Downsizing Rightsizing

Downsizing, a term that has several meanings and connotations, became part of my daily language when I worked at a hospital that was merging with another. Management cheerfully told us that it was time, probably long overdue, for this top heavy organization to get by with less. Less staff. Less time. But not less productivity, of course.

We hard working employees lived for three years under the specter of downsizing. For starters, we all had to re-apply for our jobs. Then worry if our job was no longer necessary; then worry if we were no longer necessary. In the end everyone kept their jobs but the hell we went through gave me a new perspective.

Maybe this experience better prepared me for the consequences of a time when downsizing became a part of my private life as well. It began when my husband and I moved from our Cedarburg home to an apartment in Eagle River. Then, to a house outside Eagle River. When we got divorced five years later, I moved into a two bedroom duplex. Then three years later, when I moved back down state, I further downsized to where I am now, into a one bedroom apartment.

The building I moved into in 2013 is filled with downsizers, people who’d lived in one or two houses throughout their marriage and child rearing years. Then as widows and widowers, they’d sold their long time homes and moved to this intergenerational apartment complex.  Though my story has many more moves than theirs, I’m locked in to the same downsizing adventure.

So, I’ve watched carefully and tried to take some cues on how to make the adjustment. Some were happy. Others took a few months before they found their footing and adjusted pretty well. Others, not so well.  Most of the men looked like lost souls.  I guess we all travel at our own speed.

As I was settling into my new home, I recalled another term I’d become all too familiar with in my downsizing days. Rightsizing. It was just another management rationalization of why staff cuts had to happen.  This seemed a clue to what I was confronting now. How do we know what is the right size?

My new apartment was comfortable. I live in every square inch but don’t feel cramped. It’s quite perfect. But I’d brought along furniture from the past and some of it just didn’t fit. The queen size bed took up too much space. The couch was too long and engulfed the living room. A loveseat/sleeper would be perfect and also provide accommodations for an occasional overnight guest. And finally, that leather chair I’d always wanted. But I have to laugh when recalling the rigmarole I went through to begin this rightsizing process.

I started by donating the bed to Salvation Army who posts the schedule on their website; they pick-up by zip code, one date per month. So, I had to carefully plan the pick-up of the old and the delivery of the new. I did my best to have these things coincide. Turned out, I had to sleep for two weeks on my couch.

Same for the living room furniture. Once again, I was held captive by the Salvation Army pick-up schedule. After the couch was removed, my living area sported only one chair, an antique, wooden one. This time I endured three weeks of discomfort when watching TV or reading.

After the deliveries were behind me, I spent several days stretched out in my new leather chair with an elevated foot rest, gazing happily over at the just right loveseat/sleeper. I was in heaven. But it’s what I’ve felt since that’s been most wonderful. Every time I enter my apartment. I get a rush of satisfaction and instantly feel so at home. Everything fits perfectly and was picked out by me and only me.

But then I realized, it’s not over. Far from it. Each fall, I took my winter clothes out of a steamer trunk I used for storage. Same thing in the spring. This seemed such a waste as I looked over my closet and realized that I’ve not once worn most of the clothes hanging there in benign neglect. I counted five pairs of shoes I’ve never worn, not once, since I moved here three years ago. Enough of this! I needed to downsize. Maybe rightsize.

I have a very nice, large walk-in closet. So, my newest goal was to rightsize my wardrobe so the clothes of all the seasons fit into the closet at the same time. No more shifting from trunk to closet. This was truly doable since no longer going to work, I found myself wearing the same things over and over. The phrase that we wear 20 per cent of our clothing 80 per cent of the time really applied now. And why not. No one was judging me because we’re all doing the same thing.

I recently encouraged a friend who is beginning the very first steps in downsizing. The sale of their boat and vacation cottage was approaching. Her nervousness was palpable. I told her that it’s painful while you’re going through it but fine once it’s over.

So much value is put on having things, owning things. Often, that defines who we are. And the eternal question is, what do we really need anyway? These thoughts are haunting. For me, what’s really important is being happy where you are, no matter what you have.

So, is there another challenge in the rightsizing theme awaiting me down the road? Only the shadow knows. It’s taken three years but I’m finally content having survived downsizing and rightsizing my life up to this point.  If I can do it, anyone can.

 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Linda
    Oct 23, 2016 @ 21:36:01

    Yes, so true, Karin. ;). It’s wonderful how everything falls into place. In time.

    Like

    Reply

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