I am a baby boomer. At age 55 I chose to minimize my life. My daughter was going to college soon, and I wanted to be free to make choices quickly. I didn’t want to be encumbered by my 55-year collection of ‘stuff’ – stuff I had bought, stuff I had collected, stuff people had given me, stuff that I had no idea how I came to own.
I had the luxury of a two-year period from my decision to downsize, to the point where my belongings fit into a 5-foot by 5-foot storage unit. Then I sold my home and rented a room in a gorgeous home while deciding what to do with this glorious freedom. Of course, that is an extreme downsizing, but the thought process is not unique.
Five years later I am happily married and my life has never been more joyful. The process of letting go of material things led to a positive emotional experience I only dreamed of.
It wasn’t easy to downsize – at first. One of the more compelling reasons to keep something, was that it was tied to a memory. Some of the memories were good, some not so good – but memories none the less. I thought getting rid of a thing was analogous to getting rid of the memory.
Another reason I clung to certain items was the guilt associated with buying something and then not using it. It would be admitting to myself I made an impulsive, wasteful purchase.
Then of course, selling or giving away the many gifts received over the years felt like I was not appreciative and that I would be hurting someone’s feelings. The words “bad girl” kept creeping into my mind.
What about family pictures? Oh my gosh. How could I throw away a picture of my daughter, even though I had hundreds of every stage of life and every cute thing she ever did? It felt like I was doing something that would cause something evil to happen to my daughter. That my friends, is one way the mind works to make us cling to objects.
As I struggled to clear out boxes and boxes of photographs and other items I inherited when my parents passed away, I realized I didn’t want my daughter to have to go through this experience. It was irritating and frustrating and overwhelming. There were hundreds of pictures of people I knew nothing about and didn’t recognize. Well, it got easier. It gets easier in stages.
It took me 3 times going through every cupboard, nook and cranny to get to the point where I literally loaded the car and took everything left to the Salvation Army and didn’t look back. During that two-year period, I had three garage sales and multiple sales on Craig’s list and Ebay.
The point of my story is that I made the choice to have a choice. I now help other people downsize. I call the process “Choices for Change.”
Unfortunately, sometimes people need to downsize or move without the luxury of time to organize and really think about what is important for them to keep. That is when things are speedily packed in boxes and stacked in a storage unit, many times never to be seen again by the owners. I do what I can to help as soon as I am asked.
As a Realtor I have resources beyond those needed to sell and buy homes. I can help with many aspects of downsizing, staging and moving. As a Senior Real Estate Specialist, my training and experience includes 1031 exchanges, reverse mortgage acumen and many other things we Baby Boomers deal with as we make choices. If we make good decisions now, we can control our lives and stay independent longer than if we are simply reactive to life.