Monthly Archives: April 2009

How much is my time worth to sell this stuff??

I have listed a bunch of things on-line, which means I had to describe the thing in enticing terms, photograph it, figure out how much to ask for it, and go through the posting hoops.  Time-consuming. Nibbles on most of the stuff not happening.

dscf3117I also made a trip over to Powells Books in Portland this morning with three and a half boxes of great books, sheet music and instructional CDs. They took about 20 books and gave me $74. More time spent. I now have to figure out to whom to give the remaining almost three boxes.

Books and sheet music are sacred things in my universe. A happy home must be found for them. So I’m bringing some to the Friends of the Library and some to our magnet school for the arts. Another trip and another hour to distribute those. Sigh.

As of today I’ve pocketed about $150 for merchandise that probably cost $1,000 new and it took many hours to “earn” it.

Already the take-away lesson is shockingly clear: the value of a purchase plunges steeply the minute you take it out of its wrapper at home — and if you need to sell it, expect little or nothing in return, and expect it to eat away at your time.

Buying something new makes NO sense any more unless you plan to use the thing to death.  It’s much much smarter to buy used if you must have it, or to rent, borrow or share if you need it only briefly.


Filed under 101 Reasons to Downsize, Baby steps, Downsizing, Envisioning a simpler life, Paper and books, Selling stuff

Chained to my stuff

Overwhelmed 2007, originally uploaded by mistymisschristie.

I want to be free to move easily, free to be creative, free to spend more time with friends and family. But this big house and all the stuff in it keeps me chained to the spot.

I could wait till the chains rust through in a few decades (and I’m well underground), or I could get out the jaws of life and cut my way to freedom.

It’s my choice, isn’t it?

Leave a comment

Filed under 101 Reasons to Downsize, Attachment - Vairagya, Downsizing, Emotional issues, Envisioning a simpler life

Selling sheet music on eBay

In my younger years I played several instruments, in genres from blues to bluegrass to classical.  This means I’ve got BOXES of music going back to the dawn of time. Instructional CDs and tapes too.


I hate to think how much money was invested in this collection – and though some of it is a bit chewed up, Bach hasn’t changed his notes, the blues are still the blues, and the chords to Arkansas Traveler still hold.

SOMEONE should want this stuff. SOMEONE should be willing to pay a discount price for it. I certainly couldn’t just toss it.

Yesterday I posted the books which have current ISBN numbers on, eBay’s little sister.  I listed a few that are more arcane on eBay.  Half charges a small percent of the sale price after you sell, but eBay charge you a listing price as well.

After I listed several items I decided to research how well such stuff actually sold.

Put it this way… it’s clear that a huge percentage of listings never sell at all, so where eBay is making its money is in those little listing charges. A LOT of little listing charges.

The other problem is – it takes time to write up a listing. One or two items – not so bad. Twenty items, many of which will sell for only $5 if I’m lucky???  Maybe not worth it after all.

After 7 days if the eBay stuff hasn’t sold I’ll try something else.

This is so painful – not just letting go of the music books, but also of the musician I once was and never will be again, at least not at that level…


Filed under Attachment - Vairagya, Downsizing, Emotional issues, Selling stuff

From materfamilias to mom-in-a-box

I sold a printer cart on Craigslist yesterday, but no nibbles on the crib yet.

Selling the crib brings up all sorts of feelings even though the crib is nothing special.

It’s about my role in the family as materfamilias.The crib represents my ability to host family gatherings, guests from out of town, grandbabies and adult kids who need a few months to regroup.

All three of my kids have returned home for a few months (post college) in their early 20s to regroup before launching into the next thing. My youngest has been here since October and will leave (swine flu permitting) for world travels in late May.  In each case it’s been a privilege to get to know the former child as a young adult.

My daughter was looking forward to sending the little ones up for a week in the summer starting next year, but if I’m living in a shoebox it may be a challenge.

Christmas will be very different too. One of our long-standing traditions is gathering after the little ones are asleep to wrap presents and stuff stockings together. We sit on the floor, everyone facing a different corner so no one can peek at the gift being wrapped– laughing, drinking, passing scissors and tape, drinking, laughing.  And in the morning all waking up way too early to be ready when the little ones come down…

Have to let that one go until someone in the next generation gets a bigger house themselves…

My resistance to this move is in full flower today.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Emotional issues, Family issues, Furniture, Selling stuff

They even make mugs promoting downsizing!

Downsize Mug, originally uploaded by Fatty de Monsey.

I stumbled on the photo of  this mug on Flickr, so I don’t know if it’s smaller than a regular mug, but buying another mug to add to my mug collection isn’t my idea of downsizing.

But if it is smaller, that would be cool. When I look over the china and silverware that’s been passed down thru my family it’s clear that we’ve upsized all our eating equipment.

And the bigger the plate, the more we eat. Ergo the bigger we become.

Leave a comment

Filed under Downsizing

“Antiques aren’t drawing the prices they were a couple of years ago”

Today I called a local furniture consignment store to inquire about their selling a Victorian ladies chair that was my mother’s, as well as the aforementioned humongous McGuire executive desk.

Here’s the chair:

Victorian chair

Victorian chair

The gal said they’d have their appraiser give me a rough price, but not to expect a lot, because the market for antiques has plunged. “Antiques aren’t drawing the prices they did a couple of years ago… you might want to wait to sell,” she said.

Right. But I want to sell it now.

I understand fashion cycles – things go in and out of vogue. Currently the 1950’s are hot (whodathunkit??).  Victoriana is cold. But my question is – will big old heavy stuff ever come back into fashion?

Everyone is wanting to live lighter, smaller, cheaper. Ikea – screw it together yourself is all the rage. If it breaks in a few years, so be it; we’ll get a new more trendy one when that happens.

Perhaps another golden age of well-crafted American-made antiques will return, but not until the economy is standing firmly back on its feet – and no doubt long after I’ve moved into my shoebox.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art & antiques, Downsizing, Selling stuff

Sunshine and selling stuff don’t mix.

Here in the Pacific northwest we’re used to gray skies for several months of the year.  People may grumble about the absence of sunshine, but there is at least one significant up side to the dusky light:

You can’t see how dirty or dinged your stuff is. You don’t see the cobwebs, the cat’s noseprints on the windows, the greasy streaks on the oven door. And you don’t realize how funky that old oak bureau really is – faded over here, scratched over there, and the drawers refuse to shut straight. Unfortunately I want to sell the old oak bureau. And the big (scratched) executive desk. And the (faded) Victorian chair.

The sun has been out for two days straight, and I’ve seen the light; serious cleaning is in order.  This house is almost 40 years old… I’m thinking I shouldn’t put it on the market till the sun backs off a bit!

Leave a comment

Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Funny, Selling stuff

Downsizing or”appropriate sizing” when you have humongous furniture

I inherited a McGuire desk from my ex’s family, which probably cost a couple thousand dollars when it was new in the 1960s and may well still be worth that today.

As you can see, it is humongous – 72″ x 40″ – and heavy (oak). It’s appropriate for a beefy executive, but I am not one of those.  Moving it even an inch to unplug the phone from the wall behind it takes a team of horses. I have no team of horses.

McGuire Desk

McGuire Desk

McGuire isn’t making desks like this any more. They’ve gone dainty… in fact below is the only desk they make that isn’t just a delicate library table with a couple of drawers:

Current McGuire desk

Current McGuire desk

The trend is to desks that are truly minimalist and modular, so you can set them up or move them easily and add file drawers or other accoutrements below:

Glass desk on Craig's List

Glass desk on Craig's List

This sort of desk is much more suited to what will become my new light-on-my-feet lifestyle.  Though I confess I’ll miss the capacious surface of my current desk… you have no idea how many paper piles I had to file to get down to bare wood for the picture above.  (True confession… the McGuire sits behind me like a work table. I work on my computer at another desk almost as big.)

I’m hoping some beefy executive who sees my listing on eBay (once I get it up) will be thrilled to pay top dollar for it. McGuires ARE collectors items, if you like that sort of thing.


Filed under Downsizing, Furniture, Home office, Selling stuff

The Michelangelo lesson: carve away the excess to reveal the essential you

david-by-michelangeloThe story goes that Michelangelo carved the beautiful statue of David from a single piece of marble, chipping away all that was NOT David until David emerged, freed from the stone.

Whether the story is true or apocryphal is less important than the inspiration it provides those of us who are downsizing.

All you have to do is let go of that which is not the current you, and VOILA! the new free you is born.

It sounds so simple and obvious, when put like that. And it’s so much more challenging in practice.

I once had a feng shui client whose adolescent daughter was ADHD, depressed and anxious.  When I visited their home I could see why (quite apart from any underlying biological issues). The family had STUFF everywhere. You couldn’t sit in the living room without having to push 3 teddy bears off a chair. And the girl’s room had so many playthings that you couldn’t walk across the room without tripping on something. The wife was a nervous wreck, and the marriage was going badly.

The client had a good reason for wanting to keep each thing. Finally I suggested that the family try an emergency intervention: a vacation from their stuff.

This meant renting an unfurnished place in the neighborhood and moving over there with only the most essential things they needed to conduct their lives – beds, sheets, chairs, table, pots and pans, hair dryer, a couple weeks worth of clothes.

They weren’t to return to their home for at least a month.  Once their nervous systems calmed down they could go back and retrieve no more than a few things each per week. After a couple of months of that they were to hire someone to help them offload about 75% of what remained in the house. Then they could move back home.

Of course they didn’t take my advice, but if you’ve ever gone on a month’s camping trip or other rustic vacation, you know exactly how freeing it feels to have almost nothing. You make do. You’re free to be yourself, to change directions at any moment, to fly.

If I had sufficient funds to maintain two places, I’d love to engineer my pare-down process that way.  Move to a new place taking only the essentials and moving other stuff gradually. Thus detached, it would be so much easier to let that stuff go….

And then VOILA! Joy would emerge. Unfettered.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Emotional issues

Possessed by possessions: are you the owner or the owned?

“Things are in the saddle and ride mankind.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You remember the thrill of the hunt for a new possession? You hear about a cool new gizmo. You think “I need to get me one of those…”

So you do the google hunt, find the best price, type out your credit card number and drag that sucker home.

You wear, sit on, look at, or labor-save with the new possession, feeling quite smug about your excellent taste. Your friends may even envy you a little for getting this new possession.

Time passes. More gizmos and whatchamacallits enter your life. Some of them break. You get bored with others.

One day you wake up and realize you’ve been possessed. Your possessions have taken over your life and now they own you!

You’re exhausted trying to keep them dusted, repaired, organized, and their batteries charged. You’ve lost crucial parts, operating manuals. And who are those people with granny glasses and bell-bottom trousers  in the yellowing photographs?

You can’t find the one thing you really need.

Then the kids leave home, your retirement fund collapses and you need to make some major adjustments to your lifestyle.

Bye bye acquiring, hello downsizing.

Even though I live relatively clutter-free, I’ll be rattling around a 3,000 sq. ft house alone when my last child leaves next month. I can no longer afford to maintain a place this big – and indeed, even if I could afford to, I don’t want to be tied down by so much stuff, so much responsibility.

I want to take back my life from my possessions.

I want to sell this place and find some place no more than half this size…

Which means that HALF my possessions need to GO.

If you’ve done this or are doing this, let me hear from you!Advice, moral support and tips from your own experience always welcome. Maybe you’ve got ideas about selling art? antiques? Dealing with boxes of photos, big honking scrapbooks.

Together we can do this.


Filed under 101 Reasons to Downsize, Back Story, Downsizing, Priorities