Our Slow Downsizing Story

Savoring the journey, bit by bit

Process, insights, reflections, and tips

About Slow downsizing
More than three years ago, with no plans to move, but with an urge to purge and simplify our lives, we began the mammoth task of downsizing, but with a twist. We were going to take our time.

Living simple. Tiny housing. Decluttering. Downsizing. Tidying up. Organizing. These concepts have taken hold of our collective imaginations, if not our realities. With baby boomers retiring and relocating (whether to smaller quarters and/or to another geographical location), the public conversation about ridding oneself of a lifetime of possessions has never been louder. Many of us in this generation have also been responsible for clearing out our aging or deceased parents’ properties and have vowed not to inflict that backbreaking, time-consuming, and emotional task on another generation.

But where do you begin and when? For many, the call comes when it is time to relocate, and quick decisions must be made. Keep, donate, sell, toss.

We have chosen a different route, patterned on the “slow movement,” which encourages us to slow our pace of life, savoring the moments. I call our method “Slow Downsizing,” where the focus is on the journey, even as the destination is also important. Consider it more like traveling by ocean liner than jet plane.

We want to be ready when the time comes to change our living situation. But as sentimental people, we also want to enjoy looking through our bits, finding ways to preserve the photos, the letters, our history (and family’s history) and our memories so that they take up less space while still being accessible. We also want to find good homes for the items we no longer use nor want—whether through selling or donating them. At the same time, we don’t want this overwhelming task to overtake our lives.

This blog is dedicated to that journey. Although we have made much progress, we have only reached the tip of the iceberg (while hoping to avoid the fate of the Titanic.) The goals of going public are several: to allow for personal reflection on the process, to feel spurred to action, and to share both successful ideas and insights with others who have struggled with the same inability to let go. It is not a “how to”, and we are learning as we move forward.

We welcome you aboard our slow downsizing ship!

Belle Brett and John Heymann

  •  06/28/2022 11:37 AM

While downsizing, we may go through emotional states that parallel Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

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  •  06/15/2022 02:16 PM

Here are a few tips for finding, hiring, and getting the most from a professional organizer/downsizer to help you in your downsizing journey.

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  •  05/31/2022 09:46 PM

Although we had the time and were making progress, we found that taking advantage of a local decluttering/downsizing support group and hiring a professional organizer were game changers for us.

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  •  05/06/2022 09:47 PM

After more than eight years in slow downsizing mode, we have given ourselves a deadline of a year from now to clear. We pose questions to keep us focused on the big task ahead of us.

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  •  04/14/2022 09:07 PM

Like one in 10 Americans, I am the not-so-proud renter of an external storage unit. After 20 years, I am finally conquering that space and have advice to offer others.

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  •  04/06/2022 02:22 PM

Downsizing the Family Home by Marni Jameson (Sterling/AARP, 2015) provides an engaging, practical, and personal summary of the downsizing process, with a focus on the emotional aspects.

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  •  03/24/2022 04:56 PM

When slow downsizing, it's important to have an overall sense of direction. But approach the overall project in any way that will keep you motivated.

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  •  02/26/2022 12:08 PM

I'm surprised to learn what how much I've gained from my downsizing project beyond various approaches to and methods for discarding and/or preserving artifacts from my life.

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  •  02/15/2022 08:43 PM

I review Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff by Matt Paxton (featured presenter on Hoarders and host of Legacy List). It offers helpful and specific advice for those clearing out a lifetime of memories while acknowledging the emotional challenges.

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  •  02/10/2022 05:10 PM

If you came of age before digital photography, you may have a large number of color slides you never look at. I share how I am pruning and preparing my collection for digitization.

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  •  01/15/2022 02:40 PM

We got married 32 years ago, and other than putting together a photo album, we had done nothing with our wedding memorabilia. I describe our approach and offer some suggestions for joint downsizing decisions.

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  •  01/07/2022 08:56 PM

Each January since I've begun this blog, I've assessed my efforts from the previous year. In this post, I share what I did right and what I learned.

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