When looking through piles of stuff to make keep-or-go decisions, I often ask my clients, “Is it relevant to your life anymore?”

Sometimes we hang on to things simply because we have the space. It’s easy to delay the decision-making process when keeping the stuff costs nothing more than the square footage to store it. But it’s important to realize that space doesn’t have to be filled; especially with stuff we don’t need, use, want, or love.

Old sports equipment is one example. If the hockey pads your son or daughter used six years ago are just gathering dust, I’ll bet there’s someone out there who would truly benefit from your gently used sports equipment donation.

Those college textbooks up in the attic? Unless the content is something you still use that hasn’t changed over time, they’re not too desirable. You can donate them.

If something doesn’t qualify for donation, maybe it can be recycled.

We had to make a tough decision here at home two years ago. We had a pool that came with the house. As close as we could calculate, it was at least 40 years old. When our boys were young that pool was a godsend. And in the heat of the summer, many a cold beverage was enjoyed during relaxing pool-float sessions. It had an attached deck, and for nearly 20 years we ate dinner up there from late spring through early autumn.

I nicknamed our pool, “The Albatross” because it really was a monstrosity – not much to look at – more function than form. As our boys grew into young men, The Albatross was used much less as a pool and more as an elevated eating area.

The time finally came when I was not looking forward to opening The Albatross. The idea of maintaining it for months on end wore me down. When I asked the question, “Is it relevant to our lives right now?” the honest answer was, “No.”  The cost to maintain in terms of time, effort, and money was no longer worth the return on that investment. And the truth of the matter was, our fond memories wouldn’t disappear with the pool, they would stay with us in our minds and hearts. Oh, and in our photographs, too.

And so it was with mixed emotions that we bid a fond farewell to The Albatross. It owed us nothing; it had served us well.

The Albatross as it once was

The tear-down process was something to behold. All recyclable materials were, indeed, recycled.

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Now we have a lovely patio we truly enjoy that fits our current lifestyle. We’re homebodies; we love to putter in the yard and gardens, we enjoy feeding and watching all the different birds our yard attracts. Oh, and wine. Our patio is the perfect place to enjoy a glass (or two) of wine at the end of the day. After the long hard winter of 2014-15, we’ll be especially happy for patio season to roll around.

New patio

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