The Slow Downsizer Assesses 2019

02 Jan

I’ve lost track of when I actually started this slow downsizing adventure, but I did find a reference to clearing out most of possessions from the attic from 2013. So, let’s say, I am entering year seven.  I don’t call it “slow downsizing” for nothing!

In this past year, like 2018, my focus was elsewhere until October. I still had nine months of active book promotion and a major art exhibit to complete and prepare. These were major life accomplishments that deserved my time. There were numerous trips, both domestic and foreign. I gave myself permission to ease up on my expectations, and, indeed, I didn’t do any significant downsizing this year until April. But I did part with some meaningful items, and for that I give myself credit!

To follow my practice of both self-disclosure and celebration of success, here is a list of my downsizing achievements for 2019, categorized and discussed by types of activity: sales, donations, trash.

SALES: Selling is just a small part of my downsizing strategy, as selling takes a lot of effort for the money you get. I reserve this approach for things that may have real value in the marketplace or those I want to assure a good home because of their personal value to me.

What’s old is new: vinyl records: Investigated record sellers by attending Rock and Roll Yard Sale in my hometown. Went through my husband’s collection with him to pick out those to keep. Checked out the possible value of others. Sold about 30 records to a dealer, for somewhat less than I’d hope to get, but at least he made a home visit, and I bargained with him. Updated my vinyl list for future sales/donations. Still six boxes of records in the basement, most of which aren’t worth anything.

Tried and true consignment: Sold a number of clothing items through my regular consignment shop, Raspberry Beret. I’ve had good luck with this place, and so, they are worth the time it takes.

DONATIONS: Donation is my main go-to strategy for things (as opposed to my large collection of paper items from my past). Donations are a great way to relieve yourself of furniture that won’t sell, clothing, kitchen items, small appliances, and books. But paper items might be worth something to someone, too. All donation preparation efforts are not equal in effort, though

The usual suspects: Made two sets of donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters, including a giant one consisting of linens; my parents’ stainless steel coffee set; a box of very nice knick-knacks; a couple of boxes of miscellaneous kitchen items, most of which belonged to my parents, and a couple of bags of clothes. I also donated a bag of clothing to Goodwill and some nicer clothes that didn’t sell in consignment, to Second Chances, which gives clothing away for free for those in need rather than trying to sell it as Goodwill does.

Specialty donating: With my husband, winnowed through the books again. Donated two boxes of books to More than Words, including some with sentimental value. We like More than Words because it employs young people and teaches them a business. Also, because they specialize in books (and also take CDs and records), we know that they will take some care in making the best use of our donation.

Donating to specific individuals through an on-line site: Signed up for a local online site called, “Trash Nothing,” which has both offers and requests. Through this site, gave away my old guitar to someone who wanted it for his 13-year old daughter, a small collection of baskets to a teacher, and two window fans.  The guitar had huge sentimental value, as my father and I had shopped for it together for my 18th birthday.

You can go “home” again, or at least your trash can: Went through some of my college archives, including semi-weekly college newspapers, and various bits of memorabilia. Prepped these to donate to the college and prepped an album of souvenirs for my reunion for others could enjoy. As reluctant as I was to part with some of these items and as much time as it took me to go through them, knowing that they would be appreciated by my college made it easier and worth the effort.

Make someone happy: holiday recycling: Donated two shoe boxes of holiday card covers to a local retirement home. Retirement homes love craft items of any kind.

TRASH:  I use this term reluctantly because if it was really trash to me, it would be that much easier to get rid of. As a sentimental paper hoarder, this category is my most challenging. I can give up things more easily than I can up the paper trail of my history, which become more fascinating and memorable to me with each passing year. But I made some progress.

Curb appeal: Left on the curb big empty trunk that had held some of my childhood archives and had traveled an ocean. Someone took it! Not everyone’s neighborhood attracts the regular trash rovers. Ours just happens to be one of them, thank goodness.

Cull, winnow, extract, and chuck: Had two multi-day bouts of going through papers in the file cabinets in the basement. First bout in August involved more hard-nosed winnowing of old work, medical, and car records as well as an unfinished project from the 1980s and some culling of programs for events I’d attended. Second bout in December involved further winnowing of financial records, articles I’d saved over the decades, programs from events I’d attended in 1977-78 (!), and other souvenirs. Both bouts resulted in about seven bags of recycling and seven bags of shredding. Halved the contents of five drawers. Made a record of the events. (I like my archival lists! See my blog on “The Joys of List-making”.) Look for future blog posts on some of this activity.

Only the salient details, please: Cataloged the details from old consulting contracts and shredded the rest. (More lists!)

Simplifying my upstairs life. De-cluttered the contents of two of my upstairs desk drawers. If you keep things long enough, they get out of date. I had neglected these drawers for too long in service of my basement culling, and the drawers were too full to access with ease. Marie Kondo would not be proud, but I felt good.

I should add here that my husband John, who has been a part of a de-cluttering support group, made huge strides with his large stash of possessions in the attic, getting rid of masses of books and papers, and inspiring me in the process.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do plan on 2020 being a key downsizing year. Look out for more frequent blog posts (last year I wrote only five). And maybe this will be the year I’ll find a home for all my mother’s girdles.  Next up: My takeaways from my 2019 downsizing year.

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