Lighten Up

In late September I had the pleasure of reuniting with several people I’d gone to high school with. It wasn’t a formal reunion. Rather, it was a gathering of individuals who’d attended Orange Glen High School in Escondido, California, who now reside in the Pacific Northwest.

It was an enjoyable visit. In talking with people, I learned that in addition to our age, shared school, and the fact that we live in the Pacific Northwest, we have another common denominator. Without exception, the people Len and I spoke with are contemplating, or in the process of downsizing.

Within this collective mindset, it turns out that less is more, and that “he who dies with the most toys” doesn’t win.

What was the last physical item you offloaded?


67 thoughts on “Lighten Up

  1. I am glad we are not alone. The last item we offloaded was our house with all its contents. Now happily living and travelling in our motorhome and trailer containing all we need. 👍😊

  2. I got rid of one vehicle that I was never going to restore to operation recently. Have two others that I agreed someone could have, but they haven’t taken them yet.

    For me it’s not a matter of playing games of having the most toys, but much more about starting projects that look interesting, then find other more interesting things to do, and not quite getting back to the older things. Then there’s all the “boy scout” “be prepared” stuff – and I’m prepared for lots of things.

    And it is starting to dawn on me that we might be much better off organising preparedness on a larger scale; and part of me can also see a strong need for a level of redundancy and independence. And I am starting to slide that scale back a little, so that I am prepared to accept that a two week independence might be enough, rather than a two month one.

    And part of me can see that as our exponential technology comes on-stream, I will be able to create what I need from whatever I have at hand, so won’t actually require a lot of mass.

    My life has always had a quality of being more about the experiences than the toys, and some toys are required for some sorts of experiences.

    • Ted — I think your last sentence captures it beautifully: “My life has always had a quality of being more about the experiences than the toys, and some toys are required for some sorts of experiences.” Well said!

  3. I’m about to leave the country and go back to Spain so I’m trying to get rid of a lot of stuff including the house. I am going to try and not accumulate as many things in the future!

  4. We moved to Spain almost 3 years ago. That meant offloading 75% of our stuff. We went from 1350 square feet to 700 square feet. We sold, donated and threw away so much stuff. Yes, the trend now is to downsize. Makes me wonder why we accumulated so much in the first place. Always great to get together with old friends.

  5. I’m calling my efforts de-cluttering, but it includes passing on the various family things I’ve collected over the years. I’ll soon be sending all of my dad’s 35mm slides and a viewer to one of my sons and that will free up a very long shelf in one closet. After having the experience of clearing out my mom’s house/apartment/assisted living facility (3 separate efforts) and seeing my cousins deal with my aunt’s house full of stuff, I want to get a head start on the job so my kids don’t get stuck with it later.

  6. Your post on downsizing is timely. Our house is for sale, a home we love, but we know it’s the right thing to do. We had an auction and it was apparent how many items we had. It was good reading the posts and seeing there is a happy ending. I am a writer, and to help me cope, I am writing a short story titled: YOU CAN BUY MY HOME BUT NOT MY MEMORIES.
    The item I miss the most is our dining room table, a table where our family of eight shared meals and so much more.

    • Rose — I love the way you’re coping with selling your home by writing a story. I have the sneaking suspicion you could additionally write a collection of short stories based on your memories of when the family gathered ROUND THE TABLE

  7. I’ve had a TV/entertainment center which was still in a box; it needed 2 people to assemble it because of it’s size and weight.. While I was waiting for assistance, I realized it was too wide for my small living room. So, last month, I gave it to my nephew, a young adult, who just bought his first home, a bit of a fixer upper. He welcomed it. And, it was perfect for his space. I’ve helped several family members with useful items for their homes. Fun to walk into their places and see my old possessions put to good use.

    My current, seemingly endless project is purging old files. I now need a new shredder. Ha!

    I just heard this morning that the average household has 300,000 items.What a stunning number! I don’t think I’m anywhere near that.

    • Audrey — I love that you’re helping family members with practical items they can put to good use. And your paper shredder? Brilliant!

      The number you shared—300,000—really makes a person sit up and take notice!

  8. Great question, Laurie. We off-loaded lots of stuff last year before we moved. Now we have day-to-day intention not to accumulate. Yesterday Cliff committed cardboard boxes in the garage to the recycling bin, and I passed on some wicker baskets I’ll never use.

    • Marian — I applaud that you and Cliff share a “day-to-day intention not to accumulate.” That’s the way to approach it because otherwise “stuff” has a tendency to sneak up on us 🙂

  9. Got rid of a bunch of old electronics a few months ago. Sold a few, recycled most of the others. Downsizing is high on our list these days too. But as usual, inertia is a powerful “non-force.” ;-(


  10. I am preparing my second downsizing now after being left solo in this life, and offloading items every day…the latest being a huge video camera from 1988. Time to let go…

    • Tiny — I love that today’s video cameras are right inside our cell phone and fit in the palm of our hand.

      For me, “letting go” is a liberating action that frees me (body, mind, and spirit) to enjoy other people, places, things, events, and opportunities.

  11. I’ll be doing that today – in a way. Today is the day I must break down cardboard boxes (the result of shopping online) and haul recyclables to the dump. I need to do that so I can get the outdoor chair cushions to their winter spot in the garage. There is much more to be gotten rid of – the problem is figuring out how to do it without it being costly. I also want to reduce my belongings so my kids aren’t stuck with that job.

  12. Yesterday, I sorted through several drawers and shelves, and came up with a nice little pile of books and clothing to donate. I discarded a few things not worthy of giving away, as well as a stack of papers I no longer need. It’s a good feeling!

  13. You look like a very fun group.

    I have a box by my bedroom full to overflowing with items destined for the local thrift shop. The most recent item I added to this box was a dog harness too small for Abby (my new dog).

  14. two years ago we sold out big house and downsized to a smaller house only one story better for me. Now two years later, I still want to downsize more stuff (I hate to dust) We still have boxes and a huge doll house from our kids. “One is not an empty nester until all the kid’s things are out of the house” But I want to share that my Mother and Father downsized with each move they made for a new job and a new location after I turned 16. That was 7 moves and then my father died and I assisted my Mother with 4 more moves. When she died we gave clothing to charity and one carefully packed box to each child and grandchild. ( Such as her collection of tea cups went to her grandson because he could sell them on eBay and start a college fund for his daughter) It took me about 3 hours to downsize everything else and then now 7 years later I can shred her old tax records and everything except her death certificate. A good life, well lived and then slowly and surely with foresight and planning let go and released. I admire her efforts and although my family and I did a lot of helping along the way (and moving) we were not left with a full house

  15. One of my favorite topics! When I moved from ID to NC in 2011, I was happy when the disappointed main truck driver informed me my possessions did not really equate to a three-bedroom house. He was bummed because his truck wasn’t adequately filled, but the major corporation my ex worked for was paying for the move. And then when the ex flew the coop, I got rid of all of his stuff. ALL of it. I sold most of it on eBay and on Craigslist. That felt REALLY, REALLY good. Especially when I sold his expensive fly fishing stuff. He was like, “How could yo do that to me?” I was like, “Hmmm, how could you flee to Thailand?” In any case, I’ve continued to get rid of stuff in the last three years. I’ve gone so far as to only fill half my fridge and half my pantry, proving to myself how much space I truly need 🙂

  16. Beautiful photograph… Every year I receive an email for a dinner meeting at my High School… I only assisted a few times… Maybe I should give it a try this year?… It is strange, though as I only kept in touch with a bunch of peeps… But those times I went to the dinner I certainly had fun and enjoyed seeing and chatting with some ex professors too. I could even feel their influence from afar!
    As to your question: I definitely need to do some extreme job, so I still have to work on it 😀 xx ((Nevertheless, I´ve already started, mind you, but I think I should consider selling stuff, maybe!). Great post Laurie… happy rest of your week 😉

    • Aquileana — When you receive the next invitation, give it another go. I’m absolutely confident you’ll enjoy yourself.

      And the fact that you’ve already started on down-sizing is a great step in the right direction. Woohoo!

  17. Laurie, in the last couple of years – Dennis and I, between us, off-loaded the contents of 4 households. With what we already owned and used in our individual households, we each had the households of our parents to to select, divide and distribute or dispose of. My move from Georgia necessitated moving light and I only took what meant too much to leave. Still way too much! Last week in these comments, I was groaning about a suite of dining room furniture. That the dusting and upkeep were more than I wanted to deal with This week it is being loved and appreciated in a friend’s house while I now have scads of room to enjoy. .

    • Sandi — Holy Toledo! I can’t even begin to imagine all that you and Dennis have had to contend with. And I’m so glad that you’ve got space and someone else has a dining room set that they can make good use of. Life is good! 🙂

  18. i find it hard to unload since I am a hoarder. or so I seem to be. ok, I value my things that I always thought I might use them in the future. this statement maybe twice presumptuous: that I am a hoarder, or, that I am simply love to wallow in self depreciating mood. but thank you for the post. made me do an introspection.

  19. The change of seasons, Laurie, is always an occasion for me to clean out closets and drawers. I just got $8 from my last haul (we’ve got many consignment stores in the area). But better than the cash, I get a physical thrill when I give away, throw away, or sell something. I love the new sense of lightness. Thanks got this post.

  20. Sounds like you enjoyed a lovely visit with people you enjoyed at a different stage of your life.
    The last physical items that I gave away were toys and games our grandchildren said they no longer played with. Our grandchildren knew I was donating the items to children who would enjoy and appreciate them, as they had when they were younger. It demonstrates that when we are in different stage of our lives, some things do not seem as important, as they did at an earlier time. As my grandchildren and I grow older, teaching them appreciation and gratitude is an important stage of their lives and mine!

  21. Gave away to charity all the nice clothes my daughters used to wear… and some of the unloved teddy bears while I was at it. Even though the kids grew out of the stuff years ago, it was still incredibly hard, and the only comfort was that the bears and the clothes might make somebody happy which is much better than for them to stand lovingly preserved and unused in a cupboard forever!

  22. Beautiful photo, refelctive post!

    We just recently got rid of two couches and basement holdings as a result of flooding caused by the mal;function of a now-placed sun pump. Ugh.

    • Sam — Ohhhhh, those pesky sump pumps. We had annual duels with them when we lived in the midwest. I’m so glad that in Boise they’re a thing of the past. I hope your new one serves you well for many years to come 🙂

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