To Keep a Lady Head Vase?

For January “Get Organized Month,” I had a contest where I asked readers to share how three hours of organizing would be of value to them.

The contest winner wrote in part- “One area in particular that I have been kind-of purposely avoiding are the boxes of items I had shipped from my parents house in South Carolina after they both passed away. {4 years ago} I’d love assistance and guidance in determining what to keep and what to say ‘bye for now’ to.”


We arranged a morning to meet and to begin working through the boxes. There were about 10 or so boxes packed with photos, miniatures, books, trinkets, jewelry, glassware, and some hand written notes. One of the treasures we came across was a precious 8×11 black and white photograph of her dad dressed as Santa. The photo sweetly captured Santa looking endearingly into the boy’s eyes, who was clearly telling him what he wanted for Christmas.


As we sorted through the boxes, Sherri began to verbalize that she was not fond of Precious Moments, “lady head vases,” or glass bells. It was the actual cabinet that spoke to her of her mothers (not the stuff that her mother displayed.) It is important to note that Sherri did “try” to display all of what her mother displayed and Sherri realized that it was not her collection – it was her mothers. And she is not her mother and she did not like most of the contents. However, she appreciated the glass case. As the process unfolded, she decided that she would choose a couple items to send to two of her mother’s closest friends. She kept a couple items that she liked, including a small pitcher of her mom’s. Much of her father’s memorabilia symbolized milestones, work achievements, pins, and a plaid bowtie from his long-time successful barbershop quartet; all of which made Sherri smile. Prior to our appointment, Sherri had set aside some of her own childhood treasured memories (a red bear, doll, and some paper-dolls). She decided that it was time to create a display that “made her smile’ that honored both of her parent’s memories, alongside some of her childhood memories.


As we wrapped up the session, we put together a list of tasks so that Sherri could keep up her momentum. Stop by the antique dealer, mail some items to family members, deliver other items to friends/family members, get a frame (that suited Sherri) for the “Dad as Santa” picture and hang it in the kitchen where it could be appreciated on a daily basis.


How is it that many memories stay packed in a box and stored in the basement? How can we best honor good memories? How do we treasure loved ones who have passed without keeping all the material items?

What a gift to be invited into Sherri’s home to guide and support her through this process; one that had been overwhelming her for four years. Her spirits were lifted, her energy renewed, her homework doable, and her front room sorted.


Thoughts from Sherri:  “The three hours I spent with Lynne at Wholly Organized were packed, or shall I say “unpacked” 🙂 with memories, smiles, some laughter and getting more things accomplished than I had even thought possible.  Lynne listened to my thoughts about items, but somehow managed to keep me on task without being pushy or overbearing in any way.    I never felt forced to part with any of the items, but at the same time I was very motivated to make the rational choices that I knew it was time to make.  I was tired of seeing the boxes piled in the front room of my home.  They were a daily reminder of the “job” knew I needed to handle.  My prior, failed attempts just left me with the same boxes, and most of the same stuff.     

I was thrilled to read about the contest, and entered thinking “what do I have to lose”?  I was beyond excited to have the opportunity to utilize Lynne’s wonderful services.  I continue to be inspired by the progress that was made that morning, and I’m able to put to good use some of the tips that Lynne shared with me in other areas of my home.  And,  I now smile inside when I see the glass cabinet, and of course my all-time favorite picture of Santa.”  -SK 


Book Review: “The Boomer Burden”

“The Boomer Burden” by Julie Hall (The Estate Lady®)


A fellow Organizer Colleague and friend, Deb Heimann made me aware of this book earlier this year and I can hardly stop talking about it. Why? Because as a Professional Organizer I help people sort through their stuff and de-clutter. AND my parents are nearing 80 and guess who will be sorting through their stuff?

“When we lose a parent it is devastating to most and then to face the reality that no one had prepared for this eventuality makes it even more difficult.” The author calls this “the boomer burden.” “If a family has not adequately prepared for the inevitable loss of their parents, the grief at the funeral will quickly turn into a nightmare. For those who are unprepared for this event, the legal technicalities and process of cleaning out the parents’ estate can drag on for months and sometimes years.”

The author got me thinking about how many of us avoid thinking about death. Because life is going at a warp speed, we don’t take the time to ponder the inevitable. And if we do take the time to ponder death, then we must also confront our own mortality. Preparing for your parents’ passing will also prepare you so that your kids never have to go through what you’re going through. Many people just don’t know how to get their affairs in order.

Get things in order!

  1. Create a will and a division of assets (it is a fairly simple process, make an appointment with an attorney and get it done).
  2. Assign an executor and a power of attorney
  3. Locate all important papers
  4. Know the monthly bill and expenses system
  5. Plan end-of-life decisions
  6. Make funeral plans


The 7 Reasons to Get Rid of Your Own Stuff

  1. You will experience less anxiety and worry about all the stuff you seldom use.
  2. You will spend less time looking for things.
  3. You will be helping people in need.
  4. You will have more time to do what you really want to do.
  5. You will find things you forgot you owned.
  6. You will revitalize your routine with a new adventure.
  7. You will protect your kids from ever having to do what you have done/will do/ or are doing with your parent’s home.


 6 Reasons it is Hard to Get Rid of Stuff:

  1. One spouse hoards, and to keep the peace, the other spouse just tolerates it.
  2. Clever advertising screams an irresistible message, you need to buy this to be happy!
  3. We can afford it.
  4. Even if we can’t afford it, its’ easy to buy stuff with just a swipe of a card.
  5. Peer pressure doesn’t stop at high school.
  6. Blurred lines between wants and needs.


 8 Indicators That I May Have Too Much Stuff:

  1. When I go to hang up a shirt in the closet, I have to push apart the other clothes to make space.
  2. I can’t see the floor in my closets.
  3. All of our kids have moved out.
  4. At least one bedroom has been turned into a storage area.
  5. We rent storage space or have a filled a small storage barn.
  6. There are more licensed vehicles that licensed drivers in our home.
  7. We have more than one credit card, and on one we are only paying the minimum balance each month.
  8. We can’t put our vehicles in the garage because we use it for storage.


Have no fear, the great thing about letting go of stuff and starting this process, is that you don’t have to do it all today.


“The best gift that you can give to your kids is to not leave them with an accumulation of your stuff.”


If I could, I would buy this book for every person that I meet. It is a must for anyone’s library. There is a great “Complete Parent Care Checklist” at the end of the book that is incredibly useful.


Crazy thing!  My friend alerted me that this book is available for only $1.99 through Amazon for Kindle for $1.99!  Love it when the “stars align!”