Downsizing seminar at SML

Realtor Jada Turner (left) and organizer Kathy Meckley team up to provide downsizing tips to lake area residents.

Moving to Smith Mountain Lake was a dream come true for Doug and Lorraine Conary. Twenty years ago, they pulled up stakes in New Jersey and planted them on lakefront property. At age 60, they developed their property creating a winding path to the water, planting gardens and making a life with friends who became extended family.

In recent years, the Conarys have noticed that making the more than four-hour trip to Maryland to visit with grandchildren is getting as difficult as traveling up and down the stairs they built to lake. Caring for the yard and home also are not as easy as it was two decades ago.

“We are thinking of moving to where our children and grandchildren live in Maryland,” Lorraine Conary said. “At our age, we’re thinking of our health.”

“We’re both facing the same problem,” said Doug Conary of the decision to downsize and leave the lake. “It’s tough to move. It’s an approach-avoidance conflict for both of us.”

“It was a dream coming here, and we have loved it,” Lorraine added. “Now we have to give up this and be grateful that we had those 20 years. Some of our dearest friends are moving away, too.”

The couple have turned to local realtor Jada Turner for help in moving into a new home and downsizing. They attended “Downsizing the Right Way,” a seminar Turner and local organizer Kathy Meckley of Transforming Spaces held last month.

In the seminar, complete with worksheets, Turner outlined a course of action for people interested in downsizing. The worksheets helped participants to determine what they want out of their home and community.

Another tip Turner said she regularly gives clients looking to downsize is closing off rooms in their homes and practicing living in a smaller space.

“It’s just a super good tip to really determine if what you’re thinking in your head as far as square feet is realistic because a lot of us think it’s no problem going from a 3,000-square-foot house to a 1,500-square-foot home,” Turner said. “Reality might tell us something different when we start closing off rooms.”

Meckley provided information on living in smaller spaces and tips on how to organize a home and get ready for a move.

“The emotional part of this depends on motivation,” Meckley said. “For some, their mindset is ‘I’m ready to release this and so the decision making is easy.’ The problem comes with people who value everything, and they can’t distinguish between what is really needed and what is no longer useful to them. So, if everything has a value, the reality is nothing has a value, everything is on the same plane.”

Meckley, a certified organizer, is a member of Faithful Organizers, a group of Christian organizers. Some clients find prayer helps them with the difficult task of letting go, Meckley said. “What I try to encourage people to do is not to look back but to look forward.”

Retirees are not the only ones paring down their lives, Turner said. “A lot of the younger generation have this mindset of taking care of their ecological footprint, where the tiny home movement is in play. People are looking to enlarge their lifestyle.”

For the Conarys, it is not about lifestyle. “We’re leaving this dream but another dream is opening up,” Lorraine Conary said. “We’re going to be able to see the grandchildren play soccer or we can go to their school performances. We’ll be making new friends and be able to see friends and family we still have in New Jersey.”

The next downsizing seminar is Oct. 11 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Amy Stone, a financial advisor with Edward Jones, is hosting the event. For more information, contact Stone at 721-6142.