Clutter keeps you stuck in the past…Are you holding on to old ideas?

I was visiting with a 97-year-old friend who is considering a  move to a smaller place or an assisted living.  She has already downsized once, and we were discussing the many things she has in her home.  What to keep? What to give away?

She loves her things. We all do!  With every item she picked up she had a story. After one story, she looked at me, and said, “You know, clutter keeps me stuck in the past, and prevents me from moving forward in my life.”    I was surprised at this revelation.   She shared with me that she wants to continue to grow and learn and be open to new ideas, and new possibilities.

We talked about “things” and “stuff”  that makes it difficult to de-clutter our lives in order to open our minds.

Decluttering is overwhelming.

Overwhelm is the predominant challenging emotion, and often our homes reflect that.  We decided it is best to start with the easy stuff – like the old cast iron skillet, that is too heavy to lift!

Re-imagining and recreating a new version of ourselves

My friend has had many careers and opportunities to travel, and give back to her community through service.   She has been evolving and growing over the past 90 plus years.   We talked about the problem that arises when our ‘stuff’ is piling up as we shape-shift into new versions of ourselves.   There is a natural dying and rebirth that takes place as we evolve, – but we resist this process.   My friend said she recognizes she needs to let go of what she was and recreate a new version of herself in her 90’s and beyond.

Clearing clutter can help us be more creative and interesting

My friend sometimes does tell the same stories over and over.  I have friends 50 years younger than her that do the same thing.  It is not only elders who hold onto the past.  Many much younger people do the same thing – and get stuck in old ideas, resisting growth and learning.

My friend suggested that clearing her space will support her evolution so that ideas, inspirations, and insights can enter in a flash!

She said, “Holding onto old ideas that have gone past their expiration date will prevent new ideas from coming in.”

I am inspired by the wisdom of this woman.  I am looking forward to accompanying her on her journey into her 90’s.

My beautiful, insightful Elder friend is a great example that as we age, we continue to learn and grow, and are whole capable human beings.  If we are open and eager to evolve, elderhood can truly be the crescendo of our lifetime!

I realized that I hold onto ‘stuff’ myself.  I am going to de-clutter my life, to open myself to all of life’s possibilities now!

Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the author: Jean Garboden, Director of Education and Innovation,  is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada