Remember, less is more
Updated: July 22, 2012 6:26AM
“Downsizing” is a word that strikes fear in the heart when it comes to jobs. But it is equally as troubling in the context of living space and personal possessions.
“Yes, I’m thinking about downsizing, getting a smaller place,” I casually mentioned to a friend, who offered much encouragement.
It sounded like such a great idea getting rid of stuff I hadn’t used in years and even more stuff I was hanging onto without a good reason.
I felt noble saving my three adult children from dealing with all my possessions decades from now, hopefully, as I had done with the passing of my dad and in-laws.
And it made sense to let go of things others could put to a better use. Did I really need five spare coffee carafes, which didn’t fit my current coffee maker anyhow?
Less is more, I told myself blissfully. Less is more.
So a year ago, I set about sorting, systematically moving from room to room with the three Gs in mind, garage sale, give away or garbage. My trash and recycle bins were filled for several weeks, and soon, you could hardly walk through my basement. It became the staging area for my first-ever garage sale.
As my inventory of junk was mounting, I got kind of a panicky feeling I might be starring in the next episode of “Hoarders.” That fear of a film crew steeled my resolve to be ruthless. Still, 25 years of family accumulation was a daunting task to weed through.
Fortunately, there was no turning back. My neighbors and I committed to a Garage Sale Extravaganza in October. That Saturday was a glorious morning, and I did my best to get set up to beat the early birds. Still, I had customers by 8 a.m., and I was thrilled.
The next three hours were kind of a blur. Sunday was much more relaxed with time to talk with shoppers, many of whom felt compelled to share their life stories. You do meet the most interesting people at garage sales.
Hard to believe, but I made about $250! Not hard to believe, I had 43 boxes for the Salvation Army to pick up the following week.
After I recovered from my first, and maybe last garage sale, I took my next big dive into divesting via craigslist.com. After quite a few emails and phone calls, I sold four items! I might try eBay, but I have a feeling I will be more successful on freecycle.org, given the nature of my possessions.
My downsizing saga continues as I survey what’s left. Somehow, I don’t feel like I made that much progress. My rooms and closets look as full as ever. I need to make the rounds again, sorting with at least two Gs.
I wonder how I can possibly cram the contents of eight rooms and a full basement into four rooms with just a skimpy storage locker. And that doesn’t count the garage. At least I don’t have a shed.
It occurred to me I desperately need to let go one of one thing, my grandfather’s motto in life when it comes to stuff: I might need it.
As I searched online for downsizing tips, I came across this nugget: A life filled with possessions is no competition to a life filled with family, friends, and meaningful connections. There’s my new motto.
If you need any old newspapers, I still have lots from all my favorite stories. At least they’ll be good for packing when the time comes.
Jane Michaels is a staff writer for The Doings.