Thursday, October 5, 2017

Downsizing for the Joy of It

Hello and welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday! Today we are gathering at Maya's Move Over ADHD to discuss how small steps lead to big change. This is a great topic for me right now, as we are in the process of downsizing. I look at my bookshelves, my walls, my closet, my kitchen, and I feel completely overwhelmed!

But. We (fortunately) are not on a deadline. It doesn't have to be completed today or this month or even this year. Which means I can take those small steps -- one shelf or cabinet or wall at a time.

The hard part for me is living in the chaos. I very much like things DONE. I like checking tasks off, I like the feeling of accomplishment when I dust my hands off after completing something. And as Paul says, I'm already gone. Already moved in at the lake, looking at this 20-year-great-place-to-raise-kids house in the rearview mirror.

But this is a process. And what I am learning about myself is that all this task-checking over the years has been a way for me to feel more in control, a way to manage or redirect my feelings. Which is interesting, because I am no more in control when I am accomplishing things than when I am not! Perhaps this gradual, little bit at a time downsizing is helping me to learn how little control I actually have, and how life is happening now, a shelf a cabinet a wall at a time. It's all part of the process.

So, yes. Small steps add up to big changes. Today I am learning to see the untidyness as LIFE, instead of a step toward life.

This is it! I'm living it, and yes, it's a little messy right now, and I'm not in control, and I'm shedding things I once held dear, and that's changing me, too.

I have always been so sentimental, always NEEDED items to remind me of loved ones, of beauty, of experiences... and today I need them less. I am learning those people, those moments -- they are inside me, a part of me. Maybe I don't need all those things after all.

Two resources for those who might be experiencing similar circumstances: THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo and children's book creator Elizabeth Dulemba's Tedx talk: Is your stuff stopping you?

One a-ha moment for me during Elizabeth's talk is how we keep stuff to feel more permanent -- and isn't that what a girl (like me) might do after moving 11 times by the age of 14? I have always craved long-term and permanence. When that doesn't even exist.

Also, I don't like to admit this, but in the spirit of small steps for big change, I'm pretty sure one motivation for the things I've kept these long years has been a desire to impress others: look at all the poetry books Irene has! Did you see all that art? Isn't Irene the coolest? Yep. Another area in my life where I might be looking outside myself for validation.

Well. The new house -- the lake house -- it's not about anyone else but me and Paul. And it's about NOW, this moment. So we are keeping it really simple, aiming for utility and pleasing ourselves (joy!).... with as little clutter as possible. And I take great inspiration from one of the quotes Elizabeth shares in her Tedx talk:

“I have a hobby. I have the world’s largest collection of sea shells. I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you’ve seen some of it.”' - Steven Wright

Isn't that wonderful? Working on it. xo 


  1. I don't envy the messy process to downsizing. I admire the effort, though. I love how you are embracing a new stage in life with a place at the lake, more peace, less stuff. I'm not there yet.
    Are you gathering the posts? Here's mine:

  2. Hi, Irene. With our youngest heading to college next year, we are starting to plan for downsizing too. We have accumulated lots of stuff in our home of 18 years. I am looking forward to winnowing!

  3. This is such a busy time of year, and I have found myself feeling uptight about every responsibility that comes along. Meetings, Trunk or Treat, Fall Fest, choir, book group, more meetings, doctors appointments, birthdays, consignment sale, etc. Everything seems to gang up on me this month. How will I manage?

    I tend to stress myself. I try hard, and then harder. I push myself to live up to responsibilities, all of which are good activities, but then I begin to feel worn out, and even resentful.

    Some time back, as I looked at the years ahead, it came to me that they would be like a race. Keep in mind, I'm retired. I'm not young. So...what am I doing to myself?

    Little by little I am learning. Little by little I let go of those things that have less meaning, that no longer need me, that don't need to be done. Meals become simpler. Clothing is simpler and looser. I may not be able to go the extra mile, but I can walk the block.

    The image I strive for is one of gracious giving and prayer. I have learned, for instance, that when I can't sleep, it is a good time to pray. Instead of being upset about being awake, I am calmed and comforted. When I have too much to do, I am trying to learn to relax and let life happen, let go of all the minutiae that doesn't really need to be done, and enjoy the moment. Living in the moment is a goal that will take many small steps for me, and that's okay. I can take small steps.

    Some lessons take a lifetime to learn. I am learning to listen to my own rhythms, to laugh when the senior moments come along, and to do what I can. I give my best to God, and trust that I am in good hands.

    1. Oh, Karen, I loved reading your thoughts and especially when you mentioned that you're retired! Me too, but busy as ever. I love your learnings: listen to my own rhythms, laugh, and do what I can. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

  4. Sorry for the late post, but I'm out of town and watching Jack while my daughter attends a conference. If only I were more organized, I'd have written this post last week (but last week was moving week for them), and so I keep trying to figure out how to embrace and celebrate small steps in my life. Here's the link to my post:

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    1. Irene, downsizing is a laudable goal. Your husband's thought about being gone: "Already moved in at the lake, looking at this 20-year-great-place-to-raise-kids house in the rearview mirror," is a great way to think that life is a path to recognize where we are at a given moment. Are we where we are at or are we moving on to another chapter?Thanks for the opportunity to reflect. I will be late to blog because I spent the day with my husband who underwent surgery. More later but the end note is that on Spiritual Journey 1st Thursday, my husband was blessed with a successful surgery.

  6. down sizing for me is being strong and letting go so I can go antiquing and add more... I'm hopeless

  7. My post, Small Steps, has been posted at

  8. Well, in my humble opinion you ARE the coolest person ever! I remember when we downsized from 2800 sq. ft to 1600. It was definitely a challenge. It was also amazingly freeing. That was almost 20 years ago and I walked through the house the other day thinking I need to get rid of stuff again! It grows, even if you don't feed it!

  9. It is with the shedding of things that we find simplicity. Great reminder.


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