The NASMM Crowd! by Danny Proctor – a poem

March means St. Patrick’s Day is almost here, and NASMM couldn’t be more proud to share a poem with you written by our only NASMM member in Ireland, Danny Proctor of Senior Move Managers Ireland, Ltd. Danny captures the essence of Senior Move Management® in this eloquent, lyrical verse. Thank you, Danny!

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Through the eyes of a gentleman faced with the
decision to downsize.

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The NASMM Crowd!

Wondering where to start with all this,
On my own, my partner I do miss.
For she would be there to be the muscle,
Behind the sorting, hustle and bustle.

Now I can lift a box or two,
But I can’t handle the overview.
She was the one that would organise,
I would moan and throw up my eyes.

But now I know the strength she had,
Was to carry me and keep me from going mad.
The stuff that has our souls built in,
Sorting now, oh what to bin?

The things mean so very much to be,
Space in the new home; far from free.
Now I have to try keeping what is dear,
Memories trashed are what I fear.

It’s going oh so very slow,
But to my smaller home I must go.
I need to start a new chapter now,
Tears will remain and that I vow.

But I’ve heard about a group of people,
That do all and might even climb a steeple.
For I heard that they have compassion,
And will sort and even keep you in fashion.

Do they really pack and measure,
And help you sort through your treasure,
Do they really sense our loss?
And ensure they’re careful with what they toss.

If I can really get such a person,
Tears will turn to certain reason.
If they are even patient with me,
Sure that would help set me free.

It’s kindness and compassion I surely need,
To help with each and every deed.
It’s really hard to let go of my place,
It’s even harder to do it with pace.

So I will definitely pick up the phone,
As I simply can’t face this alone.
My dear wife would be very proud,
If I get help from the NASMM crowd.

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De-cluttering, China + Us

Another great article (op-ed piece) on downsizing + de-cluttering from
The New York Times, reprinted here for all to enjoy (due to NYT subscription requirements). NASMM Note: We are hosting Joshua Becker, blogger at Becoming Minimalist, at the NASMM 2015 Conference next week in Orlando!

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CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER

The Clutter Cure’s Illusory Joy

Jim Datz
FEBRUARY 15, 2015

Pamela Druckerman

PARIS — I recently discovered the secret to livening up even the dullest conversation: Introduce the topic of clutter. Everyone I meet seems to be waging a passionate, private battle against their own stuff, and they perk up as soon as you mention it.

“I don’t buy anything — no clothes, no shoes,” a woman who works in the French fashion industry told me. A New Yorker on a de-cluttering bender explained: “There’s too much in my head, there’s too much stuff in my house, too.” Another friend said that when his girlfriend got angry, she called him the clutter of her life.

Clutter isn’t a new problem, of course. But suddenly, it’s not just irritating — it’s evil. If you’re not living up to your potential, clutter is probably the culprit. Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” the top-ranked book on The New York Times list of self-help books, promises that, once your house is orderly, you can “pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life.”

This isn’t just an American problem. Ms. Kondo’s book was a best seller in her native Japan, too, as well as in Taiwan, South Korea and Germany. (Nearly 30 translations are planned.) Karen Kingston, a British clutter expert who consults around the world, says her online courses, including an advanced class called Zero Procrastination, draw students from at least 18 countries.

Not all of the world’s clutter is created equal. Ms. Kingston says that British clutter tends to include pieces of unwanted inherited furniture. (“Accept the love that was given with the gift but let the physical item go,” she advises.) Americans have fewer heirlooms, but can become sentimentally attached to new purchases, she says.

Germans are among the biggest subscribers to her de-cluttering courses. Though when a colleague emails her “clutter photos” from potential clients there, she’s often at a loss to find the mess. (In Germany, “It’s not so much that they have a lot of clutter, it’s more the fact that they want to be optimally organized,” Ms. Kingston explains.)

A French survey found that, among West Europeans, Italians had the greatest number of “unused objects” in their homes. Perhaps that’s because extended families are living together, merging their clutter.

In America, de-cluttering can be a born-again experience. It was transformative for Ryan Nicodemus, co-creator of The Minimalists blog, who describes how he was an overworked, divorced, depressive who drank and used drugs — until he got rid of 80 percent of his belongings. “A month later, my entire perspective had changed. And then I thought to myself, maybe some people might find value in my story,” he said.

Clutter is having its moment in part because we’ve accumulated a critical mass of it. The cascade began 25 years ago, when China started to export huge amounts of cheap clothes, toys and electronics. Cut-rate retailers and big-box stores encouraged us to stockpile it all.

And we did. A study of middle-class families in Los Angeles found that just one in four families could fit a car in its garage. (It also found that mothers’ stress levels rose as they described their household mess.) Americans who struggled to afford health insurance and college could nevertheless buy lots of stuff, sometimes on credit.

But as stuff got cheaper, it lost status. Robberies declined in rich countries, in part because it wasn’t worth risking prison for a $150 TV. Reality shows about hoarders made having lots of things even less appealing.

Now, in some well-off circles, people boast about how little they own, or curate small collections of carefully selected items. The richest Americans increasingly consume expensive experiences — like a trip to Bhutan — rather than material goods.

The middle classes are tiring of their possessions, too. There are online communities for people who have vowed to remove 40 bags of stuff from their homes over 40 days, or to pare back to just 100 possessions. In her book “A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy,” the artist Sarah Lazarovic describes the year she spent painting pictures of things instead of buying them.

It’s hard to resist the de-cluttering fever. I, too, spend my weekends filling bags with cookbooks, toys and vintage dresses, and then hauling them away. For the first time in years, I can lay my hands on any one of my sweaters.

But the more stuff I shed, the more I realize that we de-clutterers feel besieged by more than just our possessions. We’re also overwhelmed by the intangible detritus of 21st-century life: unreturned emails; unprinted family photos; the ceaseless ticker of other people’s lives on Facebook; the heightened demands of parenting; and the suspicion that we’ll be checking our phones every 15 minutes, forever. I can sit in an empty room, and still get nothing done.

It’s consoling to think that, beneath all these distractions, we’ll discover our shining, authentic selves, or even achieve a state of “mindfulness.” But I doubt it. I’m starting to suspect that the joy of ditching all of our stuff is just as illusory as the joy of acquiring it all was. Less may be more, but it’s still not enough.

Winnie the Pooh + Senior Move Management

We’re thrilled to host Becoming Minimalist blogger, Joshua Becker, at the NASMM 2015 Conference in Orlando in just two weeks. Thinking of his Master Class to open the conference when I saw this image on a friend’s Facebook post today…sort of sums up Senior Move Management to a T.

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One Friday Morning 01.30.15

We Take Photos

Growing Older: A Poet’s Perspective

Food for thought this morning from Jane Gross of The New York Times. NASMM Senior Move Managers® are on the front lines of their clients’ losses. Sigh. 

Growing Older, Not Happier

Donald Hall’s Frank Collection of Essays About the Tarnish of the Golden Years

JAN. 19, 2015 By JANE GROSS

20SCIB-blog427In 2001, Donald Hall, just 70 and yet to be named the nation’s poet laureate or to receive the National Medal of Arts, published a poem titled “Affirmation” in The New Yorker. It began: “To grow old is to lose everything.”

At the time, Mr. Hall hadn’t lost everything — that was still to come.

The evidence rests in the latest of his 33 books, divided between poetry and prose, this one called “Essays After Eighty” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). It is a slim volume, alternately lyrical and laugh-out-loud funny, in which Mr. Hall, now 86, describes the “unknown, unanticipated galaxy” of the very old, so unimaginable to his younger self.

In these 14 essays, Mr. Hall plumbs the indignities, condescensions and terrors of advanced age, along with musings on beards (he has had three), women (two wives, many dalliances), smoking (cigars, Chesterfields, Kents, marijuana), poetry readings, rejection letters, old houses and the creatures who take up residence there, bad food (Wonder bread, Spam), and the view from his window.

But mostly, these essays are about a “ceremony of losses”: giving up his driver’s license, eating Stouffer’s frozen dinners (“widowers’ food”), noting his many brushes with mortality. And the terrible twist that his beloved second wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, should die of leukemia at 47 two decades ago, but in the book she remains, very much alive and still in the present tense.

The mounting subtractions in Mr. Hall’s life include the inability to write poetry. “Prose endures,” he writes. “Poetry abandoned me. The sound of poems is sensual, even sexual. That requires a blast of hormones.” When testosterone departed, we learn, so did poetry.

Instead, Mr. Hall has turned compulsive list making into a sort of poetry. Over uncounted years, contentedly looking out the window of his New Hampshire home, he unspools what he sees season by season. Peonies like “feathery soccer balls.” Squirrels like “tree rats with the agility of point guards.”

This is no Hallmark card, though, and readers looking for golden sunsets and promises that age brings wisdom will be disappointed. For the treacle that usually infuses treatises on aging, he has substituted a seductive frankness and bracing precision. Mr. Hall falls, and with specificity: tripping over an ottoman and cracking a rib and blackening an eye. Taking a tumble in the driveway and ending up in the emergency room, where 147 specks of gravel are picked from his face with tweezers.

Mr. Hall outs himself as a sharp-tongued curmudgeon, annoyed by a computer with a mouse “that isn’t a mouse” and an “iThing,” never further identified. He growls at age-segregated communities, “old-folks storage bins” and “for-profit-making expiration dormitories,” and rattles off two dozen of them.

He assaults “fatuous” euphemisms for dying, 13 in all, unwilling to rest in peace, meet his maker, cross over or give up the ghost. He wants the bad news straight up, no concealing “how we gasp and choke, turning blue.”

“I’ve never been around when somebody, in the middle of a sentence or a sandwich, had the luck to pitch over dead,” he writes.

Until his own time comes, the indignities of age continue to pile up. “Did we have a nice din-din?” a museum guard asks as Mr. Hall and a companion exit the cafeteria.

On the other hand, some guards allow him to scrutinize masterpieces from the forbidden side of the velvet rope. And his days pass in comforting sameness, at the family farm where he and Ms. Kenyon fled academia in 1975, trading tenure and medical insurance for the “double solitude” of writing.

He turns on the coffee. He glues in his teeth. He takes four pills and Metamucil. He wipes the residue of the last from his prodigious beard.

He puts a brace on his buckling knee, then alternates looking out the window, attending to his voluminous correspondence with distant friends, writing essays and napping.

In the summertime, there are Red Sox games on television virtually every night.

Then he takes out his teeth, goes to bed, and the next day begins.

Photo Credit: Patricia Wall/The New York Times

Senior Move Management in the NW!

Due to paywall issues for non-subscribers of regional press, the blog post below is a reprint of last weekend’s article highlighting NASMM + Senior Move Management®. It features our terrific Senior Move Managers® in Oregon!

TheOregonian logo

Senior move managers growing more popular with Baby Boomers and their parents

Brent Hunsberger | itsonlymoneyblog@gmail.comBy Brent Hunsberger 
on November 01, 2014 at 6:10 AM

Cheryl LeBlanc and her sister flew cross-country last summer on a daunting five-day mission: Move their 79-year-old uncle and 83-year-old aunt into an assisted-living facility in Hillsboro.

Oh, and get the couple’s two homes, car, RV and coin collection ready to sell.

Halfway through, they realized they weren’t gonna make it. “We were trying to do it all ourselves, which was a joke,” LeBlanc recalls. “It was too much to do.”

Their Realtor came through with a solution: A senior move manager.

“It was really a Godsend for us,” LeBlanc says.

In three weeks’ time, Theresa Giddings and her company, Soft Landings for Seniors, helped the couple, Terri and Jim Cameron, settle into their new apartment. She cleared out both homes, held an estate sale and drove unsold items to charities (and the dump).

She also shipped their Toyota Corolla and Jim’s stamp collection to relatives on the East Coast. And she got the coin collection appraised and sold for $9,000.

“I didn’t have to do anything,” Terri Cameron said. “Theresa did everything. She’s a hustler, I tell ya.”

More Baby Boomers and their parents are turning to services such as Giddings’. As America’s population ages and their Baby Boomer kids struggle to balance work and their older parents’ needs, the field of senior move managers is exploding.

Eight years ago, the National Association of Senior Move Managers had 60 members, executive director Mary Kay Buysse said. Today, it has more than 1,000 worldwide.  Ten of its 15 Oregon members have joined in the last five years.

“It’s a quickly growing field,” said Jerry Leffel, who started the Caring Transitions senior move management company in Portland in 2012. “Most people don’t know what services are out there because they only look for it once or twice in their life.”

It’s also not well regulated in Oregon and other states, leaving elderly people potentially vulnerable to unscrupulous actors.

The Oregon Department of Transportation regulates moving companies, but not move managers, spokesman Tom Fuller said.

Oregon’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman has received one complaint about a resident charged $700 by a move manager to have his belongings moved 2 floors from an independent living apartment to an assisted living apartment in the same building while he was recuperating in a nursing home, deputy ombudsman Ann Fade said.

The office held the facility responsible because it arranged for the move, Fade said.

But the ombudsman’s office would not get involved with a move from a home to another independent living arrangement, she said.

Buysse’s trade association tries to address consumer protections by requiring members to carry liability insurance, abide by a code of ethics and have complaints reviewed by a committee of peers.

Regardless, move managers have tapped into a need. Seniors age 65 and older make up 12 percent of the U.S. population. By 2050 they’ll make up 19 percent, U.S. Census projections show. The entire United States will look grayer than Florida does today.

Our mobile society might play a role, too. According to a 2010 survey, about one-third of adults 70 and older say they either have no children or live more than 10 miles from their kids, said David Ekerdt, a sociology professor and director of the gerontology center at the University of Kansas.

“It really arose from seeing a need that wasn’t filled,” Buysse said of the industry’s growth.

That’s essentially why Giddings launched her firm this year. Four years ago, she joined relatives in helping her grandmother in Mississippi downsize. Giddings said she gathered all items that could fit in one room, packed and labeled them and took what didn’t fit to charity.

“I loved it,” Giddings said. “They were all looking at me like I was crazy.”

As a career accountant and certified financial planner, Giddings decided few people could fit all the pieces of a move together like she could.

Most senior move managers such as Giddings get paid directly by their clients rather than a care facility or some other entity. The cost ranges widely based on the amount of belongings and other logistical factors. Nationwide, a $2,500 move is about average, Buysse said. Giddings said her minimum is $3,000.

Those fees don’t include the cost of hiring movers, a Realtor or (if necessary) an estate sale firm, though some senior move managers handle estate sales, too. Move managers hire and coordinate those services much as a general contractor would a home building. And unlike movers, senior move managers will unpack boxes afterward and arrange belongings in the new home.

The Camerons moved to Hillsboro more than a decade ago to be close to their only son. Their lives changed drastically when he died unexpectedly last year at age 43.

LeBlanc, their niece, became convinced they needed to move when she learned the Camerons had fallen repeatedly. They’d also inherited their son’s home.

“It was getting to be too much,” Jim conceded recently, “even though I had a riding lawn mower. … We were just getting too old to cut the mustard anymore.”

LeBlanc and her sister managed to organize belongings, sell the couple’s RV and actually get the Camerons from their three-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom studio in Avamere at Hillsboro.

Giddings did the rest. She even put her planning hat on and culled through paperwork to clear up a titling issue on their late son’s home. But selling Jim’s coin collection for $9,000 delighted everyone.

“I didn’t think it was going to get that much,” Jim said.

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If You Build It…

NASMM Growth Infographic

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