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Archive for the ‘Downsizing’ Category

When my husband and I downsized in June 2006, there came to light in our attic a cardboard file bursting with the letters we had exchanged since we met. Meeting at university in 1955, we wrote to each other at least twice a week during all the vacations, and notably during the year after graduation before our wedding in June 1959. I had determined that when we married I would read all the letters again and interweave them into a sequence that anybody could understand. They were long and intimate letters, intimate not about sex because we had never gone beyond what used to be known as “heavy petting,” but mentally and emotionally intimate, about how we foresaw a future marriage relationship, the books we read, the films we saw and the topics of the day.  We never used the telephone.  It was not then the custom to use the phone for private conversations, which were in any case impossible because the one phone in the house was in the sitting room.

So why did I never open the cardboard file again?  And why is it still unopened, in the loft in our new house, even after my husband’s recent death? I really do not know. I had a wonderful marriage, so disappointment is not a factor in my reluctance.  Nor do I mind my four sons reading our love letters. I would welcome the comments of other ElderChicks. [Please comment here.]

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A long time ago, I realized that one of the reasons I loved traveling was that I had very few things with me – fewer clothes, shoes, make-up, etc.  I liked the freedom that I felt having fewer “things” with me.

When my husband and I decided it was time to move, it was easy.  I made piles of things that we wanted to donate and  had one garage sale.  I used one of our bedrooms as a “give away room” and invited our friends to take whatever they wanted.  Also any visitors always had to take something with them when they left.  The hardest thing to dispose were the countless photos.  So, I made 4 piles – one for us and one for each of our 3 children.  I saw no reason why they also couldn’t have photos of our many friends.  They will appreciate having them after we are gone. I gave away all my “every day” dishes and glasses and now use all the ones I had at one time saved for “company.”

I now regularly go through clothes, paper “stuff”, books and donate whatever I can.  However, there are a couple of things that I feel I must continue to have – an ongoing collection of pop-up books and art related books.

The end result is that I no longer feel “owned” by my “stuff” and feel much more in control and happier with my new surroundings. [Please leave a comment here.]

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The subject of downsizing is one I have been involved with over the years, certainly.  My parents moved from a house to an apartment, from an apartment to a smaller one (my mother) and then to a nursing home.  At each time, of course, there were decisions to be made.  But the interesting thing is that as I contemplate retirement (I am hoping to retire next June at the end of the school year), I want to see what I am going to do next.  And I am planning on beginning a business that helps people organize any aspect of their life (mostly places in their homes, I hope) and help people make decisions about downsizing – what will make you happy to have, and what will make you happy to NOT have.

People have always asked me if I would be willing to come to their homes and help them organize.  My response has always been, yes, but I am not emotionally attached to anything in your home, so you might not be happy with my suggestions.  In fact, some of my friends get nervous when I am around (my friend Bernie was waiting breathlessly for me to leave on my one and only trip to his home.  We are still good friends, but he’s happy he doesn’t live nearby). (more…)

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Public Transportation..that is why I left the wine country where my husband and I had lived for almost 25 years and returned to our urban roots where there was public transportation. True living in the wine country was beautiful, we had made many friends and certainly took the opportunity to explore all the cultural events that happened. In addition we were very involved as active volunteers in programs and non-profits that interested us.

However, as the highway became more crowded, as my husband started to have vision issues the lure of public transportation and two adult daughters living in an urban setting lured us. We cheerfully downsized from 4 acres and slots of outbuildings for “stuff” and a dramatic home with a view and a wood stove to a smaller  home that had heat at a push of a button and was walking distance from our daughters. We quickly found many cultural events we could attend and volunteer for, easy access with our daughters and grandson…and public transportation at a discount for seniors(!) that we use frequently. I never looked back. [Please leave a comment here.]

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