POMODORO DOWNSIZING: WHAT’S THAT?

How many of us have a pile of stuff that we just can’t get sorted?  I’m overwhelmed by 3 boxes of unsorted papers in a corner of my office.  I wonder every day if there is anything valuable in those boxes. Looking at them tires me out and I ignore them for another week. 

Similarly, friends Pete & Sue have a shed filled with old garden tools and feel overwhelmed at the thought of organizing it.  My neighbour Linda has a corner in the lower level of her house piled high with outgrown family clothes, school supplies, and sports equipment in disarray.

Do you share a similar feeling of “I don’t know where to start”?

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CHALLENGING CONVERSATIONS WHEN DOWNSIZING WITH SENIORS

No matter how much we are able to tap into our compassion (see Mindful Compassion While Seniors Downsize ), there are times when we need to initiate challenging conversations when we are downsizing with our elders.

Their energy is flagging, and so is ours. There's a time limit on this project as their move is happening next week. It feels as though there are too many decisions to make, and too much stuff lined up for the moving truck. 

If you have been firm about not taking on your parents’ stuff (see Your Downsizing Cannot Be My Upsizing), this may be the time to give a little.

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YOUR DOWNSIZING CANNOT BE MY UPSIZING

YOUR DOWNSIZING CANNOT BE MY UPSIZING

I love this pithy line shared by an adult daughter who is helping her mother downsize.  After selecting what she would take to her new smaller home, the older woman suggested that her daughter could take much of what was left. Her daughter’s response was “Mom, your downsizing cannot be my upsizing.”

In Mindful Compassion While Seniors Downsize, I shared some reasons why seniors struggle with downsizing.  For many of these generous folk, an easy solution would be for their adult children to take everything that the senior no longer needs and incorporate the items into their own homes.  

How many of us have been asked to do just that? And can’t or choose not to. 

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MINDFUL COMPASSION WHILE SENIORS DOWNSIZE

Many adults are helping senior family members downsize because of an imminent move to a smaller home or because their current home feels too full of stuff. 

Unless continuous clearing of possessions has been a priority for older generations or they have strong minimalist tendencies, most seniors have a lot of stuff.  This may be difficult for younger generations to understand. I commonly hear “Why can’t you get rid of stuff? or “Why did you buy all this stuff?” as younger family members struggle with their feelings of frustration and weariness in supporting their elders.

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CORRALLING SENTIMENTAL ITEMS

How do you keep on downsizing and not get stuck with YOUR OWN sentimental items such as photos, letters, greeting cards, and mementos?   This question came from a client whom I will call Laurie who has read Downsizing INHERITED Sentimental Objects.

Laurie is rightsizing and organizing her own home, and at the same time is helping her parents downsize to a smaller home.

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MARIE KONDO & WHY DO WE HAVE SO MUCH STUFF?

Marie Kondo. Does that name ring a bell?  
You may have heard Kondo's name on a talk-show, watched her on Netflix or YouTube, read about her on Facebook, or spotted The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in your favourite bookstore or library.  
Marie Kondo is a Japanese home organizing sensation whose minimalist methods of downsizing are front and centre in various media.  
Kondo asks “Does it spark JOY?” as she encourages everyone to touch each item in their home.

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DOWNSIZING INHERITED SENTIMENTAL OBJECTS

How do you let go of inherited sentimental objects when there are just too many tools, teacups, kitchen utensils, ornaments, or (add your category)?

This question came from a client whom I will call Dave who had inherited 20 old tools from his father. He had vivid memories of his Dad using each of the tools around the farm or house. Every time that Dave saw the tools, he remembered his Dad with great affection. However, he was moving to a smaller space and had his own more up-to-date tools of which he needed very few. HIs Dad's beloved old tools had become a burden, yet he couldn’t bear to put the tools in a garage sale as he felt like he was ‘selling’ his father. 

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THE KEY TO NEW YEAR’S DOWNSIZING RESOLUTIONS

What’s the key to start my New Year’s resolutions about downsizing and organizing?  I heard several versions of that question over the holiday season. 

I learned awhile ago that one-size-does-not-fit-all when it comes to downsizing!  Personality, motivations and circumstances all impact how we best start and keep downsizing resolutions.

What method or key is going to unlock consistent downsizing possibilities for you? 

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DECKING A DOWNSIZED HALL

In the midst of this holiday season, are you one who decorates inside and out creating a home festooned with garlands and lights from every doorframe and fencepost?  Or are you a minimalist who gives your unique nod to the season with a small display?  Or are you somewhere in between?

I love the decorations of this season! I am always glad to put them up and sad to take them down.

However, I recall a year where I hardly had the energy to drag the tubs and boxes upstairs let alone unpack them. 

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GIFT-GIVING EXPECTATIONS: ROOTS & WINGS

Parents give their children roots to grow and wings to fly. This may apply to family treasures as well!

How do we gift from our collections without placing heavy Expectations on the recipient?

Recent blog posts focus on gift-giving from our abundant collections and story-telling about family treasures.

While helping people through downsizing, I often hear:

“The next generations don’t want my stuff or won’t take good care of it." 

How do we gift from our collections without placing heavy Expectations on the recipient?

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STORY-TELLING ABOUT A FAMILY TREASURE

Gift-Giving from Your Collection (last week’s blog posting) suggests how gift-giving during the holiday season from one’s ready-made collection can help the downsizing process. 

Perhaps you have chosen family treasures to pass on. Or family members have asked if they can eventually have an item, and you have replied “Yes! Now!”   

Telling the story of the gift may help ensure that it is treated with some of the respect that you hope it will be. Reminiscing can also help you emotionally let go of your possession with your best wishes. 

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GIFT-GIVING FROM YOUR COLLECTION

As we move into the traditional gift-giving time of year, here’s our invitation to consider if there are items in your home or your parents’ home that might support a family down-sizing project.   

What might gifting from an abundant collection look like for a multi-generational family?  Significant and meaningful items could be passed on to younger generations as part of the holiday season. 

Where might small appliances such as a rarely used bread-maker or furniture such as an old bookcase find a new home? 

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DON’T EVER SAVE ANYTHING FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION — BEING ALIVE IS THE SPECIAL OCCASION

As I help people downsize and rightsize their homes, or sort through estate items,  I often hear: “I keep that for special occasions” or ‘We use those dishes only once a year” or “Those were my Dad’s tools. I don’t ever use them as I might damage them."

One of the best inspirational sayings that I have heard in the work I do is:

"Don't Ever Save Anything for a Special Occasion - Being Alive is the Special Occasion"

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THEY LEFT US EVERYTHING

They Left Us Everything is a memoir by Canadian Plum Johnson about caring for her senior parents and the 16-month project of sorting and clearing their home. This contemporary story is set in her parents’ rambling 22-room house filled with decades of accumulation and memories. In sharp contrast to The Swedish Art of Death Clearing (my recent blog posting), Johnson finds real value in waiting until after someone’s death to sort their stuff.

How many of us have faced the experience of setting out on an excavation to clear an elderly relative or friend’s home?

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TWO PRACTICAL HINTS ON LETTING GO

“Just two practical hints from THAT book — that’s all I need” wrote a friend after reading my blog posting: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death-Cleaning.

In her wise and humorous book about letting go of stuff in a way that uplifts and doesn't overwhelm, Margareta Magnusson offers two suggestions that appeal to me.

Begin letting go somewhere other than PHOTOS — or letters and personal papers.

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THE GENTLE ART OF SWEDISH DEATH-CLEANING

Throughout this Fall, I will be reviewing two books that have greatly helped me in my own downsizing before a move and rightsizing to enjoy my current home. The first is the international best seller The Gentle Art of Swedish Death-Cleaning: How to Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Clutter (2018) by Swedish artist Margareta Magnusson.

I love the title!  The phrase "Death-Cleaning” can be startling!

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