I've spent a lifetime accumulating beautiful things. Beauty is my oxygen. We bought artwork before we bought food. I still wear clothes with glee that I've kept for years, remembering the 'when' and 'where' of each memory that now becomes part of the threads that make it so hard to let go. I still have my children's painted handprint on plaster-of-paris from when they were 3, baby teeth left behind by the tooth fairy, and photo albums that document 50+ years of our life! I'm overdue for a gargantuan purge!
My friend, Rena Huber, tells me it's time for a closet audit! My closet is a great place to start, I can hardly breathe in there! It's Truth-Telling Time: my body is changing and/or the threads by age alone, are starting to come undone. Even my shoes don't fit anymore!
We have downsized three times in the last 20 years, so you'd think I would have this down by now. Today, I look at every painting, every place setting, every sheet set in question. I imagine living life with less. I know that everything I own still has life in it that others would enjoy. I'm motivated like never before!
Yet, I have many friends who have lived in the same house for 50 years, large boxes taped shut in their garage, unopened cupboards, artwork that shows faded painted walls. When I ask why they are not digging in to what's behind the curtain, they, almost arrogantly announce, "My kids will figure this out so I don't have to!" Really? You want your children to have this responsibility without you?
I get it. It's uncomfortable to get in touch with our own immortality. Denial rears its ugly head, and so you do nothing but continue to accumulate. Tomorrow does come for us all. No one can stay at the party forever! How do you light a fire under people to start going through their stuff while they are healthy enough and not procrastinate until it is too late?
Motivating someone to tackle tasks, especially emotional ones going through accumulated possessions, requires a combination of empathy, understanding, and the right approach.
Here are some tips you might want to consider:
Remember, the goal isn't to have all the answers or to solve the discomfort around mortality. It's about opening up the conversation, reflection, and preparation before a crisis demands this time. Having the choice about this part of your journey, allows you to give to others. To me, there's no greater joy!
If this task feels too emotional or overwhelming, we can talk about it. Perhaps I can help: Susan@SusanLBrooks.com.
Featured Modern Elder*
Laurie Johnson, Psychic
When I received Laurie's latest blog, I froze in fear for her. That's what we do when we hear the whispers about death and dying, right? Resist! Deny! Fight for another day! Why are we always surprised? We already know everyone passes, you can't stay at the party forever...no one can!
I read further:
"Simply said, I have reached the end of my road. My body is shutting down on me, kidneys, heart, the whole thing. I'm not in any pain, but I am weak. My 70th birthday is coming October 23 and I probably won't make it. I am at peace with this."
Fortunately, Laurie agreed to my request for an interview. I furiously wrote down her every word so I could share this with you. Please understand that Laurie has been a psychic all her life, in spite of her Christian upbringing. She's been talking with angels since she was 4 years old. She's very familiar with the energies and the other side of the spiritual realm.
"My karma is finished. This is the completion of my lifetime. I've done everything I've wanted to do. I knew I didn't want to be a mother, but it was important that children come from me. Being a surrogate mother allowed me that legacy, while giving me the experience of pregnancy and birth."
"I have no health insurance, whatever is going to happen, I want no treatment. Since Covid 2020, what started as digestive issues built up until August 2023 when I was told about possible cancer and renal failure. I'm bone tired for 2.5 years. Getting cancer is a karmic relief! I want no intervention. One of my clients offered her services as a death dula, and I accepted this gift."
"I'm here in service to others. I've learned a whole new perspective on time and acceptance. I'm getting weaker every day, so I know I'm using up my energy as each day goes by."
What is your advice to others, I asked.
"Look at the bigger picture...without fear. Talk to the angels. The door to the other side is open. Surrender, knowing that information is going to come to you. Think for yourself! Find God yourself! The best thing about knowing you're going to die is the peace this brings. In ego-land, you might feel you haven't done enough...peace brings you the wisdom that you are just fine, exactly the way you are."
There is a book that Laurie used and highly recommends because it gave her a plan in getting her and her things in order: I'm Dead, Now What? By Peter Pauper Press.
"I'm grateful to have had some time to organize and clear things up so I don't leave a burden for anyone. I will be posting some of my belongings that others might want. I have four rescued kitties who need a home. Any help you can give to happily rehome them would be appreciated."
"I love this planet. I've loved my life. I've accomplished wonderful things. I have no regrets. But I am tired. As I face the next step, I am filled only with gratitude. And that's a good way to go. Several of my clients have asked that I visit them from the other side...chances are once I'm gone, I'm just gone."
Almost to the day, one month before Laurie's 70th Birthday on September 20, Laurie passed on, quietly and in peace. Thank you, Laurie, for sharing your refreshing perspective and wisdom on a subject we never think or talk about...until we are where you are today. Go in peace, Laurie Johnson!
Thank you also to Judy Schriener, a dear friend to us both, for your willingness to run interference between Laurie and me when technology broke down during this interview. I am honored to share Laurie's story and lessons, and I know Laurie is grateful, too.
*Chip Conley, best-selling author and speaker, hospitality entrepreneur and leading thought leader, created The Modern Elder Academy's mission "to inspire the ability to reframe a lifetime of experience and recognize one's mastery, relevance, and value in the modern workplace." The Modern Elder* is Conley's term and effort that "liberates and inspires us to embrace wisdom as a path of growing whole, not old...The Modern Elder*marries wisdom and curiosity."
Every month this newsletter will Feature the stories and wisdom of Modern Elders*. Please send in your Modern Elder* nomination. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT