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The challenge of downsizing
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Have you ever thought we live in a world where often our possessions possess us. The recent release of a new IPhone demonstrated the desire of many to have the newest and latest. The forever multiplying amount of stuff we have demonstrates our weak ability to make critical choices. This is a growing trend in our world. If you look inside the beautiful houses in Covington’s historical district, you will notice how much less storage there is as compared to home built in today’s world. There were fewer closets and those few were much smaller. And furthermore there was no storage industry that had space to rent for all those things you just can’t part with. Even with more storage space, many of us find our closets, our cabinets, and our storage spaces overflowing.

Have you ever tried to “down size?” One of the challenges a “downsizer” faces is what to keep and what to get rid of. Even though our spaces are crammed, we are now facing a new reality of less storage. There are several ways to reduce the amount of things you have. You can try to sell some things, you can donate them, you can give them away, you can recycle some things, and toss them if you have run out of any other option. If where you live will allow it, you might consider having a small storage building built. You might rent some space from the many facilities around town that are for storage. For the sake of our environment, I hope you will make every effort to avoid merely tossing that which you do not have room for.

Over the years I have discovered one of life’s unofficial laws seems to be whatever you don’t keep seems to be what you need at some point. But no one lives by hind sight so you have to make some critical guesses to the best of your ability. And I can assure you if you keep things just on the possibility that you made need it, you will have boxes of things you will never use or need again.

There are serious issues for some that can’t let go of anything. Some call it compulsive hoarding or hoarding disorder. Some have estimated that tendency is found in about two to five percent of the population. There are even 12-step programs to help people deal with this issue. But for most of us, we just have more stuff than we space for and know we need to do something about it.

When one is faced with the issue of where in the world can I put this, then one needs to either find space, shed yourself of it, or find something stored that you no long need and get rid of that item to make room for the new.
Years ago, it seemed every time my in-laws visited us, they would bring some things they felt like we might want. Now I am suspicious they were simply creating space for things they wanted to keep.

One good rule to follow is to set a date, say one year from now, or two, if you have not used something in that given time then consider letting go of it. Of course this doesn’t apply to those keepsakes that cannot be replaced. But be critical of what falls in this category and be willing to ask, years from now will anyone really care about this?

I witnessed a former neighbor one day hauling boxes to the street with names of various cities on them. They were sealed closed. I asked what the cities meant and he said, “They are places we used to live and moved the boxes from but have not even opened them since.” I thought that a little radical for there could be some priceless things in the boxes. But we need to be willing to shed what we do not use or need.

The real challenge is when we get down to what we think we need but still have more that we appear to have space for. My brother and sister-in-law came up with a word for what must be done next. It is called “fussing.” It stands for, “Finding Useable Storage Space.” With a little imagination one can find space under the bed, perhaps some shelves in the garage, or shelves in other places. It will vary with where ever you live, but if you look you find a little space here and a little there that will allow you to keep some of things you really can’t get let go of.

A word of caution try to keep what is needed to use something with the item when you store. These may be cords, or chargers, or instructions, or whatever. It may be a waste of space and time to store what you think you will need, but not have you need to use it.

If we do go to trouble to store what we really need, we will find ourselves saving time and worry as we have what we need. And if we have shed what we don’t need, we will be able to get to what we do need.

E. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author, who now resides in Covington