Downsizing, right-sizing, letting go

I may not have much in the way of my own words for you today, my love.

Let’s start with some words of Mary Oliver’s, words that have held me up during this move, and then we’ll see where we go from there.

(You can read the full text of “In Blackwater Woods” here, I’ve excerpted the second half of the poem — the half that speaks to me as I move through this change — in the image.)

The downsizing just doesn’t seem to have an end. Not yet anyway.

I’m still unpacking, and today is the first day I’ve actually done some work that’s not move-related in a couple of weeks. I’ve been in my new for-now home for the last four days. And while there was a ton of culling and releasing during the pack-and-prepare weeks, I didn’t get the full wallop, the full extent of letting go, until move day arrived last Monday.

Downsizing, right-sizing, letting go

Downsizing: The latest letting go (the most painful one, maybe).

You see, I chose to keep my bed. In fact, I had fought to keep my bed. My made-for-me, queen-size, heavy, substantial, wooden captain’s/platform/four-poster bed. The one I intended to keep until I could pass it on to my daughter (until she had space for it). I thought I had planned so well. I thought all the downsizing, and right-sizing, had already been completed. Hah! Was I ever wrong!

I turned down more than a few possible rentals because they came with a bed provided. No way, no thanks, I have a bed. A cherished bed. So I kept looking.

And the Universe laughed. My beautiful bed did not fit into this house, the place I decided to move to for 9 months or so until I find my hopefully forever place.

It didn’t fit! Couldn’t get it through either door. Oy, it breaks my heart — again! — just to write these words.

I moved Monday. The movers tried so hard to get the frame into this house. But it just wouldn’t fit. After a painful private meltdown, I gave the bed to one of the movers. I slept on my mattress on the floor for two nights, and am now sleeping on a serviceable platform I found online. The good news — it’s got me off the floor, and I have and probably never will have any sentimental attachment to it. It’s not unlovely, but it wasn’t made for me and it won’t hurt much when the time comes to let it go.

Letting go of cherished things, people, places is never easy. Like the story of the monk and the disciple and the broken cup (many versions can be found, they all teach the same lesson about the transient nature of possessions and attachment), this latest letting go for me has been a gentle (okay maybe not so gentle) reminder to me of gratitude (for all the nights and weeks and months and years that I had this bed). And even deeper than gratitude is the reminder that things are just that — things. And that wellbeing, health, happiness — when derived from something other than what I possess — has even more value than when provided to me from my beautiful possessions.

There has been no shortage of letting go around here these days.

That’s the good news, right? All the letting go I’ve done so far made it possible for me to own the idea that I will survive one more letting go. And the ones to come after that.

Because this is not the last move I have planned. It’s the next-to-last move. Given my age, and given that I’m planning to apply for all kinds of housing, I may have to get to downsize again. By the time the next downsizing comes around, if and when it does, I should be even better at it than I am now!

Going through changes and transitions at any age is tough.

Going through changes and transitions in your 40s, 50s, and older, especially if you’re single, can be really hard.

I made sure to ask, and ask again, for the help I needed. The most important help I was offered and happily took was the kind that held me up as I packed, and packed some more. And now, on this end, help culling what doesn’t fit in this house, and helping me find nooks and crannies for my stuff that I get to hold on to for now.

This process is informing and changing my work going forward. Maybe now’s the time for us to talk? Can you use some support navigating the changes that (I promise you) just keep coming?

I’m here to support single women in their 40s and older through the changes that life has in store. Because as long as you’re breathing, you’ll be going through changes, sought and unsought, welcome and not so much so. Whatever transition you’re facing, you don’t have to do it alone. Work. Health. Moving. Business. Income. Family. Loss. Gain. All of it. If this resonates for you, please book a no-strings call with me, and let’s see if having me in your corner as you navigate what’s up and what’s next might be useful.

That’s it from me today. I’d like to hear from you! Does this resonate? Do you have any experience to share? Let’s talk in the comments.

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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Join the conversation!

  1. Not sure if I cried for your bed or for you, perhaps it was for you and for me both as I put myself in your shoes as if they were my own. Resonate? Oh hell yeah. I’m 54 and completed my 58th move last December with 14 of my moves being in the past 11 years. For me, it has been all a journey of letting go. Letting go of who I thought I was and the many roles I held and defined me, to losing sight the parts of me that I loved the most, from living in seclusion, to commune, or in car – letting go of the stuff that accumulated, internally and externally so that I was down to only those things that held major significance to me as I repeatedly dismantled and built yet another place to call home. Letting go of all I thought I knew for who I am becoming, excitedly, still undefined,

    You are so spot on – being single and completely dependent on yourself does indeed pose challenges and for the first time ever, this last move I actually asked for help. I should say accepted help, I never asked but accepting was just as hard for me.

    My Dearest Sue, thank you for sharing the pieces of you as you navigate all your changes … even from afar it is a blessing to know that someone else is traversing the same waters, navigating the same valleys, climbing similar mountains and tripping over the same stones! <3.

    • Danne, thank you, and welcome!

      Your words are so beautiful, and my heart is so happy to have received the gift of them.

      Glad to have you traversing, navigating, climbing, tripping, and surviving with me!

  2. Thank you for sharing the ways in which your inner compass has been guiding you to deeper and deeper levels of sitting in yourself. It is raw and vulnerable. I feel you in the pieces and in the transformation, Sue.

    • Thanks, Laurie, I like the way you frame it — deeper levels of sitting in myself. Because that’s it, right? Depth of being in the moment, in the now, in this…. whatever this might be.

  3. Over the last three years I have downsized from a two bedroom apartment, to a one bedroom apartment, and now, finally, to a lovely little studio apartment. I’m getting to be quite the downsizing Queen. The funny thing is that there is only one thing I got rid of that I missed and that was a particular book … which I can always replace! I now own my life, my stuff doesn’t own me any more. Hang in there, it gets easier!

    • Barb, while I am going through the layers of grief for the loss of my beloved bed — and that one still hurts — I am grateful and relieved that the rest of the items I released are not causing regret when I think of them. Instead, I am at peace with the letting go.

      Thanks for the wise words; they mentor my tender heart.

  4. I don’t know about you, but I can never (OK, rarely) see the benefits of a tough transition until it is behind me. The tangible “stuff” of my life has been in transition for several years. I guess this is something I’m going to have to (get to) keep doing until … who knows when. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • Andrea, that resonates! I was talking about this just last night — that it often feels like I’ve lived my life in retrospect. Once something is behind me, I can look back and say “Oh that wasn’t too bad!” But while I’m in it? Excruciating like squeezing through yet another narrow place.

      And funny how life just keeps giving us opportunities to learn. As they taught me in Brooklyn: Life is full of AFGOs (Another Fucking Growth Opportunity).

  5. Thank you for sharing your journey Sue. First off, I love your socks in the header picture above, adorable! Moving is stressful no matter what the circumstances. A very difficult time in my life was letting go of my childhood home after my Mom’s death. I have a few things of hers, of course I wished I had room for it all, including the house. My mother would say, “it’s just material things” yet I find it is more when the emotional memories are attached to them. Any type of letting go is difficult and needs to be honored. Hugs! .

    • Lisa, thanks! I love that socks photo too (there are different header photos on each of the main pages; you can see another glimpse of those blue toe socks here). Thanks for helping me honor the releasing. There’s another story you just reminded me of, about my pre-digital photos and my daughter — packing for this move I chose to give her that part of her legacy now. I’ll write up that story next post.

      It’s odd to let go of so many things with emotional memories connected to them, but (and it feels a little Harry Potter–ish to say this) I’ve kept the memories (as best I can) while letting go of the things themselves.

  6. Ah Sue, I am laughing and crying as I read this and visualising you, the movers and the bed. I am sending love and empathy to you and to me. Starting over is hard, letting go is hard and yet we always come out the other side better, stronger and lighter. Thanks for sharing this story!

  7. Your bed! There’s just something about having to let go of one you love that makes it even more poignant than other things. It’s been a constant companion for half of your life since you purchased it. And especially in times of change, I feel the need to hold onto things like that.
    Letting go of outcomes is something I’ve been working on for a while, and I can say–I still don’t like it. My preference would be for outcomes to occur as I envision them. And I still go through the stages of grief when something near and dear to my heart doesn’t turn out as I want it to. Just had a triple whammy on that score.
    The good news is, I do get to acceptance more quickly. Which always comes with a boatload of gratitude. Or perhaps, the latter occurs before the former 🙂

    • Yup, you nailed it. It still hurts to think about it, but it’s getting a little less painful each time I remember it. So that poignancy will fade as well. I’m so relieved that the bedframe I found online is sturdy and comfy. Otherwise I’d still be in so much agony!

      I too would like the outcomes I had in mind to come to pass. Sigh. I learn this lesson over and over and over again. It started to really sink in when the child I reared turned out to be so different from the one I had in mind!

      I love this saying that our conversation reminded me of (from 12-step): What you resist, persists. The more attached I am to my desired outcome the more it hurts when I don’t get that!

      And for me the gratitude loosens my death grip on desire and disappointment, and allows me to even remember acceptance exists, consider it, and be grateful for getting to it. Eventually. 🙂

  8. I followed bits and pieces of your transition phase on Facebook, and am so very glad you found a place that suits you for now as you look for your forever home. But I was so, so sorry to hear about your bed. I know what you say is true and our things are just things we can’t take with us; and yet it can be so hard to let go. For me this reflects how I also find it hard to let go of people and — to a lesser extent — patterns that don’t serve me, (though in those cases they’re more desirable things to let go). I feel that change is hard for all of us in some way or another because of the uncertainty and fear it brings with it, and you sound like you are navigating it so well. Just keep giving yourself the love and reassurance your little inner girl needs and doing whatever it is that makes you feel at home in yourself — the first and last home you’ll inhabit in this lifetime. I feel that when we feel safe and at home in ourself, it’s so much easier for us to deal with our transitions and the uncertainty that comes with them. Much love to you ♡

    • Julia, that’s lovely to read, and wraps my heart with loving compassion.

      For me the uncertainty and fear predated the big change, but for real the big change amped up the uncertainty and fear to intense levels.

      Ahh, being at home in myself. One of my first teachers shared this mantra: “My body is the vehicle of my consciousness, and when my body has been destroyed my conscious possibilities have also been destroyed.” Which I have found very helpful in multiple dark times. It all begins as that inside job, doesn’t it?

  9. Sue what a journey of transformation this has been for you. I did follow it on facebook and my heart went out to yo uas I know how blessed I am to have Des, my soulmate. Makes moving as well as so many other aspects of life simpler. BTW — he is hanging washing out right now!

    That bed, reminded me of when we moved here and my work table for my studio wouldn’t fit through the door. i remember in another house where it had been the kitchen table, this house the kitchen was too narrow to house it so ( I was single then) a male fried suggested making it a coffee table so he cut the legs of. The next house it became the dining room table. Next move Des got his beautiful jarrah table back from his exwife so oak table became my studio table- just need some inches added for standing height. As the movers were about to give up I remember those added inches and out came the hammer and chisel.

    I love that you have let go, I do it with each move and know now there is more to go, so I grow within too. That being at home with yourself is so important. Sending love and hugs xxxx

    • Suzie, you make me smile. Which is always a blessing. The story of your table — you can be sure that I thought about taking the bedframe apart, but the guy who (over)built it for me had glued on at least 3″ of decorative pine to the outside of the frame (so that no screw or nail heads would show (Goddess forbid!), and taking that decorative bit off would have meant removing something like 200 screws and a ton of glue (if it would even be possible). So I thought about it, wept about it, and let the bed go to the mover. Almost two weeks later it still hurts to think about it, but the blessings and teachings that came with the unwanted let-go are deep, and I venture to say, worth the agony. Sure I’ll go with that! Worth it!

      Oh here’s one of the gifts of deep transformational lessons like this one: On Friday I (finally!) stopped and treated myself to an acupuncture/massage session. Left there 90 minutes later and left my triple spiral necklace behind. The only jewelry I’ve worn for years. A cherished totem. It hurts a tiny bit, but hey, I’m getting pretty practiced at this.

      I may have reduced my possessions by more than 50%, but what I kept — my treasures and few beautiful things — are up on the walls now (except for just a few pieces) and I get to rest my eyes upon, and touch, and use some choice items and so many of them give me so much pleasure!

  10. You had me at Mary Oliver. But also at downsizing, age and transition. Whew. So much in this life and its ebbs and flows. Sending an abundance of steadiness, grace and ease your way, Sue!

    • Thank you, sister, I gladly receive (and will make of) all of it — steadiness, grace, and ease!

      Much love to you.

    • Patricia, thanks. Inhabiting that sweet spot of chutzpah and humility that allows you to ask for help is a great skill to practice. It softens and strengthens all at once; as do all the brave and beautiful divine feminine qualities I see badass beautiful manifest all around me — thanks for being part of that inspiration.

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