By Sharon Almirall

Are you emotionally connected to your stuff?

Rachel Kodanaz, national speaker and author of three books, advised the audience at CPW’s January 21 Zoom presentation to search their hearts and minds for the reasons they’re having difficulty in managing stuff.

“Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time: What to do with yours or a loved one’s possessions,” a new book by Kodanaz, speaks to the need for people to down-size or right-size their stuff as they age.

One listener asked if she should rid her closet of the cowboy boots a former manfriend gave her years ago.

Another listener asked if she should get rid of the skis she had fond memories of using, though she wasn’t using them any longer.

Kodanaz answered that down-sizing requires asking if there is an emotional connection.

The overriding questions that determine how to right-size are:

–is it a legacy from previous generations

–is there perceived monetary value in the item

–is there uncertainty about the future utility of the object

–are styles and the physique of the owner changing

–what is the future financial value

–is sentimentality involved

–what is the emotional connection

“Instead of keeping everything, keep what you need to touch and/or take a photograph of what you want to remember about the object,” Kodanaz says.

Kodanaz points to “right-sizing” as a more useful term than “down-sizing” and speaks to the new term of aging as “aging up.”

As she describes the difficulty with shedding one’s stuff, Kodanaz points to roadblocks, many of which are self-imposed.

Time and energy, feeling overwhelmed, facing one’s mortality, the fear of losing personal identity, the potential future use, the lack of perceived desire for the object by the younger generation and the sense of feeling obligated are among the reasons for delaying right-sizing.

Kodanaz asks down-sizers to consider whether an object tells a story. If so, objects can be re-purposed as a piece of art or donated to a cause that makes use of the item in a way that coincides with the giver’s reason for donating.

In response to the question of how to proceed, Kodanaz offered a list of ideas.  One idea is to get a shredder and begin to right-size the amount of paperwork in one’s possession. She mentioned this idea might be especially useful for a group of listeners who have made their careers using paper.

She also suggests making a memory box and creating a list describing items in the memory box that descendants can enjoy or discard later, as they choose.

Kodanaz has been speaking to audiences for 20 years. Through her books, “Living with Loss, One Day at a Time” and “Grief in the Workplace,” Rachel Kodanaz offers inspiration and advice for those who have lost a loved one or are supporting someone who has lost a loved one. She released her third book, “Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time,” to provide encouragement and tools for those seeking to down-size or right-size.

Her books are available online and at local bookstores. Signed copies of her book are only available from her website:

Photos by Ann Lockhart