Even Cowboys Have Garage Sales

Even Cowboys Have Garage Sales

The Wild West is alive and well / In case you wondered / Men of Iron / Moving East / One Last Time.

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Sucker-Punched: No Small Stuff

ImageGerontologists call it the “material convoy”: the stuff we collect that defines our lives. Professional organizers, move managers, and the like might, when no one is within earshot, in a moment of professional weakness, call it “junk.” Everyone has it, but older folks tend to have more of it, if for no other reason than having been on this earth for a longer time. The myriad attachments and related aspects of the self can be carefully delineated, if need be, and include status, sentiment, security, fear, self-image, and hopes for the future. In short, identity. Whether it be furniture, size 4 jeans, shoes, cars, newspapers from the 1980s, or, in my case, a Saf-T-Pop sucker, sitting in my kitchen cupboard for the past five years. I can’t remember how I got it. What I can remember is that when I was a child (in Ye Olden Tymes) my father would bring me one when he returned from work in the afternoon. So, when I acquired this particular Saf-T-Pop I did not consume it immediately. I set it aside. Five years ago. Today, in a fit of whimsy, I ate it. It was a little stale, but I’ve eaten worse. As move managers, we do well to ease our clients away from the tangible relics of memory, reaffirming that what is most dear is stored within. No small stuff. 

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One Fresh Cup: Make Mine Beautiful

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One of the pleasures in senior move management is working with someone–often a single woman– who truly wants to downsize: not because she has to, or because the kids think it’s a good idea, but because she wants to. “I’m tired of being the one with all the old stuff” might be one phrase that lets us know our client might be open to more radical change than some. Maybe the collection of coffee cups (sixteen mismatched and counting) might go, in favor of selecting the four most beautiful. Maybe paring down the objects, to allow the simple beauty of what remains to be seen more clearly, will create a new look. A smaller new space does not have to try to replicate the exact look and feel of the former residence; we are not fooling a child with a new goldfish.  A new, cleaner aesthetic can emerge: one that speaks to the later stages of life, allowing for clarity, reflection, and gratitude. And one beautiful cup of coffee.

 

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Mothra and Me: A Love Story Emergency

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Who was that woman who stopped amidst the push-up portion of this morning’s exercise class–surrounded by fifty of the city’s most ambitious and judgmental fitness buffs– to scoop up a fallen moth, taking it downstairs to her locker where it would be safe until class ended, only to realize that said stunned moth had recovered enough to not be so stable in the locker, so woman had to remove her id card from the locker, continue to cup Mrs. Mothra (she looked ladylike) in her hand, and literally run through the entire facility to the front entrance (after confirming with staff that the “Emergency Exit” did not apply in this circumstance–if not now, when?), go outside, gingerly place surprised insect under a plant where she would no doubt be eaten by a bird five minutes hence, and ran back upstairs to said class, praying heartily that no other moth would be seen within the next hour? Me. Is there anyone else who you would want to assist your grandmother in her move into assisted living? I hope not.

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The Science Is Not Yet In. . . .

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. . .on what comprises the ideal pre-hot yoga meal, but we now know that it is not thirty gumdrops and a pot of black coffee. While life may be sustained, however briefly, on such an afternoon indulgence, the price will be paid in what can only be described as the digestive equivalent of Bridgegate. The center cannot hold. Science itself relies not upon the sudden “Eureka!” moments that stand out over time, but rather the daily, tedious accumulation of evidence that must be sifted and studied in order for patterns to emerge. So, while yesterday’s Gumdrop Jamboree may appear to have been nothing more than a grievously miscalculated sugar-fest, by a middle-aged person who shall remain nameless but really should know better, in fact it may stand as one of many unheralded contributions to the progress of humanity. You’re welcome.

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‘Tis the Gift to be Simple (“Is Your Closet Mocking You?”)

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Our closets offer such encapsulated glimpses into our lives that it is difficult to present a true picture of what they mean to us. Hope, shame, and pride mix to create a clothing cocktail that alternately thrills and disappoints. My own dream closet might be the smaller interior spaces in an Ann Taylor store: old fashioned mirrors, lighting, bright clean surfaces with perfectly hung clothes—no, outfits—no, ensemble–that present me as a promising career woman with an especially keen defining eye. (Research topic: can a person in her fifties still be promising, or is this pretty much it?) As if I might bump into Audrey Hepburn, reaching for the same scarf on a chilled winter’s day.

My own actual closet, while hosting all wooden hangers, clothing organized by color (a series of gray shirts, right next to a series of black shirts) would more likely belong to Jackie Gleason, starring as Ralph Kramden in yet another hilarious episode of The Honeymooners. Six pairs of what can only be described as mannish (ouch) loafers, in various stages of decomposition. The more I like you, the crappier my shoes. I’ll sometimes wear dark socks in an attempt to hide the holes on the sides. Ain’t love grand?

The rules of basic closet-keeping are generally sound advice: would you buy it today? If not, consign, donate, or re-gift to an unsuspecting cousin. But the rules never pause long enough to witness the fantastic wrestling match between Audrey and Ralph, quietly fighting for nearly fifty years to define the heart of one who might reach for a fancy martini, only to come away with a nice cold beer.

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Enough, Already!

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NASMM 2014 has been like one of those fantastic jawbreakers that you can only eat when you are alone, because your cheeks get so full it is embarrassing and you feel like a foolish child who has absolutely no clue what menopause holds. As you continue to process said jawbreaker, each layer reveals itself as a small surprise of deliciousness, built upon but distinct from the last. By the end of today, the entire jawbreaker will be no more. One small takeaway: this weekend I heard no fewer than three people quietly confess that they are messy. They have papers. On the desk. On the floor. In the car. Well, in fact they are running businesses. And in fact they are managing lives of older adults at very tenuous moments. Our calling is not to be tidy: we can hire tidy. Our calling is to quickly assess complex human situations and emotions, gain a level of trust not typically granted on a casual basis, and work to ease the organizational and emotional strain (dare I say chaos?) that often characterizes a late-in-life move. Now, as NASMM 2014 draws to a close, we head home to unpack our own experience, and continue to savor the myriad flavors that we find, one upon another.

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