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Downsizing, Am I Becoming the Invisible Woman?


As I am packing to move, again, after 14 months here, (no, I’m not a military wife… but thank you for your service if you are) and giving away more than I ever imagined I could, I am experiencing resistance and confusion.

First let me explain why I am packing. We are downsizing even further than we did last year in order to have a tiny home-base and buy a motor home to travel. We are blessed to have friends and family all over the country; we both love a good road trip, so I should be thrilled, right?

And yet I am plagued by the question, “Who am I without all my stuff?”

All of the artwork on my walls would attest to the fact that I am arty, and all of my friends are artists. Their serigraphs, etchings, watercolors, pastels and oils are all framed in unifying black and displayed everywhere you look.

I have promised a large four-panel screen from China to my sister. My pants are sprawled everywhere. It’s begun to look like the Little Shop of Horrors in here, so they’ve been easier to part with. Through my cookbooks you’d learn I’m a passionate and diverse cook. Vegetarian? Of course. Gluten-free? Yup. A carnivore, you say? How about a slow-roasted pulled-pork shoulder? Or lasagna? Molto bene.

And what can I say about all of my books? They have inspired and provoked many long conversations over a few bottles of good wine. It’s obvious that in my mid-sixties, I’ve been around. But as I give away each item, I feel like I become a little more invisible, and I wonder… How will anyone know about the wild and wonderful life I have lived?

One day somebody else is going to have to do all of this, and I don’t want to burden them. I’d rather give it away, now, to people who love it, as I do, and who will enjoy it for years to come. It’s bittersweet, this gaining my freedom by giving away everything extraneous. I keep reminding myself that each thing I give away is still here in my head, and in my heart.

You’re always welcome to come over. We will open a bottle of wine. Oh, the stories I can tell you!




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Donna O’Klock spent 35 years in the beauty business, talking, teaching, and learning. These days, she’d “rather write than talk. It’s better that way because I can edit.” She writes two blogs, and, and is the author of  Sick and Tired & Sexy: Living Beautifully with Chronic Illness.

Austin, Texas, has been her home since 1978, but she and her fiancé have downsized and are traveling the country in their RV.

13 thoughts on “Downsizing, Am I Becoming the Invisible Woman?”

  1. For five years I downsized and lived in a tiny house 22 feet by 22 feet. Now I’m obsessed with getting my things out of storage… no, I couldn’t give it all away or sell it… and get my life back. I was a minimalist to begin with, but my art, my books, my photos and memories are in storage. I feel like part of me is missing. What if you put your things in storage until you’re sure you like this lifestyle change? What if some day you want your life back, but it’s gone? xoxox, Brenda

    • I have thought about that a lot Brenda. A whole lot. And, for me, even if I put my stuff in storage, then took it out and hung it on the walls of a new place… that part of my life is gone.
      I keep reminding myself of the Buddhist saying, “You can never step in the same river twice.”
      I am keeping a few extra-precious things, but if I ever get a new place I will have the joy of buying new art, and designing a place that reflects who I am in that moment.

  2. Very interesting article. I felt so many emotions when I downsized my photo studio. Somehow a smaller work space seem tomake me feel like I was less successful or accomplished. It is still difficult for me.

    • Kemp,
      I think that’s a natural reaction, but please know smaller professional digs are not related to your talent and accomplishments. It’s just the practicalities most of us are dealing with, so get that notion out of your head. xoxox, Brenda

    • Thank you for commenting, Kemp. Brenda hit the nail squarely on the head!
      Your studio is just four walls and some equipment. The “thing of value” in it is YOU, and all of your successes and accomplishments.
      Personally, I’m more impressed by small, sleek, efficient work spaces. How DO they do it?
      XO Donna

  3. Whilst I don’t believe we need as much stuff as we think we do, sometimes I do wonder if the minimalist movement is forcing people to let go of things they truly love because they feel pressurised into living with less. I’m not suggesting for a moment that this is your situation – it sounds like you’re being very practical as you pursue a truly fabulous goal – but I do think we’re made to feel guilty these days if we love physical things. Only you can decide what makes you happy although, and you are far more than the items you surround yourself with! Please continue to share this journey with us, I’m dying to read more! Esther xx

    • Thank you for your comments, Esther! I am trying to be practical, and while it’s difficult, I am beginning to feel as if a load has been lifted.
      I felt an obligation to care for, dust, arrange and rearrange everything to fit into my life. And lots of it wasn’t fitting! The only one putting pressure on me… is me; to have less, and play more! I look forward to sharing this continuing adventure with you.
      XO Donna

  4. I’ve downsized many times through multiple moves and it’s allowed me to keep the essentials that are truly me. Now that I’m in a bigger place, I’m making sure that what I bring into our home is reflective of who we are. Looking forward to reading about your journey as I think a lot of us are downsizing and upsizing at a rapid pace!

    • I’ve noticed that same thing, Jen. It’s like a see-saw.
      I notice this because I am around people much younger than I who are all in a building/collecting phase. I seem to be in a “jettison” phase!
      It will be exciting (that’s the adjective of choice right now) to see what happens next, won’t it?
      XO Donna

  5. Donna, you are such a beautiful soul, and your life is full of rich memories! I have loved hearing stories of your childhood, and your adventures on a Harley. You are certainly not invisible! You are brilliant, colorful and so very wise.

    • Susan, thank you for your sweet and affirming words!
      The memories are what I know I will always have.
      Memories, dear friends, and faith keep me moving forward, and ready for whatever comes next.
      XO Donna

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