Subscribe for updates…


Decluttering Over 50 – What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do With All Your STUFF

Decluttering Over 50


Two friends, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, call themselves The Minimalists, and they are definitely making a minimal name for themselves. Armed with many minimal maxims, these two are making a hefty minimal impact on the world around them, and their message is especially popular with millennials.

There’s a reason for that.

I saw The Minimalists a few months ago when they were here in Austin putting together a podcast on their favorite topic. It was lots of fun, and they even took questions from the minimally-interested audience.
I wanted to ask a question, but I hesitated at first. Then, I decided to just go with my gut. (As all good Over Fiftyers do.)
“What the heck. I’m going down there to that microphone.  Nobody knows me anyway.”
As I made my way to the end of the line of brave question-askers leaning against the far right wall of the Stateside Theatre on Congress Avenue, they announced there would only be time for five questions.

I was number six in line.

So, I just kept standing there. (I’m a proudly Over Fifty woman, after all. You can’t really tell me no, you know.)
So, the questions began, and everyone listened intently as these two millennials answered each one with their minimal wisdom.  
“How do I get my boyfriend to get rid of all of his shoes?”
“What if you and your wife disagree on this whole minimalism idea?”
Everyone applauded vigorously when one young woman stepped forward to tell her personal story of barely getting by until she completely paid off her student loans earlier that month.

Good questions, and good stuff.

Then it was my turn. I felt the entire audience turn in their chairs, slightly right, looking at me, and I saw the body language of The Minimalists, dressed in minimal black, seated on their minimal bar stools on a stage with minimal decor. They both crossed their legs and draped their arms across their laps in an X.
“And now, Number Six. You’ve waited very patiently, so we’ll go ahead and make time for you. What’s your question?”
“Well, first of all, you guys are awesome, and hey, I’m very proud of myself because while everyone else here said they heard of you on NPR, I found you on INSTAGRAM!”
(Uproarious audience laughter.)
(Just kidding.)
“I was just wondering what you’re seeing from MY age group. Are we attending your lectures? Are we becoming minimalists with you? Is your minimal message trending with MY peeps? Are WE living more with less stuff?”

You could tell they felt kinda sorry for me.  They looked at me like I was some kind of peasant child begging for a crumb. 

“Oh, sure,” said the long-haired one.
“We had a 93 year-old grandmother at our show in Fresno.”
Alrighty, then.
As I made my way back to my seat in the dimly lit theater, I did spy two people sitting together who looked “about my age.”

I whole-arm-waved and smiled big as if we were long lost friends. 

Afterward, Hubby and I found them and talked for an hour while we four groupies (still dressed in our office-wear) waited to have our pictures made with The Minimalists (in their skinny jeans and black t-shirts).

There’s a reason we were the only Over Fiftyers there.

For one, this whole minimalist idea pretty much flies in the face of all that we Over Fiftyers have fought to achieve, doesn’t it?
And for another, being even a little more minimal – which would be plenty fine with most of us – STILL requires a whole heckuva lot of decluttering.
I mean, we’ve just accumulated SO.MUCH.STUFF.

And therein lies the R-U-B.

So many people have asked me about this.
They want to know how WE did it.
How did we downsize 36 years, 3 kids and 3000 square feet of marital bliss (and stuff) into a newlywed-sized apartment, no storage building and no garage??
They also want to know why.

Why would anyone trade his or her American Over Fifty dream life for the great Urban-Unknown (with one closet to share)? 

Well, I’m going to tell you our story.
I’ll spare no details. I’ll be transparent. I’ll let you ask me any question you want to ask.

Over the next several blog posts, I’m going to share the nitty gritty of Decluttering Over Fifty, my friends. 

But, for now, I’m going to leave you with this thought.

Decluttering Over Fifty is a whole different process than embracing millennial minimalism. 

It takes g-u-t-s.
It involves m-e-m-o-r-i-e-s, for crying out loud.

Not only that. People actually look at you like you’ve lost your ever-lovin’ last brain cell when you appear happy about Decluttering Over Fifty. 

Until they start thinking about it.
Until they start talking to their friends about it.
Until they start saying things to their kids like, “Are you ever going to want any of this stuff?”

Then they get a little inspired and jump in – for about a half a minimalist second. 

Only to pull three pictures from a dusty plastic tub, touch them as if they’re delicate golden goose eggs, cock their heads sideways, looking longingly at the children who once were, and in one breath begin to ponder the entire meaning of their Over Fifty lives!
The lid then goes back onto the box, and a tissue is retrieved for wiping away the nostalgic tears.

I know. I’ve been there. 

A few months go by, and they begin to hear about some wacky couple who moved across the Lone Star State, or they know of some friends who sell all their worldly goods and start traveling around in an RV, and, deep down – way deep down – they remember how exciting a little adventure can truly be. 
And they ask themselves again:  

Could WE ever, ever, ever in our long-legged lives DO that? 

Now, don’t get me wrong, here.
I’m truly NOT trying to persuade Over Fiftyers to sell all and move downtown. That’s our story, but it doesn’t have to be yours. (It sure is fun, though!)
In fact, don’t even think about selling all your stuff – yet (or ever).

The important thing is the decluttering part. 

That’s where we all need some inspiration, some help, and, Lord, have mercy – some UNDERSTANDING.
Well, I get it.
And I understand.

That’s why I’m encouraging you to do it.

I’ve done it myself, and I know the freedom you stand to gain when you’re sitting where I’m sitting. 
It’s also why I’m offering to stay with you while you do it.
I’ll walk you through the whole thing, and I’ll share with you what worked for me as we go along.

The processes, the techniques, the tips and the tricks of Decluttering Over Fifty. 

With 12 simple challenges, just one each month, I’ll be here to give you boost after decluttering boost until, together, we will have climbed our sentimental selves right out of the mountains of stuff we’ve collectively accumulated.

We’ll look across the audience of millennials coming behind us, we’ll enthusiastically throw out some whole-arm waves at our peeps across the way, and smile big, like life-long friends.

Come along with me! The best of this decluttering thing is yet to be.

Are you in? 

Encouraging everyday intentional adventure, and making room in our lives for more of it,

PS: Here are some photos of Hubby and me, the Minimalists, and three young women I met who are already living lives of decluttered bliss!


You Might Also Like

  • Donna Miller

    I just got remarried in April 2017, & I’m trying to transition from a house & job in the Panhandle to hubby’s houses in Horseshoe Bay & Alto NM. I had already partly downsized from a 3000+ sf house after a divorce in 2012. A storage building lurks in my background that is my nemesis. I look forward to your help!

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Hi, Donna! Thank you for sharing your story and motivation behind your desire to declutter. Watch for the 1st challenge, coming up this week! I look forward to getting to know you as we clean out our closets and make room for more adventure!

  • Kim Sullivan

    I’m in too!! We are considering “right sizing” into a new home that will mean letting go of more than half of our current belongings. Your writing speaks to me and I’m looking forward to this journey with you!!

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Hi, Kim! I love your phrase “right sizing” and I’m really glad you’ll be following along with me. Decluttering at this stage of the game is really tough, but oh so worth it. Thank you so much for commenting and jumping into the journey!

  • Bridget

    I’m in. Looking forward to your upcoming blogs on this!

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Hi, Bridget! Thanks for commenting and jumping in! Watch for the 1st challenge coming up this week on the blog. I look forward to getting to know you.

  • Lavonna

    Need help! I like my stuff a little too much!!

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Hey, Lavonna! Stay tuned. First challenge coming up this week! I can so relate with liking stuff too much. We’ll talk more as we go along. It’s going to be FUN, FREEING and worth it!

  • Shelly

    Me, please.

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Hi, Shelly! So glad you’ll be joining the decluttering journey! I promise you’ll be so glad

  • Teresa

    Im in

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Hi, Teresa! So glad you’re in. This is going to be fun!

  • Cheri’Byrum Hunter

    I just love your writings! They are easy to follow and very applicable. While I haven’t sold everything, I did downsize my belongings in 2016. What I own is in a small storage unit and in part of my in-law’s garage. We are waiting for our “smaller house” to be completed in about a month. We have lived in my in-law’s basement and in a 25 ft. RV for almost 15 months. (We sold our Texas home and moved to Tennessee!) It has been a little challenging these past few months, but I am thankful. I am looking forward to moving in the new house and seeing just how far I can take this new minimalistic lifestyle. Count me in on this journey!

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Cheri – I love your story! Won’t it be exciting to move into your new house and start fresh? Just imagine, new, clean and decluttered everywhere you look! I’m so glad you’re my Tennessee friend and here for the decluttering journey.

  • Vickie Bedell

    Looking forward to your upcoming blog posts! We have lots of stuff we need to part with, but don’t know where to start or what to do with it!

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Hi, Vickie! Watch for the first challenge, coming up this week. I’m so glad you’re jumping into this journey with me. It’s going to really be fun and very, very freeing!