Downsizing my home from 2000 square feet to 800 — this was the challenge I faced last year, which sparked my new book The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough.
What does this title mean?
At the beginning of last year I realized that I was going to have to sell my fairly large house and move to a much, much smaller place. Thus began a major journey of significantly reducing the amount of “stuff” in my life. You know, all that stuff piled in the garage, attic, busting out of the closets, drawers, bookshelves. That stuff. That stuff that has been accumulating for years and years and years. And not only YOUR stuff, but also your (now adult) kids’ stuff and maybe some of their kids’ stuff, and maybe even some of your parents’ stuff.
How to even know where to start?
Well, that was my quandary, and so I asked a friend to help. Now, since I’m not much of a cook, the easiest place for me to start was the kitchen. So one cold winter day my friend Lynn came to help me begin the process of downsizing my kitchen. We went from cupboard to cupboard, and got rid of lots of stuff. That felt good because it wasn’t stuff I wanted anyway. But then I thought about the closets, and my office, and the bookshelves. All of those contained stuff I DID want and absolutely could not keep.
How was I going to part with this stuff?
Somewhere along the way I had learned that there are professional downsizers that help people downsize. I realized that I was going to have to hire one of these or I was never going to get down to the amount of stuff I could take with me. After interviewing several people, I ended up working for three months with Maria who was the epitome of efficient. Maria would arrive in the morning and we would march from room to room making piles of “keep,” “garage sale,” “donate,” and “trash.” Every day we stopped for a quick lunch and a quicker tea break, but resolutely on and on we went, weekend after weekend. Finally, boxes and boxes of books had been taken to the library, bags and bags had been dropped off at Goodwill, and I had huge piles ready for a garage sale, which, with the help of some friends, was very successful.
This was an amazingly hard journey, and one that I detail in my new book.
I focus on the feelings involved in this kind of journey rather than the practicalities of how to proceed. There are many very good books that do this, but I found that I wanted to write about the feelings I went through during this time in case doing so would be helpful to anyone else going through the same thing. I wanted my readers to feel supported, to feel as if they were being listened to, to realize they weren’t going crazy and that the difficult feelings are very normal.
What helped me most in my own journey in addition to the love and support of some very good friends?
It was my sense that what I was doing was getting to enough. Just enough stuff to live happily. Just enough stuff so I no longer felt I was taking w-a-y more than my fair share. Just enough stuff to feel sufficiency, to feel happy, to feel complete. And as I kept my eye on THAT goal, I became very aware of the amazing upside of downsizing.
If you or someone you know is getting ready to go through a significant downsizing, please email me at [email protected]. I’d be happy to set up some coaching calls to help with getting through this difficult time.