Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Essays: Downsizing in Retirement

In retirement, one’s lifestyle changes. The routines are different as time is not of the essence, as the world becomes your oyster. You can reach out to explore, ponder for as long as you desire, meditate whenever you want to; essentially you can create your own timetable according to your wants and needs.

Since my retirement a year ago, I was able to stop and look around. For the past ten years we lived on the West Coast of Canada in a four-bedroom house with a good size garden both at the back and front. It needed that tender loving care at crucial times of the year, in the spring, summer and autumn. All that tender loving care brought us an immense amount of joy and pride. We explored the many wonders along the West of Coast of America and Canada and were in wonderment at the natural beauty of these parts of the West Coast. In retirement we felt we missed the lifestyle and culture of Central Canada. We decided that it was time to go home to Toronto where we spent most of our adult life. It was time to retire to familiar ground. In this re-thinking process we thought it was necessary to downsize to a 2+1 bedroom condominium apartment. We believe it will liberate us in many different ways; we will travel as often as we want to and spend more time enjoying the sights and sounds of big city living, indulge in reading, writing, and exploring the internet. The decision is made; we are moving.

The next step was to assess and evaluate all of our treasured furniture, mementos, books, clothing, tools, electronic equipment and so forth. This step proved to be most traumatic; parting with a memento, a piece of furniture or a book was heart breaking as each parting brought back a flood of memories that was attached to that particular treasure. But there will be no room for all these treasures in a condominium apartment. It was cathartic and yet it was a kind of a cleansing by reducing our treasures. Our children took possession of their favourite family treasures and are safely resident in their homes.

The protocol for selling our home was an eye-opening experience, as we had to hide away all personal photos or anything that depicted or symbolized any kind of religion; essentially we had to de-clutter. This process forced us to further evaluate our mementos and wall hangings. We gave away some of our treasures, while we sold some other treasures on craigslist. Our home became a house for sale; it sold.

We think we are down to just the right amount of possessions that we believe may comfortably reside in our new home of a two-bedroom condominium apartment. Moving date is fast approaching and as we pack we are discovering more treasures to discard. We have recycled out of date electronic equipment and made more trips to the local charity store with more treasures for them to sell and use the funds for the local hospital. Every weekly garbage day we dutifully put out the allowable two bags full of garbage. We are ready to move to indulge in a new lifestyle.

As we leave the West Coast we take with us many, many cherished memories of our stay here; our work and volunteer experiences along with the many people that we met and engaged with.

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