How Downsizing Can Be Like The Birth of a New Life



“Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

I get what Mr. Morris is saying here, but it can be easier said than done and often we have things around us for reasons other than beauty and function.

This weekend I spent time helping someone in their journey of downsizing from a large country home on acreage, to a suburban home about ½ its size. As I was walking around the property, I came upon this beautiful nest. The process that a mama bird goes through to create a nest for her eggs, is beautiful in its simplicity and a great metaphor for the process of downsizing.

I believe this mama bird understood what it meant to feather a nest for her babies, and I was surprised to learn that they make many nests before they decide on the perfect place to start their family. Some female birds, even judge a suitable suitor on their nest building abilities.

We too do this as we decide where and how to live with our families, but I think in this complicated world of job transfers and school choices our choices are even more difficult.

Just considering downsizing may cause your internal stress meter to blow up from all the considerations. Downsizing is also not a quick process for most. You go through stages similar in any major life change.

Martha Beck explains this well as she explains that we humans do this—not physically but psychologically. All of us will experience metamorphosis several times during our lives, exchanging one identity for another.

As with any life change, downsizing can shake up our identity as well as our physical world. You may have thought of yourself as a white picket fence kind of girl, but suddenly find yourself yearning for a condo downtown.

I agree with Martha as she says that change can feel like hell on wheels and that you should prepare yourself for it. I had no idea how hard this change would hit me, as I assumed as soon as we moved it would be all rainbows and flowers. Not by a long shot.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is a life changing moment, no matter why you are downsizing. It may go back to the way things were and it might not, so be ready for some real identity questions from within yourself. Give yourself the time you need to adjust.

The stress may even come from those around you. When people we love begin to act differently that we expect, it is normal to begin questioning things. The great news is that you can avoid some or all of the stress I went through by understanding this psychological process.

The first step is much like the birth of your first child if you are a mother. Those moments when you are like, holy crap! I thought I knew what I was doing – I read all the books! Stage one is a birth and death. A birth of a new life and a death of an old one.

You don’t know where you are headed, but you need a nest to feather. I believe that when making major changes, temporary often transitional living spaces are great solutions for minimizing stress and beginning to learn more about your new life.

Just give yourself time to get acquainted with your new baby, so you can enjoy this new birth experience. One packed box at a time.



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