Declutter. Readers respond to last week’s e-Newsletter

Decluttering is a blessing in disguise

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – February 1, 2019

by Columnist Tom Blake

There are three parts to today’s newsletter. It’s a little long, especially part One. But it turned out to be a big topic for lots of us

Part One – Champ responses to the declutter article last week

Carole, Nevada, emailed, “Don’t get a storage unit, just throw it away! My partner Steve had to go thru all this when his wife passed away. She had 400 boxes of books, 3 full sets of China and lots of crystal from Germany—much of it he couldn’t even donate!

“Just get rid of it, donate, whatever! He had storage units ($$) for way too long! He learned the hard way! We still have too much stuff but, it’s not as bad as it was!”

Tom’s response: Carole’s comment reminds me of George Straight’s catchy song, “Give It Away.” (Link to the song at end of today’s e-Newsletter)

Suzanne, Seal Beach, Ca., “I am in the same process you describe. I’m 72 and, after 45 years, still living in the same home that my late husband and I bought as our first home. Our three children have flown the coop and live on the east coast or in northern CA. It’s time for me to clear out and release all the stored ‘things’ that I no longer need or want and consider moving to a simpler abode.

“I’ve taken lots to Goodwill and the more precious and valuable items have been donated to a local charity for their silent auction. It’s hard to step out of the phase of life in which I did it all, gainful employment, frequent entertaining, running a household, etc., to now admitting that I don’t want to take care of all of this anymore.

“Taped to my mirror is this quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Happiness is not found in things you possess, but in what you have the courage to release.”

Pat, Orange, CA, “Last March I started sorting, packing and staging my 3,400 sq. ft house. It is a very challenging chore but for me there is no choice since I have no children, no relatives to do this after I am gone. It is also how I hurt my back…a tri-level home to clean out is a big job and taking boxes down from the third level to store in the garage was very hard on an already challenged back.

“Once I downsize, after the house sells I will have more sorting and packing to do but at least then I won’t have to take the boxes downstairs…I can leave them in the rooms where they are and once all is done I can hire some students to help me load my SUV and take to my new home (at least to the garage there)…the big pieces I will be taking will be done by professional movers…all else will be left for an estate sale!”

Victoria, “When my mother died, thank God my late husband was still around to help me through the mess! She lived over 2,500 miles away, so we took a week to go to her property and pick out the things we wanted to keep. She had recently moved into that house, so thankfully a lot of stuff had already been sorted and discarded.

“But the house was still a 4-bedroom and she was the only person living in it. The reason for having 4 bedrooms?  She needed them to hold all her stuff! (Can you imagine what it would have been like before she began decluttering?)

“I hired an estate sale company. This is the best discovery ever! They go in and clear out EVERYTHING. You get the profits from the garage sale minus their commission (usually around 30%) and costs.  Sure, you could try and sell the stuff yourself, but who has the time and energy for that? That’s why stuff accumulates in the first place.

“Having this experience under my belt, I was faced with a similar situation after my husband died and I sold our huge house a few years later. Again, I packed everything I wanted to move to my new (much smaller) condo and turned the remainder over to an estate sale person. SO much easier than having to deal with it myself.

“My mother (wrongly) assumed I would just take her entire belongings when she died. Kids are usually not interested in the bulk of their parents’ things. The furniture is usually not the more modern style they are looking for and probably too big to fit in most new homes.”

Chris A, San Clemente, Ca., “Boy, did you hit a nerve for me with last week’s declutter e-Newsletter. I just got back from England. This past year, my wife Tina decided—because she spends so much time in England, that she would downsize by selling her 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom home, and buy a much smaller condo.

“She put her house on the market in November, thinking it would probably sell some time after the first of the year. She had a buyer in two weeks. I had planned to go to England December 16 for our previously scheduled trip to South Africa over the holidays. Suddenly, everything changed; Tina went into a mild panic. I changed my flight, and went to England November 16 to help her to start packing and to get rid of 60 years of STUFF.

“Things went from bad to worse. The couple who were buying Tina’s house, ran into problems with the people buying their house. In real estate this is called a chain sale. For two weeks, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing.

“All the solitaires (lawyers) talking to each other, but nothing happening. Now we are heading to South Africa. The morning we are leaving, Tina gets a call telling her to come in and sign the papers. We are thinking that when we get back home in two weeks, all the papers will have been signed, and we can start moving. Wrong. Nothing had been done because of more problems.

“In the meantime, Tina’s moving company wants to know when they can come, and start packing. Of course, while this is all going on, we are packing whatever we can, and getting rid of whatever Tina is willing to give up. On a Monday, we get the call that all the papers have been signed, and everyone is moving on Wednesday.

“Of course, I am due to leave on Thursday, but knowing I can’t leave Tina with this mess, I change my flight by one week. The move takes place on Wednesday, and Tina’s new home is buried in boxes and furniture, that she couldn’t get rid of. Yes, a major downsize. There was no place to sit or lay down. You couldn’t even walk from one room to the next. Forget trying to make a meal, finding a place to eat, or going to bed.

“We spent the first night at her daughter’s house and the next week unpacking boxes and making trips to the Tip (dump) and the charity shop. I was up every morning at 7 a.m. getting rid of STUFF. By 10 at night, when I dropped my 85-year-old body in bed, I was like a wet rag.

“By the end of the week, when I was ready to fly to the States, the place looked reasonably livable. When I got on the plane, I felt like one big toothache. I hurt from my neck to my knees. Tina never got rid of anything over the last 60 years. You are right Tom, better now than never.”

Bruce, antique store owner, Ohio, “You are very fortunate that the kids came to assist and take things, most younger folks today just do not desire much of what we accumulated over the years and there truly is no market for most of it.

“I cannot tell you how many people we get in here (antique shop) trying to sell their stuff, and you should also be aware that there is a business model that has arisen over the last ten years or so just to help seniors declutter—they are called “senior move managers” and they specialize in household downsizing and estate dispersal. I am certified as one; they are all over the country.”

Decluttering is a blessing in disguise
Declutter items in garage ready to be hauled away

Thyrza, “Decluttering is a mental and emotional task, but you and Greta did it. Kudos to her kids, grands and great grands who helped.”

Henry, “Tom, why are your saving boxes and boxes of books? It’s costing you money for the storage that you will never recover.

Tom’s answer to Henry: “These are my printed, new books. Yes, it’s costing money to store them, but it’s only a temporary situation, as they will be sold. Greta and I hope to be rid of the self-storage units by summer (at least one of them).

Part 2 – “Love and BIG HUGS” from Champs Terry and Daeng, a couple since 2006, who live in northern Thailand, three miles from the Myanmar (Burma) border.

In response to the book offer two weeks ago, Terry sent an email with the subject line: “Love and BIG HUGS,” which caught my attention, as I thought love and big hugs are what most Champs enjoy. The email contained two photos. The first photo was of Terry and an elephant:

                 “Love and BIG HUGS” – Champ Terry with big hugger

The second photo was of Daeng and Terry, with a tiger:

Terry’s caption: Two tigers and me

Terry and Daeng are humanitarians; they help the local children, who are opium orphans (children who’ve lost their parents to the disease of opium addiction).

Terry wrote, “We live in the ‘Golden Triangle,’ which is still the 2nd highest producer of illegal opium. Afghanistan is 1st now.”

However, the most surprising thing about their email was it contained an order for 24 of my books.

Terry added, “I am sending six friends all four of your books each for their collections. Autographed books are always wonderful as gifts. The price, four books for $25 including shipping, of your well-written and autographed books is wonderful, also.”

I’ve never had an order for that many books at one time except from

By the way, the book offer still stands. Email me if you have questions.

Part 3 – Dating, a helpful website for singles who would like to meet a mate 

I was contacted three weeks ago by the dating editor of a website called She wanted to interview me to include my story under the “movers and shakers” section of the Dating News website.

I looked at the site and said, “Wow, I need to alert Champs to this site. It has lots of valuable information. You can be added to their mailing list at no cost. Here’s the link to the story they posted two days ago:

Dating News Tom Blake article

Almost forgot: the promised link to George Straight’s “Give It Away” song It’s was his 41st song to reach number one on the country music charts.
(you can click on “Skip the Ad)

George Straight song Give It Away


Author: Tom Blake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published five books. His primary topic is finding love after 50 and beyond, sometimes far beyond, for people 80 and older as well. He also blogs about travel at

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