â€œWe shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us,â€ said Sir Winston Churchill. That is a good preface for a review of Ciji Ware’s new book, Rightsizing Your Life: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most (Springboard Books 2007). This is a well-organized, lively manual on creating an environment that supports our choices in the second half of life. It includes relocation â€“ whether to, where, when, and how â€“ which, after money and health, is a major concern for many of us as we grow older. This is due, in part, to the size of the continent we inhabit, and our propensity for moving for work or family. Sometimes those moves take us far from our homes of origin, for better or worse, and sometimes on the periphery of what we value most.
The other factor the book tackles head on is our possessions. To stretch the Churchill quote just a little, we have become possessed by our possessions. How to maintain, preserve, protect and store our stuff have become industries in their own right. So Rightsizing Your Life is, among other things, an exhortation to simplify in the second half of life, to pare down to what we consider the essentials (a revealing exercise if there ever was one!), and thus create space for self-discovery, creativity, an exhilarating new freedom, to name a few benefits.
Following an excellent Foreword by Gail Sheehy, Part I covers just that. Part II is where the rubber meets the road: a seven-step how-to that makes rightsizing sound, if not easier, than doable and necessary. I was particularly taken with Chapter 6, “Identify Your Favorite Things,” a discussion that goes far beyond the thing itself. You will no doubt recognize yourself somewhere in the list â€œTen Reasons We’re Prisoners of Our Possessions.â€
If you feel yourself more than ready to rightsize and simplify but feel overwhelmed by the task, go directly to “Call in the Professionals” â€“ yes, there is a small army of people who can help you declutter, sort, organize, move, retrofit, remodel. Great resources throughout, including websites and other readings.