My husband and I are making and anticipating many changes in our lives as we de-clutter, purge, clean, and organize our house for sale. Staying sane in the midst of daily decisions sometimes seems a challenge!
Preparing a house for sale takes its toll, both physically and mentally. Should we toss this chair or might we list it on kijiji? Will these bookcases work in a new place? How many throw cushions do we need? Are there yet more boxes to take to the cottage basement for storage? Do we need to rent a storage locker or should we just throw out or donate unwanted furniture?
Disruption rules daily life. We’ve needed good coping strategies to manage health and sanity — as well as our relationship!
Keep exercising. It’s easy to rationalize that exercise at the gym or the pool isn’t essential when moving furniture, packing heavy items, and lifting boxes. Such heavy work already gives a workout for arm, shoulder, back, and leg muscles.
Taking a break for aqua fit, yoga, or weight training takes time away from the work we’re doing yet it provides relaxation plus the benefit of socialization with gym buddies. When there is simply no time to go to the gym, just taking a walk outdoors provides a welcome change of pace.
Get help. Some of the furniture that will leave the house before listing is just too heavy for two of us to manage. We’re hiring help for a few hours to get it to a storage locker.
Change thinking. The decision to sell our house involved careful thought about options for maintaining an independent lifestyle as we grew older. This decision represents forward thinking about a better quality of life.
After making this decision, I’ve stopped thinking about our current house as ‘home’. Cognitive behavioural therapists believe that changing thought patterns assists with changing feelings and controlling actions. This is tricky and involves conscious reminders when nostalgia hits.
Preserve happy memories. Last fall, I took numerous pictures of our yard and garden. I’ve also taken a photos of favourite rooms before the de-cluttering and purging. Memorabilia lingers on shelves, in closets and on bedroom dressers waiting to be assessed, tossed or packed for future use.
Focus on the future. Words from the last page of Margaret Atwood’s most recent book, The Heart Goes Last, come to mind when I feel myself clinging too tightly to the past and the life I’ve enjoyed here. About thought patterns, the heroine is told “Nothing is ever settled…… Every day is different. Isn’t it better to do something because you’ve decided to? Rather than because you have to?”
We reached the decision to move with mutual agreeement. Regardless, on some days, nostalgia and exhaustion sets in. My usual reaction is grouchiness while my husband reacts with stoicism and silence.
After nearly 50 years of marriage we know when to ignore, when to encourage, and when to laugh it off. We also remind each other that facing the memories and setting aside the past is another phase of aging.
Soon enough we will have a new normal. This is a choice we have made rather than waiting for some event to require it.
Keeping a vision of a streamlined, smaller lifestyle means a future with more time for fun and less time spent on the responsibilities of a big house and garden.
This vision helps both of us remember that we’ve chosen to make this big change in our lives and not have health or incapacity due to aging cause the decision. Writing about the decision, discussing it with each other, with family, and with friends, reinforces the plan.
Staying sane in the midst of change means adapting, adjusting and moving onward and not clinging to something that’s over.