We have come to the 10th and final commandment. This is the one we have been working hard to achieve as we struggled through all the others. This is the commandment that marks the end of one phase and the beginning of the next, no matter where you are in your biological life or environment.
Quite simply, now that you are shedding all the layers and skins and trappings of many former lives, ages and stages it is time to build new memories, to take the best of your former life to build upon. This is the tenth commandment – Make new memories.
It is hard to start fresh when you are surrounded, and often shackled by, the responsibilities and trappings of previous stages in your life, well and truly lived or perhaps tinged with sadness and loss. We all have our share. There is never a better time to take a deep breath, acknowledge the good times and experiences, the lessons you have learned, the places you have been and the people who have filled your time and thoughts, both at work, at play and at home. You have honored them all in passing through the stages of the previous 9 commandments. Now you can move ahead and discover what fresh opportunities, people, experiences will be created since you are no longer so encumbered by the past.
It is an incredibly freeing sensation. You may be surprised how light and energized you feel. If you allow yourself to be honest, you will feel relieved at all the tough decisions you made and the lives you enriched with your generosity.
This is the time of congratulations – for yourself and all those who helped you in your journey. Enjoy this renewal, able to look back with satisfaction and ahead to your new surroundings and opportunities.
To forgive and forget are two of the most challenging human hurdles. When we are paring our lives down to retain only the best, most beautiful, most precious, it is essential to forget the emotions and memories tied up with possessions we no longer have room for, either physically or emotionally. Your children’s toys (that your own children refuse to keep for their children); your late husband’s books and music (as well as some of his favorite old sweaters) need to find new homes as you now honor your lives together thru memories and carefully selected photographs. Symbols of happy moments, of children’s achievements, of your family’s history need to be carefully edited to one or two good examples and the rest laid to rest. As hard as this may be to realize, we need to move into new phases of our lives where we focus on creating new and positive experiences.
The more we hang onto old possessions, surround ourselves with old photographs, continue to save the good china and crystal, insist upon too large and impractical furniture for downsizing purposes, the more we glue ourselves into our former lives and have difficulties freeing ourselves to moving on to fresh learning, experiences, people and lives. You can actually consider this a gift to your children and family. You are giving them permission to let go of the past as you role model moving ahead and beyond. You are making decisions they won’t have to make on your behalf.
Forget is a strong word and an even harder emotion. In our world today it is tied up into such fearsome realities as dementia and Alzheimer’s. But just as it is important to forgive, the achievement of “forgetting” is equally relevant to the downsizing process in order to make the transition as painless and positive as possible. It is what you choose to remember and to keep and to honor, that will be of most meaning to your family and your ancestors. Make your decisions good ones.
I am running a bit behind in my posts so playing catch up over the next few days….. here is Downsizing Commandment # 7 ……
“Learn to love and appreciate the benefits of minimalism”: in order to do this, you have to review some of the earlier commandments. Focus only on the best, the most beautiful, the most elegant, or quite simply, whatever makes you happy. Think about “less is more”, which really means less to clean, less to worry about, less to replace, less to inventory and insure. less to lose, pack and finance. In our times of smaller and smaller apartments and living spaces for most of us, one of the greatest luxuries we may have is simply space. Do not feel the need to fill all the space; use it luxuriously and keep it open, calm and gracious, highlighting only a few of your most favorite and treasured possessions.
I have recently seen a door hung with a collection of necklaces, beautifully displayed, that looked like an art exhibition in a very small place. The collection served as storage as well as a living testimony of the occupant’s style and history. Although there were many necklaces, they were displayed as one, neatly and organized. Another way of highlighting a few special pieces is to consider having them out one at a time so they receive full attention. This way you can create dynamic vignettes and appreciate what you love.
Minimalism is simplicity. It can be as luxurious and rich as you insist. It can be as comfortable as your favorite chair. What it means is that you have attained a level in your life and awareness that you are focused, organized, clear in your goals and aspirations, having cleaned up the loose ends of a life lived, and confident with the present as you look with hope to your future. It is like taking a deep breath and finally admitting to yourself that “yes. I have achived this much and now that I am at this point, I can go forward.” Good luck!
Whoops, did not realize that I missed Commandment #2 and #3 – here they are…..
Be charitable - ask yourself, do I really want to house clothing, furniture, linens, kitchens and bath accessories, old toys and books that I know I will never use again? This kind of mentality is costly.
You pay for storage, whether it be in jammed square footage, annual cleaning costs, or the sheer frustration of being surrounded by outmoded, outlived, items you are hanging onto “just in case”. Have you considered the ways you can enrich other people’s lives by letting them share in yours? To families who have little, your clothes, linens, toys, dishes, glassware, blankets, and odds and ends may make the difference between poverty and comfort, between deprivation and dignity, between cold and warmth. Charity begins at home – from your home to those of others, share your wealth and kindness. It feels good for everyone involved. There are a number of ways to make this happen. Here are just a few. Goodwill, Salvation Army, church organizations, local charities and community centers, women’s centers, the list is long and you will find a group in your community that welcomes your years of saving. This is a “win win” for you. It is amazing how good you feel after giving to others.
Visit our Where to Donate for a list of links to possible charities in your area.
Visit our Where to Recycle for a list of links to possible recycling solutions in your area.
Be Creative ~ and environmentally responsible: This is tough, I warn you. There is a huge emotional issue underlining our need to accumulate, hoard, save for a “rainy day” (and no, we are not talking about our college or retirement funding here.) To internalize and role model respect for our environment and create new ways to use what you have, recognize that resources are limited. Re-think buying patterns. Avoid purchasing clothes, gadgets, junk food and other “stuff” wrapped in layers of paper and plastic. This requires seismic shifts in behaviors. Personally, I am an avid treasure hunter, shopper, lover of new designs and ideas, both in fashion and interior design. Aging is not dampening any of my enthusiasm. Moving, particularly downsizing, certainly is a wake-up call. I guarantee it.
The clearing process is not restricted to the home or cottage during the summer. It needs to be done in your workplace to give you that renewed sense of balance in all areas of your life. Here is a process to help you get started….
Define the areas that you need to clear:
- your paper backlog – desk and surrounding area
- paper files
- e-mail inbox and sub-folders
- electronic files on your personal drive
- electronic files on your shared drive
- prioritize the areas above
- select your top priority
- block off time in your calendar – create one hour to three hour chunks of time
- set-up a reward at the end of the “clearing sessions” – heading out for lunch with a friend, take-out food pre-ordered or a glass of your favourite
- make sure you have any supplies or tools you will need organized ahead of time
- develop a system/structure for your paper and electronic records
- make a commitment to yourself and reinforce this commitment by telling someone else who will not let you procrastinate
- Now – DO IT!
See how great you feel, now apply this process to the next area.
Share your experiences. If you are having trouble getting started, email us, we will give you a boost!
Surviving a Downsizing Transition by Lynda Palazzi continued…….Commandment number 1: Coldhearted; a word you might think would never apply to you. Considerate it an important fallback position that underlines the old saying, “When it doubt, throw it out”.
Throwing “it” out, however, does not mean hiring a dumpster. It means you are moving on to free yourself and at the same time, add to other’s lives, closets and earthly possessions. Just don’t count on your beloved children and best friends to fight over the treasures you have collected over a lifetime. Once you have offered and been declined, swallow hard, move on and explore other options. You may be astounded at how much stranger’s value and appreciate your taste. Enjoy this experience. Search out a dealer, either through your local newspaper or organizer or on the web. Visit antique markets and check out the regulars so you can explore the best way to dispose of your treasures. There are experts in vintage costume jewelry, all sorts of dishes, cutlery, trinkets, linens, books, postcards, pictures. Several of my most successful sales were old beaded evening bags, long leather gloves and some of my mother’s old perfume bottles. Your treasures are treasures to someone. My favorite story is the old gold metal belt that I proudly bought in Chicago 35 years ago to adorn a crème moiré dress I had made. That belt was one of my most precious keepsakes because it represented the waist I once had and what it felt like. With great pride, I offered it to my daughter in law who shuddered and kindly suggested it wasn’t “her taste”. You can imagine my satisfaction when my wonderful dealer told me it was actually fought over by several young women and sold for a substantial sum. Yes!!
I’m back! And happy! My three month hiatus has been a process of discovery, not just about organizing, downsizing and transitioning, but also about life in the 21st century as resources become scarcer and costlier, apartment living escalates because of convenience and expenses, and less really does become more.
As a result of my journey from a 3 story townhouse to a smaller, one floor condo, I have emerged from a chaotic process, “enlightened”, anxious to share what I call my “Ten Commandments of Transition”. Starting with this issue, I will outline my hard-won experiences, two “commandments” at a time.
Let us know to what extent you relate – or might adapt – my story to your own transitions be they simply clearing out and re-organizing your own home or office, or that of a client. Being ready to sort out and plan for your own future may be one of the greatest gifts to yourself and those who love you.
Transition is here to stay. In light of this, my ten commandments are:
- Be coldhearted
- Be charitable
- Be creative
- Be patient
- Be extravagant
- Hire – or barter – support (outsource)
- Learn – and love – the benefits and beauty of minimalism
- Look ahead, not behind, to create new memories
More to come……..
A much more pleasant term and broader to encompass the purging and organizing aspect of getting a fresh start for the spring!
There are so many areas to talk about within this concept of “Spring Clearing” so keep in touch. Let’s start small and work our way up to the largest tasks it and for those organizers out there…..capture some of these ideas and work through them with your clients.
I tackled this one myself last weekend when it was pouring cats and dogs outside! That pile of wonderful magazines that have accumulated over the past months or years. It is so easy to allow this to happen. Don’t procrastinate any longer…it’s time to deal with them, try these ideas to free up space and perhaps save some money:
- Limit the number of subscriptions, perhaps one per interest, or rotate your subscriptions each year – you only have so much free time to read them
- Donate magazines to dental or doctor’s offices, or any place there is a waiting room
- If they are current issues(no more than three months old) then you might approach Good Will to donate them
- Share subscriptions with your family members, a friend or your next door neighbour
- Tear out articles and file them in a “To Read” or “Resource” file and recycle the rest of the magazine
- Cancel subscriptions and search for your favourite topics on the internet
Now that you have done such a great job in your “New Year” purging process – keep it up throughout the year with the help of a “Re-gifting Centre”. Find a place in your home or office to create this space, a couple of shelves in the basement, a spare closet, a drawer in a filing cabinet or a large bin in the corner, labelled of course! Every time you run across an item that you do not wear or use, but it is still useful, place it in your Re-Gifting Centre. Drop the accumulated items off monthly to your favourite local charity (or if in the office to the supply room) and feel good that others can give them a second life sooner. Share your re-gifting ideas, would love to hear how others manage this process.
Make purging fun with a scavenger hunt. This is a great activity for a snowy or rainy day. The kids will really have fun with it too! If you are on your own, then get a friend to do it with you. Make sure you attach a prize/reward for everyone who completes the hunt. The scavenger hunt is a great idea that I learned from Marlo Nikkila. I know folks who have played it a number of times or customized it by changing or increasing the number of items. You could even make this work in the business world by changing the items to things such as conference binders, reference books, broken office supplies…the list goes on! Here are the rules for the home edition ……
Find these items within one hour and place in a donation box (have a couple just in case):
- One pair of shoes that hurt when you wear them
- Three books you will not read again – be honest
- Four knick-knacks that no longer bring you joy
- Five articles of clothing you have not worn in a year
- Two pieces of jewelry you no longer wear
- One game you have not played in a year
- If you find more things, add them to the box
When you are done, call the donation service where you decided to donate your things prior to the start of the game. Better yet, find a drop off place or box and take them there at the end of the day. Most important rule – Do not go back through the items and change your mind!
Hoping everyone receives a prize or a reward.
Let me know how your scavenger hunt went…..share your success stories.