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…

What Do You Have In Common With Lillian Evans and a not so Clean House?

Lillian Evans owns a Virginia home that was featured on an episode of the Clean House Show. Her home was labeled as the, “Clean House: Messiest Home in America 5.”

What might you have in common with Lillian Evans?

Let’s count the possibilities.

  1. Single Parent (perhaps)
  2. Detached from positive childhood experiences
  3. Shops to forget the reality
  4. Creates emotional ties to the stuff around her
  5. Feels stagnated by the stuff that is accumulated, as a result of her own habits
  6. Sinks in her own mental traffic of STUFF, which keeps her stuck in a rut
  7. Becomes overwhelmed with the outcomes of the above items

Getting a sense of what Lillian Evans may be experiencing?

There is a way out; a way to begin Letting Go of Stuff. Evans situation did not happen over night. It developed over seventeen years of poorly developed habits and the development of self defeating mental traffic.

Though cleaning the house will not fix the problem, it is a great start for Lillian Evans.
As you look around your house and/or office – what do you see? How do you feel?

Does the notion of ending up with a house full of STUFF over a seventeen year period – scare the heck out of you? Even if it only brings chills to your spine, there is a way to thwart off that kind of future.

When I purchased my parents home, it was filled with all of their STUFF.  Their combined life span of 143 years was spread out in every room of their home. A home they designed and built from scratch. How did I clean house?

Below are a few clean house tips.

  • Step 1 – Accept and Acknowledge – YOUR STUFF.
  • Step 2 – Identify and list what is that STUFF.
  • Step 3 – Prepare for the emotional, mental, and physiological changes you will experience as you clean house.
  • Step 4 – Make a list – of your family and friends who may want some of your stuff.
  • Step 5 – Invite those on the above list over to get what they want. Give them an initial date and deadline date to come by and get what they want.
  • Step 6 – Have a garage sale and sell everything you can. Use experts like those on the Clean House Show.
  • Step 7 – Remove yourself from the house during the sale and read a copy of Letting Go of Stuff while you are away.
  • Step 8 – Have the same people who managed your garage sale come back and remove everything else that did not sell. Again, remove your self from the house during this process.
  • Step 9 – Begin to change your habits and thought patterns – using a personal development coach
  • Step 10 – Live long and prosper from the inside out.