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BEUSCHEL: 2019 is the year of downsizing my 'stuff'

• Jan 17, 2019 at 4:00 PM

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2019! I keep needing to remind myself that it is 2019 every time I write a check.

I agree with those who are saying: Where has the time gone? Looking back at old pictures is always a reminder of what has gone on before the now in my life.

As I packed away the holiday decorations, I took one more look through the binder that holds our photo Christmas cards going back to the first one in 1978. We started doing photo cards that year since our son was born that year, and little did I know or plan that I would keep doing them year after year. Despite squirming children and grandchildren and pets, I didn’t miss a year. As I turn the pages, going year to year, it’s hard to deny that these years have passed.

With the passing of time comes change, and I am facing one right now. The change to a smaller place to live, or as currently referred to as “downsizing.” Getting to my 70th birthday, in a fairly healthy condition, made me start thinking of downsizing while I can still do it. I think it’s part of getting older that you think about yourself and all your stuff not being a burden to your children.

After the passing of my mom this past year, I realized how much stuff a person can still have after downsizing several times. My mom had all of her own treasures, plus some from her parents. Her parents had beautiful porcelain figurines from Europe and cut-glass pieces, both decorative and serviceable. Not to mention old, really old pictures that showed the first generation of family that were immigrants to this country.

Although my brother and I did divide up her treasures, there still is a good share of them to take care of. It warms our hearts to know how much these treasures were loved and appreciated by our grandparents and parents. It also breaks our hearts to know that many of these things do not hold value in today’s disposable society.

So, therein lies the dilemma. How do I downsize not only my own stuff but also that left to me by my parents and grandparents? I’m ready to embrace the new trend toward simplicity. But there is a lot of angst to get there when you are in a family of treasure keepers, myself included.

I just tried to reduce my decorations for Thanksgiving and I found drawings done by my children when they were in elementary school. I can pitch the TY stuffed turkey and pilgrim teddy bears, but the little handmade booklet of “What I am Thankful For” — that’s a gut wrencher! Those sentimental things seem to take a lot more determination to separate from.

Over the years, since moving out of my parent’s home, the amount of personal space I have lived in has steadily grown. First there was a small dorm room of probably 300 square feet for three years, and then an even smaller bedroom for my senior year. From there, it was an 800-square-foot apartment for two years, and then an 1,100-square-foot ranch home for 25 years. From there, through three different homes, I’ve been used to around 2,100 square feet of living space.

As Americans, we are used to much more personal space than people in other countries. I had never really thought about that until I met an exchange student years ago who was so amazed by the size of American homes.

Over the years of the changes in my homes, I have become accustomed to lots of personal space. Lots of personal space leads to filling the space with lots of things, so I find myself in my current situation.

If I downsize to 1,100 square feet, then obviously lots of stuff has to go. I’ve been making frequent trips to Goodwill, mostly with clothes and household goods. But that doesn’t even begin to make a dent in what has to go. We have the third stall in our garage filled to the brim along with our furnace room and another storage area. Not to mention all the furniture, household goods, clothes, etc., in our house.

Thanks to the resourcefulness of our Realtor, we have connected up to an online auction business that is the answer to my prayers. I’ve heard of online auctions, but really didn’t know how they worked. By contracting with an online auction business, items I want to sell are picked up, catalogued, advertised through the internet, and viewed at their warehouse by perspective buyers for a week before the auction day. I pay a percentage of the sale price to the auction house and have the choice to donate or pick up items that do not sell. With this resource there to help me, I feel I can move ahead on downsizing without so much worry about how I will get things gone!

2019 is presenting me with a new challenge. I’m up for the challenge! The thought of downsizing while I can and making different choices about how I want to live going into the next decade of my life is exciting. Hopefully, the excitement continues and my energy continues, thanks to yoga and senior vitamins.

— By Janice R. Beuschel, Tribune community columnist

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