10 Apr 2015

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” —Peter Marshall

IMG-donations-photoRightsizing is a process that deserves your time, focus, and discipline—and it requires practice. As you embark upon this journey of paring down your belongings until you are surrounded with only your most valued treasures, it is wise to start with items of lesser value. Clothes closets or the kitchen cabinets are a good place to start. Don’t start with photos or mementos—they are too emotionally charged and will weaken your resolve. By starting with clothing or all those mismatched containers in the cabinet you will practice your decision-making skills and prepare yourself for the tough choices you’ll have to make when you start working on mementos. You will also experience small successes as you declutter and think of how good that will feel!

It can be liberating to see empty space in your clothes closet. If you didn’t wear something this season, pass it on to charity of your choice. Do you really need that box of might-fit-again-someday clothes, or the drawer stuffed with socks and gloves? Share! And remember, one of the best rules of rightsizing is to simply not purchase! Remember, less is more . . .

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07 Apr 2015

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” —Dolly Parton

P1030144In all projects we undertake, big or small, each of us gravitates toward a certain modus operandi, or style of approaching (and accomplishing) the task at hand. It is important to recognize and embrace your style in order to best utilize your strengths . . . but it is also necessary to honor the styles of those who will be assisting you on your rightsizing journey. (No, you do not need to rightsize alone—that’s another blog for another day!)

So which approach best describes your style?

  • Objectives Oriented: You gravitate toward goals and what needs to happen in order to achieve them.
  • Domain & Direction: You focus on the final destination and figure out the steps as you go.
  • Task Oriented: You know the necessary steps and excel at making lists for what needs to be done.
  • Present Oriented: You focus on what’s happening now.

By recognizing your style and those of your assistants, more fun can be had and less stress will occur. Talking honestly about your individual approaches before undertaking a task is a good plan for success!

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31 Mar 2015

2559“The beauty of collaboration between older and younger generations is that we combine strength with wisdom.” —Brett Harris

In a recent article the headline read something like, “You thought the conversation about the birds and bees was tough; now it’s time to talk about the end of life!” A light-hearted take on a very serious conversation.

End-of-life issues are never easy to talk about, but it’s crucial to have these conversations before it’s time to make difficult decisions. Most boomers are experiencing some major life changes with the parents or elders with whom they have a close relationship. Often, it’s a transition in residence or the advent of an illness or injury that sparks the need for the conversation, but it’s even better if you can talk before you get to that point. Unlike those preteen years, this time it is the child that needs to take the lead. A few things to remember:

  • Be respectful; the elder is not dead yet— it is still their life.
  • Be kind; change is difficult even when it is good.
  • Be patient; they will need time to ponder.
  • Add a bit of humor.
  • Be organized; have your points of discussion ready.
  • Take a break if needed.
  • Remember above all that you love one another . . . and say it often!
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27 Mar 2015

“Trust that little voice in your head that says ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if . . .’ And then do it.”
~Duane Michals, photographer

il_fullxfull.407757460_7myhWhen rightsizing, don’t be afraid to let your imagination create a new use for an old piece, especially if the piece is valuable or holds cherished memories.

  • End tables can become bedside tables.
  • An armoire could be converted to a television cabinet.
  • A dining table without its leaves may fit in many places.
  • An old trunk with an added upholstered cushion becomes a seat and storage in a bedroom or casual space, perfect for extra blankets.

It is best to measure carefully and confirm that the piece will fit in its new location before committing to costly alterations. And be sure you really want to use it; remember, our environment adds to our happiness, so surround yourself with beauty and objects that have meaning to you.

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24 Mar 2015

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” —Thornton Wilder

“Don’t tell me what you can’t do; tell me what you can do”: a familiar phrase for my design team and for our grandkids! Focusing on the positive is the best thing to do when tackling a new or difficult project—it allows you to be more creative and open to new possibilities.

happyballSo what if we would apply this concept to our “treasures”? What if we would focus on what we are keeping, not what we are losing? Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, acknowledges that “a lot of us feel that decluttering is about sadness and loss.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Focus on keeping the best, not just the good—things that make you happy, bring you joy; not just items that take up space.

A good friend recently rightsized, moving to a new home half the size of her former dwelling. On moving day, and even with thoughtful purging, we still found things that just didn’t fit or weren’t quite right for the new space. We ended up with two stacks in the garage: one for pickup by local charity, one for the attic (this pile was small). But the items were touched only once and were not left in the living space. She commented, “Every time I move something on it just feels good!” When we were done, she had a new home and the space to enjoy its beauty. That is success!!

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20 Mar 2015

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” —Abigail Van Buren

YearbookThe kids have grown up. They have successful lives and new homes (perhaps new families) of their own! Aaah, life is good . . . well, almost. Turns out, you are still keeping all their treasures that they just don’t have room for but aren’t willing to part with. How can you successfully rightsize if your basement or attic is full of their old high school yearbooks, childhood keepsakes, and baby blankets? It’s time to quash your guilt and make a move. Believe me, you will not gain entrance to the bad parent of the month club if you assign a day for pickup!

Some tips:

  • Be sure to be kind, gentle, and firm!
  • Offer to help them sort through their boxes. Going through those old treasures together and sharing the memories they evoke could be a special bonding time.
  • Remind them that their kids don’t (or won’t) want their stuff either.
  • Explain that you are rightsizing and could use their support.
  • If you have new plans for the space in the basement or attic, share your vision; it might help inspire them to action.
  • Remind them you love them, just not their stuff.

Be strong! You can do this.

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17 Mar 2015

“Big things have small beginnings.” —Lawrence of Arabia

buttonsSometimes you just have to get started on the task at hand. No more procrastinating! From my friends at woman&home Magazine come six things you really don’t need to keep. All are easy to part with, I promise. May these six lead to great things . . . (and emptier junk drawers!)

  1. Spare buttons. Think of all those buttons lying around that came with a new sweater or skirt. Research shows that when we lose a button, we either just go without or we buy a new item altogether. I have one small can of buttons from my mother-in-law, because my husband actually does replace them (it’s genetic, I think!). But the can is about 4” x 4” and fits in a drawer. So if you must keep them, at least contain them.
  2. Old electric leads. How many cords do you have in your junk drawer from long-defunct phones, or to recharge something you no longer have? (For that matter, how many of those long-defunct phones are you still holding on to? Many charities take them, you know.)
  3. Receipts and documents. If you need to keep them for tax purposes, scan them to a smartphone app, then discard (shred them, if they contain sensitive information). More ideas to follow in upcoming blogs.
  4. Old medicine. At best, expired medicines are useless, at worst they could make you ill. Take them to your pharmacy for safe disposal.
  5. Packaging . . . for everything from mobiles to kitchen equipment to clothes. You’ll never need it! At our house the rule for new electronics or plugs-ins is six months. We keep packaging that long, just in case, then recycle. The box is usually marked with a date.
  6. Old makeup. Most makeup has a use-by date. Keep purchase dates on an index card in your vanity. When it’s time to discard the old, enjoy the pleasure of buying something new!
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13 Mar 2015

It is worthwhile for anyone to have behind him a few generations of honest, hard-working ancestry.

John Phillips Marquand

I can’t think of a tFather & Son Laughterime when we haven’t heard about or talked about the generation gap. Usually the conversations center on the vast differences between generations and how the younger one will never amount to anything. But despite the naysaying of older generations, each subsequent group does manage to prosper and each makes its unique mark on our very fast, spinning world.

When the generations switch directions and the roles are reversed, the result proves to be an interesting journey.

Those who were born during the Great Depression and World War II are often called the Silent Generation (so named by Time Magazine in 1951). That group is also known as the Traditionalist Generation, the name I prefer, as all the folks I know in the group are anything but silent! My favorite Traditionalist, Mom, is true to her group:

  • Hard working: Raised by stern, turn-of-the-century farmers during lean times, she was taught early to earn her own way and that work was a privilege.
  • Loyal: Mom is extremely loyal to her family, her country, and her former employees, more often than not exceeding their expectations.
  • Submissive: Brought up in a paternalistic environment and then married into another one at a very young age, she was taught to respect authority and she avoided ruffling any feathers. That has certainly changed! All those years of being quiet are surfacing and now she speaks her mind.
  • Tech-Challenged: I won’t even go there!
  • Traditional: She indeed values honesty, morals, security and safety, conformity, consistency, and commitment.

As we start the journey and conversations about moving, rightsizing, and so forth, it is important to keep the distinctive characteristics of each generation in mind.

This is the third entry in a series about rightsizing.

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10 Mar 2015

 “The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” —Chinese Proverb


bird1Many years ago I read a wonderful book by Anne Lamott, titled Bird by Bird. While I have yet to write my own great book, I have taken to heart one shiny gem from her wisdom. She relates a story about her brother, who had a school science project to finish. He had been given plenty of time to accomplish it, but as the youthful typically do, he waited until the last minute to catalog his study of birds. Sitting at the kitchen table, distressed and overwhelmed, he asks he father how he will ever complete the task. His father replies matter-of-factly, “Bird by bird.”

This is very wise advice when you are tackling any project. But lately, it has struck me that this advice is especially apt for those who are looking at years of accumulated treasures that need to be parted with. Rightsizing at best can be an overwhelming task, but when approached bit by bit and in a timely manner it can be done successfully!

A few bird-by-bird ideas:

  • Start now. Even if you are not thinking about rightsizing or moving in the near future, we all have too much stuff! Share it!
  • Keep a file box with a lid close by. While searching for just that perfect scarf or blouse in the morning, take an extra minute to look at all of them: Don’t like it? In the box. Haven’t worn it in a year? In the box. Takes too long to iron? In the box! Be vigilant . . . and just a bit ruthless. When the box is full, give to your favorite charity and start a new one.
  • I actually have two boxes: one for my favorite charity and one for my oldest granddaughter. She is an aspiring director, producer, and actress with many productions in play; my scarves and accessorizes have become the greatest costumes and props in her creative soon-to-be 10-year-old imagination. And we both are joyful at the reuse!!
  • This technique works for shoes, the kitchen drawer full of utensils, the coat closet, the china cabinet (time to pass along Grandma’s dishes to the next generation?) . . . the list goes on.
  • Books are a great treasure that needs to be shared. Go through your library, one shelf at a time, while you are waiting for dinner to bake.

This is the second entry in a new series on rightsizing.

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06 Mar 2015

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. —Hermann Hesse


bigstock-Happy-Senior-Couple-From-Behin-47944529It has been said that the biggest objection for elders when they consider moving to a community or new home with better care is the actual move itself! They are overwhelmed by the idea of packing, sorting, repurposing a lifetime of stuff. It is daunting if you think of the whole house, and it certainly isn’t an easy process . . . but consider the Upsides to Rightsizing:

  • You are still in control of your stuff.
  • You can experience the pleasure of others enjoying your things.
  • You get to select what you keep.
  • It is liberating—the easiest way to lose tons of weight.

It helps if you don’t think in terms of sorting through the whole house—think one room . . . maybe one closet . . . at a time. Remember: small bites allow you to eat the whole elephant.

The first entry in a new series on rightsizing.


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