I had just finished a book reading at a local bookstore, and the first question came from a man who was sitting toward the back of the room. He said that he had begun a “small downsizing,” and that the first question he got from a neighbor was “Are you getting ready to die?” Everyone in the room laughed, as did I. And then I said “Well, what you might have said to him was ‘Actually I’m getting ready to live.” And everyone went “oooooooooo.” It was one of those moments that you thank whomever you give thanks to for providing that answer to you at that moment.
Certainly Not All Sweetness and Light
IF you’re getting ready for a major downsizing of your home, does that feel like too much of a stretch? If so, I completely understand. In my book The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough, I talk about the emotional journey I took as I did a huge downsizing of my home. And it definitely was not all sweetness and light and feelings of liberation. It often was hard and exhausting and painful and sad. And that’s not to be overlooked or minimized. And yet. . . .
And Yet, Enough
When I got to my new, much smaller apartment, I realized I had enough. I had enough space. I had enough “stuff.” Having gone from a 2000-square foot house to an 800-square foot apartment, and having gotten rid of piles and piles of stuff, some of it very important to me, I knew I had enough.
A Very Freeing Feeling
And it was a very freeing feeling! I didn’t need all that stuff piled up in the garage. I didn’t need all of the clothes and coats and socks and t-shirts squeezed into closets and drawers. I was absolutely fine with what I had. Including enough space. I didn’t need any more rooms. I didn’t need any more closets. I had enough of everything. Was it easy? No. Was it freeing? Yes. In retrospect and thanks to the man in the audience that night, what I realize I am is free to live in a new and different way.
Now a Careful Shopper
What have I noticed so far? Well, I buy much less than I used to and I’m much more careful about what I do get. For example, one of my very favorite things to do is go to art and wine festivals in the late summer. If you haven’t been to one of these festivals, most are over a weekend and involve booth after booth of things people have made or unique products that often are hard to find in stores.
It’s fun to grab a drink and wander among the booths “window shopping,” without the windows. Inevitably while doing this I have found all sorts of things I didn’t really need but thought it would be fun to have. Or very often I would find what I thought would be the perfect holiday gift for a friend.
Now a “Looker” Rather Than a “Shopper”
That has all changed now! I still like to wander around and look at things, but I usually don’t buy anything because I have no place to put it when I get it home. As for presents, most of my friends and I have agreed to give each other a great big hug for a present instead of yet one more thing neither of us needs.
I also notice that, although I sometimes miss my big yard and garden especially in the spring when it’s time to plant, it is a relief not to have to worry about taking care of the yard and trees and critters who inevitably get in and eat things.
Easy to Get Up and Go
It also is much easier to get ready to travel and not have to worry about getting things watered and looked after. Now I just water the plant on the balcony, tell the cat sitter to water it once while I’m gone, and lock the door and leave. For those of you who like to travel, this is incredibly freeing.
I foresee a time when it will be easier to find things because there are fewer places to look! I can’t say this has happened yet because it’s too soon after I moved, and I’m still looking for where I or someone else put things while we were unpacking. I’m sure this will happen at some point, however, and that will be a relief because most of us don’t like to spend time looking for something we can’t find.
These are some of the ways I realize I’ve gotten ready to live following my downsizing. I would love to hear from you about what your experience has been or what you envision for when that time comes.