Today I mentioned to my dear friend, Martha, that I was looking for organizing jobs. She mentioned that she read an article about a woman who made a living helping elderly organize their possessions for when they were going into a nursing home. I hope and pray that some day the trend of people being able to stay in their own neighborhoods and get care is going to take hold big time (and that the Community Gatherings will help do that!). But as long as there is such a need, then I would love to help people do that.
I had almost forgotten that over a year ago, when my mom died, I flew out to San Diego, California, to help my siblings clean up and organize her belongings. There was a lot to do! My mom was so much loved, and I felt so touched by the kind things that people said about her. She collected a lot of things because (like me) she thought they might be useful to someone, or she might be able to sell it at the flea market. (I was so glad she saved a bunch of stuff I was glad to have–like letters from when I traveled in Asia)
So there was about 40 years of accumlated stuff to sort through and decide what to do with it all. I felt so grateful that I could join my brother and two sisters, and their spouses and friends, to work together on a huge job. I let my older sister take the lead and supported her in mainly getting rid of the stuff that needed to go in the dumpsters (We used 3 of the largest dumpsters they had to drop off–they were huge!) That is what I call picking the lowest hanging fruit first–it was easy to decide what the trash was because things were obviously mildewed or wet or damaged. There had been water damage in two bedrooms and a large family room.
I was happy that my organizational skills were utilized during that time because I could clearly see the order which needed to happen. I saw that things were going to be bottle necked if I didn’t intervene, and fortunately I did so with enough tact that all went smoothly. After all, I wasn’t the professional organizing consultant–I was part of the family. But even if I was being paid to do the work, I still honor a clients needs. Even if what they want does not seem efficient or logical, I will only gently make suggestions, and then let them go.
In a sensitive time like helping someone order a beloveds possessions–someone who has died or will be going to a nursing home–I am happy that I have my nineteen years experience of practicing non-violent communication. I have learned the profound impact that empathic listening has on people. Tears and grief will come up during this sorting process-and this certainly happened with my family. Anger came up, too. I feel grateful that my practice in Non-violent Communication (as taught by Marshall Rosenberg) came in handy for conflict resolution as well as grieving. I had a lot of unresolved issues with my siblings, and we had reconciliation which was so beautiful.
After 3 days of both clearing the house of trash (at times there were ten people working!), plus getting ready for the memorial service–most of the trash was cleared out. Also, my older sister decided what were the things that needed to be given away or saved. So after the memorial service, my siblings left for their distant homes (except for one who lived near by), and I was left alone for 6 days to get it ready for an estate sale. Here I was, all by my lonesome, in a five bedroom, three bathroom, two large common rooms, and literally thousands of knick knacks and decorations–plus box upon box of stuff which filled closets and rooms.
The first thing I did was take a day off. I couldn’t believe it–I had a car and I was in Southern California (where I used to live). Well, that is another whole adventure there! I’ll finish this blog on the next blog.