Jean Long Manteufel

How do you catch a monkey?

Long ago, an interesting way was to let them catch themselves.

Hunters would make a hole in a coconut, put pieces of oranges inside and then hang the coconut from a tree.

As the monkey came around, it would catch the sweet smell of the oranges and reach into the hole. Once it grasped the orange, it wouldn’t be able to pull its hand out of the coconut. It caught itself. It could be free anytime, but it wouldn’t let go to save its life.

How like a monkey we can be sometimes. Do you find yourself holding on to “stuff” that actually impedes your life?

Marilyn Ellis, billed as America’s Organizer Coach, put together a humorous, yet true, list of reasons we give ourselves for holding onto things:

  • I paid a lot for it.
  • It’s not good enough to keep, but it is too good to throw out.
  • I might need it someday.
  • My kids might need it someday.
  • My grandkids might need it someday.
  • It’s inherited, it’s ugly, but I don’t want to be the one to finally get rid of it.
  • It might be worth something,
  • It holds a lot of memories.

Earlier in our lives, we were trying to fill spaces in our homes. But once we have filled all those spaces, may folks just keep bringing things home for all those reasons listed, and more, Gasp! When do you stop?

As we move into smaller places, it is time to reprogram our thinking.

When one is seriously down-sizing, the list of reasons for holding onto things is much shorter:

  • Does it bring me great pleasure?
  • Is it practical?

And yes, because it reminds us of a cherished memory can be a reason to keep something, but perhaps not 36 of that something.

Yes, paper toweling is practical, but 21 rolls of it? Take two.

Look at each item you are considering, and have a spot in mind for it, like, “this will go on the kitchen counter.”

The greatest mistake I see my customers make when the down-size, is holding onto too many things that are irrelevant.

No matter what size place you are moving to, think about where the items you are taking will be put.

Start out your new home with instantly comfortable and enjoyable surroundings by hand-selecting items from your old house that are practical and give you pleasure.

Don’t be a monkey, holding onto those oranges that keep you from living a comfortable life. Let go of those things that hold you back.

By Jean Long Manteufel

Sponsored by Willow Valley Communities

If you’re interested in reading more stories by Jean Long Manteufel, consider purchasing her book.

Jean Long Manteufel, senior move manager and CEO of Long’s Senior Transitions in Appleton, WI writes a column on the first Sunday of each month about life changes associated with aging.   She can be reached at

Tagged with:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *