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Thread: Coming of Age: Downsizing

  1. #1
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Coming of Age: Downsizing

    I have lived in my neighborhood for 32+years. It's a very typical 70s "Brady Bunch" subdivision. My property abuts the school and the common park. My first friends here were women who enticed me to join them in the public sandbox not 50 yards from my yard.

    Today on my closed FB group, one of my neighborhood acquaintances posted her dining room set for sale. I've known her for decades. Her son is music virtuoso. I'd watch her walk past my house on her daily exercise jaunt with another neighbor. Her husband was our part-time mailman.

    Seeing her post her dining room set was a signal of the circle of life--I wondered, where is she going? Will she no longer need a table that seats 8 or 10? Where are her kids? Will she be going to THEIR house for Christmas now?

    These random things jog my awareness that life is on the downswing for me, too. That's not a bad thing... it just is. When I was up in VT last weekend, I was well aware of the fact that once we move up there, our kids may not be ever-present to entertain us. They have their own lives. We need to continue our lives, whatever that may look like. I'm hoping that we find a community we can belong to, and now I'm starting to realize why the "55+ community" lifestyle appeals to people.

    I look at my stuff. I don't have a lot. We have one of the smaller models that were constructed in the 70s. But I know that the day will come when I have to decide whether I should keep my farmhouse table, or whether it is too big for the place we wind up in. What do I do with my garden Zen deer-chaser? What do I do with my MIL's mahogany table or my mother's deacon's bench? I used to think my MIL was silly for thinking such things.

    But here I am. Thinking such things.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Keep working through this mental and emotional terrain. Keep going. You are onto something...
    I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

  3. #3
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    When you gotta do something due to circumstances, you will do it. Think about and get used to the concepts as you are doing and then when the time comes, it will simply get done. I had to mull leaving my dream farm for a good while and let a gradual separation find its way into my thinking. When the time came for a decision, it worked out wonderfully.
    I do believe that when one is wrenched away unexpectedly, the change can be traumatic but with mental preparation, it might still be a tug on the heartstrings but it is manageable, in my experience anyway.

    Just a caution about the age-segregated communities - while one may find a community of like-minded individuals, I have heard reports of people leaving these communities. They would make friends and then too many of their new friends kept dying. They then got discouraged and moved to multi-generational communities which is what I did. Much larger senior diverse communities may be different.

    I enjoy my peers in age and experience but really love mixing with the younger families and watching the littlest ones grow and find their way.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  4. #4
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I know exactly which pieces of furniture go with me and where, when I downsize.

    the dishes, ugg, not so much. Can
    I take two sets of dishes to my retirement condo? I dont think so. And only two means
    I am getting ride of another couple of sets.

    Actually, I constantly think of what I will get rid of. I find those thoughts happy ones. It is the idea of shedding stuff, and weight, that is attractive.

    We are taking care of someones cat and the cat has claws. She needs a scratching post. But she scratches up one of the chairs from my mother. This week I thought oh why does it matter, this cat is more important than that chair.

    But iris. Iris iris iris. Do I move iris to Hermann that is ugly? Do I move iris to Hermann that is pretty enough but unnamed? What if it is ugly and unnamed? Naw, those guys will not get moved, they are compost. So many iris decisions, so much iris stress,ugh. Next will be lily stress.

  5. #5
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    Catherine, your post made me think about my parent's house and furniture. I am trying to cope with getting rid of their dining room furniture, which I remember finding for them when I was eleven, and I saw a sale on dining room furniture at the "Dry Goods Store" and we went down and bought it. Score.
    It was nothing remarkable but it was theirs, for years and years and years. Fifty years, actually.
    My dad said the other day to my brother that he is ready to get rid of all of their clothes that are still in the house.
    This task is falling to me. I can't bear to do it. It is actually too much for me. I think of folks I know who have waited a year to get rid of their loved ones clothes.

    Two or three thoughts. If you can get of stuff now, more power to you. It will be a smaller universe of stuff for your children to suffer over.
    On the other hand, I may have thirty years more. So why get rid of my table, my ability to seat eight?

    We aren't defined by our stuff. I am trying to figure out what to take with me if and when we move again. I am trying to get rid of things now. I* am trying to keep things and use things that I find beautiful and meaningful.

    If you downsize enough, you can live comfortably in the lake house.

    I don't want to downsize that much and have been in too small houses for 10 years now. I want a few years at least of big family dinners again.

    If my parents had moved at 80, all would have been well. So a good guess is we can live large another 18 years. By then, the grandchildren can have some of our stuff.

    Getting rid of my parents stuff is too difficult for me right now. I will try to help, but I may not be able to do this yet.

    I guess it's an ever changing calculus.

  6. #6
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    It's a process - this thing called getting older and entering another cycle of life. I keep trying to recall all my younger and working years and they are just absent from my brain now as if some other life. I realize now it isn't about a house or a place once you downsize or retire but about recreating or re-finding yourself and I am finding it is more difficult than I would have thought. What's the old expression - wherever you go, there you are. Just very difficult when you have been in one place for a long time and still have a bit of your heart in the place you knew best. I envy those who can afford two places so that you can still go back "home".

  7. #7
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    What do you do with stuff, release it. The tools and trappings are good to pass on to those who need and will use them.

  8. #8
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    Catherine,
    I remember that moment too when I realized that I'm no longer in the "accumulation" phase of life. Except for replacing clothing and shoes, I have everything I need: all the kitchen items, all the household furniture, all the house tools, etc. From now on it's only a "want" which would be things like different curtains, or a pretty garden pot, or similar.
    It's definitely easier on the budget, but it's also a stark reminder that we're at the final quarter of our lives. I can understand that for some people the reluctance to downsize is associated with that reality.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Simplemind's Avatar
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    When I was having the estate sale at my parents the dining room furniture, especially the table was when I lost it. The set was antique, beautiful, huge and imported from Europe. None of us had a house that could accommodate it. There were two large sideboards. One went with the table and the other was sold separately. The dining table was my mom's command central. It was almost a guarantee that when you stopped by she would be at the table either doing a crossword, playing solitaire or working on some kind of to do list. So many great family dinners, conversations and meetings had been held at that table. When it sold and they started to load it in the truck I was overcome. Tears sprang up and grief struck me out of nowhere. The new owners took pity on me, gave me a hug and told me of their home and family and how the table would be used. They were so sweet about it. I guess I felt that as long as that table was there a little bit of my mom was too. All our things going out the door was like erasing our lives. Necessary but oh so hard emotionally.
    That whole process has profoundly changed how I looked at their things and now my own. I was never into the accumulation like my parents, I'm more into experience than things. Not only am I not really bringing much in but we have doubled down our efforts to cast an eye on everything and decide if we really need it in anticipation of downsizing later and the biggie......... never, EVER leaving our kids having to do the work we have had to do with our parents stuff the last five years. It stirred up so many emotions, very few of them were good.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simplemind View Post
    When I was having the estate sale at my parents the dining room furniture, especially the table was when I lost it. The set was antique, beautiful, huge and imported from Europe. None of us had a house that could accommodate it. There were two large sideboards. One went with the table and the other was sold separately. The dining table was my mom's command central. It was almost a guarantee that when you stopped by she would be at the table either doing a crossword, playing solitaire or working on some kind of to do list. So many great family dinners, conversations and meetings had been held at that table. When it sold and they started to load it in the truck I was overcome. Tears sprang up and grief struck me out of nowhere. The new owners took pity on me, gave me a hug and told me of their home and family and how the table would be used. They were so sweet about it. I guess I felt that as long as that table was there a little bit of my mom was too. All our things going out the door was like erasing our lives. Necessary but oh so hard emotionally.
    That whole process has profoundly changed how I looked at their things and now my own. I was never into the accumulation like my parents, I'm more into experience than things. Not only am I not really bringing much in but we have doubled down our efforts to cast an eye on everything and decide if we really need it in anticipation of downsizing later and the biggie......... never, EVER leaving our kids having to do the work we have had to do with our parents stuff the last five years. It stirred up so many emotions, very few of them were good.
    Thank you so much for sharing this, Simplemind. I think it is wonderful if we can spare our own kids. I could see your mom at that table--you are right, it was my mom's command center too.
    When my husband tried to sell my dad's truck I lost it. I started sobbing and he called the guy back and said I couldn't do it yet.

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