Before we get off on the wrong foot, we better come to terms with...well, terms.
Downsizing, yes--making smaller.
A Life--not the day-to-day living, shrinking my existence to something unrecognizable. No, just some of the stuff that has accumulated over the life I've lived.
For example, take my garage--please!
I ought to be ashamed to show pictures of it, but I'm not, actually. Those boxes and bags and file cabinets represent a large portion of my life in actual objects you can hold in your hand. Books (fiction and nonfiction, texts), college notebooks, papers from various organizations I've been involved with. Fabrics from early years of sewing kids' clothing, later pieces bought for quilts (still in the planning stage). Art and needlework books in the filing cabinet. Little Amazon.com boxes with tax returns from past years.
Do I need all that? No, I don't. Some of the tax returns are old enough now to be shredded into obscurity. The art and needlework books have served their purpose and will be donated to the library, either for their shelves or the monthly sale. If the fabrics are still good, I'll donate them to the local senior center where various crafters check out the items for sale. Books--if they're still viable, they'll go to the library, possibly to the local charities for sale by them.
Papers, now--there's a problem. When I see them, I remember the time I spent in an extension homemakers' club and the women who came to the meetings. Or the time I taught a spiritual journaling class for my church during Lent. Another time I taught a one-time seminar on journaling for writers, and how they could use the entries in the journal in their projects. Do I need them now, to remind myself of who I was? I don't think so. Who I was is now and forever part of who I am.
Letters and cards are in a whole separate category. Not sure I can bring myself to destroy them. Cards, eventually. Most don't have notes in them. But letters--now that we're letting the art of letter writing slip into history, letters are precious to me. They represent the time someone spent to let me know how things were with her or him. They bring me back to a time we shared ideas in depth, long letters full of not only what we were doing but what we thought about it; and we shared our feelings, as much as we could reveal, about how our lives were going, our children, our ups and downs.
I won't go into detail about the five closets and linen shelves and drawers in the house. A brief overview--recent purges of clothing that no longer fits made room. But not enough. Closets will have to wait while the garage takes its turn.
Over the past, oh, decade or so, I've been reading about how to organize, how to sort and make room, how to deal with stuff. So I know the theory. Make 3 boxes, and mark them: KEEP, DISCARD, DONATE. Then follow the instructions you marked on the boxes. DON'T, whatever you do, remove anything out of the DISCARD or DONATE boxes and KEEP it! I'm going to try it. Hope it works for me.
Now to put it into practice. I'll report back...sometime. Don't hold any breaths waiting.