The “Thing Thing” (Clean your cabinets!)

Finding A Place For Momster's Stuff

Aug 1, 2011 by

I recently moved my mom, aka “The Momster” to Albuquerque.  As such things go, I couldn’t move most of her material possessions. Too much stuff. Too little time.  Too many and higher priorities.

And, as I spent hours digging through drawers, closets and cabinets…much of it appeared to not have been touched, much less used in years, if not decades. ALL of it coated in multiple layers of deep, deep brown nicotine (Hey, wasn’t this white when I sent it as an Xmas present? Ack. Ack.)  So, what the hell to move??? –  especially given Mom’s directive to “do the best you can.”

Still, I tried…digging out old family jewelry…sifting through piles of paper… trying to get the things that would really (I thought) mean something to the Momster.  All while breathing in decades of deeply embedded second-hand smoke. (Seriously. NOT. FUN. But life-long smokers really CANNOT smell or see it. Put THAT on a cigarette pack!)

All that, and, based on the Momster’s questions, I failed dismally. Warning Will Robinson! Warning Will Robinson! Guilt Attack! Guilt Attack! (Bear with me, I end with an encouraging note. Really.)  Just today, she asked if I’d “gotten my heating pad” (We play this “My things” game pretty much every day…with the results being the aforementioned dismal batting average.)  No, she didn’t need one.  Just wanted to know if I’d gotten HERS.  (And, in some alternate universe I can both read minds and have a garage the size of a football field…J)

Here’s the kicker…when I actually do HAVE whatever  – she doesn’t want it.  So, there I am. I could have just pretended that I COULD read minds and have a football field-sized garage, God love her. She’d never know the difference. Her real issue is she’s lost her environment.   Which I can totally understand. However…

I come to my point. Our happiness in our environment – whatever our age – shouldn’t come from things.  It should come from our perspective.  True happiness doesn’t require the accumulation of objects.  Rather, it’s an accumulation of appreciation – be it a sunset or a simple bowl of home-made ice cream (which I made for Mom this week. She loved it.)

I’m still hoping the Momster will come to this same realization re perspective.  No matter the length of our life…it should be about quality…

Now, I’m going to take another look at my closets, cabinets (and the small garage) and see what else I can donate to Goodwill.

Note: subtitle inspired by George Carlin

About the Author

Mary Schmidt Has Written 26 Articles For Us!

Mary is a proud Corporate America refugee, having long ago decided that quality of life is far more important than quantity of stuff. However, that said, she thinks money is a very good thing - when used as a tool, not a success measurement. In addition to writing for us, she blogs about business development and marketing at and about marketing to and by women at In her consulting business, her clients have ranged from mega-corps such as Hewlett-Packard to local Mom & Pops.
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  1. oh, i remember this like yesterday. my mother had lived in the same 2,000 ft apartment for over 50 years, and then we moved her to a one-bedroom in the seniors home. it sure encouraged me to throw out a few of my things.

  2. My sanity check is: What would I grab if I had 15 minutes to evacuate? (Throw it in the car and drive.) Answer: Macbook, a few pieces of art and the two cats (and my wallet, natch.) Anything else – sure, I’d miss a lot of it, primarily because many of the things represent a good memory/experience (framed postcards, art I bought in Russia, etc.) Furniture and such stuff is easily replaced and wouldn’t be much missed.

  3. I agree, though I’d slightly modify it expand beyond appreciation and say that happiness comes more from EXPERIENCES…including appreciation.

    If you think back, it’s events and the doing of SOMETHING that tends to stick with you. For further proof, look at the experience of people that have gone on a mission trip or a charity event that involved them digging in and doing something for someone else.

    These people go to help someone else, and find THEY get the biggest impact to themselves.

    I too, am trying to purge my “stuff.” It’s hard, though. Very hard.

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