Like I mentioned last week, while I’m out of town I’m happy to introduce all of you to another SMART blogger named T.O. Weller (Tracey) who lives in a tiny town north of Toronto, Canada with her husband Kip and sweet dog George. Not only has Tracey become a close friend, she also lives a SMART and rightsized life. Thanks Tracey for allowing me to share another version of rightsizing!
Two incredibly significant events took place one year ago: we embarked on our adventure in the woods, and Kathy and I met on Facebook. (Carl Jung would call it synchronicity: the two events have no causal link, but are meaningfully connected.)
Kathy was working on her latest book—Rightsizing—and as I got to know her work, it dawned on me: we were rightsizing! Not only did her philosophy resonate, but I thought the word itself was a perfect way to describe the ‘what’, the ‘how’, and the ‘why’ of it all.
The ‘What’ of Getting it Right
By the time I had sold 3 rooms-worth of furniture and shelf-filler, packed what we were keeping into a 10×20 storage unit, and sat myself down in a camping trailer to read and write to the sounds of hammers and mosquitoes, the draft copy of Rightsizing had become my manifesto.
But, having said that, Kathy’s rightsizing and my rightsizing are markedly different.
It really is true: no two are alike. We have a mutual friend who rightsized when she moved to a house half the size of her last home. With a very serious look on her face she shared her story, and … well … everyone at the table sort of broke out laughing.
Why? Because her new rightsized home is still twice the size of our homes. But this is where I’m going to vindicate our friend because, laughter aside, it dawned on me right there and then: in the end, the important thing was that it was right for her.
One person’s rightsizing is not another person’s rightsizing. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’.
That’s the beauty of the word: the part that’s right, as in right for you — not your neighbors or your family or your friends. What’s right for one person is not going to be right for another, right? 😉
The ‘How’ of Getting it Right
There is no wrong way to rightsize but, at the same time, there is a general mindset that will help.
In any good conversation about rightsizing, the talk tends to go to the stuff we don’t need and how we’re going to get rid of it. But, as Kathy herself makes clear, rightsizing is not downsizing. Getting rid of extra stuff and the burden it carries on our wallets and psyches is a part of it, for sure, but it’s not the whole picture.
You don’t just do one big sweeping thing, like selling everything to move into that cute, tiny house at the end of the lane, and then say, “there, I’m rightsized.” That’s more like downsizing, and while there’s elements of one in the other, they’re not the same.
Downsizing has an endpoint — if you keep doing it, you will eventually run out of stuff! Rightsizing, on the other hand, doesn’t have an end point. It’s more like a philosophy that weaves its way through your lifestyle choices each and every day. Getting it right often means you try, you learn, you adjust, and then you try again.
We now have our beautiful little lake house but, for us, this is just the beginning. Our first full winter in the ‘boonies’ enlightened us. We now know what we must do: adjust, and that means build more.
Yes, you heard me right. More.
My new writing office/cabin, complete with its own front porch, is now in progress. This was more like a fantasy for me, up until now. Now, it’s a necessity. Being shut inside while the winter winds howl and trying to write in an open concept house with a restless husband … it just doesn’t work. (Love ya honey, but …)
We’re also thinking of renting a small place in town for the winter months, where there’s streetlights and real people passing by on real sidewalks. It might also be nice to get closer to things like doctors, dentists, mechanics, veterinarians, and places to buy printer ink, specialty vitamins, organic kale and various unmentionables … especially when you can’t see the road for the snow.
All of this is to say that, when rightsizing, remember you’re working on making it right. Approach it like a process. Be flexible and gentle with yourself if you need to change the parameters a little. Depending on variables like location, climate, and personalities, getting it right may require some creative problem solving—some adjustments.
The ‘Why’ of Getting it Right
So, why do it at all?!
I left this part to the end because it’s so important. Knowing ‘why’ can often be the difference between sticking it out or packing it in. When we do anything worthwhile, knowing ‘why’ we’re doing it can be the compass that keeps us on track.
As Kathy already articulates so perfectly in her book, there are many reasons to rightsize. With retirement looming or already upon us, the financial landscape can look very different from what we were told to expect.
Add that to the hopes and dreams yet to be pursued—things left undone while we took care of student loans, mortgages, ‘stuff-collecting’, and/or children—and this stage of life has the potential to become full of new possibilities as a life sized right.
In our case, moving from the city to the country didn’t just give us the lake view of our dreams. We’re looking long term: it brings us closer to building a simpler, more self-sustaining way of life and, without the burden of debt, we can pursue work that we not only enjoy but will also offer us the most flexibility and security.
That’s our ‘why’—the compass that guides us. But, as I’ve said, everyone will have their own reasons … as well as their own ideas of how they will do it and what it will look like. It may never be perfect. We may never get it completely right. But that’s okay—it’s a work in progress.
I’m going to close with one of my all-time favorite quotes. I’m sure you’ve read it many times before, but it bears repeating … and makes an interesting prompt for comments this week!
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver
T.O. Weller is a writer, editor, teacher, webmaster and life-long reinventor. She is building a community of fellow ‘second-acters’ through her blog, Never Too Late To Write, while she and her husband continue to work on their current life reinvention in Ontario, Canada cottage country.