Mad in Pursuit Notebook


The Downsize Move: 3 Tips

Oct 12, 2016. The big event of your yes-I'm-aging years is the downsize. Since we already lived in a condo, I thought we were exempt from that agony. Since I'm well-organized and accustomed to living in tight quarters, I figured I was exempt from chaos. But no. Here we are, 84-year-old Jim and 67-year-old Susan, our brains reeling with the strategizing and practical problem-solving we thought we'd somehow graduated from. If you have downsizing in your future, you probably already know that it's about piles and lists, but here are three tips I didn't find on the internet.

Start Now

Maybe you can't get off the dime about contacting a realtor, but you can start cleaning out closets and get rid of whatever it is you are hoarding in the garage. I realize that over the years I've become champion of squeezing more and more and more into storage spaces. This downsizing business isn't about super-organizing, it's about making stuff go away. Unless you're already too old to give a shit, this can't be done by anyone but you. Being thoughtful throughout this process is a key principle. Start today.

Baby Steps

The thought of tackling a great big thing wears me out. So... baby steps. Today, I'll just sort through that box of crap. After lunch, I'll just make that phone call. Sometimes there is a survival advantage to NOT thinking about tomorrow. In my experience, big-picture thinking on a daily basis is a recipe for procrastination. TODAY is too sunny, too rainy, too humid, too overcast for grand strategy. Ambitious plans stall out. But it's hard to come up with excuses to avoid baby steps. Ask yourself, "What next?" Then break off a little piece of it and get it done. I find that baby steps have a way a rapidly accumulating and putting momentum on your side. Nelson Mandela said, "It always seems impossible... until it's done."


The older you get, the more wonderful things vie for your attention. That's why we forget what we went upstairs for. So when you take one of those tiny baby steps, don't stumble. Finish the stride. If you're cleaning out a closet, at least focus on ONE shelf until it's empty. Looking around and seeing everything half pulled apart is depressing as hell. Last week, I actually had to yell at Jim to keep his eyes forward on the shelves we were trying to pack in a systematic way. He kept grabbing stuff from the shelf to his right. No! Do. Not. Look. At. That. Shelf. (Sometimes yelling keeps my head from exploding, but that's not a practice I'm recommending.)


Maybe as the Boomer generation nears peak retirement, there will be a profession that combines the skills of a wedding planner with those of the hoarding interventionalist: the downsizing expert. You won't be able to afford one, but maybe they will make YouTube videos. Meanwhile, all we can do is toddle along with our baby steps, minding the path and learning from one another as we go.


Books by Susan Barrett Price:

THE SUDDEN SILENCE: A Tale of Suspense and Found Treasure (2015) Thailand: lovers of ancient treasure tangle with international black markets. Delia Rivera pulls Martin Moon back into the game and their quest turns deadly. In paperback and Kindle editions.

TRIBE OF THE BREAKAWAY BEADS: Book of Exits and Fresh Starts (2011) Time after time, Mary asks herself: Do I go or do I stay? She finds her power in her ancestors: Smart women turn discontent into action. An illustrated memoir in paperback and Kindle editions.

PASSION AND PERIL ON THE SILK ROAD: A Thriller in Pakistan and China (2008) The twin forces of revenge and redemption drive Nellie MacKenzie and Taylor Jackson on a crazed adventure into the heart of Central Asia. They grapple with issues of ethics, trust, rage, and bitter heartbreak -- as well as the intrigue of the international antiquities trade. In paperback and Kindle editions.



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