Downsizing

Downsizing:  An emotionless term for an emotion-laden process.

There’s a ton of great information out there on decluttering, downsizing, and preparing for a move.  This is just my personal take on it, with a few tips that helped me depart a home of 21 years with only enough belongings to fit into a 24 foot RV, close a business, and change my state of residency–all in about five months.

Lists!!!  Master lists, sublists, daily lists, sticky-notes-on-your-forehead lists… you get the picture.  Keep pencil and paper close at hand in multiple places so no matter where you are, you can quickly jot down the new critical task you just thought of, then get it on the appropriate master list later.  Don’t forget to reward yourself by checking completed items off with a flourish!

Keep Moving.  Every day get something significant accomplished.  Even a small task that may only take an hour can be significant if it is something that is emotionally charged and repeatedly delayed (such as going through a box of family photos or mementos).  If you are stuck one day and don’t want to dig in, do something simple.  For me, that was working on trashing things.  Don’t forget to reward yourself with your favorite cookie or something!

Undress in Layers.  The top layer is literally the easiest to reach.  Sort into piles:  Trash, Gifts, Donations, and Keep.  Work down layer by layer, room by room, drawer by drawer.  Return later to layers you already worked on, and you will be amazed what you can take out of the “keep” pile and put into another pile, letting go of things that, at first look, could not be released.  Don’t forget to reward yourself by taking a break for lunch with a dear friend (bring them something from the gift pile!).

The Trash Men Are Your Friends.  Every trash day, maximize your load.  Once you have a good grasp of how much trash you have that is too big or too much for your regular pickup, hire a trash removal service (I used 123 Junk and they were awesome).  They will haul out whatever you direct them to, and some of them will donate usable items and send you a receipt.  Don’t forget to reward these hard working fellows… offer cold drinks, cookies, tips if you can.

Cherished Items for Cherished People.  Have family and friends come claim whatever they may want, unless it is something you know you want to keep.  The more they take, the lighter your workload will be as you continue sorting and disposing of the rest.  Don’t forget to reward yourself and graciously accept any offers of help they may give in return.

Make Donations… Make New Friends.  I called places like Goodwill and Habitat Restore, and my items were not up to their standards.  I was amazed when one said that they don’t even take desks because everyone uses a laptop nowadays.  So I just started putting things down by my front curb for people to take.  I had lots of nice chats with people this way.  Heck, if I saw someone down there checking things out, I’d run out and invite them in to see what else they might want!  My favorites were two hard working sisters, Cecelia and Abbie, who ran a low-cost preschool/daycare in our neighborhood.  They took tons of toys, legos, and puzzles for the children and some of my knickknacks for themselves and their families.  Don’t forget to reward yourself and accept any hugs and gratitude you are offered with grace and thankfulness.  (Oh, and don’t forget to support your local library, a great place to donate books.)

Celebrate Buried Treasure.  It is hard watching pieces of your life, your past marching out the door, but you are almost guaranteed to discover long-lost treasures as you dig through the layers.  Pause, and enjoy them again.  Read old letters and cards.  Travel down memory lane with old trinkets and keepsakes.  Then release what you can.  The way I looked at it was that I had saved these things for memory’s sake when I got older.  Well, here I was, older.  I enjoyed the memories, I shed some tears, then I let go.  Moving on can be a liberating reward in and of itself.

The Keepers.  No question about it, some things must be kept.  If you are drastically downsizing, however, deciding what you will save for yourself and what you will release will be a big challenge.  In my case, I saved small, lightweight, unbreakable things wherever possible.  Items that packed a big sentimental punch into a tiny little fist.  Like the wonderfully gaudy Hawaiian shirt I sewed for my Daddy 40 years ago, that he managed to bring along with him on his many moves… still as bright and pristine as the day it was sewn… probably because he never wore it, now that I think about it… But he saved it!  And so have I.

Rest assured, the reward for success, any success, can be extraordinarily enlightening.  Speaking for myself, as things left my house via the hands of friends, family, strangers, and trash-haulers, with each pound, a weight was lifted from my heart.  Life, priorities, perspective came into clearer focus.

There is great power in simplicity.  It frees your movement, gives air to your wings, allows you to see the sky and clears your path to soar, unencumbered by unused, unimportant, ponderous belongings.  Count your blessings.  For the most valuable ones are weightless and eternally embraced by your heart and your soul:  love, loyalty, integrity, and community.

Black Day… Starry Night

 

I am wearing black today.

I went to closing on the house sale this afternoon.  The buyers go tomorrow morning.  I must be out by 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.  Positivism can only go so far before you hit a wall and simply have nothing left but tears.  Pollyanna’s rose-colored glasses are sliding down her face in a torrent of tears.

I had every intention of dying in my home…

Life, I see has other plans.

In a way this is a death.  A death of this chapter–a HUGE chapter–of my life, my story.  As I’ve gotten older, I am fond of saying: “Oh yes, that happened in another lifetime.”  I’ve never felt a break between lifetimes so starkly, so clearly as now.

Looking back I see many definitive breaks in my theme.  Many overlap, some are minor keys, some (Motherhood) are major flourishes that will brighten my pages until “The End.”

Childhood, leaving home, boomerang back home (a bit of a mess), college, marriage, Fine-Upstanding-Member-of-Society-with-Government-Job, divorce, marriage, MOTHERHOOD, divorce (oh my, what a quick succession that looks to be on paper), depression, entrepreneur, and now… turn the page… to where?

I can guess, I can plan.  Chart the course and do my best to control the path and the direction…

Although… this may be a good point to relinquish some of that control.  Trust a bit more in chance, coincidence, serendipity.  God.

I am going to where I will be able to see stars again…

Millions and gajillions of fabulous stars.

That is all I know.  And for now, that is enough.

Dreams

During a really hard time in my life, while living in this wonderful house with its beautiful yard, I had a repetitive dream that deeply disturbed me.  Upon waking, I felt wounded, my heart and the pit of my stomach in pain.

In this dream, my beautiful yard was gouged, mangled, destroyed in various ways:  big, loud, dirty construction equipment digging deep, random holes; fences destroyed here and there to the extent that property lines were obscured; squishy, stinky mud pools lurked where vegetation had been scraped away, trees uprooted…

Last night I had a dream.  About my yard.  In this dream, I was awakened early in the morning after a night during which I thought I had heard subtle noises in my back yard.  I walked out my back door to find everything transformed.

A babbling brook wound its way down my side yard, to join another threading its way through the back.  Fresh flowers and shapely shrubs were either in their newly planted homes or being readied for them.  I could see drainage systems being put in place underground so that in times of heavy rain, my home would not be flooded by brooks become raging rivers.  Although the work was not yet complete, there were no signs of the magnanimous workers or their equipment.

My home, my yard in that first dream years ago represented my heart, which at the time was undergoing a slow, brutal breaking.

This morning, I feel not only gratitude that my heart ultimately healed from those years, but a new excitement about the time ahead of me in my new home.  My home on wheels.  My home that will be able to bring me to many babbling brooks, forests full of stately trees, and adventures and challenges that will keep my heart full.  I am blessed.

(The photo for this post is of a neighbor’s beautiful fish pond.  Thank you Mary!)