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Posts Tagged ‘downsizing’

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Yesterday I spent my afternoon culling out the clothes from my wardrobe I haven’t given so much as a glance to in over a year.  This was prompted by a discussion I had with a friend visiting for a couple of days. She has been maintaining a storage unit for several years after downsizing from a house to an apartment. Along with yard tools the 10 x 8 space is used for housing surplus household goods she no longer has room for. It seems the storage unit is a bone of contention with her son who views it as a hefty monthly outlay for storing items she hasn’t looked at since the Ice Age. Additionally, she admitted when she needs something she has tucked away somewhere, rather than search through every box to locate it she has been repurchasing the item. So, now she has not only one but two of everything to find a place for. I suggested since she hasn’t missed or has replaced most of her possessions in storage why not donate them or toss them. What? Get rid of my precious belongings. Never!! Hello?

Rick and I had a long discussion about the importance of things prior to his passing away. None of it mattered at all to him at that point. He took nothing with him on his journey but all the love he had shared and his memories. Everything else was left behind on the physical plane. Sometimes I wonder why we feel the need to amass so much around us.  Comfort, certainly, but it’s more than that. You could be comfortable in a little two bedroom house with a cozy living room and a rather plump cat. I am as a matter of fact. Someone asked me the other day what I’d do if I found myself suddenly wealthy. Wake up, most likely, but in truth I have a pretty good idea of what I’d do. There is no part of me that needs or desires a huge palatial estate with twelve bathrooms and a bowling alley. Perhaps that is why I am sitting here at my modest table writing this blog. This is not coming from any feelings of jealously with regard to those who live that high priced existence but rather that I have little interest in doing so myself. If miraculously my bank account grew an extra six or seven zeroes on the end of it’s balance, I believe I would buy houses for my children, then purchase a small cottage for myself with lots of windows perched on a dune overlooking the sea. A large sunny kitchen and a fireplace would be fabulous and at least two bathrooms in case I have guests. Then I would travel every inch of the world I could fit into my schedule in between time spent with my children and their families. That would be the ideal way to spend the remaining years allotted to me if riches were in my future. Anyone with a crystal ball pointing in that direction please jump in here and let me know if I should begin to pack.

Serendipity being what it is while we were entertaining the storage unit discussion “Hoarders” showed up on the TV following whatever show we’d tuned in to. Mesmerized we watched out of control “collectors” have to face their reality once the houses they lived in became totally unmanageable or downright dangerous. One woman had a plethora of cats who had liberty to pee and poop wherever they found an open spot. Sadly two of them were discovered in mummified states as the clutter was unearthed and carted away.  If you have to create a pathway to navigate your house you might be hoarder. Had a friend in West Virginia who kept everything from the first spoon her little boy used to every report card, each picture he drew, various stages of clothing, and every single card he ever gave her. You can’t keep everything. Those memories can be stored in your heart always but perhaps not in your basement or crawl space. After watching the destruction on hoarders my friend vowed to go home and go through her storage unit and eliminate most of it.

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I heard someone say once America is a country of extremes. That we swing widely from one side to the other. That being said on the opposite side of the coin from the collectors would be the minimalists. Some even qualify as compulsive declutterers. I have a friend married to a lady who gets rid of things the instant they arrive. Unable to abide any clutter at all even the mail has to be collected by him so anything of importance doesn’t end up in the trash can before it can be attended to. Their living room is so sparsely decorated it always gives the appearance they have either just moved in or are preparing to move out. It’s the middle ground for me. Not a clutterer by any means, I need a throw pillow or two, a little color here and there, a magazine or two in evidence and bare walls flat out depress me. My decorating schemes are earthy tones, with contrasting fabrics and designs. I like to sink into my environment and find comfort after a long day in the trenches.

Honestly I have let go of so much over the past ten years. Sometimes I see more of my things when I visit friends and family then I do when I’m in my own home. Many of my pictures, linens, dishes and decorative items were given away or sold during my transition from the house in the high country to the wee house I inhabit today. I don’t mind at all. When I visit I say a silent hello and am glad to see them but I have no place to put them now and like to think someone I love is enjoying them. A friend of mine has a motto I like, “keep the best and leave the rest”. She lives her life that way.  Her closet is composed of interchangeable outfits enhanced by clothes she rents on a monthly basis. Let me preface, I’m not there yet and haven’t even entered the neighborhood. My closet is full and these are just the winter clothes. My summer wardrobe is stored in plastic bins in my shed. I’m still a work in progress. I do believe the beginning of changing a behavior is first acknowledging you are doing it, and second be willing to either improve how much you do it or stop doing it all together. I am on step one. My mother’s love of clothes slopped right over onto me and stuck like tar on a hot day. Sigh.

We all have things we are working on.  I have friends who’s love of shoes leans toward needing a twelve step program. What was it I believe Aristotle said avoid extremes of all sorts and seek moderation in all things. I’m working on it, I’m working on it.

Have a great uncluttered day!

 

 

 

 

 

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This will be my second month in my new house. Getting used to the new house and the new area at the same time has proved interesting.  I left behind 1,600 plus square feet and a block full of friends and great neighbors. I don’t miss the house so much, but the people were really a support system for me. Not that we’re far apart, twenty five minutes by car, but just far enough to make visiting more of a plan than a spur of the moment idea.

Rick died in September and the house went on the market early spring. You don’t realize how much you’ve amassed over twenty years until you start going through cupboards, retrieving boxes from the rafters in the garage, and sorting through closets. Half of my house was packed for four months without me even noticing it was gone.

The new house is 1,200 square feet and has no garage. Getting everything to fit was like trying to squeeze an elephant into a dollhouse.  Even the movers who do this for a living were scratching their heads when they saw the space I expected all my things to reside in. Sigh.

Two weekends ago I finally unpacked my last box. Many things I’ve either shuttled to my daughter’s house to prepare for a huge garage sale we have on the calendar for September, donated, or given away.  At that, the house still has every available nook and cranny packed tightly and a storage shed is going to have to be built on the patio to house Christmas containers, tools, and whatever else couldn’t find a home.

With the diminished square footage I also lost a bedroom. I decided to purchase a hide-a-bed for the living room to use when company came and convert the second bedroom into a sewing room and office. After several weeks of arranging and rearranging it was finally coming together making me feel more settled. Feeling comfortable (I should know better considering my life up to this point) I decided it would be safe to have my mother over for the weekend.

As I have mentioned my mother is well into her golden years. The ladies on my family tree have a history of enjoying long lives.  Mother is no exception. Blessedly the genes also carry with them good health so other than the dementia now plaguing her memory she is in miraculous shape considering the number of candles on her birthday cake.

The first night was uneventful. Being an early riser I was up first. The bed, a California king, is oversized for the bedroom. That being said, the only way to get it in the oddly shaped master bedroom (this is an old house) was to push one side against the wall. For me this presented no problem because I sleep on the opposite side. However, sharing space with my mother lest she get up and get confused I took the inside position.  This necessitated climbing up over the footboard and crawling along the hope chest to get to the bathroom. I know.

Not quite fully in the moment yet, I padded into the bathroom and did what people usually do there first thing in the morning. Flushing the toilet I realized quickly water was swirling under my nether region. Oh-oh. Pushing the dimmer switch to fully on I realized not only was I standing in water but the bathtub was half full and it didn’t look to be water from the tap. OMG.

Glancing at the clock it read 6:30. Naturally, it was Saturday. Nothing disastrous ever happens on a weekday. Where’s the fun in that? To add to the excitement the weatherman had predicted it was shaping up to be the hottest day of the summer. Why not? I waited until 7:00 to put in a call to my landlady.  The week prior she had put in a new stove after the old one tried to gas me.  Neither of us voiced it but I know I was starting to wonder if the house was trying to kill me off. First gas now a flood. What’s next locusts?

Calling me back she said to expect a plumber in an hour. Thank God. Meanwhile back at the ranch mother is awake and guess what? You win the stuffed elephant. Both toilets being unusable I got her dressed quickly as she was saying the situation demanded it. Mother, vanity one of her downfalls, was trying to fuss with her hair. Please. As quickly as one can with an elderly lady with a cane I propelled her to the car. The only place close I could think of was a CVS around the corner open twenty-four hours.  Guiding my mom through the front door I followed the sign at the back of the store with an arrow saying Restrooms. Yay. Mother, hair askew looking more like a big ball of cotton candy sitting on top of her head than a hair do, hustled along beside me. Pushing through the doors I realized it was half way across the warehouse to the bathroom area. Finally getting to the doors I found another elderly woman standing by one door doing what I would call if my five year old grandson was doing it, the potty dance. She asked if I had the key. Key? This is where the belief I have a very mischeivious guardian angel comes into play. Come on. So leaving the two ladies to fend for themselves I sprinted across the warehouse, through the doors, up to the cashier and breathlessly asked for the key to the loo where I was informed it was in the camera department. My eyes glazed over. Finally, key in hand I retraced my steps and got both women in and busy while I tried to slow my heartbeat down to some kind of acceptable rythym. Really?

By the time we got home the plumber’s truck was in the driveway. Two hours later he had determined a tree root had caused the problem. Both toilets working the landlady assured me she’d have someone out on Monday to clean the carpet and sanitize the bathroom. Sounded good to me….. oh, not so fast.

Turns out this is some sort of Hazmat situation. Reminded me of that scene from ET. Floors were ripped out, carpets pulled, and walls removed. One team sanitized and another was called to take samples to make sure no bacteria remained. The bathroom vanity is residing in my recently organized spare room along with most of my clothes, shoes, and the remainder of what was in the bathroom. Today they are sheet rocking and tomorrow they are coming to move all the furniture out of the master bedroom and replace the carpet. Where they are putting the furniture should prove to be an act of pure magic. Life, as they say, is rarely dull. At least, mine isn’t.

And the beat goes on…………………

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