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

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


People who email but don’t respond and Champs who don’t let age hold them back

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – December 31, 2018

by Tom Blake Columnist

Happy New Year – There are two parts to today’s eNewsletter. 

Part 1 – People who send emails but don’t respond to my reply

Part 2 – Champs who don’t let age hold them back

Part 1 – People who send emails but don’t respond to my reply

Often, I receive emails from Champs that I’d like to include in future e-Newsletters. I respond and ask the senders a few more questions and permission to use their information and names.

But, for some reason, some people don’t respond back. There are two examples of that today.

The first email was sent by Champ Toni, responding to a newsletter article published in August about a disgruntled woman who blamed men for her dating problems. Toni lives on the west coast, she wrote:

“I was widowed 9 years ago when I was 53. Mike was 48 and died unexpectedly in his sleep.

“I loved my job and as I’m too young for Social Security, I have continued to work. This keeps me busy. I was also fortunate to have joined a grief share group and a singles Meetup group in my area. Not a dating group – just singles getting together for movies, dinner, dancing, bowling, winery visits–activities that are not fun when alone as a single.

“I agree with what ‘disgruntled’ said in your newsletter on several points. In my experience and the women in my circle have also realized, the men require a lot more from the women than the women require of men. For example, a woman’s appearance (age – weight), dating /marriage history, and financial stability are important to men.

“Not all men, but the majority want younger companions. Most want FWB (friends with benefits) and are not interested in a monogamous committed relationship. Because of an estimated ratio at my age of two-to-one women to men– the men call the shots and can take their pick. Bravo for them. And Why not?

“I think more women are ok being single than men. Perhaps that’s because the women took care of the family and the house and they’re finally getting a much- deserved rest and can now do what they want when they want and don’t have to be accountable to anyone.

“Studies show divorced and widowed men tend to date, hook up and remarry faster than the women do. Is it because men want to be taken care of? Are they missing a companion to go places and do things with? Do they still feel the need to prove their virility to themselves and others?

“Several men in our circle of friends say they envy the gals. If we want to go to a movie or dinner, we call up the girls and go out. You seldom see a group of older guys doing this, unless they golf. My one guy friend told me he thought the women dealt with single life much better than men. He says, ‘You ladies like your own company.’ And I agree.

“Speaking for myself, I would welcome another love in my life – I had a great marriage and believe it’s possible again. But, I don’t need another person ‘to complete me.’ I do coffee and lunch dates with a few becoming dinner dates. I’m not so desperate that I’m fixated on dating just to get out of the house.

“I try not to compare dates – and while there is compromise – for me, some things are not negotiable. I’m not into ‘playing house’ or the friends-with-benefits arrangement. It may work for some, but it’s not my thing.

“Being single doesn’t have to be a curse. It can be a wonderful opportunity to learn about yourself and grow in many areas. More singles should learn to depend on themselves and enjoy their own company. They may surprise themselves!

“I had friends putting their two cents into this email. We enjoy your e-Newsletters.”

Tom’s comment: I wrote Toni back and told her I’d like to include her email in a future e-Newsletter and that what she wrote was well stated and nicely done. I asked what her future work plans were. And I wanted to give her two-cents friends credit for their inputs as well.

But, as sometimes happens, I didn’t hear anything back from her. So, I held off using her information until today. I felt that her comments would start the New Year off with some interesting food for thought.

Example number two of people who send emails and then don’t respond when I write them back.

While I was on the cruise, I received an email from a 72-year-old widow named Cheryl. She had seen-in previous eNewsletters-that I had included some bios of single Champs. So, she sent her bio information in along with a nice photo of her in a red dress, but she didn’t mention in what part of the country she lived.

I felt that to be important so that men would know if she lived close enough to them to pursue communication with her. I wrote her back and asked.

She never responded. So, I didn’t include her bio in a newsletter. Perhaps she’ll resend her information with that information in it.

I don’t understand why people put a great amount of time, thought, and effort into writing an email, and then, they don’t respond when I respond to them.

Note from Tom (for the rest of the story, see the January, 2019 titled “Cheryl in the red dress.” She did email; I didn’t get it on board the ship.

Part 2 – Champs who don’t let age hold them back

You may recall Chris and Tina. They married two years ago. They had the longest, long-distance relationship on record, 5,440 or so miles for 14 years, between San Clemente, California and England.

              Champs Chris and Tina –making the most out of life

Champ Chris emailed last week, “Tomorrow (Monday) Tina and I are flying from England (where Tina has relatives) to Cape Town, South Africa, for two weeks. We will be spending the holidays there. It should be an interesting adventure. We will be staying in five different hotels in that area. This includes a wonderful Christmas dinner overlooking the city and Table Mountain. (We have seen the menu and it looks great).

“And, New Year’s Eve will be at a seaside restaurant, where the Atlantic meets the Pacific. We understand you can see where the different color waters come together. We are also going on a three-day safari. NO! We are not sleeping on the ground in a tent. I did enough of that in Vermont, when the kids were little. I want a five-star hotel with a shower and room service.

“Tina and I have been talking about this trip and planning it, for over a year. Hopefully it is everything we want it to be, because this could be our last big adventure. I will be 85 in January, and as some of you know, it gets harder and harder to travel as you get up in years. (Tina is 77).

“So, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy New Year. May it be everything you would like it to be.”

Note from Tom: For an interesting update on Chris and Tina, visit the e-Newsletter on this site dated January 25, 2019 on Decluttering. The link:

Chris and Tina decluttering

Declutter and downsize. Better now than later

On Life and Love after 50 e-Newsletter – January 25, 2019

by Tom P Blake

Downsize and Declutter. Better now than later

Toward the end of last week’s newsletter, I included this paragraph:

“Greta and I are in a major downsizing and decluttering this New Year’s; I moved my unsold cases of books to a self-storage space. While grunting and groaning doing that, I said to myself, “I need to move out some of these books. I’m going to offer Champs a major price incentive on books.”

From that paragraph, this comment came from a woman Champ, who requested to remain anonymous: “Tom, please write about decluttering. A lot has been written about this already. For example, a short but sweet article in the NYTimes science section, on Tuesday, January 9, 2019.

“Suddenly I can’t get enough reading on this topic. I’m convinced I would feel better if I got a handle on my surroundings, instead of them being in charge. Like you, I have too many books. Due to recent travels, I also have more souvenirs with no way to display them all. And the incoming mail has piled up; with two people in the house and the other person not agreeing with me on where to put this ….. well, you have the picture.”

I got to thinking about what Anonymous said. In the last two weeks, a good part of my days have been spent helping Greta not only declutter her house, but empty it out entirely. Why? She has decided to put it up for rent and her realtor said almost all potential renters want to rent a place unfurnished. And that is what has happened.

Greta and I live together in my home, which is already adequately furnished, and less than 1/2 the size of her home. Translation: not much room to move stuff from her home to my home.

The realtor found a great tenant who required an unfurnished house. Initially, the tenant was going to move in February 1. That deadline made us crazy, less than a month to make it happen.

Greta had that home built 35 years ago and it’s in excess of 3,500 square feet. You can imagine the accumulation of furniture and things in drawers. And books, books, books. The task is overwhelming. And really heavy furniture, is on the second floor, so steep steps are involved.

And then, the new tenants, who are being transferred by the wife’s employer from New York State, said they needed to revise the move-in date to February 22. Halleluiah! That gave us three extra weeks.

                                Getting rid of clutter is a blessing in disguise

But, turns out, this downsizing, decluttering, call it what you like, has been a blessing in disguise. Yup, we grunt and groan and have weightlifter’s belts on, and it’s physical and mental work. But, our mantra is “Better now than later,” meaning, of course, we should do this now, so that her offspring won’t have to deal with it later.

A wonderful thing has happened. Her family has jumped in to help. Last weekend, three of her children, along with grandchildren, and great grandchildren arrived in three pickup trucks towing trailers and two SUVs. Greta was thrilled that her offspring wanted some of her furniture and belongings in their homes.

Soon, one dining room set was moved down a flight of steps and taken away. And then a couch. And then a bedroom set. And on and on. By the end of the week-end, we had cleaned out a lot of stuff.

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

We aren’t out of the woods yet. Everyday this week, we’ve spent hours packing boxes of books and going through cabinets. A dry wall guy came. Greta’s son Tony started painting in his spare time. A plumber installed a new toilet. A carpet repair man did his work. Charities have been scheduled to pick up stuff. And some documents, bearing social security and credit card numbers need to shredded.

Of course, my Dana Point home has taken on a new look. It looks like a cross between a furniture store and an art gallery. More pictures on the walls, kitchen cabinets filled and furniture that is squeezed in a bit. Greta keeps saying, “I like the way my stuff looks here.”

We did need to rent a couple of short-term (hopefully) self-storage units. We will tackle those in due time. Lots of people say that’s a waste of money. But, in our case, it was essential. We will be down to one unit by June.

But it’s all good. We keep repeating, “Better now than later. Don’t wait.”

So, Champs, decluttering and downsizing is something almost all of us will have to face. It’s never too early to start planning.

Champ Toni recently emailed, “Can’t wait for this next year. I’m planning on selling the home my late husband and I had planned to retire in. But I’m still working and don’t have time to keep up the acre and 1/2 property and pool. For me, moving into a newer home, closer to town and my office just makes sense.”

Last August, Champ Laurie Jo wrote, “Tell Champs to clear out clutter, even if some is important. Hire students to sort. Put in boxes.

“My Mother, 88, died more than a year ago. My brother and I are STILL dealing with her stuff. She never filed things, she did not cash checks (to the tune of $20,000). Vast hours of my life are sucked away as I plod through the morass of papers that she left in boxes, bowls and baskets with no rhyme or reason.


Today’s Message: Declutter: “Better now than later. Don’t wait.”

Time to declutter and downsize. Better now than later
Donation items waiting for the truck to pick them up.


Cheryl in the red dress and (in part 2) getting rid of clutter

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 18, 2019

by Tom Blake Columnist

Editor’s note: There are two parts to today’s “On Life and Love after 50 e-newsletter: 

Part 1- Cheryl in the red dress

Part 2- Getting rid of clutter, that is, decluttering

Part 1 – Cheryl in the red dress

In the November 30, 2018, e-Newsletter, I quoted Champ Jacquelyn, who had sent me this email: “I know this is not a dating site, but it would be so good to allow us to connect with someone here or post a profile of a Champ once a month. I’m 55 and active, but single and very lonesome.”

In that e-Newsletter, I responded to Jacquelyn: We’ve done that from time-to-time. Last week, we posted Larry’s email address with his comments. “Why not send me some of your information for posting?”

When Champ Cheryl saw my comment to Jacquelyn, she responded: “I see you’re not opposed to publishing a person’s information and photo, I’m going to take advantage of your kindness and ‘put myself out there.’  Please consider the following:

“I’ve been widowed for 15 years.  I’m 72, with red hair and blue eyes. I am retired but active in fun social activities, and like to travel, especially on cruises.

“I’m seeking a man with integrity, protective instinct, kindness, intelligent enough to converse, still has enthusiasm and curiosity, and is authentic.

“I lead with my femininity, have a sharp wit, and am spiritual and traditional, with attributes of having respect, loyalty, and devotion; being non-materialistic; and being real.  Attached is a recent photo of me.”

   Cheryl in the red dress

I responded to Cheryl (at least I thought I had) saying I needed to know in what part of the States or Canada she lived because a potential mate would want to know that.

But I didn’t hear back from her. I did a follow up e-Newsletter wondering why some people don’t respond. When Cheryl read that newsletter, she wrote:

“I am the ‘Cheryl’ you wrote about in your newsletter, saying that I never responded to you. I didn’t receive any email from you! I don’t know why, but rest assured that I’m eager to meet someone and would have responded immediately. So sorry for whatever happened.

“I live in Los Angeles, just south of LAX.  And there’s something else I’d like to add – my preference is for a Jewish man.

“Thanks so much; I really appreciate that you took the time to follow up!  You are very conscientious – I will invite you to my wedding!!”

During the time of this exchange, I was writing from the cruise ship where the Internet was iffy. I thought I had responded to Cheryl, but in checking after getting home, much to my horror, I saw my message to her never went. I apologized to her.

She wrote, “Thank you, Tom.  I have no ties here and am willing to relocate, if there are men who are willing to date long-distance for a while, and, use Skype. I also continue to hope that some of your Champs may ‘know someone’ appropriate for me.  As you said, it’s worth a try.  I appreciate your help.”

If anyone would like to email Cheryl, email me and I will forward your email to her.

Lesson learned: As Cheryl said, it’s worth a try. Stay with it because as illustrated in this example, the mistake was mine. You may communicate with someone and not hear back. Don’t assume he or she received your message, whether by email or text. Anything can happen so always follow up until you’re sure.

A perfect example of that: On the ship, I met a couple from Washington state. They told me about a widow friend of theirs, nicknamed “Sam.” I said, let me send her a couple of my dating books. He provided me with Sam’s address, a p.o. box. I shipped the books January 2; they arrived back in my mailbox on January 12, marked: “Return to Sender. Unable to Forward.”

I notified the couple what happened. They found out that Sam had opened a p.o. box when she was first widowed, not wanting to reveal her actual street address. But, two years later, Sam decided to close the p.o. box, perhaps feeling she could safely resume using her home address.

When I found that out, the books were resent this week to her snail mail address. Hopefully, Sam will become a new Champ.

Part 2 –  Declutter project brings Tom’s book offer

Speaking of my printed books, may I seize this moment to talk about them? Greta and I are in a major downsizing and decluttering this New Year’s; I moved my unsold cases of books to a self-storage space. While grunting and groaning doing that, I said to myself, “I need to move out some of these books. I’m going to offer Champs a major price incentive on books.”

Here’s the offer: I will ship autographed and personally endorsed copies of any two books (I have four), including postage and sales tax, to Champs with an address in the USA for $15. That’s like five bucks a book. Check out my bookstore at

If you want this offer, email me at and let me know what books. I will invoice you by email via my PayPal account where you can pay by credit card. I will need your snail mail address, which the PayPal order requires.

I will be happy to ship the printed books (these are not ebooks) to anyone you wish (as gifts, get-even ploys with ex mates—for whatever reason), providing they have a USA address. Shipping books out of the country is too expensive.

Three books would be $20 and all four would be $25, including postage and sales tax. I will need to know how you want me to endorse them. Something like this: “To Jerry, thanks for ghosting me, you ***”

So that’s it for this week. Downsizing and getting rid of clutter are exhausting, but so important!