Our Slow Downsizing Story

Savoring the journey, bit by bit

Process, insights, reflections, and tips

About Slow downsizing image
In 2014, 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

  •  02/19/2023 05:01 PM

Whether you have an upcoming move, a plan to move eventually, or just want fewer things in our life, the process of "earmarking may help you to make decisions about what to eliminate.

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  •  01/26/2023 10:19 PM

With a new year at hand, consider how you might schedule your downsizing time to match external cues. I offer month-by-month suggestions.

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  •  12/27/2022 01:39 PM

2022 was a year when we cleared out many tangible items, in a variety of ways, in preparation for our 2023 move. We share what we learned from all this activity.

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  •  12/16/2022 03:56 PM

In this season of giving, I share nine ways I've thought about our donation process, give examples of items donated and where we've donated them, and provide some overall insights.

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  •  11/29/2022 11:04 AM

Most vacations are meant for relaxation and/or enrichment. But if you want, you can accomplish some downsizing tasks even when away from home..

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  •  11/22/2022 04:47 PM

As a downsizer, I have many things, people, and organizations for which I am truly grateful. Here are a few to commemorate this season of Thanksgiving.

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  •  10/29/2022 05:46 PM

Seeing both the scary and benign decorations of Halloween reminds me of the range of emotions I've experienced while downsizing.

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  •  10/15/2022 05:12 PM

We seized on an opportunity to sell some of our personal art through a city-sponsored YART Sale. We prepared well, and our expectations were far exceeded. But it took some work.

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  •  09/30/2022 10:46 AM

We all have hobbies we once pursued with passion, perhaps along with family members. I share my experiences with sewing and how I'm trying to part with the many remnants of that once important piece of my life.

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  •  09/09/2022 11:04 AM

Flea markets offer a great learning opportunity for downsizers as well as a potential place for finding dealers who might want to buy your stuff. I went to Brimfield and share my experiences and my advice.

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  •  08/19/2022 09:53 PM

On this fifth anniversary of my blog on slow downsizing, I offer a summary of some of my best personal insights.

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  •  08/11/2022 09:33 PM

Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe TV critic, thumbs his nose at downsizing, and I offer some considerations to help him and other "savers" who are averse to downsizing shift their thinking.

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