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Downsizing to live small in my house, Part 1

By Dave Parrish

After years in the acquisition mode, I have arrived, as have many, to a place where more isn’t better. I’ve spent considerable energy lately to consider next steps and invariably I return to the conclusion that there is much to be said for downsizing.

Downsizing isn’t nearly as simple as it may seem, although in the end it offers a simpler, more focused existence. It’s definitely a change in mindset and a departure from what those of my generation have grown accustomed or based the measure of their life/success.

If I’ve followed any kind of normal approach to this process, it begins with the idea that I’ll just get rid of the stuff that I no longer use/need. Of course, the devil is in the details and in this case that means defining what is needed and what is actually used. As you get into the effort a much more complicated set of evaluation processes arrive that over time get re-evaluated and re-defined.

In my particular case, I started in the closet. I’m embarrassed to say that as I started the process, I had to come to terms with the fact that I had become a collector of clothing. Our master closet measures some 16’ x 5’ and is 12 feet high. Know that this closet houses not only my clothing (but only that which is hung on a hanger) but also that of my wife who has a shoe fetish, which often has me describing her as a little Miss Imelda.

Oh, how creative we had become in organizing and accommodating the collection of clothing, much of which hasn’t been worn in a long time. So where do you start? I tried the 12-month rule, but too quickly wimped out.

So ended round one of the closet wars. Friends, family and T.E.A.M. the beneficiaries, but the closet was still pretty full. With my wife holding the light of reality over me, I thinned out a bit more and decided I could celebrate an actual weight loss with a shopping spree accompanied with the displacement of an equal  or greater amount of clothing from the remaining hoarder’s lode.

Not really through with the closet, we both tasked ourselves to likewise deal with the bounding — or should I say boundless — shoe inventory. Joni reminds me every once in a while that she’s not the only collector of shoes in this house. Usable shoes to friends/family and some went directly to the trash. That was hard.

We’re really trying to hold ourselves to the 12-month rule, with a little leeway for sentimentality and tolerance of the other’s attachment. But arriving here did take some effort and letting go. Confronting the frequent question: You’re keeping that? Really?

The good news is that following this initiation into downsizing (rightsizing becoming the favored term) we really seemed to start getting into the process and enjoying a lightening of the burden of clutter and were energized to move through the rest of the house and our lives putting things back into balance. It does actually get easier, but there do remain some challenges.

May the market be with you.

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