’ll never do it again... sigh. So. Much. Anxiety. I HAVE to just deal when the days come that I feel up to the task. It is slowly getting better. I hate the thot of my kids dealing with it all someday...

    Bonnie, you sure spoke to a lot of us today! Hang in there everyone!! So thankful my quilting happy place is anxiety free! Except for the 2 square feet of eyelash long arm quilting I had to un-sew this morning!
    Marci H.

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  56. When I married DH, I and my two boys and one cat moved into his home which was fully outfitted as he was a widower. He also had many things from his grandmother still in boxes in the basement. As I had been married previously I brought another houseload of items with me which had been stored at my parents home. Both my parents and DH's mom died and here came things from two more people. Oh, and his mom had two homes! The BIG cleanout came when our basement was converted to a quilting area for me. We donated to 17 different profits and sent much to a local auction house. We also filled a 32 cubic yard dumpster. The resulting feeling of freedom is maintained by our policy of having to remove two existing items for every new item brought in. Clothing may be replaced on a one to one basis and food products are exempt as are humans and our kitty. This has worked great for us, but obviously is not for everyone. It really makes you question how much you need that new item!

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  57. Bonnie, our vet has us use a dab of Clearasil on chin acne. NOT much. NOT enough that she will lick it off. Just a small dab, spread on the chin with your finger. And before that, a gentle cleansing with a cotton ball and some gentle soap. Once a day. For about a week. And it gets better in 2-3 days. It comes back about once a year or so. No plastic bowls. I thought kitty had a skin-eating bacteria !!!!

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  58. OMG! Anxiety is real and overwhelming at times. I get it!! My thing with the "stuff" is if I throw it out then have to turn around a buy it again; I hate spending money like that!

    Bonnie I just decided 5 min ago I'm finally going to join your mystery quilt-along instead of watching from the sidelines. Yay!!

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  59. three years ago I had to move on pretty short notice from a 1400 sq. foot, two car garage, storage building house to a 1000 square foot, one car garage, no lot space for a storage building house and worst of all, studio space was half of what the old house was. It does hurt as you're doing it, but you feel a little lighter when it's done. I did not sacrifice any fabric.

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  60. I just walked into my house after 7.5 months away from the US due to COVID and my reaction is just like yours: so much stuff (after living out of a suitcase for this period),how can I sort, throw away, donate in a systematic way.
    I made VA bound once, started in a workshop you gave. Gave it to friend as her chemo blanket.

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  61. I am facing this dilemma now. I need to move out of the 2500sf house I have lived in for 13 years. (landlord decided to sell it) I am broke and I don't even make enough money to pay rent for a shoebox in the DC area. I hope to sell off a lot of my stuff. Only keeping a manageable stash and a few of my VSM's. The hardest part is deciding which machines to sell.

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  62. Beside being a quilter, I'm a genealogist. Boy, it's hard to downsize. But a couple of tricks help. If something was really meaningful and important, take a picture of it and write the story of why it is significant. Then donate it so someone else can build their new memories with your possessions. The other thing: About every 3 months, I have my son (only child) and his family go through my selected stash of "precious items". They often take ALL of it - and now it is theirs. When something is gifted, it's no longer yours to fret about. Do they keep it? I don't know, but I've got my pictures (and a lot less stuff to dust or move around). My mom's real fur coat was made into Teddy Bears - one for each of her grandchildren. New treasures!

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  63. October 12 will always and forever be Columbus Day to me - I survived the storm in Oregon in 1962! Christopher Columbus was an honorable, brave, faith-filled man that has been maligned and misrepresented in recent history, sadly. Just more fake news...

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  64. Clearing out things is so hard I need to cull the amount of stuff in our master bedroom and I’ve been putting it off for months. It is hard when everything you pick up comes with a flood of memories. Time to get my big girl panties on and get cracking, thank you for giving me the little push I needed.
    Stay safe
    Love and quilty hugs
    Anne xxx

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  65. Hi Bonnie, my older sister was a master quilter and had some serious health aliments for a year, and she ended in the hospital in August for a good 11 days. She was discharged the week of August. Then on Sept 9th, she went back to the hospital for a routine appt. She had cardiac arrest during her appt, and left us at 11:45am same day. She left before I could get to the hospital. My sister was a master quilter and shopped at two quilt shops in her hometown probably two or three times a weeks. My sisters and I are barely going through her things. Oh my! Heaven and earth. She had enough fabric in her house and garage to open her own fabric store. Enough quilt books, magazines, patterns to pen her own quilt library. She was so organized about her fabtic, thread and quilt tops stash. We started on October 9th, and I'd say we covered about 1/3. She has beautiful beautiful fabrics. We cry, laugh, and in awe of her work while still going her stuff. My sisters and I decided to take a break for a few days. While home, i started to look at my own quilt stuff. My my...i have to start using what i have and buy no more (maybe...) but it puts things in perspective for me. I thought I'd share my sister's quilt stuff. I live your column.

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  66. I am from West Virginia but live in Alabama now every time I go home and see the New River that runs right by our town it makes me feel at home.

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  67. As the comments express above.
    We are all going through a process like this
    Hubbs and I are still in the big house.... I went to the basement to get the "Halloween stuff" and oh my, just like several other places in this house, I wish I could just make it tiny and put in a little box for later.
    It is hard to let go. We are not hoarders.... but we have a lot of treasures and useful stuff. A lot of times we have just what someone else needs right now
    Good luck. God Bless and comfort you during this anxiety and just the whole "cleaning" part of the process.
    So generous of you to give your home to a good friend -- and fulfilling the process to make it comfortable

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  68. I can feel your pain when it comes to having to get rid of "stuff" that is/was part of your life. It is the sentimental attachment that gets me. My children don't feel the same way at all. Their attitude is if you haven't used it in 6 months or so you don't need it. Society now has become so much more disposable. After the emotional pain of getting rid of it I find it feels liberating to have the "stuff" gone. We still have the memories if not the actual item. Love your blog! First thing I read in the morning.

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  69. Oh I feel your pain, 3 years ago I had back surgery and my daughter came home to take care of me. She cleaned out my entire house during the 7 days she was here and then hired a contractor to remodel the house. I sure am glad I was on high powered drugs during it. Things were so much easier in the drug induced cloud. I miss a couple things but I have not needed them in the last three years. She even went through my stash and called all my friends to come buy what they wanted I made enough money for new living room furniture and I get to see all the quilts I planned finished by them each with a little different plan than I had. It is so much fun seeing them. And my house looks new. It looks better than it did 30 years ago when I bought it. My daughter did enlist help from my daughter in law. My daughter in law took care of me for the next 5 weeks. Take it slow you will get there, I don't recommend finishing it in a week.

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  70. The eternal question is "Do I own it, or does it own me?" Then, there is "Out of sight; out of mind." I have always preached to my children the difference between want and need. The want is transitory. Having moved often in the past eight years, I've found that the more I get rid of, the lighter I feel. You will get through this, and in beautiful shape.

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  71. Our penultimate downsizing was from 2100 sq. ft. to 1350. We filled a 15 cu. yd. dumpster with "stuff." In addition to the 2100 sq. ft. house we also had two rooms in the back of the oversized two-car garage full of boxes that were never unpacked from a move across country that I had made nine years previously. It can be done, albeit with some regrets I had after we made the move. But, in the end, it is all "stuff--detritus."

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  72. We went canoeing down the Mountain Fork River at Beavers Bend State Park in OK. I intentionally left my phone in the truck in the event we tipped. It was like you said...I just took it all in for my own personal consumption and enjoyment. I know I noticed lots of things I would have otherwise missed messing with a camera. Bliss to borrow your word.

    On the stuff topic. When I had my house fire one of the workers told me that he had many clients like me that had partial fires that wished it was a total loss. At the time I found that statement shocking but after dealing with all the stuff and decisions I understood his true point. It would be easier to have someone remove your items sight unseen after that long and dispose of so you don’t have to struggle through. In the end I preferred having the choice though. The struggle is real! I’m considering a big move east so am contemplating downsizing.

    Hang in there! It will be done tote by tote!

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  73. Bonnie,

    I've been watching videos of how minimalists justify eliminating stuff. One has a mantra of remember when you go into a thrift store and find that one thing that makes your heart happy? Do that for someone else and donate what you are not using. Ignore sentimentality and the money spent and donate.

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  74. The way I have started looking at "possessions" is that I don't own them, I rent them. So it is OK to give them away or if necessary (when the items are too broken to fix) even throw them away when the usefulness has passed. And try to be far more discerning in the future about which items are truly worth owning.

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  75. Hugs, Bonnie, I'm doing it (slowly, baby steps) too. I moved from a 3 bedroom house to a partly furnished basement apartment in my parent's house almost 5 years ago, to care for them. Mom was a hoarder, too. So, now that she's in a nursing home, and I need the income from the rental of the apartment, I'm downsizing her hoarded stuff (what a mess!) and my own. So, from 3 baths to 1. 3 kitchens to 1. And I can't get rid of all of Mom's stuff, because there will be estate claims. I'm so glad when someone else says it's overwhelming, because it is. Just do what you can, one little bit when you can. Eventually it will be better and easier. Then it will be done. We should have a contest, you and me, lol.

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  76. The best decluttering & organizing question I ever heard was "Where would you look for this if you needed it in the future?" If you can't answer that, odds are you should get rid of it, as you wouldn't remember you even had it.

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  77. Oh Bonnie, I’m so glad I’m not the only one. Sounds like all your readers can relate the the real struggle of sorting & donating or tossing. I’ve been dragging my feet for too long. Love all of your nature pics, and Rosemary’s Indian corn border — it’s just so perfect! (& I have never liked those fall colours for quilt fabric, but all your fans’ “Appalachian Autumn” & “Punkin Patch” projects have me re-thinking that, because they are all absolutely gorgeous. Your patterns are awesome! Now that you’re not shipping your books outside of the USA, where should I buy them so you get the most $$’s for them? I want to do whatever will benefit you the most, Bonnie.

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  78. Wow. We are all at that age. Parents gone, downsizing, moving to be with kids. We just got out of a house we were renting for the hubs work. 11 years. A rental. But yet, another whole house full! Stuff is still in the garage, but mostly because the hub is in major remodeling on OUR house. I am not sentimental, but I do have the problem of “this is too good throw away”. The hub IS sentimental, but he is feeling overwhelmed, so he’s learning to let it go! I have gotten rid of stuff on marketplace, and I still find it amazing what people want. I don’t think it would be as hard if you could just DO IT, but life gets in the way, and then it keeps getting pushed back and becomes stressful. I DO have a hard time with fabric and quilting things (machines). Being in a place where there are no real stores, I have everything here “just in case”. Including 3 industrial machines to handle anything that I need. THESE things I am having trouble with. I’m a textile junky, so have plenty of everything. And yet, my DREAM house would have nothing on the counters, barely anything on the shelves, and NO CLUTTER! I’m not a clean freak, almost opposite, but it would make it SO much easier to clean! Covid stinks on so many levels! We are expecting 3”-5” of snow here this weekend, so no more garage sales for us! Or whatever people are doing! There are so many of us out there!

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  79. Hi Bonnie. i thought I needed to join this conversation. My mother is now 92 and I have helped her twice in the last 10 years to downsize. Once to a retirement village and now to live with my sister. Every time I have looked at her items and thought what are we going to do with everything that is left when she passes, as we already have our special keepsakes from her and really don't need anything else.
    This made me think very carefully about my home and my children. I kept thinking what are my children going to do with everything in my home and what will they want to keep when I pass - which I hope is a long way off. So now I can easily go through my home and empty cupboards, shelves, anything by saying would my kids want this. if the answer is no, out it goes. The other bonus I have is that one my of my sisters works with a refugee group via Red Cross and they are happy to take practically everything that is useful to help these families in our city. So I know it all goes to a good home.
    I have found that considering the next generation has made it much easier for me to make decisions about what I keep. I wish you luck with the big task ahead of you.

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  80. It took me 5 years to disperse contents from 4 relatives homes. There was a lot of really wonderful stuff and the more I donated the better and lighter I felt. Now I have stopped buying anything that I don't really need including fabric as I have a lifetime supply. It is a process, you will get there and it will feel wonderful. One bin a day is great. I am amazed at what you accomplish every day. You have so much energy, it makes me think of when I was younger.

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