Musings On Inherited Stuff And The Right Details

My new mantra.

One that I’ve chanted as I sort through the basement. Where there is so much stuff, household stuff, just sitting there.

Stuff that I didn’t have the emotional strength and/or design perspective to deal with until now.

Stuff inherited.

Stuff saved.

Just. In. Case.

But *news flash* there is no case. There is no reason for me to keep this stuff anymore.

The details are wrong. Not my details.

Grateful that relatives loved me enough to trust me with these details.

Aware of how it came to be that I felt the need keep the wrong details for so long.

But now, slowly, I’m letting go of the stuff.

My head and my heart agree that this stuff, these details that are wrong for me, need to move on to happy homes where they’ll be the right details for someone else.

A decision that’s been a long time in the coming.

Date in fine print at bottom of newspaper advertisement that I used as packing material years ago when I first boxed up this stuff. 😣

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

81 thoughts on “Musings On Inherited Stuff And The Right Details”

  1. De-cluttering and as I like to refer to it, “De-stuffing” is a hard thing to do when you’re not ready to actually do it. At some point in the past, I realized that the “stuff” was a cling to something: an idea, a whim, emotion, etc. The worst was having someone else’s stuff mixed in with my stuff that made the whole problem worse. A brilliant flash of clarity gave me the strength to understand that people giving you “stuff” is just an avoidance of them having to make the decision on whether to throw it out or not. I ask the same two questions when deciding on whether to keep or toss something. 1. Did I interact with it in the last year? No = toss. 2. If yes, will I interact with this potentially in the next year? No = toss. Yes = keep. All of my stuff now fits neatly into a 12 x 9 office space in the basement 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Andrew, you said it: “A brilliant flash of clarity gave me the strength to understand that people giving you ‘stuff’ is just an avoidance of them having to make the decision on whether to throw it out or not.” I think that’s exactly what happened with the stuff that I inherited.

      As for my personal stuff that I’ve kept “just in case” I have to own up to my indecisive nature.

      Your two questions are great. That’s what it often comes down to… although occasionally I find that I have my own emotional attachment to something so I’m keeping it a while longer. Because I can.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. so freeing to declutter Ally Bean! I like Andrew’s comment above. It helps enormously to be aware of the ‘why’ you held onto stuff for so long. And also, someone will appreciate it. Do you do garage sales? People can just take maybe and leave a small donation for charity?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Susan, you’re so right about knowing the “why” of the stuff around you. I had, and still have, lots of things that seem precious to me, but in actuality are just dragging me down, back into the past. Must keep moving forward.

      Garage sales are frowned on in this area. Too many burglars use them to scope out a house up close. Thus our local sheriff department + HOA suggest you don’t have them. Plus, I’m lazy! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. An ad maybe – something in the HOA newsletter? (unsure what HOA stands for but never mind!) I’ve kept correspondence – letters/mail from when Moses was a boy, and countless diaries/notebooks from way back when … I have something of my father’s – I can’t remember what it is called – from Oxford that is black and has white fur around it from when he graduated from there I assume (1933). About time I changed it into something usable and interesting for me maybe … maybe you have some such ‘articles’ – a piece of cloth or who knows what –

        Liked by 1 person

        1. HOA = home owners association.

          I’ve got lots & lots of personal + business correspondence from my parents and my cousin and my grandparents and who knows who! Some of it is dating back into the 1800s. Plus I also have lots of genealogical research/documents that mean nothing to me, but are well organized. And that’s before we get to the old clothes…

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh this is a tricky one. We’ve been trying to get my mother de-cluttered after my father died to prepare for her downsizing. It’s been a tough job. When we had the time, she didn’t have the emotional well-being. Now that she’s ready, we’re all out of energy. I recently shredded some old passports belonging to my Dad, my Mum and both her parents which she told me my son-in-law had said “don’t throw out!” I ignored her as I thought he meant *you* need to keep them. Until my daughter asked me for them that is …

    But that is the only time I’ve regretted decluttering. And I did keep the pages containing their passport photos. I plan to frame them. When my son-in-law has forgotten about them probably.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Deb, tricky it is. I’ve been involved in 3 family downsizings and it’s an emotional roller coaster. The women involved knew that they had to do something about their stuff– and did it in three very different ways.

      But in those situations it was someone else who was making the decisions, moving along. This time it is me, alone, trying to know what to do with all the stuff.

      I take heed of your cautionary tale: be aware of who is telling you to save or throw out things. While I don’t have any in real life people telling me what to do, I sure have quite a few voices from my past chiming in with their opinions. 🙄

      Liked by 2 people

  4. What a terrific quote and what a great comment from Andrew, above. As you know from being a Faithful Reader over at my spot, I have been on a Decluttering Mission for a while now. It is exhiliratingly liberating.

    I applaud you for doing your own job slowly, too. That has been the key to my success: chunking it up in doable portions so that I never become irked or overwhelmed. Each task feels like a huge success and motivates me for the next one.

    Especially after you redid parts of your lovely home, customizing it for yourselves, it seems a perfect time to continue making everything Perfectly Yours. Bravo!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. nance, I’ve thought of you as I’ve been plowing through the stuff. Pity we don’t live closer to each other thus being able to provide moral support in person– along with being each other’s wine caddy, of course.

      I’ve been doing this in chunks, too. There’s a lot more to do, truth be known. But I started with the fussy dish stuff and holiday decor boxes so that I could get a feel for letting go.

      Your last paragraph is the exact reason why I’m doing this decluttering now. Plus I’d never want to foist these decisions onto someone else later. Been there…

      Like

    1. nancy, this project is going to be a long one for me. The first round was the stuff in the boxes that I referenced in this post. The next rounds are going to be more difficult because they involve furniture and personal memorabilia. Enter auctioneers and historical societies. Oy vey.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Decluttering = a 20 year project for me . . . thus far. 😀

        I figure I finish decluttering the same day that I empty out my “In Box” and cross the last item off my “To Do” list.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a good thing to do. Glad you’re OK with the letting go of things. If it’s something really special, and you’re willing to part with it, take a photo of it. At least you’ll have that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tara, that’s a good idea. Most of this stuff, so far, is truly just clutter. I don’t want to see it again. But when I get to the point where the things that need to go are things that I like, I’ll snap a pic. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am one of those people who forces my stuff on others. I don’t even feel bad about it. If they can’t use it they need to buck up and refuse it. It took a long time to let go of my mom’s stuff because it was somehow connected to letting go of her. Now I have a mixing spoon and a coffee mug and I’m good. I always think that something may work for the “next” house (which will definitely be our last) so I keep things for a while. Then I realize that the style is so out that it wouldn’t work anyway. It’s like keeping a pair of 80s shoes and hoping they come back. They never come back the same. Last summer I donated 18 lamps (some of those were my husband’s prior to marriage). I felt so good and hoped that someone somewhere could use them. I loved the way you called them details. So true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, you said it with the phrase: “buck up and refuse it.” I didn’t do that, for whatever reasons, and this is where I ended up. With a basement full of clutter and furniture, and upstairs closets full of family memorabilia [some from the 1800s] and old clothes.

      I understand what you’re talking about regarding the house situation. I put off doing what I’m doing now because I wanted to get our house decorated just so before I got rid of items that might work in it. Now that we’re all set on that front, I gotta kick it into high gear with this stuff… junk… details.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My husband got a lot of “family stuff” from his sister. Most of it he didn’t want. Finally he started getting rid of it. If the kids didn’t want it, out it went. Hard to do though so I didn’t nag him.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. If I might speak boldly, I am an excellent declutter-er! Nothing lurks for very long around me, and I have always been like that. I have my sentimental items stashed away, but follow a plan like Andrew suggests and find that most everything goes quickly. I really don’t like stuff, my own or other peoples, taking up space. All that potential messiness sets my need to be organized onto high alert!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, you’ve made me laugh out loud. PLEASE BE BOLD. I come from people who saved everything– things neatly organized, of course. My parents had a Depression-era mentality that meant that they instilled in me the ideas that I had to save it, don’t waste it, reuse, keep. the. stuff. It’s taken me a while to get to this point where I can casually say that I’m letting go of stuff. Small steps forward!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve been decluttering in ‘layers’. Not as precise and rational as Andrew’s formula. A gentle approach of saying, “I have one hour today, I’m emotionally prepared, I will attack (insert subject here, e.g. “old letters”, “winter clothes”…..etc.). That works for me …. but it does take much longer than other approaches. One great thing is that we have a local charity thrift shop that takes absolutely everything and do great community work. That makes the whole process much easier!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Donna, “I’m emotionally prepared, I will attack” is a perfect way to approach this stuff. I know that this is going to take months, maybe years, to get the details to the proper places, but now that I’ve begun the process I’ll see it through.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Decluttering, thinning out, whatever you call it – I’ve been working at that for years now, with minimal success. I was on a roll a few years ago until husband complained that “some of that stuff was important to him”. Funny, because it was stuff I’d brought into the marriage, having nothing to do with him. So I stopped, and my efforts since then have been half-hearted. The problem is, I threw away a couple pair of socks I’d not worn for years and years not long ago, and yesterday I wanted them. Sigh. This summer, I think, daughter and I will attack the garage looking for things she might use because she’s coming back to the states – and discarding what neither of us cares about anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carol, I’m sorry that your socks are gone. I think that’s one of the fears that I have about getting rid of stuff. What if I need it later? Of course, the stuff in the boxes in the basement has been there for so long, untouched, that I know I don’t need the stuff.

      I bet that when you and your daughter tackle your garage together, you’ll find it easier to let go of stuff. If nothing else you’ll have a good time together talking about what the stuff reminds you of. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, I agree. We have to be in the right place emotionally to do that and sometimes it takes a while to get there. I almost immediately got rid of my late husband’s tools and wood (so that someone could use them); I still have too many of his personal effects. I’ve been telling myself that they’re not doing anyone any good sitting in the garage or wherever they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, it’s funny to me that all of us are aware of the potential negative emotional power of stuff, but we keep on saving it. I realize that it can takes years to get rid of some things, but I figure that if these things aren’t in your way, then take as long as you like. Hence the boxes in our basement packed in 1999.

      Like

  11. This is so difficult. “Saving” and “caretaker of” can just go on so long – and if you suddenly you realize there’s no one ready or willing to hand the stuff off to – Arrrrgh.
    Slowly pruning a little at a time, too. Finding suitable homes for that of real historical value ( I have some household items given as wedding presents on the TX frontier by Sam Houston and his wife. My grandmother/mom had already handed some stuff off to museums, but these few small things – to hold in your hand and share with school kids. Sigh. But not sure anyone left willing to do that)
    There is a place for everything and a lot of this stuff needs to go there! HAHA
    Grandmother/mom having lived through the Great Depressions always said it was wrong to keep things and not use them when others desperately needed them. In college we discovered a rule” what ever you really need, someone is trying to throw it away at the exact moment in time…
    Little at a time….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. philmouse, you’re right about the fact that no one wants this stuff that I’ve inherited, even if it is of historical significance. Which some of it is.

      The stuff that my mother saved from my childhood for me is strangely out of sync with what people today think is interesting about someone’s childhood. If you can’t come up with a sad emotionally-fraught tale of childhood woe leading to adult dysfunction, then you’re not interesting. Therefore, my brownie uniform and sweet stories about my troop? Boring.

      I plan to do as you suggest and tackle this stuff a little at a time. I will in the end have the right details, I hope.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s an interesting store. No such place like it around here [to my knowledge]. I am lucky in that I have a friend who has an antiques booth [1960s stuff only]. She’s been a good sounding board about what might have value.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. My mom has already decluttered her apartment so there is nothing left that I’ll need to keep “just because it was hers.” Our own house is another matter and cleaning out the flotsum and jetsum is one of my priorities this year. Once that is done I can start on the things that “might mean” something. Good luck to you. Do be careful with the older stuff though. Pawn Stars may give you a penny or two. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, your mom is a good woman. In her last apartment my mother whittled down her belongs, too– BUT those items she didn’t know what to do with she kept in our garage.

      I wonder about the value of some of the furniture, too. It’s exactly the sort of stuff that seems like it might have value. Of course that all depends on finding the right person to buy it. 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I go through stages. Sometimes it’s hard for me to let go, and sometimes – for some reason – I’m much more ruthless… that’s when I get busy and get rid of as much as I can (before the other me takes over again). I can’t remember when I’ve ever regretted letting go of something. Looking around my office right now, I think it’s time to move a few things out the door.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Janis, I work the same way as you do. I get motivated and give away things gleefully, quickly. Then I feel overwhelmed by it all, so I ignore the stuff. However after last year’s home remodeling adventure, I am ready to focus on having the right details… whatever it takes.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. JT Twissel, I understand how you feel. Tell you what, after sorting through these boxes of stuff and taking the unwanted stuff to Goodwill, I feel 1001 years old already. 😉

      Like

  14. For what it is worth, the hoarder show’s philosophy is that memories of loved ones lost live in your heart not in reminder stuff. Often we hold onto stuff that keeps us in the past.😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Patricia, that’s a brilliant observation. I’ve seen the hoarders tv show a few times, and I can guarantee you those people are way beyond anything I got going on here. 🙀 STILL the philosophy of which you speak sounds perfect for me in my situation. Thanks for sharing it.

      Like

        1. Didn’t take it as a comparison at all. In fact, the mention of the show reminded me that I have small troubles, not huge attachment issues and dysfunctional relationship probs. Keep spitting out your brain here. I like it. 👍

          Liked by 1 person

  15. My family treats old things that were left behind by long-deceased relatives like sacred relics, but when you come down to it, it’s just old shit that the original owners might just as easily have thrown away had they not died and left all of it behind. We had these dishes that belonged to one such relative, and while they were nice and all, they were just dishes. When Mom died, one of my brothers said he’d take them, and they ended up sitting in a packing crate in his basement until my sister-in-law was cleaning out the basement in preparation to move to a much smaller house. She was all frantic and called me, “omg! what do I do with Auntie Floss’s dishes?” I told her to sell them in the garage sale they were going to have. Like Mom told me, it’s just stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. John, my family was the same way as yours. Everything that an ancestor owned was precious. Must save and treasure it. 🙄 The problem being that I never knew many of these ancestors. Not to mention that the famous ones were only famous in their own time, so in today’s world their memorabilia is of little value that I know of.

      I think that dishes are the worst thing to figure out what to do with. If you shared meals eating off the plates, the dishes hold memories in a way that a china figurine does not. Wedgewood stays, Hummels leave.

      Like

  16. Both of my parents were packrats. I am not. Nor is my husband. We routinely cull and clear out closets, drawers, the garage, the basement, etc … yet I’m still shocked at the insidious way that “stuff” tends to accumulate. I can’t imagine overlaying that with other people’s stuff. You’ve just given me another reason to be grateful that we have lived far away from our families. “Stuff” can’t easily migrate 700 km … even on those occasions when it would have been nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, “insidious” is a good word to describe how all this stuff finds its way to me. My parents were packrats, too. In some ways I think it’s a generational thing; if you lived through the Depression you had a different relationship with stuff than we do now.

      Like

  17. I was looking around my house recently and realized that there isn’t a single room which is furnished in what I would describe as my style. Instead, every room is filled with other people’s things. Other people’s tables. Other people’s vases, knick-knacks, and curtains. Other people’s styles. I’ve inherited them all, and have always been grateful for the expense that inheritance spared, but I am wondering if it is perhaps time to pare down and find new homes for some of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allie P, that’s EXACTLY how our house was 10 years ago before we started our Improve Don’t Move quest to make our house our home. Since that first light bulb moment when I realized, like you, that “every room is filled with other people’s things” I’ve slowly changed our style to reflect us.

      However, I haven’t let go of the old stuff as quickly as I’ve added new stuff, so lots of unwanted stuff is in our basement and garage, waiting for me to figure out what is the best way to get rid of it. Hence, my newfound mantra and sense of purpose.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. As someone who got rid of the “stuff” fifteen months ago, I commend you. It’s not always easy while we’re doing it, but the relief later is huge, not to mention the better feng shui that comes with decluttering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carrie, YES! Better feng shui, a sense of relief at finally being organized, no more waiting for St. Vincent de Paul to get here to take away furniture. I WANT ALL THESE THINGS. It’s just that the only way to do it is to go through it. Lots of it. 😒

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m fairly good at purging on a monthly basis when local charities come through the neighborhood, that said, I find it difficult to let go of items given to me by a loved one who’ve passed away. Your post reminded me of a recent conversation where I was accused of being a hoarder. I might have to blog about that sometime. 🙂 Good luck A-Bean!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill, I don’t consider myself to be a hoarder, but I’m sentimental and/or frugal enough to hold onto stuff until I’m sure that I don’t need or want it. Please do write about your experiences, I’d love to know how other people deal with their details. 🤔

      Like

            1. At this point considering how spell check is goofy and our screens are about the size of a postage stamp, I never worry about typos. We still manage to communicate, and that’s all that matters.

              Like

  20. I relate. There are things that speak to us, and those things belong to us. What doesn’t speak to us, what isn’t beloved or incredibly useful to us? Should be to someone else. I believe in this so strongly, it’s a constant for me. I’m glad you waited it out, waited for the required fortitude to make the right placements. It’s important to give things the respect and value they deserve. There is honor in that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joey, I respect objects and have decided that when given the opportunity the right things end up in the right place. I’m to a point where my job is to facilitate the movement of these things, these details. I started with the little fussy decorative stuff, and will now move on to furniture and clothes and personal memorabilia.

      You’re right when you said this takes fortitude– and I would add a bit of faith, doing that which the ancestors would have done themselves if they had the fortitude to do so! 🤞

      Liked by 1 person

    1. As one of the relatives who dismantled and dispersed the belongings of three other relatives, I’d like to suggest that you do some of the decluttering yourself while you’re still of sound mind and body. You are of sound mind and body, aren’t you? There have been questions…

      Like

      1. My body isn’t what it used to be, but it probably is sounder than my mind. Think of the critter windfall Goodwill will receive once I’m gone. I can imagine Mitzi becoming some innocent child’s toy…

        Like

Comments are closed.