Our Slow Downsizing Story

Savoring the journey, bit by bit

Process, insights, reflections, and tips

About Slow downsizing

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


  • 10/05/2020 11:57 AM

Reconnections, reactions, and learnings from my letter project, in which I read and returned to the writers letters sent to me over several decades.

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  • 08/28/2020 07:30 PM

I share some travel scrapbook pages I created that use pieces of memorabilia I've saved as well as text and other found imagery.

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  • 08/18/2020 02:57 PM

Lots of paper souvenirs from trips? Try making scrapbook pages to help reduce the clutter and relive your experiences.

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  • 07/25/2020 02:43 PM

During my 17 weeks of self-isolating during the pandemic, I've had my ups and downs with downsizing, while still making progress.

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  • 06/15/2020 03:27 PM

To honor family members, I create memory collages using images that capture aspects of their lives. This process allows me to let go of some of the actual items that inspired my art.

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  • 05/24/2020 04:26 PM

Are you someone who saves the programs from various plays, concerts, and exhibits you attend? With live events on hold, I decided to tackle my own large collection.

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  • 05/14/2020 02:18 PM

Do you have remnants of old, unfinished projects that it feels like a crime to throw away? Here's my list and my ensuing downsizing trial for each project.

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  • 05/08/2020 12:16 PM

It’s easy to become discouraged during a big downsizing project with the finish line not in sight. Stepping back to document progress can help keep spirits up. In this post, I acknowledge all I’ve accomplished.

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  • 04/20/2020 11:34 AM

Letters and other correspondence from friends and family are one of the hardest sets of items to part with when downsizing but a good task to tackle when you have time on your hands, as during this pandemic lock-down.

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  • 03/31/2020 06:40 PM

Take a kinder, gentler approach to downsizing during this time of crisis. This post offers some simple suggestions that will still allow you to see progress.

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  • 03/25/2020 05:09 PM

The current health pandemic has forced many of us to isolate at home, allowing more time for downsizing but the need for a fresh perspective.

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  • 03/10/2020 07:56 PM

Do you clip newspaper and magazine articles and recipes? Do you ever refer to these items? I share examples from my own clipping habit and how I'm training myself to think in a new way.

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