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Jeanne Anderson

Jeanne Anderson is a Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com guest columnist.

Everyone keeps asking, “How’s retirement going?” and I keep answering, “Everything I hoped it would be!”

However, retirement’s only been since last June for me, so I am still trying to find the balance on this new tightrope I call Retired Life. Like any major life transition, there are hurdles to be jumped, papers to be read, forms to be processed, signatures to be given, rivers to be crossed ... OK, I may be exaggerating, but not much. There are SO many decisions!

A year before I retired, I made my first major move. I sold my house and downsized to a trailer.

I love my trailer; I love my trailer park. I knew I would miss the old neighborhood and my sweet next-door-neighbors, but the move has been a good one.

Not the actual physical move because that required a massive overhaul of 30-plus years of possessions. There might still be A LOT more to overhaul in the multitudes of boxes and totes sitting in what was supposed to be my two sheds. Don’t tell my son. My oldest son kindly moved them there for me when I was visiting my youngest daughter out of state. I owe him. Big time.

Let me share what I have learned so far about downsizing.

Four bedrooms of furniture will not fit into two bedrooms no matter how hard you push. Trust me -- I pushed. The simple fact is that no one wants your old, worn-out furniture. Your children don’t want your furniture and Goodwill doesn’t want the mattresses you have had since your children were babies. Rent a dumpster.

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Now is a good time to share your keepsakes, treasures, and heirlooms. Don’t wait for your funeral to dispense stuff to your kids. If they want it, have them take it now. If they don’t want it, have them help you put it in the dumpster or take it to Goodwill.

Be ruthless with yourself when deciding what goes with you. Kitchen utensils are one example. When they are all laid out on the table and the counters and the living room couch, you will realize that seven is too many pancake turners. If you haven’t used the potato masher in years (except for holidays), toss it. You can always use the hand mixer for Thanksgiving. By the way, you don’t need the extra blades left over from the previous hand mixers, either.

You need to consider your hobbies. Again, just because you love costume jewelry, or teapots, or baseball cards, or tractors, doesn’t mean your children want all, or any, of them. Start paring down now. Refer to No. 2. If the kids want it, have them take it now. If they don’t, take your favorites with you and find a home for the others.

I agonized over my books, Once I found new homes for many of them, my favorites fit nicely into the two bookcases dominating my living room. Eventually, I will get through the boxes of books my son put in the shed.

Again, don’t tell my son. Maybe I should have my son help me go through them. Then again, maybe not. Ruthless could be his middle name when it comes to tossing out stuff. Maybe I could squeeze in another bookcase in the trailer.

After a year, I have settled nicely into my trailer. With determination and cooperative children, you too can downsize. You may, however, want to invest heavily in rubber totes.

Jeanne Anderson is a retired language arts and special education teacher. She is enjoying writing and contemplating life when she's not busy with her  four children and 15 grandchildren.

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