Downsizing Tips: Keep It Real and Toss It Away
Until beginning the process of downsizing in preparation for the sale of our home and an out-of-state move, I had no idea just how much stuff the hubster and I had collected. But nearly twenty years in this one spot means . . . well, a lot of stuff, buttercup. We’ve gone through everything once now, but we’re performing a second round clean-out of closets and cabinets. And guess what? We’re letting go of even more stuff, stuff we held onto in the first round.
Lesson #1: Do two rounds! The more you let go, the easier it becomes. When you do a second pass you’ll toss even more into the Giveaway pile.
Speaking of the Giveaway pile, rest assured it is not alone. It has neighbors. There is also the Keep It pile and the Sell It pile, as well as the all-important Why-do-we-still-have-this-dumb-thing pile, also known as the Toss It pile.
I have a feeling that as we step up the packing process, a lot of items in the Keep It and Sell It piles will jump ship to the Giveaway pile which appears destined to grow to mammoth proportions. This is a good thing. Somebody somewhere is going to love that silly ceramic salsa dish shaped like a sombrero that I couldn’t live without back in ’83 after too many margaritas at Macayo’s Mexican restaurant in Vegas. Buying it seemed like such a good idea at the time. *sigh* But is the hidden presence of an unused piece of dubious pottery really necessary to remember a good time?
Lesson #2: No matter how fond the memory, if you’ve only used it twice in thirty years, it’s a pretty good bet you don’t need it clogging up valuable real estate in your cabinet. Give it away. Your memento might receive from someone else the love and use it deserves—which in the case of that cheesy salsa dish is probably a frat boy setting up the kitchen of his first apartment. That dish will sit on a table next to crushed beer cans. And it won’t look even a little bit out of place.
As with most things these days, a quick Google search offers plenty of tips for downsizing. Here are links you might find helpful:
Lesson #3: Read up. Take a few minutes to peruse tips and how-to articles on downsizing. You probably won’t take every bit of advice from every article, but you will cobble together the process that works best for you.
When it comes to downsizing, the right way is the way that works for you, and you might be surprised by some of the cool ideas out there you’ll want to try. What I’ve found is that decluttering and letting go of long held items is freeing, a sort of physical act that has the unexpected spiritual manifestation of lightening the load.
Lesson #4: Going forward, I will downsize and declutter on a regular basis to prevent the buildup of stuff. If I love it, I will keep it. If I don’t, there is no reason for it to take up space. And for every one new thing I buy, I will find two others to give away.
That rule, I think, will ensure that I’ll only come home with things I can’t live without rather than things purchased on a whim. The antique mantle mirror I found at a flea market a few years ago, for instance (okay, old mirror . . . just old, probably not an antique. But I love it as if it were an antique, and I restored it myself). It hung in a well-to-do Southern home for nearly two-hundred years. Can you imagine the things it has seen? What it would say if it could talk? The stories it could tell? Well, it spoke to me and it said, “Buy me! Fix me!” And I would have happily found ten things to give away in exchange for that mirror. So the buy-one-ditch-two rule should reduce the chance of clutter in my yet-to-be-discovered smaller home. That’s the plan anyway.
One of the big things I’m leaving behind is my mother’s grand piano. This is perhaps the most difficult possession for me to release. I learned to play on that piano. We used to sing around that piano. I discovered a love of ’40s and ’50s songs around that piano (“Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar, and be better off than you are? Or would you rather be a . . . “). At one time, my mother would play piano while I played my clarinet and my dad played his saxophone. We sounded awful together. Truly, truly awful—my dad and I, that is. My mother was an amazing pianist and could make chopsticks sound like Chopin. I look at that piano and her music flows through me. The memories. Oh, the memories. Sweet. Bittersweet.
But a grand piano is no small item, and in a downsizing situation where I’m expecting to drop my square footage by more than half, the piano must stay behind. After conferring with my brother and sister, we’ve agreed to donate it to a church. Mama would like that. But kissing it goodbye and releasing it will hurt.
Do you have downsizing tips to offer? Any advice for me on how to release Mama’s piano without ripping a hole out of my heart at the same time? Advice, gang. I need advice.
Bing Crosby sang it first, but here’s Ol’ Blue Eyes:
See you next week for more of the Naked Truth. Have a good one!
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