Tag: downsizing

Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

What Am I Going to Do With This?!?!

IMG_1928
Me with a childhood portrait

“It’s so big I can’t even scan it!” said my husband.

Dear Reader:

Downsizing, I think, is a lot like writing; both exercises require one to discard what is not beautiful or useful. Brutal elimination of the extraneous is a painful process. But hard work and commitment offer the potential to create a deep sense of satisfaction and true pride. My husband and I are collectors and we’ve been alive for over half of a century, so when we moved two years ago into a  home, half the size from our previous home, there were a lot of items we were forced to hold in our hands and decide to keep or donate.

Back in the days when we had little money, we could measure the depth of a friendship by the willingness of a person to help us move. You see there were many, many, many heavy boxes of books and anyone who knew us, knew that! So, if someone turned up on moving day, we knew we had a true friend. Books are still a shared passion for us, but, thankfully, we can afford to hire big, burly young movers.

I started the process of downsizing a year in advance and thank goodness for that! When my friends ask for advice, that’s the first thing I say:  Get a head start!  The act of purging builds on itself. It’s kind of like losing weight; you lose one pound and you’re more motivated to lose the other four. It does take a lot of time, though. You have to develop a rhythm. It’s easy to decide the fate of some things. Yes, I’ll keep every love letter my husband ever sent me. There are a lot as we had a long distance relationship while he was away at UC San Diego  and this was before cell phones and laptops (I’m very old!)! The closet took forever as I tried on each item of clothing and modeled it for my husband. The kitchen was a nightmare.  I’m a wanna-be chef so through the years I’ve purchased many small appliances that promised to help me achieve my culinary goals. Sad to say many of them were never used.  Bye, bye panini maker, waffle maker and food processor! I was forced to acknowledge that I’d never make a crepe or a donut. I did keep my large roasting pan only to discover on our first Thanksgiving in the house that it was too big for my new oven!

My second suggestion is to recruit the help of an honest friend. You know the one who knows how many cake plates you have and isn’t afraid to ask why you need all of them. Self talk is also very helpful. This can be of the silent variety or you can run it past your four-legged furry friends. It goes something like this: “When was the last time I used this? Am I sentimentally attached? Is it really fab or really handy?” Finally, if you’d like to buy a book to inform, motivate and support you, I offer the following recommendations:  It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff  by Peter Walsh and the hugely popular primer by Marie Kondo,  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Today we are happily living among our very carefully curated collection of things. My husband and I have never been, nor will we ever be, minimalists.  We still have a lot of stuff, but it’s all good stuff! Oh, and about that portrait…the frame is gone, but the picture  remains in a large art box filled with my daughter’s early masterpieces.

Best,

Michele

P.S. I can still find room for small dachshund shaped items and most anything in the color of petal pink.

Creativity

The Pink Shed

Dear Reader:

It’s fun to feel like a little girl again…at 56! That’s how I felt the morning I met the truck in my driveway that held the makings of my shed. I didn’t leave the house that day, but instead kept a close eye on the progress, snapping photos and offering water to the builders.  By day’s end, I had my shed, as promised!

The next day, I selected a contractor to put in electricity, walls and floors.

“It’ll take two weeks,” he estimated. I am well-versed in “contractor-speak,” so I thought, ok, a place of my own in a month …or so!

Three months later, he was done and I had a place for my desk and books!

A few photos for You:

 

Michele

Creativity, Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

Hello

Dear Reader:

Throughout the process of unpacking, downsizing and remodeling, my husband and friends often asked me, “So what’s next, Michele? What are you going to do with yourself?” My answer was always the same: I didn’t know, but I wasn’t worried. I felt strangely and strongly confident!

It is not completely unexpected that I’d make my way back to the page, as I’ve been a writer and reader for as long as I can remember. In 1976, when “All The President’s Men” was released, I was 16. Just in case you don’t remember the movie, it was the story of the Washington Post reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. Mind you, I made it a rule to see any movie that starred Robert Redford, but this one had a lasting impact on me. I was young and idealistic and I wanted to believe that anyone (even me) had the potential to change the world. So, I studied journalism in college and later worked in television news and public relations.

It was not until I had my daughter, at the age of 36, that I realized my reverence for writers and words came long before Woodward and Bernstein. I remember the day I read aloud a favorite poem from my childhood: Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat…” My darling baby smiled. We shared so many more books in the years that followed. And, after that, I created a reading list for parents to share with their children and lectured through community centers and education and recreation departments about the importance of reading to young children.

What is surprising is that I am here...in the cloud. I do remember my typewriter, fondly. I have a great deal more life experience than computer experience, and so this endeavor scares me a bit. My technology consultant, Kristin Guidi, has helped me establish this home. I formally thank her and ask you for your patience as I become more proficient in my new medium.

The doors to my pink shed are open and I welcome you whenever you’d like to stop by. I’d like you to feel as if you could sit in my guest chair, with a blanket and/or dog on your lap, sipping coffee, cocoa, tea or bubbly. I’ll start the conversation and tell you a few things about me:

  • I have, 3, yes three, long-haired miniature dachshunds
  • I collect cookbooks, but I don’t really like to cook
  • For 40 years I’ve recorded favorite quotes in random notebooks
  • Oh, my goodness, I’m a kid about Christmas
  • I married my high-school sweetheart
  • All of the writing doesn’t happen in my shed, a lot of good ideas come to me at 3 a.m. when I regularly wake with night sweats

 

Hope you visit again soon,

Michele