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Sunday, 1 March 2015

Practical Advice on Downsizing

In 2011, I drastically downsized. I got rid of twenty boxes of teaching and home schooling notes by passing these on to a homeschooling family. I gave all my furniture to the poor. I had been made redundant in a college and could not find a job so I began a new life of utter simplicity. I had to move from my flat, which was too big after my son left.

I had art supplies, craft things, things which were my son's, and so on. Most of those things went. Son said, "Mum, get rid of everything except my cricket bat from my first half-century."

I got rid of thousands of books, keeping only theology, philosophy and some literature--still too many and when I can get someone to help me got through the boxes again, which are in storage in the Midwest, I shall pass on more books.

I just could not get anyone to help me in 2013-2014 from November to October over that period of time go through things at this site.

Here are some hints for downsizing and moving into smaller quarters.

1) If you can buy the things at the other end, pass them on: most clothes, pots and pans and other items can be passed on as these things are easy to get even at the St. Vincent de Paul stores. I have enough clothes to fit into two suitcases. That is enough, but one may need to buy more if one is moving to a different climate-hot to cold or cold to hot. Be clever about what is necessary and useful.

2) If furniture is not antique or worth more than 500 usd, per piece, pass it on. I passed on much more expensive stuff to the really poor, who could not pay me back. God will bless you for your generosity. Even at my age, one can sit on floors, eat on one table, not needing two, and sleep without having the best beds. Most of my blogging is done on the floor with my laptop on my lap and a blanket over my shoulders, and I have a spinal injury which did not heal correctly. Pain is prayer for all my readers.

3) Personal items which are important can be saved, but to an limit. Some people are too sentimental. I never kept rose petals from my various important bouquets. God will give you new flowers, even along the side of the road, to appreciate. The purification of the imagination begins with giving God your memory. He wants us to live in the present, not the past. God is found in the present moment.

4) Jewelry should not be kept if it means paying for storage in banks. I know a millionairess who has very few pieces-only those she wears weekly. She is an example to all.

5) If you have adult children and you have their stuff at your house, tell them to come and get it NOW or it is going to the St. Vincent de Paul. I know this is a problem for many parents. But, put your foot down. You do not have to store Johnny's football memorabilia from high school, or Jane's first date dress. Even one's wedding dress can be passed on to those who may want an older style. I sold mine years ago to a seamstress who wanted to re-use the expensive Spanish lace on the dress. My little family needed the money. I gave away the veiled hat to a bride-to be, and so on.

6) Buy a trailer for moving and make sure your stuff only fits into that trailer. Buy it before downsizing and use it for discernment as to what to keep and what to pass on. This is, of course, easier for a single person, but families can sit down and discuss what is really important.

7) If you have children, ask them to pass on old toys, games, etc. to the poor. Some parishes take toys for childcare.

8) Stop buying "stuff". How many bunny rabbit statues, ornaments, baskets, flower arrangements does one NEED? One is tempted to buy these things, but do not.

9) Pretend you are like me and have allergic reactions to dust, mold, scented can live without such stuff which collects dust. Collect, if you are so inclined, icons, and religious things easy to move.

10) Imagine having to move fast...what would you take? Pray for guidance.

11) The Holy Family is our model. Jesus, Mary and Joseph most likely lived in a two room house with stairs to a flat roof. Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, chose such a house to live is for most of His Sacred Life on earth. He is our Guide.

12) If you are buying a new house, buy one smaller than what you want, unless God is calling you to create a safe haven. I know one very holy family, wherein the couple have chosen a Josephite marriage, and they have a small house with four children. Daddy sleeps on the sofa. (I am discovering more and more couples who have chosen the Josephite way.) Mortification and penance can come in creative ways.