Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year resolution

I read many excellent, interesting and inspiring books in 2008 but there is one that has had a profound effect on my outlook on life. It is a book that I reviewed at the beginning of November: The Boomer Burden by Julie Hall. I promised to take a serious look at the issues raised in the book as soon as the Christmas holiday was over and here I am on 2nd January, ready to face a new year with enthusiasm and determination.

Like most people, I joke about getting older: the slowing pace of life and the forgetfulness. I don't feel old and, according to my children, I don't look old, thanks to the gene I inherited from my father that keeps my hair from turning grey. I can't keep on thinking of myself as middle-aged though, unless I plan to live to be 125 or more and my father certainly did not pass on a longevity gene; he died 30 years ago today, at the age of 66 (or 16 if we only count his Leap Year birthdays). My mother died unexpectedly at 72, so my family has not had to consider the implications of aged parents. As my sister still lives in the fa
mily home, we haven't had to dispose of their possessions, either.

The Boomer Burden made me think about how different my life is from that of my parents. I have lived in several different parts of England, while they died in the place where they were born. They lived quite simply, while I have accumulated masses of 'stuff' which, alongside all that my husband has amassed and all that the children have left behind, would be a dreadful burden for someone to have to sort through. 'Someone' in our case could only be our son and daughter and we don't want that to be their legacy.

So, at dinner last night, my husband and I made a resolution for 2009: we will de-clutter. The thought of empty cupboards and shelves, of space and tidiness and ease of movement around the house is thrilling. The thought of actually disposing of all that we have collected during 35 years of marriage is perhaps not quite so exciting. But we are determined. We are resolute. The MM has already made a start in the library, selecting 50 books at random and piling them on the table. The first problem/tension: 38 of them belong to me! I think this exercise is g
oing to take a long time.
I was interested to see that my husband has set aside a number of his maritime books. Perhaps a final acknowledgement that his sea-faring days really are over? Most of them will probably go to a charity shop but this 1970 edition of R.V. Tooley's Maps and Map-Makers might be of interest to someone. It is a hard back in good condition. If you would like to have it then leave a comment or send me an email. I'll post it to anywhere in the world, I just ask that you make a donation equivalent to the postage to a charity.

There will be lots more items in the great give-away of 2009 so watch this space!


  1. Ah, decluttering. It's something I do every year at this time. Now, why do I have to do it every year at this time is the question!! Honestly! My oarents live next door and, every time I mention decluttering to them, they seem to go into some sort of convulsion. Parting with their "things" is something they are not ready to do. Especially family objects. Gee whiz! I would rather give something to my family and be able to see them enjoy it instead of hiding it away somewhere. But, that's just me.
    I am so glad to hear that you were a teacher for the deaf! I think that is a heroic choice of careers. John had some of the best teachers while he was in school. There is something special about those who teach the disabled.
    When I was in England (Ipswich) two years ago, I met a young woman at church who was deaf. We did our best to communicate with each other, despite the differences in ASL and English sign language. You have to be careful- sometimes what may be a harmless sign used frequently in the US can mean something totally different in another sign language!! ha ha We laughed a lot during our conversation.
    Have a lovely day, Maureen!!

  2. Karin, I think you are lucky to live next door to your parents. In the late 1960s we all wanted to move as far away from home as possible. A great mistake in hindsight.

    I bet that ASL/BSL conversation was great to watch. I wish I had been there!

  3. Never too soon to start. Great idea about the books. We left almost all our books right where they were on the shelves of our Vermont house when we moved to Florida. My husband too wanted to keep some his old books (he's a CPA) even though they're completely out of date now.

    Just a suggestion, why not ask your children to take what they might want in furniture and other treasures so they can enjoy them now.

  4. That's a good idea about the furniture when we come to move house, e. We put our move on hold because of the need to be close to mother-in-law but we want to start to get rid of cabinets full of old papers, boxes of teaching resources and many books.

  5. Having recently moved and found it a nightmare experience because I had so much more stuff than I though I had, mostly of the 'I-might-need-that-again-some-time' variety, I can only encourage you M to start soon on the de-cluttering and keep at it till it's done! However I must confess that the books were not included in my general and cathartic clearout, and even found myself buying two new bookshelves to house what had been on built-in shelves in the old house.

  6. As you know, Crinny, our sojourn in this particular place has lasted far longer than we planned, for a number of unpredicted reasons. On 6th January we will have been here for 20 years, the longest period in one place ever and we have gathered so much stuff it makes me shudder to think of it. I think we could dispose of a thousand books and not miss them. Then there is all the rest of the clutter. Ruthlessness is called for!

  7. Maureen- Is the map book still available? I have a brother who would love it. I like the idea of giving the postage $$ to a charity. If the book is still up for grabs, I will donate to the Atlanta Humane Society.
    Just let me know!

  8. Karin, I would be delighted to send the book to you or directly to your brother. Please email me at the address at the top of the blog with the postal details. I am so glad that it will be going to a good home!


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