We’ve reached the age and stage in our lives when it’s time to downsize, so my husband and I have been spending our time going through closets and cabinets, boxes and bins, and all the nooks and crannies where “stuff” resides and hides.

It’s been an interesting endeavor. Sometimes I feel like I’m on a treasure hunt, especially when I come across something I lost track of years ago, wondering from time to time what ever happened to it. Other times I feel like I’ve got a mountain in front of me that I need to climb. A very big mountain. And when I get through it, I feel as though I’ve conquered Mt. Everest.

Some areas seem to defy the laws of physics and common sense. My sock drawer is a good example. Once I sorted everything and threw out all unmatched socks and those that were on their last legs – no pun intended – they understandably took up less room in the drawer. Yet I somehow have three times as many pairs of socks as I did before.

I was a little nervous as I started going through files and folders in my office, afraid I’d get rid of something I would desperately need come next tax season. Never mind that most of what I was throwing out had to do with equipment I no longer owned, or warranties that expired long ago.

Books, too, were difficult to go through. Many were autographed books, and a good number of them were written by people I know personally. But once I got started, it felt good to let go of books I’d probably never read again, especially when I reminded myself that they could give other people as much pleasure and information as they had given me, but not if they remained lined up on my shelf.

The toughest project by far, but also the most pleasurable, was going through artwork and handmade cards from when my kids were small. I enjoyed all over again the sweet sentiments and the careful drawing and coloring that went into them. Masterpieces all, but I forced myself to part with some of them, repacking the rest to be discovered and enjoyed again at some future date.

Years ago, in a column I wrote about cleaning out my refrigerator after I detected a funny smell that I couldn’t identify, I noted that whenever we pare down in any area of our lives, we’re better able to use and enjoy whatever’s left. I’m being reminded of that again now as I go through different areas of my house and my life, parting with objects that were once treasured possessions, and now are just taking up space.

We’re not planning to go overboard, like some of the people I’ve read about who downsize to the point of living in a two-room house, and who have no need – or room – for a TV, computer, or more than two sets of clothing or pairs of shoes per person.  We’re not giving up all the comforts of home. But we know we’ll enjoy them even more when there are fewer of them around.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on October 27, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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