How I Cleaned Out My Parents 4300 Sq. Ft. Home

Original article published May 12, 2008

letting go adviceTalk about Letting Go of Stuff! It all began with a decision that was grounded in emotion. I wanted to keep my parent’s house in the family. My two brothers and sister had neither the time, not the inclination to keep it. So, quite simply, I bought them out.

The sale happened in July 2004. I moved into the house around September of that same year. Now all the time I was negotiating the sale with them, I was focused on one thing – keeping the house in our family. After all, at the time, I felt strongly that it represented my parent’s dreams and hard work.

So there I was, in this 4300 square foot home, surrounded by wonderful memories, warm and fuzzy feelings, grounded in love, and full of excitement. It also had damaged and rotted out balconies, leaky gutters, thirty-five year old shag carpet, and three bathrooms in which the showers and tub needed gutting out. And this list covers only a few items that needed attention.

Each of the bedrooms were absolutely filled to the brim (so to speak) with stuff; but I had a plan. It was to start with the big stuff, and eventually make my way down to the little bitty papers, books, and other stuff. Here is how I did it.letting go of stuff

First, I contacted my siblings and gave them a date to come and get what they wanted. Next I opened the house to friends and others who wanted to take advantage of the free stuff. Next, I rented large dumpsters and threw away broken furniture, boxes, trash, and other items. Then I hired someone to come in and gut out the showers and tub, and to replace a couple of the toilets. Everything was moving along well – until – I got to my Dad’s office. That is when, what I had been feeling in my gut during this process, came to the surface; and I got stuck. Not only did I get stuck, but I had a physiological reaction to the process and got very sick.

Here is where I got stuck. When I began to go through my Dad’s papers, hand written notes, letters to associates, pictures of family, and the tens of boxes in his office, the emotion of his passing emerged. I then began to attach the emotions of love and endearment to every letter, every hand written note (even though I couldn’t read the writing), and to every little trinket in his office. My logic was that “someone may need this…” and that logic allowed me to hold on to it. So I did.

I stayed stuck for weeks. Then I got depressed, because I was stuck and couldn’t seem to figure out how to get “unstuck.” Once I got stuck on one thing, it snow balled. I then began to hold on to his clothing, his shoes, and other stuff as well. Then I wanted to hold on to broken furniture, that my Dad never got around to fixing. Eventually, the house began to (at least in my mind) get clogged up again with stuff. I began to get frustrated with myself, and that affected my ability to deal with my business and other aspects of my life. Something had to change.

Then one day, a friend came by to visit the house. While walking around and looking at all the stuff, I shared with her that I was stuck. She looked at me and said, “Darren, I know a guy who wrote this book that may help you. It is called Letting Go of Stuff®.” Then she laughed and left. I was shocked that she had the audacity to hint at the fact that I needed to let go. But then again, she was correct. I was stuck and needed to apply my own philosophy. So I did.

The first step (I call it a secret) was for me to acknowledge being stuck, and explore why. Without acknowledging however, I could not have been prepared to explore the reasons why. Acknowledging is the first secret to Letting Go of Stuff®. This step sounds simple, but you may be surprised at how many people are in denial of needing to change. That is why; this is the most important step. Until I am ready to acknowledge I need to change something, I won’t. My friends and family can tell me I need to change. They can even have interventions to assist. But until I am ready to accept and acknowledge it, it won’t happen.

The second secret is to realize that I would go through changes in trying to make the change. We often tend to naturally resist change. When we attempt to change something about ourselves, we sometimes become our own internal change resistor. Claiming change, yet unconsciously resisting it can keep you in this two steps forward, two steps back dance with your self.

The third secret is to manage and listen to your internal conversation. We all talk to ourselves. I believe the internal conversation is the most believed of all conversations. So it is easy to convince yourself that you don’t need to change, or let go of something, because you believe what you say – to you.

Paying attention to that conversation is critical. Becoming consciously aware of what you say to your self is powerful in that it will allow you to begin to change that conversation into what you want. Especially since you believe everything you say, to you. Think about it.

These are three of seven secrets that will assist one in getting “unstuck.” They certainly helped me to clean out my parent’s home. Which by the way, is on the market today.

I know, I went on and on about keeping it in the family and all of that. But hey, what can I say. It was my parents dream home not mine. We do have a dream for our daughter’s future. It is that she remains healthy, makes great choices for her life, is happy, and that she honor her parent’s memory in any way she sees fit. The same way I have done for mine.

Selling the house is my way of closing the chapter on this phase of my life. I will start a new chapter knowing that I did everything I could to enable the house being sold with dignity and grace. That, to me, is honoring my parents. Though it is really for me, it makes me feel better that in my heart; I am honoring their memory.

That is a big part of what Letting Go of Stuff® is all about; doing what you can to influence a situation by focusing only on what you can control, then choosing to move on with dignity and grace. That is the sixth secret to Letting Go of Stuff®.

Until next time…

Letting Go of Stuff Daily Health Tips

5 Tips for Letting Go – Each Day

  1. Turn off your television and read.
  2. Drink plenty of filtered water – every day.
  3. Spend time listening to your inner thoughts and meditating.
  4. Tell your family members that you love them.
  5. Go to bed when your body tells you to and get 5 – 7 hours of sleep.

Letting Go and Focusing On What You Can Control

There are two important elements necessary to let go successfully.

One: Take healthy action as you move toward something positive, something new, something exciting, something challenging in you life

Two: Focus only on what you can control.

Although you cannot change past events, you can control your present day reactions to the past. One way to do that is to choose to live your life today – without yesterday’s hanging shadow. An appropriate quote for this comes from Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover. Ramsey writes, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

My interpretation of living like no one else is to spend time focusing only on what I can control and to exercise what I call the “today philosophy” in my daily living. This means I have replaced expressions that begin with:

One day I will…; I’m working on it…; Eventually I will…;

…with expressions such as:

Today, I will…; and, I am…

As for you, today is the day you can choose to change your internal dialogue.
Today—not “one day”—you can begin to love yourself better.
Today—not “one day”—you can begin to let go of stuff.

You also can create mental expectations of any future outcomes you want in life. Henry David Thoreau is credited with this quote, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Focusing your time and energy on your own attitude, actions, reactions, thoughts, and dreams narrows the playing field, and keeps life simpler, easier, and uncomplicated. However, when you try to control the actions, attitudes, schedules, and thoughts of everyone else, life not only gets more complicated, but you might push away those who care for you.

Think on it!