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Sunday, October 26, 2014

How I Downsized and Simplified


      My wife insisted that we needed to simplify and downsize. I had protested. I had complained. I had resisted. I had even openly rebelled, locking myself in the garage and refusing to come out (That didn’t work out as well as I hoped). I had no interest in my wife’s sales pitch to simplify and downsize. Eventually I lost the argument. I was beat into submission by the most cruel of tyrants, reality. Maintaining the lawn and plumbing and roof and the endless never ending demands of a large 2 story lakeside house finally wore me down. It was time for my adventure in simplifying and downsizing. We would sale the homestead and move into a condo 1/3 the size. No garage, no space for my lifelong collection of tools. This was going to be painful. Real men don’t show emotions, yeah right, take his claw hammer away and watch his response.

      My first exploration of downsizing was to minimize my large, over stuffed walk-in closet. Unclassified surplus had been shuffled into my closet and then forgotten. I found things I hadn’t cared about 10 years ago and had saved anyways. There were other items with some emotional attachment, a hard-hat and steel toed work boots from 30 years ago, some 1970s polyester pants, and a Bush – Quayle ‘88 campaign T-shirt. I felt this was easily $10,000 worth of collectables, Goodwill granted me less than a $100. All my memories going to Goodwill for a small tax deduction and redistribution to the needy.

      Driving the empty SUV home from Goodwill I experienced relief and the glimmer of a hopeful future. Unloading useless baggage had a cleansing effect. Less junk in my life.

      Next up for my downsizing and simplifying adventure, the home office.  As a senior manager the home office was my weekend connection to the day job. After retirement the home office became a lonely and empty room, rarely visited and seldom used. Downsizing here was easy, get a trash can and throw stuff into it. Employee reviews, gone. Ancient bank statements, gone. Half-finished business plans, gone. The home office had become a storage area for things vaguely office like, old electronics, and blank CDs. Years of stolen office supplies, pens I’ll never use, legal size manila folders and boxes of paper clips. I was starting to enjoy this.

      I was now ready for my true nemesis, the garage. Polyester pants may go out of style, but a crescent wrench is forever. A life time of tool collection had to go. The emotions ran deep in the dark recesses of the garage. Nooks and crannies filled with memories and dreams. I put out the word, free tools for all, I prepared for herds of males to rush my garage and fight over every screw driver. No one showed up. I was crushed, my belief that tools defined the man no longer applied. Somewhere between generations things had changed. Eventually three 30 something males showed up and offered me $450 for several million dollars of high-end personal tools. It was the only offer made and I accepted.

      Clearing the garage sealed the internal deal with myself, the final act of downsizing and simplifying. This was a clear acknowledgement that I would never again rebuild a car engine, or repair an A/C compressor. That had made me sad, but other implications made me glad. No more yard work, I would never again change out a hot water heater, my days of rebuilding automotive transmissions were over, all jobs I had come to hate. It was as if a great weight had lifted off my shoulders. I had truly retired.

      Now I live in a two bedroom condo, from the third floor balcony I can overlook the lake and watch my empty boat dock. The biggest benefit? When something breaks, I make a phone call and then return to my easy chair. The second biggest benefit? I can easily afford to live here, I have more cash for other things. Heck, I can afford to fill that empty boat dock. The biggest draw back? Taking out the trash now involves three flights of stairs, a hike across the parking lot and a heave ho into our industrial size trash container.

      What I had dreaded became liberating. Plus, somewhere in Texas, there is a Honduran illegal wearing a Bush – Quayle ‘88 campaign T-shirt.

BIG 2 story house: SOLD to downsize
New two bedroom condo

View from new downsized lake condo

1 comment:

Shirley said...

Hi Paul,

I totally understand your situation: I moved 10 years ago, needing to downside also. It was either my junk and ME: I chose to get rid of the stuff and to live my life instead. Glad you can see the benefits of such a decision. Shirley