Eight weeks after professional organizer Lynne Poulton and I went to Bill and Candy Kline's Suffield Township house to jump-start their downsizing project, Candy has made good progress.
As readers may recall, the Klines are downsizing from their 4,000-square-foot house to a 1,567-square-foot house after 38 years. Their oldest son and his family will be buying their house and the goal is for the elder Klines to move to their new house on the Portage Lakes next April.
But until then, there's a lot of “stuff” that has accumulated that needs to be sorted through.
Poulton and I did a check-in recently with Candy. Bill was at their new house, busy with his summer construction projects. When we first met, Bill told us he did some downsizing last fall and spring and he would be spending the summer busy with the new house. But Bill also had some goals to sell and downsize his massive collection of miniature tractors, collectible cars and other memorabilia.
Candy was able to tackle a lot of the projects she had set as her first goals, though there's still a lot to go, she said. Work travel and other regular commitments also delayed some of her work, though she estimates she got several 20-minute sessions in every other week.
The timer made the mini projects manageable, she said. Sometimes she'd go for longer — similar to what I did when Lynne and I first launched this organizational project in January and I tackled my messy craft/office room. (You can see previous columns at www.ohio.com/betty under “The Checklist: Get Organized.”)
Even though Bill had suggested tackling the projects in smaller increments before she met Lynne and me, Candy said having someone else suggest it made it easier.
She first tackled her roll-top desk.
“I had stuff in there since the last 38 years when we got married that I never looked at or very few times. Your unemotional attachment was able to help me to dispose of some of that stuff,” Candy told us.
“I also used the time to clean out some closets that had things from my mom, clothes I wish I could fit into some day, but I'm not going to — let's get real at this stage of my life — and I was able to unattach myself from those as well.”
Giving stuff away
Candy is storing things to take to a nearby auction house. She also donated a lot to various charities.
She almost completely emptied a hallway closet filled to the brim with cookbooks, books and things from her mom. She only kept a few sentimental cookbooks — including a family cookbook of recipes she's written down for her kids —and cookbooks she uses. She packed up all of the reading books, saying she hadn't read a paperback book in years since she loves her Kindle. She also found an old cookbook from the Knights of Columbus from 1919. She contacted the local chapter, and they were thrilled to get it.
She donated a bag of her old Girl Scout items to the local council.
“That felt really good to give those things to the organizations they pertain to and know they're just not going to get pitched,” she said.
Candy said having us jump-start the process and check in on progress has given her accountability to keep working.
She plans on at least one 20-minute session every weekend until the April move.
She made some great progress on a front closet, which was stuffed with photo albums, potpourri, candles and other purchases. There also were things that aren't being used, such as weights to hold down helium balloons from Bill's 50th birthday party 12 years ago.
The weights are gone and many of the shelves were much less crowded.
Candy was feeling overwhelmed by the need to tackle a box of wrapping paper and other things. Lynne suggested taking them out of the large box to make the tasks smaller.
Other areas of the house, like the laundry room, which is filled with holiday plates and decorations, haven't been touched much. But the Klines still have one more holiday season in the house, so they will use what they need and start distributing to family members or purging after.
Candy also found other areas we hadn't seen in our first visit that she knows she wants to tackle, like an overstuffed cabinet in her front bathroom.
Lynne told Candy she sensed she felt “lighter.” Candy said she did.
“I've tackled a lot of the harder stuff, like my mom's stuff” said Candy.
Lynne said she's noticed people have a “reframe” of what's important to them about every 10 years.
“So what you thought was important 30 years ago, is not as important now. You're in the present moment, so what you need now is really what I hear you're keeping rather than just keeping things because you always have,” she told Candy.
Husband still has ‘toys'
So about Bill.
Bill was not at the house during our check-in to explain for himself — and again he did say that his downsizing projects would not happen during the summer.
Before we came to first see the Klines, Candy had warned us that Bill was not interested in giving up his “toys.”
But during that first visit, Bill was the first to bring up his toys and acknowledge that he needed to downsize. There simply isn't enough room at the new house. Bill's plan was to give some to his sons, take a few to the new house, and sell the rest.
That was a pleasant surprise to Candy at the time.
“He may have done a little bit of backsliding,” Candy shared with us. “I think now he's just not sure he's got to get rid of that stuff. But time will tell. Space will tell.”
Candy is aiming to work on the following between now and when we check in with her in October:
• Sort cupboard in front bathroom.
• Get items to the auction.
• Sort the remainder of the roll-top desk.
• Sort the front closet and purge the linen closet.
Candy also shared how good it has felt to get feedback from friends, neighbors and strangers telling her that it has jump-started their desire to get to their organizational project.
Her neighbor drove by the day the first column ran and turned her car around.
“She was in tears. She has things she has to get through herself and she has not let her do that and she said it has helped her tremendously,” Candy said, joking that the neighbor wasn't crying because they were moving.
“That in itself made it 100 percent worthwhile to let everybody see the mess,” Candy said.
Consumer columnist and medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty