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It has been a couple of weeks since our house closed. The house is no longer our home. We are living downtown and loving it.

The biggest surprise for me? I do not miss the house.

Nobody needs to own a house to have a home.

The process of downsizing was humbling and emotionally draining.

I came across Jonathan Look’s blog, Life Part 2. He has a post on The Luxury of Little:

… like many people in the “developed world,” I had so many possessions that I couldn’t remember where my stuff was, or in many cases even remember that I had it. My junk drawers were expanding. I had “spare” cables, obsolete electronics, redundant tools, more sets of dishes and silverware than I had places for people to sit, and boxes of mementos that “one day” I would get around to going through and sorting.

Our situation was like that. Too many things. Way too many things. And, now that they have been sold, donated and tossed, I don’t seem to care about them.

Why did we fill our lives with so much stuff? Probably because we did not fill our lives with experiences that matter more.

Our transition into retirement is teaching me about many things. And one of the important lessons has been about possessions.

As Jonathan puts it:

… having a lot of “stuff” we don’t see or use doesn’t make us more secure. It drains our finances, limits our options, distracts our attention, diminishes our energies and most importantly, it wastes our time.

Let It Go

Perhaps it was the length of time that it took for us to sell our house. Lulled into a little bit of complacency. Everything seemed to be as it had always been. Life on automatic pilot.

When we sold our house earlier this month, we knew that we would have a lot of work ahead of us to downsize. Part of that work involves a significant change to the amount of stuff that we have been carrying with us through our married lives.

On a deeper level there is much, much more going on.

I have been really struggling with this part of the change. And I know why. I am scared about my mortality.

When I hit 60 years of age earlier this month, I was in a bit of shock. Where did all the time go?

As we begin this process of downsizing, I am asking different questions. Looking at all our stuff, it is easy to get confused about where we are going to next. Was this stuff what my life was all about? How did I get here? Is here where I wanted to be?

And there is sadness. Even to the point of tears.

I did not expect this part of the journey to be so challenging.

Peter Walsh wrote a book called Let It Go, Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life. I picked it up last week and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Recommended if you are going through downsizing or know someone who might be starting to downsize.

Too many people sleepwalk through their days, worrying about the future and regretting the past. As they fantasize and catastrophize, they’re missing vast swaths of their real lives, which are going on without them. Surrounding yourself with meaningless clutter further blocks out the real world and further impedes you from being in your life.

You now have a marker that serves as a starting point of a new life… pack up the possessions that are meaningful to you, and go have an adventure!

Downsizing

106 days.

A bit more than 15 weeks.

Taking out vacations and offsites that were already planned and booked? We probably have less than 84 days or 12 weeks.

We have to downsize our home in about three months. And it is time for us to take the plunge.

This will be our general approach:

  • We will start with sorting sessions. Daily. Probably for an hour or two.
  • We will start with the rooms that have the least amount of stuff. Hopefully that will allow us to see some quick results and keep us motivated. Those rooms will become the storage depots for when we tackle the rooms with the most stuff.
  • We will put our stuff into four piles: toss, sell, donate, keep.
  • We will finish one room before moving on to another.

Given our minimalist objective and moving into a much smaller space, we won’t be keeping very much stuff.