Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Is It Worth the Struggle? (#7 of 11)

Decluttering our home, already a daunting prospect, has now been combined with staging it for the market. It’s a mammoth undertaking, and time is short. This calls for detailed strategizing.
Strategizing can be time consuming, but it really impacts how well a project proceeds once it is put into motion. I’ve found this to be true about most large undertakings – long trips, remodeling jobs, writing. 

I wrestled with the content and purpose of my book far longer (about twenty years) than it took me to finally sit down write it, straight through (fifteen months). 

I mentally remodeled the kitchen, with its terra cotta flooring, compatible counter tops and wall paint colors, comparing paint chips and material samples, for longer (about two months) than the installers spent transforming the kitchen (three days).

When we travel the 1500 miles between the overly furnished home we’re sprucing up to sell and the neat villa we’re gradually moving into, my husband and I plan the route, the stops, and the snacks and clothing we’ll bring along. We’ve learned that planning pays off in a seamless experience once we’re underway.

I enjoy spontaneity, but when faced with a large project and a short deadline, I’m a planner.

So I’ve been reading books on organizing, simplifying, packing and moving. I ordered boxes in four sizes, packing paper and bubble wrap, marking pens and miles of packing tape. In two weeks something called a “Pod” will be delivered to our home and two strong men will come to help us load it. Most of our stuff has gone to charities that have been coming by to pick up our surplus and recycle it. We’ve filled a lot of trash bags. We’re only about halfway through.

My goal is to leave our house neat, polished, and “staged,” as sterile and also inviting as an elegant hotel suite, with only basic furniture and minimal decor. The dining table will be set attractively for two, with place mats and napkins, color-coordinated plates and stemware, tall candles in cut-glass bases, and a tasteful arrangement of really convincing artificial flowers. I never use artificial flowers in my real life, but no one will be there to tend to real flowers. The bed will be made up with an ivory-colored comforter. Matching towels will hang on the towel rack. The closets will be empty.

I am concentrating on Mr. Babuta’s advice:

  1. Identify the essential.
  2. Eliminate the rest.

It sounds easy, but it’s not. I am in a hurry to start living The Simple Life, but this is a tortuous process and can’t be rushed. We leave in four weeks. So much to eliminate, so little time!

I must admit, though, that every time we relinquish something we don’t need, don’t enjoy, or haven’t used, I feel a flash of satisfaction, knowing it brings us closer to our goal. If you’ve been tempted to downsize, I recommend you try it, and let me know how it feels for you!

(To be continued next week.)  


  1. Every struggle is worth it, every bit of sufferig is worth it apple pie is a strategy - every single real estate agent knows that paint what you like, the people will love it, build what you like, the people will love it no such thing as semlesssness, I know this because the VA has what is called SEAMLESS TRANSITION for the returning operation iraqi freedom, and for the operation enduring freedom - seamlessness equals FILL IN THE BLANK ok, my two cents has been added, I admire what you are doing, i understand how gard it is, do you think, in any possible way, you can make it easy and enjoyable, like a spponfull of sugar? And snap, the jobs a game

  2. I keep forgetting, I should turn on music. That usually helps jobs go better. Calming music. Harp, maybe. CD's, since I can't play the harp and do the packing simultaneously. If I can find my boom box . . . . . :-)

  3. Completely agree on the strategizing. I've found this to be true for me too. We continue to downsize here. Moved from a larger house down the road and basically doing the same thing,getting that one ready to rent. The older I get, the less junk I want, the less "stuff." I also follow Leo B., have for several years. He's amazing. I LOVE your blog!! Everything about it. The only one I'm keeping up is my Memoir Writing "blog-to-book." Takes every bit of my focus, and I love it to death. I think I finally found where I needed to be. I'll be back! b.

  4. Wow, thanks, Bettyann! It's so nice to know someone likes my blog the least little bit, let alone LOVES it! I came to blogging with great fear, trembling, and resistance, because I couldn't imagine what I'd blog about and who would read it. Now I find that I enjoy sharing certain things I'm doing, and that I don't have to blog daily, as some people had told me. This experience of downsizing and redesigning my life has a kind of sacred excitement about it . . . very much a good thing. I'll be culling and limiting stuff for a long time to come, creating more space in my life to be filled by what I value most. I'm glad to know you're following along as I go, and that we share this attraction to minimalism in many areas of life.