Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rituals for Downsizing

This past weekend I helped my son sort through a multi-year accumulation of stuff, to pare down for shared life in an 888 sq foot apt, giving each occupant 444 sq feet. It's considerably less than he now occupies and required major decision making. We noticed that while most decisions were cut-and-dried - out it goes, it doesn't fit, or recycle the paper since the project is long over - certain items were harder to part with. The beloved hoodie with stains and holes, a favorite sweater which has fed the moths, schedules from long-ago beloved programs. None of these items need to stay in his life, but they represent many happy times. We decided to ritualize the event, to turn it into moments of appreciation rather than plain old loss. It seemed helpful. We simply went with one of the traditional Jewish morning blessings and added "b'kavod" - Praised are You THE GENEROUS, our God, Life of all worlds, who acts for all my needs so honorably. " Then off the item went, into the donating, recycling, or trashing pile.

Barukh atah Adonai
eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
sha’asah li kol tsorki.

I am helping another friend similarly downsize, from a six bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment. She ingeneiously decided to photograph items with sentimental value, so there is a visual of them, while not actually saving the items. Each adult child will receive an album of photos of stuffed animals, bulletin board contents, posters, and other memorabilia from their long-ago childhoods and teenager stages. The camera is helping her document this transition, while at the same time radically contract her life.
Good luck to any of you embarking on this virtuous and challenging experience - getting rid of surplus. May your discards find a new life in the cycle of stuff.


SPF said...

The photos idea is a great one, and something decluttering/organizing professionals often advocate. A question: where did your friend donate or effectively get rid of all her children's stuff? Or did they just get trashed?

Betsy Teutsch said...

Luckily, through freecycle, she connected with a home-schooling mom who was happy to take all the arts & crafts supplies, books et al. I think it was nearly a car load! My friend was THRILLED.