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Out of Chaos Comes Order


In between the packed and stacked boxes, the work piled on both of our desks, and the boxes yet-to-be-packed–only 3 weeks to the move–things are messy. I pause and survey my kingdom. It’s disorganized, and I am dismayed, but I also have faith in Nietzsche’s saying, “Out of chaos comes order.”

I know this will all come together, and I actually felt a twinge of excitement yesterday. It gets easier each day to look at something I haven’t used in more than a year or two, and put it in the thrift shop pile. Some things I have taken out… only to place them back.

After reading Esther Zimmer’s inspiring article, Are Your Clothes Weighing You Down? I went through my closet again and added an armful of elegant clothes to the box in the living room. I thought about why I haven’t worn each item for ages, and when I realized why I’d been clinging to them, I gladly added them to the pile.

Mercifully I am not weighed down by family heirlooms I don’t want, and that is another factor that drives me to stay honest about what I use, and what I need. My son doesn’t want my things, except for a handful of photos, and my Navajo rug and blankets. My darling’s daughter only wants an antique Chinese smuggler’s chest that serves as our bar. She certainly doesn’t want his grandmother’s crystal, or his mother’s silver or china. While we enjoy them, they’re not RV appropriate.

I read an article by Beth Teitell in this week’s Boston Globe, discussing downsizing and the problems it creates for everyone dealing with aged parents’s belongings. Creating solutions to this challenge has become a booming business.

In the article Interior Designer, Leslie Fine, said of the family heirlooms that were “foisted” on her, “How can you take these things to a consignment shop? It’s almost like a burden we carry with us through life. Sometimes I wish we had less connection to our possessions.”

I wanted to shout, “It’s a choice. And it’s yours to make!”
And, as my therapist always reminded me, “Guilt is optional.”

We don’t want our kids or our immediate family to feel overwhelmed by stuff they don’t want, need, or know what to do with when we’re gone. So by making the choice to consciously simplify, now, for this new lifestyle, I’m accomplishing two things at once: getting my estate in order…  in order to go play.

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Donna O’Klock spent 35 years in the beauty business, talking, teaching, and learning. These days, she’d “rather write than talk. It’s better that way because I can edit.” She writes two blogs, and, and is the author of  Sick and Tired & Sexy: Living Beautifully with Chronic Illness.

Austin, Texas, has been her home since 1978, but she and her fiancé have downsized and are traveling the country in their RV.

3 thoughts on “Out of Chaos Comes Order”

  1. You’re so smart to let things go you don’t want and know you won’t need. I can hear so many of my friends say, “But it was my mother’s!” They don’t have the same taste and yet, they feel guilty about getting rid of it. I’m excited for you and your honey and can’t wait to read about your grand adventures and all the new people you will bring into your lives! xoxox, Brenda

  2. You make some great points about stuff that can become a burden. I would only add, go slow. I’m not into holding the item and seeing if it talks to you (i.e. The Joy of Cleaning Up) but when my mother died and we moved across the country, all in a few months time, I downsized fast and furiously and regret some of the items that I gave away. I had second thoughts. I guess it’s best to be sure.

  3. I love following along as you go through the process of downsizing, Donna. My own mother does not hold onto anything but hubby’s mother is the complete opposite, I’m not sure how I’m going to keep an inordinate amount of stuff from heading our way and yet, we’re supposed to be decluttering and eventually downsizing ourselves! I’m so excited for you as you hit the road and I can’t wait to read about your adventures! Thanks for mentioning my article too. Esther xx

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