photo credit: admitchell08 via photopin cc

It seems like we spend the first half of our lives accumulating stuff we just had to have (!) — and the second half trying to get rid of it.

I received several messages recently from readers who have reached a point in their lives where they are finally ready to let go of the stuff that’s been weighing them down for years.

One woman told me that she’s been carrying stuff from city to city, about every 2-3 years for the last 35 of her 81 years. She has a 10 x 15 storage unit that is filled with boxes. Her goal is to downsize from that packed storage unit to a 5 x 10 unit.

Why now?

She says, “I couldn’t bear to leave this to my family to handle, after I’m gone! It has taken me a complete change of values, attitude and outlook on life, and it surely has taken me a LONG time. But ‘it takes as long as it takes’ has been my stress remover when I get down on myself.”

Ugh. It’s bad enough that this stuff takes up physical space. It also takes up space and time in our minds, nagging at us to do something about it, stressing us out, making us feel bad about ourselves.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We do have a choice. We can keep all of our stuff and continue to let it zap our energy — or we can let it go of the stuff we no longer need so that we can be/do/have something we really, really want.

My reader could continue to pay for her storage unit until the day she died, but then the burden of what to do with it all would fall to her family. Her decision to unburden herself now is an act of love for her family – and for herself.

Not long after that first message, I got an email from Sharon Locey, owner of the Thimbleberry Inn on Lake Superior. After many happy and successful years as innkeepers, she and her husband have decided to sell their beloved B & B so they can spend time sailing on the lake and traveling in their RV.

Fall of 2004 047

Sharon Locey and her husband with their fifth wheel

“With us going into a townhouse and not having moved in 22 years, we have a lot to get rid of,” she says. “In the last two moves, we didn’t have time to go through ‘stuff’ so the ‘stuff’ moved with us.  We paid to have it moved and then we paid to have it re-moved and then we paid to have it removed via the local recycling center.

She told her husband, “We don’t want to move anything that we will not have a use for in our new home. Also, we must find a home for everything we move so that nothing is stored in boxes.”

(You can tell she’s been a long-time reader of my books and blog!)

Funny, isn’t it, how you never hear people in their 60s and beyond say that they wished they had more stuff. The older we get, the more we want less stuff. I’m thinking it’s because we eventually come to realize that the most important things in life are not things.

Sharon has her work cut out for her, as does my 81-year-old reader. But they both have a powerful “why” that will help them see the job through.

Whatever your age, it’s never too late to let go of the stuff that no longer serves you, creating in the process more time and space for what’s really important to you in the present. And that, in my humble opinion, is how you create a richer life.