Wednesday, September 21, 2011


it has almost become a national pastime. everywhere we go it’s a topic of conversation. even corporate america is downsizing. for many reasons, be it economics or the need to streamline, businesses and individuals are trimming back.

for a couple of years we had been feeling the urge to simplify our lives. at times our schedules would get so busy they would crowd each other out. our house filled with all the stuff we had accumulated over the years. as our family grew so did our possessions. with the passing of each of our parents, much of their households were assimilated into ours. when the grandkids started arriving, vickey kept a stash of toys, games, and creature comforts. her intent was that there would be enough to keep every grandchild occupied, and each of their parents comfortable.
for us the equation was “more stuff + more busy-ness = more maintenance + more time and less energy”. the question remained, begging an answer . . . “will you simplify?” although attracted by the idea of downsizing, our dilemma was not knowing how or where to begin.

all of that changed when we were offered an office/home in the historic village of arroyo grande, one that would give married for keeps a more noticeable face in our community. available space in the village is rare, and we knew instinctively that we needed to grab it. the catch? we would need to live in the new office/home for awhile, and that meant decreasing our living space by two-thirds. suddenly “simplify” took on a whole new meaning.

overnight, we had to get ruthless about what we would take with us and what, as gunther began to say, would be “jettisoned”. in classic kriwinski fashion, gunther’s list of “keeps” and vickey’s list were entirely different. it got emotional on many occasions. some of the items had historic and deep sentimental meaning to one or both of us. we had to ask each other and ourselves some hard questions. it meant re-evaluating what we could have available for family visits – a tough bridge for vickey. the recliner we got from gunther’s dad had to go – a tough crossing for gunther. there were hundreds of decisions and a lot of letting go.

when gunther had heart surgery last year, vickey remembered saying “i don’t care where we live or what we do. it’s you and me babe, and i’m just thankful that you’re still here”. it was a chorus that echoed in both of our hearts and minds through the process – bringing us back to the now, forcing us to determine what was important.

in the process of discovering the excess “baggage” that we were carrying in our house, we found a lot of excess “baggage” in our hearts, and our marriage. getting in touch with our attachments to our things, somehow revealed some places where we had taken on some dead weight. we got into the spirit of unloading, and uncovered some issues we needed to talk about, some things that needed resolution, some areas where we had stuffed when we could have discussed. it took us on a journey of deeper discovery of each other. the give and take of the process has allowed us to touch each other’s hearts at even deeper levels and to strive to understand our spouse more completely, rather than to be understood. we found a correlation: the more we off loaded, the deeper our mutual bond. we were rediscovering our reliance and trust in one another.

slogging through our emotional baggage became more of an ordeal than the actual move itself. it was a fatiguing process, and but it was freeing. it forced us to face our own inflexibilities and learn (again) how to be more adaptable, not just to our living situation, but to each other.

operation downsize has prompted us to reclaim simplicity, to live less encumbered, to move more readily to the place of discussing issues when they are fresh. not to allow them to become the litter that fills the closets of our hearts and minds, or to clutter the living room of our relationship so that we can’t see or enjoy each other as fully as we desire.

someone once said “it’s hard to move forward in your life when your past is crowding your present”.

we downsized, and we’re so glad we did. we extend the same invitation to you . . .will you simplify?. jettison the baggage in your home, your heart and in your marriage. clean out those emotional closets. dump the dead weight. if you need outside help, get it. the freedom it will bring you and the life it will infuse into your marriage is worth it. you are worth it, and so is your mate.
(just could not resist adding this image of one of our little guys with baggage of his own)