Dont Feel Guilty---it's only a present!



On TV, Sheldon from The Big Bang theory said to Penny during the Christmas episode “Receiving gifts are obligations. I know you think you are being generous, but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven’t given me a gift. You’ve given me an obligation.”

An obligation meaning you have to keep the gift, use the gift and show the person you used it. And, yes they are an obligation for people who believe they are.  But for most of us, we just don’t want to hurt the other person.  That is guilt and every one of us has endured it for something we have received in our lifetime.

For every gift received that has been an item of clothes—I make sure to use the item at least once—possibly twice—and then it’s my decision whether to keep it or not.  OR, I say I had to return it because it was too big/small and when I did they didn’t have anymore-so I got this instead.  Do you like it?  They will say yes.

If I don’t keep it and can’t return it then I donate.  If I keep it and never use it again because I don’t love it -then it becomes clutter.  Clutter as we know are UN-answered questions such as why do I feel the need to have this when I don’t like it?  This is especially true when you receive a gift—that you would never use—how do you feel?  I feel guilty, don’t you?

That feeling of guilt binds us to our possessions. Most guilt comes after a person has died and we don’t know what to do with all of their possessions.

After my father died in 1976, it took my mother seven years to donate his clothes. Seven years of looking at his clothes in his closet and being reminded he is not there—why would you do that to yourself?  That’s grief—and with it unresolved feelings of guilt.

But suppose there were ways to deal with this guilt—would you do it? Here are 5 ways to deal with items and the guilt of getting rid of them:

  • When I didn’t want to look at something I would box it up, date it and keep it in the attic. If after a year up in the attic and not missing it—I could donate it without guilt. But each of us has guilt—mine is a small pocketbook of my mother’s—it was circular and I sold it at the estate sale—and sometimes if I see a circle—not a circle purse just a circle a twinge of guilt passes through me—and I say these words—its better off with someone else, I have enough purses.
  • Use the item in a different way if you want to keep it, but don’t like it in its original form. With a ring, or some jewelry you could always change the setting, add some bling to it, or just sell it for the gold or silver content.  There are many ways of doing this.  My mother had a gold necklace—I never wear necklaces-(heck I hardly wear jewelry)—and I sold it as gold and bought myself at the same jewelers, a ring I do wear.
  • Clothes—this is a biggie, because we often wear the same clothes week in and week out—so the clothes we leave, did have a lot of meaning to our loved ones.  Use your loved one’s T-shirts to make a grocery bag, or a seat on your chairs, or use some of their best clothes to make pillows for everyone who loved the dead person.  Use their jewelry to make earrings for their loved ones.  These are ideas I’ve tested out with my mom’s clothes and jewelry.

In fact, last week I had company over and on the couch was one of my mother’s orange silk blouses on a pillow.  My friend’s daughter loved the pillow and the idea of using clothing as material on a pillow.  I told her it was my mom’s blouse and she could try it on and if it fit it was hers.  It fit.  Or use one of my friend’s ideas for her mother’s clothes (give them to a friend) use the jewelry in a creative project such as putting a few pins, necklaces in a frame with other mementos of loved ones.

This body pillow was made out of my baby winter jacket. Photo by Leslie Jacobs

This body pillow was made out of my baby winter jacket. Photo By Leslie Jacobs.

If you don’t sew, bring to someone who does.  I brought my baby winter jacket and stuffed it and now use it as a small body pillow on my couch.  These are some other ways to use clothes to reupholster items you already own:

Bike seats are great and need just a little material.

Pillows for each of the grandchildren to remember their grandparents by-

Bar stools, blankets and quilts and of course you always could use T-shirts for produce or grocery bags.

Every time I use mine—I get to tell the story of how one of these t-shirts were too small to wear and I decided to try this idea.

  • Ask your friends and family what they would like and give it to them as a remembrance. For a few years after my mom died I would give my friends and family costume jewelry from “the collection of Frances Eshoo Jacobs.” They told me they liked the gifts.  My mother actually told me what to keep in the house—which was everything.  Yes, everything.  (When I get to heaven, let’s hope my mother has reincarnated—or else I’m in big trouble.)
  • Donate it all to a worthy cause and let them decide.
    A bar stool covered with my mother's clothes.

    A bar stool covered with my mother’s clothes. Photo By Leslie Jacobs.

The best advice I can give you is if it doesn’t make you happy to look at the item in question—get it out of your way.  Enjoy your life and your possessions in the same space.








Making a decision on clutter

In every house there is one room, one closet, one area that is always cluttered.  In my parent’s house the one room that always had clutter, from clothes to Christmas décor, was the guest room.  It was a holding room for many decisions my parents didn’t have the time to make. The reasons are for this was a simple, “I don’t have a place for it yet.” Or, “I don’t know what to do with it?”

And, that is what clutter is:  NOT Making decisions about your possessions for any number of reasons. 

Some of the reasons for this vary from not knowing where to put the item.  Did you ever receive a gift you didn’t know what to do with?  I bet it sat somewhere hidden and then was finally donated.  Guilt  (I can’t sell or donate it because from whom it was from)  to blame (It cost a lot of money)  from person to person.  And let me tell you feeling blame, guilt or indecision will not take the clutter away, but asking yourself questions will help you to make better choices about your belongings.

The first question is always Do you LOVE it? Does it bring you joy when you look at it? Then keep it.  But, if it brings you any type of pain (and you can’t let it go now) let it go from your living space. Pack it away. And move on to other items. 

What do you have problems with?


January is Organizing Month

If you are reading this blog-Id make a guess you might not be as organized as you would like to be.  Want a few tips and tricks to getting organized.  Here is the biggest one--when you have a chore to do and have to be somewhere at a set time--the way to do the chore and get their on time is to Count Backwards to see if you have enough time.

I learned to count backwards when I worked in radio.  Yes, I have a voice for radio. I loved it when I was on air.  Just talking about what my listereners wanted (and the weather and news-every hour) excited me. Every hour I had to count down to make sure their was NO DEAD AIR when the radio station changed over from local to national.  When it was my shift, I would always count backwards to make sure I would switch to national with no nasty silence going from my voice to the national voice. I prided myself on no dead air ever---and usually I succeed.

So, that is my secret to being on time for everything--count backwards and know how long something will take. Google if you need to know how long it will take for the "average" person.

Have an Organized month!


CT. Style

This morning I woke up at 6:57. I had to be in New Haven by 9. Dressed, somewhat pressed, and ready to go by 8:15. I pulled In to the studios at 8:50. Taking a few deep breaths, I walked into to lobby. The producer showed me the photos before hand, and I knew what I was going to say. I even practiced it. 

"The best way to get organized is to ask yourself a series of questions."  Which in turn I would talk about having joy in your life by looking at what you keep after the purge! 


Did I say anything like that? Nope.

i sat down and immediately felt as ease with Theresa. We are kindered spirits. We are Virgos, and like order and it went fast. I hope I said something coherent...I blinked and my segment was up. I had a blast. But you'll make that determination. I truly hope you like my segment. 

Remember, if an object gives you joy-Keep it! 

Enjoy! Write if you get a moment. 



The Inherited Stuff

Your home is not a museum. Many people subscribe to the unwritten rule that you're obligated to keep your grandmother's dishes, even if you don't like them, just because she used them. But maybe she never liked them either and also felt too guilty to let them go. Things don't have to become yours simply because they belonged to a relative. What you LOVE, Keep.  Toss or donate the rest, Simple--but sometimes difficult. I know. I've been there.