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Sonoma County Gazette
Senior Momentum - A Series of Situations by Zoe Tummillo

Downsizing: the Demise of Stuff!

Aug 1, 2017
by Zoë Tummillo, Communications Concepts


In big business, of course, it involves closing satellites, firing employees and cancelling expansion plans. In personal life, in very personal contexts (particularly after the youngest has flown the coop), it involves all the kinds of stuff one has but no longer needs – including stuff one saved from their children’s early lives to give to them, later.

Downsizing in all aspects of your life (because it’s time) can become pretty complex – just when you long for simplicity. It can plunge you into rapidly oscillating states of consciousness that bog down the process and make it drag on; and, on. You know, lingering too long over the old photos while trying to cull and sort!

Anyone who has put in their time in large, densely populated households for umpteen years or so will easily relate. 

The two-story houses (with multiple bedrooms, baths, rec areas, kitchen, garage -- not for the car, heaven forbid -- yards, gardens, etc.) can suddenly feel like the rock of Gibraltar has just landed on your head -- when the last kid permanently leaves home, and you have all that space and all the stuff that’s in it, minus people!   

For a few years you hang in because, after all, they will be visiting and it would be nice for them to have their old rooms available...yadda, yadda; you know, memories and all. But, trust me, it gets old, and –yikes! – so do you. The answer: Downsize. Eventually, it’s the necessity; and yet in some ways feels more like a burden than just a natural next step.

I am moaning & groaning about this subject because I am currently immersed in it. 

This possibly last little house that I have bought is truly all the space I need when I look at it in a pristine perspective! However, it presents a very real functional challenge when trying to process and sort through the old file boxes, bins of photos, quantities of housewares and other “multiples” no longer needed. Living alone (at last!) who needs three muffin pans, six cookie sheets, three sets of mixing bowls, duplicate this and that and so on. But to move it along, you have to go through it all! It buries me. It resembles disorder and even chaos at times, when it is actually a carefully choreographed and executed downsizing process all my own!

In The New York Sunday Times of June 4 there was an intriguing article ”The Tyranny of Tiny Living” in which the author, Gene Tempest, goes into the lifestyle changes – both real and perceptive that she and her husband encountered when deciding to live in very small quarters – a 492 square foot apartment! What is somewhat implied in that delightful piece is either formerly larger living space, or the dream of future larger living space. It brought to mind the related issues that accompany opting for smaller over spacious; i.e., the imperative of downsizing one’s living inventories, on all levels.

I know it’s the right thing to do (my children, all over 50, confirm this to me...) live smaller with less maintenance, better economies and“...easier on you, Mom.” And I am hoping it will be if I can ever get through the storage locker contents, the three sheds... the stuff.

I believe there is an almost deadly connection between the meaning of one’s stuff and one’s tolerance level concerning keeping something or moving it along.   And, further, I believe that within that connection lies the key to

1) the elimination of storage facility rent,

2) the development of better possession rationales, and

3) successful downsizing.  Amen!



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