If you read the definition of “Down·size (doun’siz’)” in the dictionary, it sounds easy: To reduce in number or size. To simplify (one’s life, for instance), as by reducing the number of one’s possessions. To become smaller in size by reductions in personnel or assets.
But for me, “downsize” means both a logistical and emotional challenge. It isn’t simply about getting rid of physical things: It’s also about releasing the emotional attachment that comes with them.
It recently took an entire month for me to move from one house to another. Children’s report cards, letters and photos require sorting and savoring. Friends who sell large homes and move to smaller ones appear equally unable (or unwilling) to dispose of their memories. We’re all saddened by adult children who are dismissive of childhood trophies and memorabilia that don’t blend with their current decorating scheme. We know one day, they will regret it.
When my friends ask, I offer one piece of advice: Get outside help.
I turned to my sister when the reality of needing to downsize finally settled in. A pragmatist, she honed her skills with a move to Brussels, Belgium followed by the sale of a large home in McLean, Virginia before downsizing to a townhouse in Annapolis, Maryland.
She ruthlessly attacked my closets and garage with the empathy of an avenging warlord.
Guided by the mantra, “When in doubt, throw it out,” we packed 14 carloads of household items and clothing – including my 1977 boxed wedding gown – and donated everything to the Neighborhood Center of West Volusia County. (The organization provides emergency and transitional housing for families in need.)
When we were finished, I felt no regrets – only relief. Actually, I felt a bit of satisfaction, too: The manager of The Neighborhood Center thrift store confided that our donations had boosted their revenues for more than a month!
In this case, less is definitely more.
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