Originally posted on www.sixtyandme.com
Over the weekend, I was riding my bike to one of my favorite coffee shops, which is only about 10 miles away, so it’s usually an easy ride. But on this day, the wind was blowing “like spit,” as my grandmother used to say. (Do you ever think about things people said as you were growing up that you never thought much about, and then at some point, you begin to wonder “what on earth did that mean?”)
Because of the wind, the ride was a real struggle, and I was very relieved to finally get to the coffee shop. On my way back, I looked down at my little computer and saw I was effortlessly going 19 mph. Now, I am a fairly slow rider, so this is very atypical unless I’m going down a pretty good hill. I understood that having changed my direction, the wind now was coming from behind me. Thank you, wind!
What, you might ask, does this have to do with downsizing my home? Well, what I realized was that how I feel about something often depends on what direction I’m facing. As I think of downsizing my home, do I think about how hard it’s going to be, how long it’s going to take, the pain of letting go of countless numbers of things that have been really important over the years? Or do I think about how wonderful it will be to get rid of all the stuff that’s crammed into drawers, closets, bookcases, the garage, the basement – or wherever in my home I stash stuff? How about the exhilaration of looking at open spaces on the bookshelves, the tabletops, the kitchen counter?
Last year, I was faced with moving from my 2000-square-foot home with a big two-car garage and a very large yard to an 800-square-foot apartment with a 46’x46” cage in the basement for storage. Yikes! Among other things, this meant getting rid of about 80-90% of what I owned. Is this a possibility in your future? If so, you’re not alone in feeling the fears and overwhelm such a prospect can bring. You can read all about my journey in my book.
What I’m inviting you to do as you begin to contemplate a major downsizing of your home, is to think about getting to enough. Getting to just enough to feel happy, satisfied, sufficient. Getting to that place of feeling internal peace and external spaciousness. That sense of “I have just enough.” Does it feel like too much of a stretch to change your direction completely from fear, overwhelm and sadness to exhilaration, joy and freedom? That’s totally understandable, so let’s take it in small steps.
Identify one area, room or closet that you think may be one of the easiest places to begin downsizing. For me, it was the kitchen. I’m not a cook, so I don’t have any attachment to specific pots or pans or cooking utensils. It was fairly easy for me to look at something and realize I hadn’t used it for a long time and put it in the “donate” pile. What would have been hard for me was to start with the bookcases because my books are very important to me. So, start with something that will be fairly easy. If possible, take everything out of that area, and then only put back what you use very regularly or is precious in some way, or simply brings you great joy. Don’t put back things that you might be able to use ‘sometime.’
This changing of direction is often not easy. If you find that to be the case for you, I suggest you get some help. This may be a very good, non-judgmental friend who can be with you for support and suggestions. My good friend Lynn helped me when I began to downsize my kitchen.
Another option is to hire a coach for a couple of months to help you get through some of the most difficult moments, at least at the beginning of your downsizing process.
The most important thing is to get started. And before you begin, just notice what direction you’re facing because it will make a very big difference in how you feel throughout the entire process of downsizing your home to enough.
- What direction are you facing right now as you think about the possibility of downsizing your home?
- What are two things, even very small steps, you might do immediately to get started?