Lessons Learned Led to Downsizing

For years I have been de-cluttering: donating, selling and throwing away. It has been a never-ending story. Still, things seem to reproduce in my home. I have to say, it’s discouraging, so I have finally decided to end this once and for all. I am downsizing!!!

Of course, this would seem similar. Isn’t it the same thing? I ask myself….well, not really. I have neglected to make some big decisions and it is time to correct that. So I have made a list of things that need doing.

First: asking my children to take their things and dispose of them. Take boxes out of my storage space and send them somewhere else, somewhere where they cannot come back. Could it be that simple?

Do not know for certain, but I have started. My son moved to Houston a couple of months back. With everything he was taking there, I managed to send some boxes that have been in my possession for more than 10 years. There could have been more, but I discovered that later. Still, it felt wonderful!!!

This week I plan to spend some time looking through boxes again, making sure I find those which escaped me last time. I am sure a couple of more will be on their way to Houston soon. 

While down there, I will make sure that boxes belonging to my daughter will be found. She needs to go through them and decide what she wants to keep and what she wants to get rid of. Going back into my storage is not a choice. These are their things and they should do with them as they see fit.

Second: being ruthless, concentrating on what I want to achieve instead of getting lost in the memories and the sentimental value of my stuff. This has been the hardest lesson to learn. To work through it, I do not dwell on it. I make decisions on the spot and carry them out right away.

Boxes are open and I follow simple rules. If I haven’t seen in years, I already learned to live without it. There are plenty of charities that would take them. If not,  throw them away. If there are papers older than 5 years, shred them. Clothes, shoes and accessories, handbags and hats. Do I really need that much? Donating is the best way to get rid of most of them. More space in my closet and drawers is a great reward.

Third: organizing what to sell is important. Why not make some cash out of this exercise? This has been tricky. We live in an apartment building……garage sales are not allow. Fortunately, there is always a friend with a home who does not shy away from helping you with that. Hopefully I think I have found mine.

Separating these items, then be ready to price them without getting involved with the way you feel about them. Be realistic when it comes to what you think they are worth and what they are really worth!!! This is another lesson that has taken some time to learn. Being objective is not always easy, it helps to put myself in someone else’s shoes. How much would I pay for this, if I was buying at a yard sale? Still working on it.

Fourth: books, CDs, DVDs, even vinyl records and VHS tapes is more exasperating than others things you want to get rid of. Books are slowly going out of style, no matter how I feel about that. There are too many books, apparently, and no more are needed. Finding places that would take your books and give you credits to get different ones has been relatively easy……but that is not my goal. I wanted to just get rid of them. Making sure I separate the ones I would keep because I love them and would read them gain. Donating to public libraries, school libraries, nursing homes, hospitals…..they are still accepting books!!! Will try to sell the others.

In these days when we can stream anything on you computer or television…..who would want these relics of the past? Well, I found out that there are places that buy CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and even vinyl records, but not everything. They require you to go to them, they inspect what you bring and then pick and choose what they want. Do not expect to get too much. What is left, I am keeping  for your garage or yard sale…and hope for the best.

Fifth: big pieces such as furniture and appliances are difficult to get rid of. Especially if you do not have a vehicle to transport them. Getting any charity to pick up these items is easier said than done. We waited for weeks to get the Salvation Army to pick up some pieces of furniture from our son’s apartment. When they finally came, everything was inspected and a few things were rejected. Thankfully we had a Plan B……because you cannot just put them out on the sidewalk. City Ordinances say you must pay a fine and still end up disposing of the items yourself.

Once I have completed all these steps, I will have just what I want, need and find beautiful. I will have space in my home to make it feel bigger and more spacious than it is. Hopefully, I will also be reluctant to buy anything to replace what  I sold or gave away. This looks more promising that just de-cluttering.

 

It’s December, be Generous

img_7608November was to be thankful, December is to be generous!!! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, isn’t it? Everywhere we see decorations, hear Christmas carols, see the SALE signs. We have decorated our homes and are busy buying our presents. Of course, some of us  already have them. I am not that organized.

img_7600I love Christmas, but it has never been my favorite holiday. It is, though, an important part of my family’s celebrations. They simply love the whole package: from buying the tree, to decorating, to planning to spending time with loved ones, to figuring out what to give to whom. I have made it my job to organize this time every year. It’s what gives me the most pleasure, and I do it all for them. It’s a warm feeling, a feeling I revel on.

Now, in the middle of the planning, decorating and organizing, I have another important task. I remember the different charities I support during the year with my donations. I help where I think it’s most needed and there is a lot of need out there. The thought that I can bring a small amount of joy to others besides my family, really makes this the best time of the year!!!

img_7570Of course, you can do this in so many different ways. When I lived abroad, my involvement was more personal, more hands on: helping collect and wrap Sinterklaas presents for children who otherwise would not get any, helping organize a Christmas party for the elderly with the American Women’s Club.  Before that, just getting presents to people I knew needed them more than we did. Didn’t take much, but was so rewarding.

The thought that you can make a difference to one person, makes it worthy. Our lives are so much better than most, our duty is to be generous. It can be anything:  donate to a women’s shelter, volunteer to spend time with the children, visit a hospital and bring some small presents, help at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, visit an old people’s home. Make it personal, see how your gesture makes them smile.

It’s December, it’s the month to share our good fortune, it’s the time to extend our hand in friendship. This month, more than any other, should be the time to get out there and give back!!!img_7571