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Reconfiguring Your Living SpaceRelocating to a smaller home means letting go of possessions—you simply will not have the space. Items like an old lawn mower or 20-year-old tax returns are easy to let go of. It’s the items we tend to get attached to – books, clothing, photos, cards/letters, collections – that are hardest to let go of. Giving away items to the right place or person makes it easier for you to let them go. Here are some examples.

Books. The Anne Arundel County branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) holds an annual book sale. Proceeds are used for educational grants and scholarships. Best of all, they will pick up your books! The Parole Rotary Club’s Books for International Goodwill (BIG) program ships used books overseas to meet the global thirst for reading. These are just two examples of the good your books can do once you let them go.

Clothing. Work suits, skiing outfits or extra winter coats you will never wear again have no place in your new home. Letting them go means someone else has a chance to put them to good use.

Photos. In the case of photo albums, consider having the photos scanned and saved to the “cloud” by a company who provides this service. Photos saved electronically are actually safer stored this way and can be easily shared with multiple family members.

Cards/Letters. These are often the hardest to let go. Keep a few that mean the most, photograph others and then let the rest go. Remember, letting go of the physical item does not mean letting go of the memory.

Collections. Keep one or two items as space allows and then remember the joy these items could bring to someone else. One widow donated her husband’s unique 1920s jazz record collection to a radio station so now many can enjoy them.  Other collections such figurines, toys, etc. can delight fellow collectors and potentially mean cash for you.

Letting Go of Roles
Sometimes to let go of possessions, you must first let go of a role you’ve played. If you’ve had the honor of playing host/hostess to large family gatherings and are now moving to a retirement living situation, it’s time to let the expectation of hosting these big events go. You can certainly host smaller get-togethers but you do not need to keep the 12-piece set of china, crystal glasses, linens and all the other items you used when you were the hostess.

Instead, share with the new hostess (or hostesses) your secret recipes and huge roasting pans. It’s your time to be free of the burden of planning, cleaning, cooking, and then cleaning again. Family traditions will continue and your role is now a fun but still vital one – sharing good stories and perspectives and just sitting back holding new little ones as you enjoy the day with loved ones.

As you prepare to downsize and relocate, try to embrace this latest phase of your life and celebrate the new freedom you will enjoy. If you’re unsure of how to even begin downsizing, consult with a professional. They will know what has monetary value and have suggestions for where best to make donations to match your wishes. They may also suggest an estate sale to clear out your old home (estate sales are not just for the deceased). Most important, say goodbye to former roles and items with gratitude as you enter this next phase of your life. Let it go!

AUTHOR: The owner of Chesapeake Transitions, Marilyn Leek is a Certified Senior Move Manager® who has been providing support and guidance for Maryland seniors and their families for over a decade.