Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Great Downsize... and How We Did It

There are many articles that boast the mental health benefits of being grateful, and how helpful it is to actively think of, and even write down things you are thankful for on a daily basis. This morning, at the top of my grateful list, is the recent simplification of our lifestyle. My husband and I made a huge change 2 months ago. We moved from just under 3000 SF of living space into a cozy 2 bedroom condo, measuring in at just under 1000. I had lived in the home we just left for 17 years. When Tim moved in 5 plus years ago from his large family home, he added lots of his to mine, so, yeah...the ours was a lot to sort through to get ready for the downsize.

I began mentally and physically de-cluttering well before we listed the house. It was a process that began long before Marie Kondi's method of Tidying Up became all the rage. There were a few "ah ha" moments that got the process rolling. As our kids moved out and into their own places, we found there were rooms in our home we didn't enter for weeks or months at a time. We lived in what amounted to a condo-size part of our house: the kitchen and family room, our bedroom and bathroom. When we'd visit our kids or go on vacation and be in a smaller space for awhile, I realized how relaxed I felt; how little space, and how few items we really needed in our every day lives. When we returned home...I'd find myself wandering through the rooms we didn't use, and opening closets full of clothes and other stuff the kids left behind. I looked at the pretty knick-knacks I somehow acquired through the curio cabinet glass, and thought of the basement crawl space below me -full of things I hadn't looked at in years. I knew there were boxes of kids artwork, photos, toys and costumes, and lots of un-reconciled items that once belonged to our late spouses. It all had become quite overwhelming. Finally, I thought about how hard it was to clean out our parents' homes after they died, and how I didn't want to leave that job for our kids.

Years ago, I was inspired by the writings of Leo Balboa, author of the book The Power Of Less and also his blog Zen Habits. But it was the podcast The Minimalists and the philosophies of Josh and Ryan that really motivated me to want to start the process of living a more meaningful life with less. The interesting thing is, when you talk about minimizing, its sounds as though living with less is some kind of a sacrifice, and that in simplifying and de-cluttering, you are getting rid of your possession and depriving yourself of things. But it really is just the opposite. As I discovered, it's not about having less, but making room for more. One of my favorite quotes from Josh and Ryan is that "Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which aren’t things at all!" 

We started the process thoughtfully. Our kids took the things important to them and gave us permission to do what we wanted with what was left behind. We made sure they each took those things that had meaning to them or memories from their parents. We carefully selected the items we wanted to move with us, and those left behind we offered to family members, sold on marketplace, or donated. We sold the house and moved into a place that not only was significantly smaller, but significantly less expensive, so that we would reduce our monthly expenses significantly. 

After spending time in Portland, OR visiting one of our kids, we discovered the joy of a "walking neighborhood." Portland has a number of these, and we love being able to walk to boutique shops, great restaurants, wine bars, breweries, parks and grocery stores all within blocks of one another. We wanted to find something like that here in our hometown, and have come pretty close in our new neighborhood.  Our condo complex is a quaint and homey community-built in the early 1970's with a New England charm. It's less than a mile to Highland Square's Mustard Seed and other cool places when you head one direction, and in the other, a Whole Foods and Tim's work. Because we don't have a fenced-in yard anymore, we walk our dogs 3 to 4 times daily, and while that isn't always pleasant in cold weather, we are all healthier for it!  

I'm not sure that this is our forever home, but I do know than any move after this will be much easier. It's funny how it seems like we spend the first half of our lives acquiring stuff, and the second half  getting rid of it! But it sure feels like I've gained more by having a little less; and for that, I'm grateful.

Our lovely and larger home

Our cozy condo

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