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‘Regrets, I’ve Had a Few…’

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I do a lot of public speaking about home organizing and decluttering. During my presentations I ask the audience how often they use their fine china, stemware and silverware. Most have not used it in years, and many never have, they just keep saving it for a “special occasion.”

I was at a client’s home a few weeks ago and the topic of regrets came up. I shared with the client that one of my regrets is that I did not keep up with my ability to speak a second language that I was taught at an early age. He laughed and said to me, “If that is at the top of your regrets, you are a very lucky lady.”

I visit with clients in their homes and experience their painful decisions of parting with things that are no longer needed, nor will fit in their new apartment or suite at assisted living. I remind them that the items are just a “thing,” but their memories are in their hearts. It does not mean that you love that person any less if you give away the dress you wore to their daughter’s wedding, or the gift that they gave you for your housewarming.

Sometimes I think about my regrets and I do agree with my client, I am a “lucky lady.” I regret that I donated my original Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress after I gained some weight and could not squeeze myself into it. At that point in my life I thought I was condemned to a life of being a few pounds overweight and did not think that I would ever be able to fit into it again. Here I am 35 years later and if the dress had held up, I’d be “rocking it.” (P.S. I have donated a lot of clothing over the years and this is the only item that I regret parting with—in case you plan on bringing this up in an organizing session.)

Several years ago I had the opportunity to purchase great orchestra seats for a remake of “Pajama Game” on Broadway starring Harry Connick Jr. The seats were very expensive and at the time our budget was tight. I turned down the tickets and have regretted it ever since. I get so much enjoyment attending the theater, and felt sad turning down the seats. Looking back, it would not have been so terrible to pay off those tickets on my credit card for a few months for the memories of a show that would have lasted my lifetime.

But my biggest regret is that I was so short on the phone with my mother when we were on vacation in August 2001 with neither of us knowing that it would be our last conversation. I was in Florida with my family, getting settled in at our rented condo, and were rushing around trying to pick out a restaurant for dinner, and we were hungry. My mother called and wanted to chat about the weather, the condo, the flight, how was everyone doing, and I rushed her off the phone. I did not speak to her all week. At the end of the week we received a call notifying us that she had passed away. We had left town and everything was fine, my Energizer Bunny of a mother was alive and well, and I returned from vacation to plan her funeral.

I share this experience so you understand when, say, to use the good china, drink water from the fine crystal goblets and eat your tuna salad with your expensive silverware. Every day is special and deserves to be celebrated. Tomorrow is promised to no one. I wore the heck out of the DVF dress while I had it, and enjoyed every minute. I welcome opportunities to attend theater with my husband and son and it’s our special time. And, most important of all, I end every conversation with family and dear friends with “I love you.”

“Regrets, I’ve had a few, But then again, too few to mention.”* Go out, live your life, splurge occasionally and use your stuff. If you don’t, then for goodness sake donate it to a family who will enjoy it. Oh, and by the way, I recycled the Playbills but kept the vinyl.

*”My Way” lyrics written by Paul Anka, music by Claude Francois and Jacques Revaux.

Happy Organizing!

By Eileen Bergman

Eileen Bergman is a Professional Organizer, a proud member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Eileen may be reached at 973-303-3236 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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