One of the first things I did when I moved to California was go to a Feng Shui class. Realizing I’d moved to a more esoteric state than Texas, I wanted to get in touch with my spiritual side. Like Wikipedia, which explains the history of Feng Shui and all its baguas, the class was quite interesting, but most of what it taught I filed away in the “I’ll never use this again” category.
However, somewhere in all the discussion about good and bad energy and what my sliding glass door had to do with my tendency to spend too much money, the Feng Shui specialist got my attention. She talked about going through your home and sorting out your belongings into three categories: keep, get rid of and maybe.
Having just moved, I was very familiar with those three categories. This lady suggested the sorting part of moving should become an everyday event in my life. She had a method for sorting mail, storing groceries and pretty much any other job we usually do without even thinking about it.
The “maybe” part was the toughest. Once you’d made your three piles, you’d return the belongings you wanted to keep to their proper place (and feng shui had a lot to say about what was proper). Next you disposed of the “get rid of pile” by donating the items, selling them or throwing them away. Then you returned to that “maybe” pile and repeated the above process until there was no “maybe” pile.
During my move, the “maybe” pile had been part of my “to keep” pile, because I’d never been to a Feng Shui class. As soon as the class was over, I headed to my closet and tossed out a load of emotional baggage. Over the years, I have incorporated a lot of what the Feng Shui specialist said into my daily life – especially the part about “repeat as needed.” I’ve developed a sixth sense about clutter. As soon as I feel my energy bogging down, I seek out the offending junk drawer or overcrowded closet. I probably wouldn’t qualify for a red door, because my baguas still need a lot of work, but the Feng Shui specialist would love the way I dispense with clutter.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with my Mom’s estate sale. Well, in truth, a lot. After six years in California, I moved back to Texas and Feng Shui’d my mother. This has to be one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. We went through her shed, attic and garage, as well as some of the cabinets in the house. We had a yard sale and I carted the remains of the sale to a local charity.
Mom was glad for the help, but she wasn’t crazy about Feng Shui. Forget the “maybe” pile. Her three piles were sell, keep and throw away, This would have been fine if the “maybe” pile had been equally distributed between those three categories, but for Mom, all “maybe” items were immediately classified as keepers.
The other problem she had with Feng Shui was the giving it away part. She was happy to turn infrequently used items into cash, but if no one was going to buy them, she really wanted to put them back into the shed.
What I failed to do for Mom, that has kept me clutter-free, was the whole “repeat as needed” part. After clearing out her most offending clutter, I let her spend the next five years replacing it with new stuff.
So, after moving Mom and Dad into Whiterock Court, I had to return to their house and finish the job I’d started five years before. As I write this today, I’m just on the other side of the estate sale. The charity truck pulled away from my parent’s house and now the rooms are emptied of forty years of a sixty year marriage.
Along the way, I had some very sweet moments and some pretty challenging problems. I also learned a few lessons along the way, that I might be able to help you avoid. So, for the next few weeks, follow along as I tell you about getting ready for the estate sale.
By the way, do you feng shui?