Please forgive my longer than usual absence. As you might recall, some time ago I had designated May 2023 as our deadline for our current downsizing efforts prior to a major move in June 2023.
Although I had thoughts about sharing pithy pieces of advice from these busy few months, it didn’t happen. The move was all engrossing and demanding of my senses, my energy, and my time. In short, I didn’t have any bandwidth for sharing. Even posting a photograph felt like an effort. We are still in a transitional phase—not quite one place or another. Our house of 27 years is in the process of being sold, and we have relocated to another state.
But I am back in spirit, sifting through my thoughts and experiences. And I won’t sugar coat it. This process was more difficult than I anticipated, especially given all the advance downsizing work John and I had both accomplished.
For one thing, despite all our best laid plans, life intervened. We had a car accident (not our fault and close to our final move—no injuries thankfully, but extensive phone calls, paperwork, appointments, etc.), a death of a close family member that requires ongoing follow-up, some health issues to attend to, a garage door that decided not to open at the most inopportune time.
For another, taking that final leap towards simplification and organization was just beyond reach.
Should I be embarassed to report that we still have too much stuff? That our skilled movers needed every inch of space top to bottom in the storage unit we obtained for our “long-term” possessions—those items we put aside for our more permanent, future move (the furniture, the books, the artwork, the kitchenware, the “the knick-knacks,” the memorabilia)? That in the final couple of days before we vacated our house, we had to resort to throwing some random items together in boxes? That we became sloppy with some of our labeling as the eleventh hour approached? That we have no idea where we placed a set of all important keys?
And yet because we had divested ourselves of so many things and packed up what we were keeping ourselves, the actual professional move took fewer than four hours (compared to our last move that took 11. 5 hours, admittedly the day after a snowstorm). The final clearing out by a “junk” removal company of unwanted items (mostly assigned to the garage, with a few in the basement) took only 45 minutes.
Most importantly, we accomplished our overall goals, adhering to the timetable we’d set: we completed our initial downsizing, packed up our possessions mostly in an organized manner, and successfully prepared our house for market.
So, we must acknowledge that we did many things right. Over the next few posts, we will share what we learned—the good, the bad, and the ugly—what went well, what we might have done differently with 20-20 hindsight. John will offer his own thoughts about the “upsides” of downsizing. But we promise we will also take the long view for those of you who don’t feel a sense of urgency and who can take that slow and leisurely route to a downsized house.
I know there are a lot of you out there who are daunted by the task in front of you. I’ve talked to a number of you—people who’ve lived a long time in the same place, who’ve had rich careers and many interests, who’ve inherited family treasures, who feel sentimental about or attached to their possessions, and/or who may not see eye-to-eye with other family members. I hope you will share your experiences, too, to enrich this conversation and offer new perspectives and ways of moving forward.
But I am here to say that if we could do it, you can, too. We don’t have super powers. We had to work around the fact of our aging, not always cooperative bodies. We hit roadblocls and had days when we felt frustrated by the lack of progress.
Mostly, we just persevered. Each night we asked ourselves, what can I do tomorrow to move this downsizing project along, even if just a little bit. We tried to stay positive; kept up some of our daily routines (I complete the Wordle; John plays an online game of Hearts); enlisted help where needed; and gave ourselves treats, until we reached this particular finish line.
We are still at it, and we are still here for you, as we slowly regain our energy. Tomorrow, we will go and hunt for those missing keys!