The upside of our downsizing cavorts.

So what’s with all the Urgency? And what 500 Things?

(Thanks for asking.)

When I started writing process not product, I knew it was going to be a collection of observations about my family and our twin preoccupations:

  1. Our expected downsizing due to Sam’s departure for college in the fall of 2011;
  2. Our unexpected downsizing due to the global financial crisis– i.e. our underwater unemployment.

Downsizing was the theme; control became the goal.

Anyone who’s been through either the college admissions process or a job search knows you feel like you have about as much control over the outcome as a mosquito in a hurricane: you can be a pest, but it won’t affect where you eventually land.

I crave control. Between my laminated itineraries and color-coded, sheet-protected filing system, oh yeah, I ooze control. But I found myself careening toward downsized-ends over which I had zero control.

What’s a card-carrying control freak to do?

In the 21st century, we blog about it. A reasonable start, but I also wanted to have a long-term plan, a way to nimbly careen into our downsizing.

The desire for a plan was the genesis of

The 500 Things Project.

Realizing that we were on a literal countdown until Sam leaves for school, I figured I had about 500 days until he leaves. What could I do with 500 days that was both meaningful and distracting?

Carrying out our theme of downsizing, I could commit to getting rid of 1 thing every day for 500 days:

Downsizing our stuff on the way to downsizing our family.

So that’s what I’m doing. Stuff entered our home, often with very little thought or consideration, but Sam will exit our home with as much planning and honor as I can provide. With this goal, I am constantly assessing our stuff, looking for the things that can and should be relinquished.

I already know the 500th Thing will be my Sam.

May 1, 2011: I am delighted to add an update. Sam’s has accepted admission to Vassar College. Go Brewers!

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