A flock of birds fly out of an open house

Getting My House in Order with MDS

I knew this day would come. It's bittersweet saying goodbye to them, but the time is finally here. I have sold my Barbie and Ken dolls on eBay.

My friends and I would play with our Barbies for hours when I was a girl in the 1960s. Barbie had the cutest clothes, but I always thought she looked strange playing tennis wearing high heels. Her feet were made only to wear heels, so it was awkward to dress Barbie for sports.

Swedish death cleaning

A couple of years ago, I read the book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. (I know, bummer title!) According to Margareta Magnusson, the author, the custom in Sweden is to prepare for your death by purging your home of unwanted clutter. It's considered a loving act for your family. In other words, less work for them when you pass away.

The book suggests that you find new homes for clothes you haven't worn in years, books that you have already read, and your treasured collections. (Goodbye, Barbie!) The author recommends that you label and date each photo you have or discard if you can't identify the people. Oh, I wish my grandparents had done this!

I have myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), a type of blood cancer caused by bone marrow failure. It zaps my energy, so some days it's hard to get things done. However, I feel better when I work to accomplish goals. So what's a tired senior citizen going to do? Set small goals to complete! Instead of writing, I will clean out the bedroom, write, I will clean out the dresser drawers. Take baby steps, so it's not as frustrating.

Cash it, stash it, trash it!

Label boxes with Sell, Donate, Storage, and Trash. If you put something in storage, say in the attic or basement, label it with your intended purpose. You might be saving toys for your future grandbabies. Just a friendly reminder: never put photos in the attic or basement. If you don't have a plan, you're just moving stuff around your house.

I have a friend who says she likes to have yard sales. Linda loves to visit with people who buy her stuff. That's not me. Sitting on the porch waiting for customers who don't show is torture for me. I sell better online. I always meet in a safe place, and I like seeing how enthusiastic some buyers are. One lady bought three of my china cups so she and her granddaughters could have a tea party.

Follow the one in, one out, rule. If you buy a t-shirt, get rid of an old one. Better yet, get rid of two old shirts! Sometimes we keep things because it was a gift, but it's your home. If the items aren't useful to you or make you happy, discard them.

I belong to a Facebook group called Buy Nothing. It's the online version of "Could we borrow a cup of sugar?" People who live in the same area ask for something they need. For example, a lady posted that she had forgotten about her child's school project. Did anyone have some poster board? Just so happened, I did. I put it on my front porch, and she picked it up at her convenience. Win-win.

Less stuff, more memories

My oncologist told me that I had MDS three years ago. She showed me a chart with my life expectancy. Some day I plan to throw darts on that silly chart. Either way, if I walk through the Pearly Gates or go to assisted living, I will have my house in order, physically and spiritually. I will let go of my stuff but keep my memories.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.
poll graphic

Community Poll

Do you experience brain fog?