Archive for the ‘downsizing’ Tag

Attic Treasure Hunting

The value of any treasure discovered is always dependent on the quality, uniqueness, and scarcity of the particular items. Attics have always been the source of great treasure hunts for years, as well as the source of great agony.

For families who have to clear out and dispose of their valued treasures, it is difficult. Time and patience is a valuable commodity when sorting and clearing attic treasures. Care and concern should be given with all items as there may be items that have both monetary and sentimental value, or NOT. If you are fortunate enough to find one or two pieces in that category, then you need to decide what to do with them. Even finding a piece or two with sentimental value only – something you had long forgotten about it — will be a wonderful discovery.

Once the Treasure Hunt is complete and the “stuff” has been categorized what happens now?  For the items you have decided to keep, it depends on the situation you and the family are in; you might be moving so will these items move to new location or will you be taking them to your home? Or you may be staying for a while longer so that will require repacking and labeling the contents of the carton or bin. Be sure to put a date on the bin so you know how long ago you last viewed the contents. Put these repacked and organized containers neatly in a designated space for future access.

Now, you need to take away the items designated as trash, donation, give to family, or sell.

  • Move the trash, if possible, directly out to the curb, a dumpster or at least to the garage to wait for trash day.
  • If you have not already scheduled a donation pick up; do it now.   Move the donation items down to the garage clearly marking them as donations – not to be mistaken for trash.   Resist the temptation of second guessing your decisions.
  • Items marked ‘give to family’, bring them down to an area that can be designated staging area; put all items in here clearly marked with the designated family member’s name. Make a call and schedule a time for      things to be picked up. You may need to make several calls, and then  finally say; “If you don’t come by Sunday, I will be putting them in the trash on Monday.”
  • Put all items for sale in one spot (either leave them in the attic or garage marked sale items). Then determine what type of sale to have.  Arrange for  an appraisal, if necessary. Set a date, even if it is weeks or months away, it will help motivate you to complete the project.

For items that you truly feel have monetary value but you don’t know what it is, I recommend strongly that you pay for an appraisal from a qualified independent appraiser, who knows furniture or artwork. By having an appraisal of the pieces in question, you will be able to make an educated and informed decision on what you want to do with the pieces in question. You won’t walk into a store someday and see your piece (or something very similar) for sale for hundreds of dollars and you sold it for $5 at a moving sale!

Patience, persistence, and many helping hands are the basic elements needed to complete this project. It could take days, weeks, or even months, depending on the level of all available elements at any point in time.

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Condominium Living 101

Condominium living is wonderful, in my opinion.   You pay the money and someone else does the work!  No mowing the lawn, pulling the weeds, or shoveling snow, etc.  However, you need to be somewhat flexible with your expectations and not become angry or bitter when things are not done exactly the way you think it should or when it is done.

I have lived the condominium life for over twenty years and most of it has been a wonderful experience.  I am currently the chair person of our board of trustees and it has been an education and a challenge.    Everyone wants to have platinum or gold services but they only want to pay for Bronze, and sometimes they feel that Bronze service costs too much and we don’t receive the service.    I have to say that my board is extremely diligent in overseeing and counting our pennies, but there are always people who are not and will not be happy with anything.

Now that we are in landscaping season we are spending 90% of our time dealing with landscaping issues.  Spring in New England started early and the trees, shrubs, and other plantings really have had a growth spurt.  People are unhappy with the way the place is looking and they want it fixed and fixed immediately.   The board is in agreement, and is working on getting things resolved, but this is one of those situations that we are not going to please everyone all the time.   The board has the task of defining and implementing standards to guide the contractors in performing their jobs; for instance,

  • Keep the shrubs to window sill height and at least 6-8 inches away from the side of the building.
  • Ornamental trees should be trimmed and not be touching the siding or roof

It is difficult for many of the condo owners to adjust to condo living.  Because everyone has an opinion on how things need to be maintained, and when we owned our own home we did what we wanted.  If we wanted the shrubs to grow taller and cover the windows for privacy it was okay.  A condominium is much different than owning your own home.   Everything needs to be standardized, and just because you prefer it one way and your neighbor wants it another way, it all needs to be done uniformly in order to maintain a consistent look within the allotted budget constraints.  The contractors do not work for the individual condo owners, whey work for the total good of the association, and owners stopping the landscapers for trimming or cutting the lawns only disrupts the scheduling, uniformity, and costs everyone more money.   Yes, it is frustrating at times, and not everything can or will be done the way everyone would like.   The process is not instantaneous or perfect.   The board members are dealing with a management company, who works on our behalf, who is dealing with the individual contractors and vendors and it can (is) frustrating at times.  

Life in a condo will never be the same as owning and caring for your own home.  My advice to people thinking of purchasing a condo is to really determine why you think you may be happy in a condo.  Once you have the plusses then really think about any of the negatives that you have heard or can think of then weigh them.     If the plusses outweigh the minuses then a Condominium may be a great fit for you.  If not, then opt for a smaller home and arrange to have the services you need provided for you when and how you want them.   

Some Times I Wonder!

There are times when I really have to stop, think, and rethink what I am about to say.   I really wonder at times what people think about when they hand out advice, and get paid to do it.

Case in point is an 85 year old woman who just moved into a very nice, but expensive, retirement community.   I was called in to do a complete unpack and set up in the new apartment.   However when I arrived the morning after the move I walked into to a wall of boxes and furniture, and the woman I came to help was so confused and disoriented it was sad.

The community where she moved to employs a ‘move in coordinator’, who visited my client prior to the moving.   The purpose of the visit was to make sure that the items that were being moved would fit into her new apartment.  My client was moving from approximately 2000 sq ft to about 1400 sq ft.   Six hundred square feet makes a big difference.  However my client was told she could bring everything, and she did!

The bigger pieces of furniture fit, and were placed in the new apartment according to the floor plan produced by the move in coordinator.  What wasn’t taken into consideration and should have been were the closet and storage spaces between the old and the new apartment and no downsizing and decluttering took place prior to moving.  As a result, when the movers were told to pack everything, they did.

After 4 days of working to find appropriate ‘homes’ for all the items it was necessary to sit down and really have a focused (as much as possible) heart to heart discussion with my client.  I explained that there just was no more room for my team to put anything else.   There were still several cartons of ‘stuff’ that we needed to decide where to put them.     Eventually, with my client sitting on a folding chair in the storage room area, we pulled out several cartons that she had absolutely no idea what was in them.  They were old greeting cards, letter, etc., that had not been unpacked from a previous move years ago.

I cannot understand how someone could tell my client that she could bring everything and it would fit.  Of course my client relied on this advice.   I only wish that I could have been with the client on both ends of the move.   Because decluttering and downsizing prior to the move, would have saved time and money, because time is money.    But it also would have saved unnecessary stress and aggravation for the client.

My advice to Retirement Community move in coordinators, think about what you are telling your future residents about what they should and should not bring, and offer to find them some assistance.   This will be less frustrating on everyone involved in the move, from the mover, the family, and most importantly your new resident.

Do Cats Imitate Us or Do We Imitate Cats?

My rescue cat, Lilac, is pretty set in her ways.   Her daily routine is the same every day, as far as I can tell.  Every morning, she is waiting for me to give her breakfast, and then she follows the sun and lounges in every sunny spot.   By late morning she is lounging on the back of the love seat pretending to nap, but with one eye open looking to see that no unwelcome visitors venture into her domain.   Early afternoon finds her really napping in the loft.

I would say Lilac is in her comfort zone, and when things in the zone change, Lilac is not very happy and she lets us know about it in no uncertain terms.   She becomes cranky and upset, she lashes out at whoever happens to be available, and it takes some time for her to come to terms with a change.   This behavior certainly mimic’s how people react when something changes in their lives.  So the question that I have been pondering is:   Do cats imitate us or do we imitate cats?

Everyone has their routines and comfort zones, and they are usually similar to the beings they live, work, or hang out with on a regular basis.   When something or someone disrupts the routine or pace of life that has been constant for so long and change occurs, the entire environment and atmosphere around us becomes disoriented and confused.    This happens throughout our lives and usually we can quickly adjust and accept life changes within a reasonable length of time and with minimal attitude.

However, the older we get the harder it is to cope and accept changes in our life.  I have had this conversation with family members of clients, and they have told me that their parent is acting strange, not like their usual calm, compliant self.  The parent is upset, angry, emotional, and just plain old nasty.  They do not understand why, because the changes they are proposing or making are meant to make the parent’s life easier and happier.   Yet their parent is acting out, just like a teenager!

So to get back to my questions of who is imitating whom, I believe the answer is a little bit of both!   It seems like it is a natural instinct to resist change in our lives.  We all resist and try to make changes to the change; it is natural whether we are infants or senior citizen.  Even Lilac, my cat, finds way to work within the changed environment to make the change acceptable to her.  Lilac doesn’t like a cover on the love seat so she works and works at pulling and punching a portion of the throw off until she has sufficient space for her nap!   My cat uses a passive aggressive attitude toward change, hoping that we will give in.

Once we can accept that changes are difficult for everyone, we can begin to understand and try to overcome the attitudes and passive aggressive behaviors while working to convince and accommodate everyone involved with the change.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.” ~Author Unknown

Decluttering and Downsizing a Kitchen!

Kitchens are a very special place for many people.   They could be your domain, refuge, and gathering spot.  Or it may be just a necessary evil that you need, but do not enjoy.   However you feel about or use your kitchen, it might be either the first or the very last space in your home to declutter and downsize.  One reason for this is there are so many nooks and crannies to store, put, and hide things.

Oh, those nooks and crannies are wonderful until you try and find something.   How many times have you tried to find something, couldn’t find it, and purchased a new one?   Only to find the one you knew you had but it was shoved in the back of the drawer (or cabinet), hidden under a pile of other important items.  This month let’s just tackle kitchen drawers, how bad can that be?

The process will be the same or similar for all drawers, so just pick a drawer.    In my kitchen we only have four drawers, 2 for utensils and 2 for junk!   A Christmas presents started us to work on organizing one utensil drawer, however, once we got going one drawer lead to two; and we felt so good about the progress we ended up doing all four drawers.

Our Christmas present was a beautiful wooden drawer organizer, which adjusts to the width of the drawer you happen to be concentrating on.   We started with the cooking utensil drawer by;

  • Removing all the contents
  • Cleaning the drawer (wash and dry thoroughly)
  • While waiting for drawer to dry, go through the items in the drawer;
  • Throw out any broken items
  • Separate duplicates
  • Insert drawer organizer and adjust size to drawer.
  • Return items to drawer in the appropriate size space.
  • Segregate one of a kind items in their own space

Do not return duplicate items, unless they are different sizes of an item like spatulas or such.  Duplicate items that you do not need, can be donated or given to someone, but don’t hang on to them.

Like I said doing one drawer, was just the start of the project.  All the other drawers were the same basic process, but the junk drawers took a bit longer.   Junk drawers require looking through papers and things, so it is definitely something we put off as long as possible.

Once you put back all the items in there appropriate compartments and toss or give the rest away stand back and admire the great job you did and how beautiful they look.

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP!

Are you or someone you know . . .?

  • Preparing to enter the spring real estate market?
  • Overwhelmed with all that needs to be done to get ready?
  • Has limited time or energy to do everything?
  • That needs help on where to begin, who to call, or how much time this process will take?

If you do, I can help!

During February, I have an extra day to help you!
Schedule your complimentary Strategy Session
to review your plans, objectives, and goals; and I will answer
your Where, Who, and How questions, on beginning
 to downsize and preparing for the move.

CALL TODAY, 508-285-4802, to schedule your
 LEAP YEAR strategy session, and receive:

  • A written summary of primary action areas and dates to meet to complete project on time.
    AND HAVE:
  • An Opportunity to save $75.00 or more* on a WITTZ END service package IF booked during your Strategy Session!                

 

*Save $75.00 or more on a WITTZ END service package (depending on package size), when booked during your  strategy session.  Everyone receives the written summary just for booking strategy session.

 

Next Chapter

Two years ago I helped a family move their Mom from the family home out-of-state, to a very lovely Assisted Living.   They wanted to have their Mother living closer to them because health issues were causing more and more of a problems.   Mom and I hit it off great, and we had several nice moments during our time together.

Fast forward to two years, and I received a call from the same family and things are not going well.   Mom is having increasing amounts of issues and they are having to move her again, to a completely new and different environment.

I am happy that they thought of me to help them begin this next chapter in their Mother’s life.   I am sad that in just two years she declined so much, but I know that I am helping the family cope with the stress as they move into what could be the last chapter.

Quiet Progress

I met with a client the other day, she felt like she would never be ready to move by the end of the month.   Then she started telling me what she had all ready started and finished.   It was huge!

This small petite woman, realized that she needed to start doing something to make this move happen.   In her own quiet way, she allocated a few hours throughout the day to sort through dresser drawers.   Throwing out items too worn and unserviceable, collecting all good and usable items for donation, and neatly putting the keepers back in the drawer.   That is huge, and I told her so!

She did the same type of thing in the kitchen and bathrooms.  So when it came down to really getting serious about downsizing for the move, she have very quietly made progress toward her goal.

It is amazing what progress you can make with just an hour or two a day!   Try it, you will be very pleased with your results.

Almost There!

When you are preparing to start a major project, like downsizing and decluttering, it takes planning and preparations before you start.   You gather all the appropriate
tools, materials, and you line up all the labor and manpower that we might  possibly need.   But even though we think we have thought and planned for all the       ontingencies something usually happens that stalls us, and we need to call for back up.

Like the time when I was on vacation in Costa Rica, and I went zip lining over the Canopy of the Rain Forrest.   I thought this was no problem, I can do  this.   I am not afraid of heights and I am safely strapped in a safety harness what could go wrong?   I was given all the necessary instructions, the do’s and don’ts, and off I went climbing up a mountain path to the first platform.

I was safely in the middle of the pack, so I could observe what was happening and how others were doing.   Everyone was having a great time.  Then my turn came.   I cabled up, and the guides had me back up on the platform to get a running start, and gave me a gentle push off the edge of the platform.   Off I went hanging on for my life!

I cannot remember what the scenery looked like all I can remember was
looking off in the distance for the landing platform.   Then it happened, I stopped!   Within several yards from the platform, and it might as well have been 10 miles.
What was I going to do?   Well, the instruction we were given was lean back and grab the overhead cable and pull yourself, hand over hand, to the landing platform.
Okay, I started that and wasn’t getting any place fast and then panic set in.   Now what!

This is when it is a good idea to have backup.   Julio, one of the guides, came to the
rescue.   Out he came hooked up with me and proceeded to haul me into the landing platform that was wrapped around a huge tree.   I hugged Julio and then the tree.  Then I realized that I had 6 other lines I needed to do before I reached the end of the course.

Getting started was the hardest and as I progressed through the course I relaxed, built my confidence, and started to enjoy myself.   I have always been grateful for the backup.  Without Julio and my panic state, I would have just floundered over the Rain Forrest, eventually I would be pulled myself into the landing platform, but it would not have been easy or very pretty.   That is why, even with the best plan, materials, and equipment you need backups for the “just in case” something happens.

Winter Is Coming, Is It Time To Close The Window?

NO!  I’m not ready yet! All summer and even through the cool fall nights I keep the  window open. You never know what fresh and invigorating thoughts and ideas will  come floating through the open window and I want them to have a clear pathway to me.

We are preparing to button down for the winter. We have always been able to do
these things and we just take them for granted. However some of us have older
relatives who are becoming or are frail and may not be able to do the usual
fall preparations. Like outside the:

  • leaves need to be raked
  • the gutters need to be cleaned, and
  • The garden needs to be prepared to with stand a killing frost.

Inside the house there are also plenty of things that need to be done before winter
sets in:

  • Pull out the winter clothes; and put away clean summer clothing
  • Donate old, but in good condition, winter coats and other clothing
  • Clear away items that may be blocking the heat ducts, and dust and clean the ceiling fans

Ladders and step stools are not something our older friends and relatives should be
using. They will argue and insist that they are fine, but deep down they are
probably looking for someone to come and give them a hand with these items.

If you cannot help, maybe there is a scout troop or a youth service group at a
local church that would be willing to take on a community service project. I am
willing to wager that the young people will benefit from such a project as the
older people they are helping.

Let’s keep an eye out for our older neighbors, friends and relatives this fall and
winter and give them a helping hand whenever possible.

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