Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Downsizing Tips: Keep It Real and Toss It Away

Posted on Mar 29, 2017 by Lisa Ricard Claro   24 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

Luna – I wonder how she’s going to like Florida? And don’t let her angelic face fool you. She’s a domestic terrorist.

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:

http://www.styleathome.com/how-to/real-estate/article/top-10-tips-for-downsizing

http://www.housebeautiful.com/lifestyle/organizing-tips/advice/a3173/never-throw-out-when-downsizing/

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-downsize-your-home-without-losing-your-mind-523560358

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marie-marley/7-tips-for-downsizing-wit_b_8082010.html

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!

Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last, Love to Believe, or Love to Win in eBook or print, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Black Opal Books, or Kobo. Or just click the book cover on the sidebar. That works too. And autographed copies are available for purchase on my home page. 🙂

Ricard_websize logo  In need of a professional editor? Please visit me at Ricard Writing & Editing for details regarding services and rates.

24 Responses to "Downsizing Tips: Keep It Real and Toss It Away"

  1. Comment by Pat
    March 29, 2017 at 8:28 am  

    What? You’re moving to Florida? Sounds like you have some exciting times ahead. Can’t wait to hear more!

    About downsizing-I’m probably not the best person to ask. For every one thing I get rid of, my husband drags home three. Currently I’m in a holding pattern until I can figure out the best way to fight his pack-rat syndrome.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:17 am  

      Yes, warmer weather and lots of beach time is in our future. 🙂 The pack rat syndrome is a tough habit to break. There’s the whole, “But what if I need it?” And it doesn’t help that the second you get rid of something, you DO need it, even if you haven’t needed it for the last ten years. It seems to be a law. lol

  2. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    March 29, 2017 at 9:21 am  

    I think you’re doing a terrific job on downsizing so no tips for you! 🙂 (And giving the piano to a church that will love and need it is just about the best way ever to honor your mom. ♥)

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:18 am  

      Thanks, Cathy. 🙂

  3. Comment by Laurie
    March 29, 2017 at 9:27 am  

    Hey! That salsa dish is a family heirloom! It should be passed down and treasured for generations to come!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:20 am  

      Haha…well, Macayo is the first restaurant Joe and I visited together. We had lunch. 🙂 Not sure that qualifies the salsa dish—which, now that I think about it, is really a margarita glass, and a pretty obnoxious one at that—as a family heirloom. Too late anyway. It’s gone!

  4. Comment by Theresa Sanders
    March 29, 2017 at 9:30 am  

    Wonderful post, as usual, Lisa, and one very timely for me as I’m still in the throes of moving and unpacking. But first, did I read that right? You’re moving to Florida?! To live on the beach? I hope you’re making that dream come true!

    As for downsizing tips, I tell myself, “be ruthless.” My parents were huge packrats and my mother still won’t part with anything. The responsibility for all the clearing out has largely fallen on me, so regarding hubby’s and my possessions, I tell myself that I don’t want my children to have to go through what I’m going through now. As for the hole in your heart left by parting with your mom’s piano, I don’t see any way around that. Donating it to a church is a wonderful idea, but the hurt is still gonna be there. Have yourself a good cry (or two) and let the blessing of those memories fill you. I tell myself that it’s most certainly better to have had the experiences even if the memories of those precious times tear me in two now. Sweet and bittersweet. You’ve got it.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:23 am  

      You’ve made some good points, Teri. We are trying to be ruthless, but I am a bit concerned that at some point I’ll regret having let something go. Still, the memories are where they can do the most good, which is inside us.

  5. Comment by Stephanie Trietsch
    March 29, 2017 at 9:43 am  

    I found downsizing very liberating and it has made me a more discriminate buyer! I only having packing/moving tips:

    1. Take a picture of the contents of a box. Print it (on a reg. printer) and tape it to the box so when you’re looking for your silver ware you’ll be able to find it with the linens because that’s where it fit at the last minute!!
    2. If you want to remember how items were arranged take a picture (can you tell I’m visual…LOL).
    3. With a picture of the contents of each box you can simply label by room. The movers will easily understand Master Bedroom as opposed to Stephanie’s shoes…

    Parting with the big stuff hurts. We had a last “hurrah” for our picnic table/jungle gym before we gave it to a family with an empty backyard!!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:24 am  

      Good tips! Thanks, Stephanie. 🙂 The picture idea is easier than what I did the last time we moved. I kept a spreadsheet of the contents of each box, with each box being assigned a number. It worked great, but your picture idea seems faster and easier to manage.

  6. Comment by joan mountford
    March 29, 2017 at 11:30 am  

    Lisa, take a look at the much-touted Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. When it comes to tossing things out, she gave me the only tip that ever worked for passing on things I loved but had no longer any use for.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:25 am  

      I’ll check it out. Thanks!

  7. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    March 29, 2017 at 3:57 pm  

    I wish I had put more effort into downsizing like you are. We waited until the last minute to do our final downsizing. As a result we kept too much stuff (that we are still getting rid of) and let go of some things I wish I’d kept.

    My big challenge now is to get rid of all of the clutter that we brought to our small home.

    I understand about the piano. Take lots of pictures before you let it go and share the memories with your family.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:28 am  

      We’re actually concerned we aren’t downsizing enough, which is why we’ve gone through things more than once. Each time we do we’re able to set something else in the giveaway box. We have a set of crystal champagne glasses received as a wedding gift 37 years ago. Never used them! I don’t drink champagne (I like mimosas, though) because it is too carbonated. Anyway, the kids didn’t want the glasses, so we’re getting rid of them—but it was the second round where we made that decision, not the first. Silly, right?

  8. Comment by Sioux Roslawski
    March 29, 2017 at 4:27 pm  

    Lisa–
    Your Lynn, my Lynn–once did a month-long challenge. On the first day of the month she threw away 1 thing. On the second day, 2 things. On the third day–three things. And so on, until on the last day (I think it was October) she threw away 31 things.

    It worked for her (not that she was a packrat or anything).

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:29 am  

      Wow. That does qualify as a challenge. At this point, I’m not sure we have enough things left to complete that challenge. lol

  9. Comment by Claudia
    March 29, 2017 at 6:11 pm  

    For long time I’ve trried to live by rule one thing In and two out. Still stuff accumulates. Cancer has given new meaning to what is valuable around here. I am downsizing too. Think about all the storage units in this country. We all ha e too much!!! Your tips are right on the spot!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:31 am  

      You’re right, Claudia. I used to collect teapots and stopped because they’re just too big, but I’ve had them stored all this time. They’ve been released now, and I’m sure someone somewhere will love them.

  10. Comment by Tomi Rues
    March 29, 2017 at 8:44 pm  

    You are doing a terrific job! I agree with you. Once you start decluttering you just want to keep at it. You do feel lighter. It’s the best feeling. I love letting things go. I think donating your mom’s piano sounds like a wonderful tribute to her. My first thought was keeping it in the family and perhaps giving it to one of your children. If you have a picture or video of you and your parents around the piano, you could frame it. You could also write about your experiences and make a copy to share with your children and grandchildren. Just keep cherishing the memories.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:32 am  

      Unfortunately, no photos or videos of my mother with the piano. That would be priceless. If one exists, I’d so love to find it. We have three kids, but none wants the piano…it is beautiful, but huge! But your advice is well taken. I have taken photos of the piano itself, and those I will treasure.

  11. Comment by Donna Volkenannt
    March 30, 2017 at 5:51 am  

    Thanks for the tips. I need to follow them. I love the nostalgia of the piano and your gesture of donating it to a church is wonderful. Over the years we have accumulated so much I don’t know where to start. I keep a bag by my front door and drop in items to donate to the box in our church parking lot. The other way I declutter is each quarter our city has a large item pick-up. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of items that way. Usually before the city truck arrives in the morning, our items have disappeared by people looking for useful stuff. There’s one white wicker rocking chair that belonged to my daughter I wish I hadn’t put on the curb, but oh, well, I’m sure the person who got it will enjoy it.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 30, 2017 at 8:34 am  

      We have a rocking chair that my hubby has mentioned getting rid of over the years. It is big! But it was a gift from my grandmother and I rocked my babies in that chair. Hope to rock grandbabies in it one day, too. So the chair stays. lol I’ve no doubt there will be other things, though, that I’ll miss after they’re gone and probably regret having given away.

  12. Comment by Debra Mayhew
    March 30, 2017 at 8:04 pm  

    Okay, I know I moved out of state long before you did, but for some reason this news makes me kind of sad! Change is a tough nut for me to crack, apparently even when it’s happening to someone else. 🙂 I pray your move goes smoothly and can’t wait to hear about your new home and adventures in Florida. By the way, how close will you be to the beach??

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      April 5, 2017 at 3:04 pm  

      Thanks, Deb. I hope it goes smoothly, too. As to how close we will be to the beach—close! At best, about 5-10 minutes. At worst, about 45 minutes. Close enough to see all the sunrises and sunsets that I want to. 🙂


Leave a Comment



%d bloggers like this: