Instead, she helps families and senior citizens achieve “rightsizing,” a term she defines as “that perfect place between too much and too little.” While her work means she often assists clients before they move into a smaller apartment or assisted living facility, she says her job isn’t to make people get rid of the stuff they love.
“I help people identify the best things so that they can let go of all the other stuff that doesn’t matter so much,” she says.
That’s an important distinction considering that a senior citizen moving out of a longtime home will often have to give up 50-75 percent of their possessions before they get to their new place, she says. Now, she’s sharing some of the things she’s learned — and offering some tough, but fair, love and encouragement — in a new book, “Keep the Memories, Not the Stuff.”
Bryant started to realize just how difficult that process can be while growing up on a farm in North Dakota before she graduated from Hillsboro High School in 2000. Her grandparents died in 1992 and 1994, and her parents, then in their 40s, spent months emptying out two farmsteads full of stuff.
What rightsizing even means varies, she says, and will change depending on how many things a person has to begin with, as well as their generational preference for keeping things or living more minimally, and what is important to them.</p> <p>In her latest book, Bryant says there are five categories that everything falls into when rightsizing: what to keep; what to give away to family or friends; what to sell; what to donate to charity; and what to throw away or recycle.</p> <p>But the task of sorting through a lifetime's worth of stuff is big enough, so she advises readers to just focus on the first two, at least to start: what to keep, and what to give away. Everything else, she writes, can become a distraction, and they'll be easy to finish once it's already been decided what to keep for yourself or family.</p> <p>Rather than obsessing over a possible sales price of that antique sewing machine, Bryant says people need to keep their eyes on the "big picture." </p> <p>"You need to decide, 'What am I keeping and what items do I want to give to my family members,' and then once you really internalize that and your choices, quite frankly, nothing else matters," she says.</p> <p>It's that "perspective shift" that she helps her clients make, and Bryant says it can feel like "tough love" working with people to realize some uncomfortable truths. That includes a big one: "Your stuff doesn't owe you anything." Just because a collectible cost $50 to buy doesn't mean it's worth $50, she says.</p> <div class="inline-element" readability="6.5">
Another full room that Jeannine Bryant and her team at Changing Spaces SRS helped clients sort through. Special to The Forum